Who was the first person to coin the word hypergrace? It wasn’t the Apostle Paul. Sure, he described God’s grace as hyper-super-abounding, but he was writing in Greek. Who was the first to say it in English?
Hypergrace. Who said it first?
It wasn’t me. Not even close. So who was it? Seriously, I would like to know.
As I mentioned in a recent article, I’m pushing to get hypergrace into the dictionary. Why? Because hypergrace is a unique word that describes “the extreme favor of God that extends over, beyond, and above what you can conceive or imagine.”
It’s a beautiful word and there’s no other word like it.
To get a word into a dictionary you have to think about the origins of the word. So lately I have been asking, where did hypergrace come from?
I’ve done some research and as far as I can tell, the word first appeared as a Twitter hashtag in mid-2009. Which makes hypergrace about the same age as Escape to Reality.
Before hypergrace, people used to talk about radical grace. That is a common phrase, but it’s not extreme enough for some people. hence the emergence of super-grace, ultra-grace, and finally hypergrace.
Interestingly, the first people to use this word did so in a pejorative way. Hypergrace, they said, was bad grace. Greasy grace. It was something to mock and belittle.
But a small number of people, myself included, recognized that hypergrace is an absolutely spot on translation of what Paul speaks about in Romans 5 when he talks about the huper grace of God. The Greek word huper literally means hyper. And Paul was just one of several New Testament writers who used extreme language when describing God’s great grace.
As part of my dictionary research, I tracked down the first mentions of the word hypergrace in different media. This is what I have found so far:
- first hypergrace blog post (Nov 12, 2009)
- first hypergrace podcast (May 15, 2012)
- first hypergrace magazine article (Feb 28, 2013)
- first hypergrace video (Sep 17, 2013)
- first hypergrace book (Jan 7, 2014)
- first song (no idea)
- first major motion picture starring Denzel Washington (still in pre-pre-production)
These are not certified Guinness Records, just placeholders. If you know of blog posts or podcasts that predate those in my list above, let me know and I will revise my list. And if you can prove that someone used the word hypergrace prior to 2009 in any form, let me know that too. It would be good to give credit where credit’s due.
Did you invent the word hypergrace? Got proof you said it before 2009? Let me know.
The hostile history of hypergrace
The word seems to have first appeared in 2009, but the hypergrace wagon did not really get rolling until 2013. That was the year CharismaNews decided to publish a series of articles attacking hypergrace. That was also the year I wrote my first article defending hypergrace.
The following year no less than five hypergrace books were published. The first was Michael Brown’s book Hypergrace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message; the second was D.R. Silva’s book Hypergrace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God, and the third was my book The Hyper-Grace Gospel.
In his book, Michael Brown named and shamed a number of hypergrace preachers, including me. In my response, I pointed out that most of the criticisms made by Brown et al. were based on a dozen or so oft-repeated myths.
Sidebar: People sometimes ask me why I don’t engage in more debates with hypergrace critics. When invited to “discuss” hypergrace on radio shows and podcasts, I usually say no. I have learned the hard way that when certain people say they are reaching out, they’re doing it to make themselves look good. They’re not actually interested in dialogue. When you point out that you never said all the awful things they say you said, they don’t apologize or change their tune. In this age of fake news, the facts don’t matter. The main thing is to keep feeding the monster of social media. Slandering grace preachers may be a great way to generate social media buzz, but it’s appalling behavior, embarrassing to Jesus, and I don’t want to feed the trolls.
I try to avoid hypergrace debates, but I LOVE talking about the hypergrace of King Jesus. If we can get the word into the dictionary I will celebrate!
Hypergrace: Let us continue to write about it, talk about it, and sing about it. Let us paint it, rap it, draw it, and celebrate it any way we can. Let us use whatever means we can to let people know about the extreme love and favor of our heavenly Father.
In the meantime, let’s dig a little and see if we can’t find the person who said it first. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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