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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grace and Works

One of the reasons I write is to help me think through things.
I often write out ideas in order to get them in order, then throw away the writing and speak extemporaneously. I can speak well because I have written first.

In that spirit, I offer you this, which I just wrote and don't wish to lose quite yet.
At least, not until I have it more firmly in my thick skull.

Saving grace is a free gift from God which we can do nothing to merit, and which God gives freely to us. But, once we receive it, our whole being must necessarily respond to it. So, our mind responds to grace with faith, our body responds with works.

In liturgical theology, both faith and works are responses to grace.

Non-liturgical theology (such as Reformation theology) would say that the mind responds to grace with faith, and then the body responds to faith by exhibiting the fruits, which are works.

The difference is subtle, but profound. Liturgical Christians see human beings as having a two-fold direct response to grace, a mind-body response that is simultaneous. Non-liturgical Christians say there is only a one-fold response to grace: mind alone. Works are a response to faith, not grace.

Thus, in liturgical theology, man's works can actually participate in the life of grace directly, our whole being can participate in the very great promise of God, our whole being can be sharers in the divine nature.

In non-liturgical theology, only your mind can share in the divine nature; the works of the body, being a secondary response and not a primary response, do not share in the divine nature.

Heaven is living a total response to the divine nature.

So, Catholics believe we can live heaven on earth (thus, the Catholic saints), while non-Catholics don't believe that. Our understanding of what the resurrection of the dead means is much more profound as a result.


Unknown said...

I really should research this more, but I thought the doctrine was that works are necessary because without them you do not have faith. In other words, if you truly have faith, then you have works; if you do not have works, then you do not truly have faith. True faith necessarily results in works. "Faith without works is dead."

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Yes, both are necessary. But the Church doesn't believe in total corruption. That is, we can do good works even though we don't have salvation because our nature is made good by God, and it is in our nature to do at least natural goods.

In order to do SUPERNATURAL goods, however, that is, in order to do good that actually merit grace, we must first be in a state of grace.