There is no grace camp

hyper-grace

I want to thank those of you who took the time to comment on my Michael Brown post over the weekend. That post evidently resonated with many. Within 48 hours of publication it had attracted 250 comments. To put that in perspective, that’s almost as many comments as the original CharismaNews article got in a week.

If you missed the hubbub, Michael Brown wrote an opinion piece confronting what he calls the error of hyper-grace, namely, that the notion that God sees us as holy and righteous. Michael disagrees. “God sees our sin,” says Michael. “Consequently, we need to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates.”

I took issue with this because it suggests that God relates to us on the basis of our behavior and that we have to clean ourselves up before God will accept us. To be fair, Michael never said this, but his message nonetheless amounts to putting a price-tag on God’s love and acceptance.

Where the Bible puts exclamation marks – “God loves you!” – Michael put question marks: “Really? Always? 24-7? God always loves what he sees when he looks at his people?”

Anyway, what followed was a stimulating discussion from people like you. I have now had a chance to read through all the comments several times and I have learned a lot. As I keep saying, E2R readers are a smart bunch! The wisdom some of you have amazes me. I am truly blessed to receive from you.

I also want to thank those of you who encouraged me on my Facebook page on Sunday. After reading one particularly nasty and personal comment (don’t look for it, you won’t find it), my countenance dropped. I get called names all the time and normally it doesn’t bother me. But on Sunday it did and I was gloomy for 10 minutes. Some of you picked up on that and you sought to lift my chin.

Thank you. You’re beautiful.

Jesus Camp

On Monday morning and with a clear head I sat down to distill some of the lessons I learned over the weekend. I’m not yet prepared to share those lessons except for one, and here it is:

As my friend Steve Hackman pointed out in his own response to Michael Brown, the “grace camp” label is horrible. When I went back and reread my article that phrase was the one thing I just had to change. (In the revised post I now refer to the grace movement. I know, it’s hardly an improvement. Got any better ideas?)

Why do I dislike “grace camp”? Because there is no grace camp. There’s just Jesus and we’re all one in Christ. If you trust in Jesus, you’re in the Jesus Camp and it’s the only camp.

Grace is meant to be inclusive. All are welcome in the House of Grace because Jesus died for all of us. The moment we allow ourselves to be defined as a special camp, we start swinging towards an unChristlike exclusivity, like we’re a country club or something.

Manmade religion draws lines between Us and Them but the grace of God tears down dividing walls. I know we’re not all going to see eye to eye, but I don’t want to contribute to a culture that perpetuates fracture lines within the body of Christ. If you see me talking about grace camps again, please remind me of Galatians 3:28.

What about hyper-grace?

Michael never called us a grace camp – that was my own stupid fault – but he does describe us with the label “hyper-grace.” What do you think about this? Personally, I’m in two minds. I think any label is demeaning. The moment we label people we diminish them, we reduce them to caricatures.

“You’re in the hyper-grace camp? So you’re one of those who says we can sin freely and God will still love us. I read about you turkeys on Charisma.”

Yeah, that’s real helpful. I am already paying the price for this cartoon-like rendition of the grace message in the form of time-wasting comments from misguided folks who think we advocate sin.

[Sidebar: You may be aware that this morning CharismaNews published a second piece from Michael. In this article he worries that the message of grace which we preach is unbalanced, as evidenced by the sinful fruit of those who have abused it. Michael seems to think that the abuse of the gospel Jesus revealed and Paul preached is a new thing. I have just one word to say in response to that: Corinthians.]

On the other hand, we may find ourselves stuck with the label hyper-grace much like the believers of Antioch were stuck with the label “Christian.” If that is the case – if you are about to be permanently branded by others as “hyper-grace” – how do you feel about that? Are you happy about it? Do you find it objectionable? Are you cool with it?

To get a conversation started, here are some thoughts from those who commented under the last post:

  • Titus 2:11-12 says grace is a person called Jesus. Thus hyper-grace maybe also called hyper-Jesus. Does this mean there is such thing as “too much Jesus”? Or such a thing as “relying on Jesus too much”? … Hyper (also) means “abounds,” so I guess the name is appropriate because the Scripture says, “Grace super-abounds!” ~Joseph Librero
  • The whole concept of “hyper-grace” being a bad thing is silly! The lengths to which God chose to go in Grace for us (to the death) is pretty “hyper,” is it not?! ~JGIG
  • Wasn’t Paul accused of preaching hyper-grace? (see Romans 3:8, 5:20-6:2) ~John Long
  • I am dead to sin. I have a righteousness conscience. I feel free. Free from sin. That’s hyper-grace. Thank you Jesus. ~ Phillip Waite

So far the vibe seems to be generally positive. But what do you think of this term hyper-grace?

Is it something to embrace, resist, or accept? Does it hinder the gospel by suggesting we’re an exclusive camp within the Body of Christ? Or does it promote the gospel by accurately conveying the way grace operates – energetically and actively? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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7 Comments on There is no grace camp

  1. chrisvanrooyen // April 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm // Reply

    Hi Paul
    I appreciate your concern. My intention is only to let whoever wrote this post reveal more of their nakedness. If they will have the courage to respond. I agree 100% with everything you have said. .

  2. One of the early ‘saints’ said ‘Love God and do what you like’. When we love God, we will not willingly and knowingly do anything that does not please Him. Sleeping around not only is not loving to the others concerned, it is not loving and respectful to ourselves. There is also the verse about not letting our freedom be a stumbling block to others.

  3. Donavon Freeman // April 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm // Reply

    Hi leigha….first it sounds like im detecting sarcasm over sincerity…..then you say you learned it from this site,i disagree.
    There are always consequences for anyone sleeping around as much as you are.
    Did Jesus condemn either the woman caught in adultery or the woman that had 5 husbands and now has a live in boyfriend?No.But he’s a Counselor and he talked with them and freed them from the bondage of lust and loneliness.
    Did you see there reaction after Jesus talked with them?They will never be the same and neither will you if you talk to Jesus.A True Man……
    So why would he approve of what you’re doing and not approve of them….just think.about it….

    If what you’re saying concerning Grace is true leigha…that you can sleep around….prostitute yourself for money and enjoy homosexual acts because Grace is sooo forgiving….
    Then when you get married you shouldn’t get mad at your husband for cheating on you as much as he wants after isn’t that the worst thing he could do to you?but your husband will say hey sweetheart why are you so angry you said you would be with me for better or Worse didn’t you?Well isn’t this the worst that could happen?
    You know your reply wouldn’t be “yes i did say that you may continue cheating”. No you would say I know i said that and I forgave you the first time but that doesn’t mean you have to take me or my vows for granted.Here’s the kicker…you would add If you Loved me you wouldn’t do that…see its not about the law that says ur married…you’re concerned about the Love and so is Christ…he’s saying do you really love me leigha?

  4. Brother Paul, Abba’s beloved, I thank God for guiding me to your blog site. I pray that Abba continues to encourage you and sustain you and bless you in every way. As a Jewish person growing up in Long Island, Dr. Brown went through many difficulties in his whole life for the sake of Christ. His passion for Christ is truly amazing and he vehemently defends the name of Jesus against His own Jewish brethren. ( I used to go to his church and have listened to just about all his debates with rabbis on the messiahship of Jesus). I pray that when the time comes, Abba will lift up the veil off of his eyes so that with the same kind of zeal and passion, if not greater, he can defend the true gospel of Grace. Bless you Paul, Abba’s beloved.

  5. Grace preachers often neglect the ordained process by which we enter into grace, a process that includes exertion and complete failure while feeling the full force of the law, as well as a deep revelation of our sinfulness and lack without Christ. We cannot skip that step directly into grace.

    Holiness preachers often neglect to preach purely the means by which we attain power, the utter inability we inherently have to do the smallest holy thing, and the path of failure unto trusting completely in God alone for life.

    True grace doesn’t lower the standard of holiness, it raises it. We can’t ‘try’ to do the NT commands, and if you are preaching a “get as close as you can,” that is not enough. The Pharisees misinterpreted what the law really asked of them because the demand, the holiness, is a state of the heart, not the outward actions at all. Christ simply did not say “just try to be perfect.”

    The truth is, holy-demanders are asking us to do something we cannot do and sloppy-gracers are telling us we don’t have to achieve holiness.

    The solution is not Jesus helping us, it’s Jesus living his life through us. If our holiness is not a supernatural miracle we could never produce, then it’s not real! And this miracle happens when we maintain faith in God’s ability.

    Neither sloppy-gracers nor holy-demanders show us the complete path of partaking in the new life we find in a complete union with Christ.

    • hi dizerner, my way of looking at it is,since we are completely spiritually bankrupt,the only ID we have is in him………..pick this day LIFE or death……i am the way the truth and the LIFE.and since even the faith comes from god,it becomes really defining.

      • We don’t learn just how bankrupt we are, until we try to “cash” our spiritual checks. No matter how bad you might think you know you are, if it’s not 100% bankrupt, you’ve got to learn that I think, because the Spirit does not bless flesh.

        Still, I think God requires something of us. God has given to us life and breath and all things, and to each man a measure of faith. But I wouldn’t be a Calvinist because of that. What God asks us to do, we *can* do… so why worry. Abraham believed God and I do think it’s something we *have* to do, but more importantly, something we *can* do. I don’t think God does the believing for us, such that we don’t have to, get out of our spiritual beds in the morning, so to speak. We all can put our name in there… ____ believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.

        Thanks for your comment.

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