What is Anglican Grace?

The following short essay is short expose on Grace from the Anglican tradition. 

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The Anglican perspective is that of reformed (little r) theology. Although the Anglican communion was formulated directly from orthodox Roman Catholicism, it bases much of its theological perspectives from that of the early church reformers. It is from this view of reformed theology that Anglican’s derive its purpose and methods of grace, brought to man for salvation. This method of grace is the starting point of the sanctification process, which is known as spiritual formation. This paper will demonstrate, defend, contend, (some such word) that … (give your thesis statement). The approach to this will be a brief overview of grace from the Anglican perspective, Dallas Willard’s position, and the implications of these stances.

Anglican Grace

The Anglican view of grace is based on God’s divine love for humans who are not capable of earning it on their own merits. It is given, not earned, through the person of Jesus Christ.[2] This has scriptural roots in the Gospel of John; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16 [ESV]). This grace is given of God’s own volition and cannot be earned. It is bestowed to those believing saints who call upon the name of Christ for salvation.

Often the term grace is infused into daily and common prayer: “We bless thee for our … Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace….”[4] The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is festooned with liturgical prayers extolling the virtues of God’s grace in relation to our sanctification. It is a constant reminder of his method of redemption freely given to the under-served. This is set off by the new life in Christ chosen by the individual.

Dallas Willard’s Grace

Dallas Willard defines grace as “God acting in your life to accomplish what you cannot accomplish on your own.” This has an ongoing appeal to mankind as a means of “tapping” into grace when needed. Dallas uses the term grace as interchangeable with mercy in that spiritual formation is needed to drink the cup of grace constantly to fulfill the transformation process. “To ‘grow in grace’ means to utilize more and more grace to live by, until everything we do is assisted by grace. Then, whatever we do in word or deed will all be done in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17).”[6] By this definition of grace and its use in spiritual formation, the believer is able to respond to God’s grace in his walk toward sanctification, soaking in the grace of God within each human dimension, as needed. 

Implications

Willard has a more charismatic view of grace than the Anglican faith, but it is non-the-less pertinent for spiritual formation. “Grace is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless. God is gracious in action.”[7] As we walk deeper in Christ, the need for grace is dwindled, not magnified, as Willard would postulate; “The greatest saints are not those who need less grace, but those who consume the most grace, who indeed are most in need of grace—those who are saturated by grace in every dimension of their being.”[8] Although his sentiments are pointed in the right direction, his use of grace, in contrast to Anglican thought, is more along the lines of mercy.

Conclusion

Famous theologian and martyr John Bradford once lamented; “There but for the grace of God go I.”[9] This is a succinct summation of the theological stance of grace from the Anglican perspective. It is God’s act of graciousness, given freely to the undeserving, in order for us to live out our Christlike walk toward eventual glorification.

                                                                                                                                                                                            

Bibliography

Anglican Church in America. “To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism.” Anglican Church in North America, 2015. Accessed date. http://anglicanchurch.net/?%2Fmain%2Fcatechism.

Bilezikian, Gilbert. “Grace.” In Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Edited by Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Gaultiere, Bille. “Dallas Willard’s Definitions.” Soul Shepherding, November 25, 2016. Accessed date. https://www.soulshepherding.org/dallas-willards-definitions/.

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church. New York: Seabury Press, 1976.

Collins. “There but for the Grace of God Go I Definition and Meaning.” English Dictionary. Accessed July 25, 2019. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-i.

Willard, Dallas. Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012.

Footnotes:

[1] Anglican Church in North America, “To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism,” Anglican Church in North America, 2015, accessed date, http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/catechism, 3.

[2] Ibid, 14.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.

[4] The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church (New York: The Seabury Press, 1976), 33.

[5] Bille Gaultiere, “Dallas Willard’s Definitions,” Soul Shepherding, November 25, 2016, https://www.soulshepherding.org/dallas-willards-definitions/.

[6] Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 93.

[7] Gilbert Bilezikian, “Grace,” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 898.

[8] Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 93–94.

[9] Collins, “There but for the Grace of God Go I Definition and Meaning,” English Dictionary, accessed July 25, 2019, https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-i.

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