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Is Grace Really The Church’s Great Distinctive?


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I've been busy reading The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. So I don't yet have time to research this statement from the marketing verbiage of Philip Yancy's What's so amazing about grace?

 

Grace is the church’s great distinctive. It’s the one thing the world cannot duplicate,

 

I saw this on a friends Visual Bookshelf and the statement irked me. The statement was made in this context:

 

In 1987, an IRA bomb buried Gordon Wilson and his twenty-year-old daughter beneath five feet of rubble. Gordon alone survived. And forgave. He said of the bombers, "I have lost my daughter, but I bear no grudge. . . . I shall pray, tonight and every night, that God will forgive them."His words caught the media’s ear--and out of one man’s grief, the world got a glimpse of grace.

 

Putting aside the question of where [G|g]od was when this atrocity occurred, I must say that Gordon Wilson's attitude seems commendable. In effect, he has reached the point where he is willing to set aside personal animosity for a greater good, or at least for his own long-term good (this is speculation on my part). Voluntarily letting go of animosity, hostility and retribution for a greater good is a spiritual goal that I believe all humans should hope to attain, whether that spirituality is athestic, agnostic or whole-heartedly theistically based.

 

The question is, don't other religiions and spiritual systems also have a doctrine or philosophy similar to the idea of grace? I say doctrine or philosophy, because I know that people of all faiths (or non-faiths) suck at actually setting aside the sense of entitlement to retribution and animosity.

 

But apparently Philip Yancey does not think that other world views offer such a precious gem called "grace."

 

As a little preliminary attempt to gather information, I ask the ex-christian.net community:

1. Is there such a thing as grace in the other belief systems of the world? Examples please. Links and quotes would be so helpful.

 

2. As non-theists, what place is there in your world view for a concept of grace?

 

Many thanks in advance.

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I think all people are capable of forgiving other people, even for horrible things that happen, no matter what their spiritual beliefs happen to be. I don't think it's necessarily a spiritual thing. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If someone is holding a constant grudge about something, it affects their physical and mental well-being. It has been proven that feelings of stress and anger can weaken the immune system and shorten a person's life expectancy. The act of forgiving usually releases these feelings.

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To quote Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon Christimas Vacation when they asked her to say grace...

 

"Grace? Grace died thirty years ago."

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Forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than it does the forgiven. Forgiveness is a shortcut and only true path to peace for those who have been wronged.

 

This is a sound psychological principle, and is taught in the religions and philosophies I'm familiar with, not just Christianity.

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Grace is hardly a distinction of xtianity as most xtians don't even know what true grace is. Most of the time, when they show grace it's only to people that they think can still be converted or it's all an outward show to make themselves look good. Frankly, I find the idea of being given grace by Yahweh to be insulting to the word grace. Calling that grace would be like Hitler letting you go free while countless other numbers of people are being tortured in gas chambers and being expected to repay his grace with worship.

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"Grace? Grace died thirty years ago."

 

LOL! Funny, yet profound.

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1. Is there such a thing as grace in the other belief systems of the world? Examples please. Links and quotes would be so helpful.

 

 

In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva ideal:

 

http://www.essortment.com/all/whatisbodhisat_rfld.htm

 

http://www.answers.com/topic/bodhisattva

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva_vows

 

 

“For as long as space endures

 

And for as long as living beings remain,

 

Until then may I too abide

 

To dispel the misery of the world.”

 

 

The book to read is Shantideva's "The Way of the Bodhisattva"

 

 

The idea that human beings are lousy rotten sinners and only redeemable by the so-called "grace" of Bible God is very deficient IMO.

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Forgiveness is getting to be a scarce commodity amongst the righteous in America. They want to prosecute to the fullest any infraction against them, and then leave it up to God to forgive. I heard a lady pastor on television give this very sermon--it was, I believe, the 700 Club broadcast. Then her skinny-ass son gets up on stage and goes through a prepared monologue about tithing for 20 minutes or so it seemed at the time. The biggest applause was for his mother's rant against people doing wrong to Christians. Obviously nonbelievers are not in her twisted little world. Used to be one could count on Christians for their 'Christian charity' including acts of forgiveness. Christians get less and less charitable with every Presidential election they win for God! When they lose an election, lookout!

 

Anyone can forgive. If you do not believe in God, then the choice is yours to make. If you do believe in God, the choice is yours to make. Forgiveness is not a Christian-only attribute. All humans share that abillity. It does not take any special skills to forgive someone for what they do to you, or to ignore an insult you may think was directed at you. It takes a very special person to forgive extreme acts of cruelty, such as murder and rape. I'm not sure I could forgive such acts as murder and rape without having them prosecuted but for everyday acts such as driving into my car, trespassing, stealing gasoline, etc., would not be a problem for me. I think it would depend on the other person's attitude at the time.

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BTW: God's grace is given, according to the babble and Christian tradition, by his love for us without hesitation to all who ask for his mercy. We are not thrown into pergatory, Protestants believe, for our sins against God, because he forgives us. Iesus said to those who listened to him to forgive those who asked for it, and to turn the other cheek. God does not make us pay for offenses before we are forgiven. A look at modern churches will show they do not read their babbles and they have no self-respect for their own word of God.

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Amida Buddha is a manifestation of the Truth of Universe in human form while His vows, especially the eighteenth, are an active merciful and loving expression of His Great Compassion.

 

Salvation in Jodo Shinshu is through the grace of Amida Buddha; thus it is known as "salvation through absolute Other Power."

 

http://www.shindharmanet.com/shinbasics/introduction.htm

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I don't know that grace and forgiveness are the same....

 

You are technically correct, but in practice it seems to work out mainly as forgiveness. Grace is unwarranted, unearned favor granted to someone. To clean the slate for someone who wronged you is to grant them an unwarranted favor of your forgiveness.

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... I see grace as something that individuals, regardless of religion, can achieve.

Hear! Hear! I agree.

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