Broadly speaking, grace can be understood as God’s unmerited favor toward human beings, his one-way, sacrificial love for sinful men and women who deserve anything but. It is a gift with no strings attached. Grace is the answer we receive in Christ to the question of God’s disposition toward troubled people like you and me.
How many times can we mess up before we have exhausted God’s forgiveness? In Christ, God’s Grace is revealed to be inexhaustible, the death and resurrection of Christ being the bedrock of this assurance. Through it we are secured of God’s favor—come what may. This is why the triumphant cry of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:1, “there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” has been the hallmark of those committed to the Good News of God’s saving Grace.
Of course, not every Christian tradition agrees on the nature or definition of Grace. Grace in New Testament usage is complex to be sure, but the fundamental point of interpretative contention can be boiled down to whether Grace is an essence that is imparted or a gift that is imputed. That is, whether God’s grace changes people into objects that are worthy of love, or if His grace creates the beloved thing by faith; whether it is a change agent or a saving one. While not denying that it can have a transforming effect, we use it in the latter sense.
Grace, of course, does have horizontal meaning as well. While humans tend to attach strings to the gifts we give, acts of mercy and charity that occur in spite (or because) of ample reason for them not to could be considered gracious. We often experience grace in such terms, being loved when we feel unlovable, praised when we deserve reproach, rewarded when we should be punished, etc. We try to catalog such instances on the Mockingbird site, in the process hopefully gaining a deeper appreciation of the divine disposition.
We hope the following guide will explain how certain technical terms are used on the Mockingbird site.
None of these definitions are, or could possibly be, comprehensive. Hundreds of books have been written on each. We are aiming, instead, via a few broad strokes, to give a sense of how the terms are being used. It should be noted that these terms are sometimes used as shorthand for their philosophical implications, or centrifugal outworkings.