gratitude & hoopla: Oden on Grace

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

19.1.06

Oden on Grace

I'll be quoting from and interacting with Thomas Oden's The Transforming Power of Grace in the next few posts. Oden seems to be motivated at least in part by what he perceives to be a woeful lack of understanding among Christians today. He sees this as a disabling lack, perhaps even the root of many of our problems. We have set aside the grace of God in favor of human wisdom.

From Oden's preface, which is titled "The Root of Christian Spirituality," I have lifted a few telling quotes:
"Neither caregiving, interpersonal meeting, teaching, nor social responsibility can live long by bread alone. The caregiver, friend, teacher, and proactive change agent remain hungry for liberating grace. This book reaches out for hungry listeners." p15

"Grace is God's way of empowering the bound will and healing the suffering spirit." p15
"Grace is the unheard note in the strident chorus of literature on spirituality and moral development. Christian spirituality quietly thrives on grace. The empowerment of the languid human spirit comes by grace. A new will is being offered to the old life trapped in sin." p15-16

"The purpose of caregiving is to make the truth of grace plausible and appropriable in the inner life of the individual. The purpose of preaching is to attest the history of grace effectively at work amid the history of sin." p16

"Much in our cultural environment goes directly against the stream of the Christian teaching of grace. In an era of performance-oriented religion, the rediscovery of grace presents a profoundly subtle challenge. Teaching a religionist grace is like teaching a workaholic to relax. In a fast-paced, lonely culture of self-congratulatory striving, the Good News of grace is like a fresh breeze of relief." p.17

"While some Christians have learned a graceless accommodation to the spirit of the age, others seem to know only how to hurl biblical invectives at its idolatries. Most lack a sense of the history of how the Holy Spirit is ceaselessly, actively, quietly working to elicit communities awakened by grace." p17

"When the Bible is treated as a vending machine and evangelization as a marketing plan, grace is tamed and reduced to routine." p18

"Lacking grace, the task of personal growth turns into a frantic search for innovative strategies. Grace works to find that very person who is desperately searching for a strategy. We have tried to manufacture spiritual growth while missing the very grace that would enable it." p19

"Only that which is enabled by divine grace will endure in the church. All ploys and maneuvers circumventing grace will atrophy." p19

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