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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 7

I recently offered several quotes from others, claiming McClain's perspective on soveriegn grace. But did McClain actually say anything that would lead to these conclusions?
Among careful students of the Scriptures and church history, regardless of their theological bias, there has always been general agreement that if there is any outstanding characteristic term in Christianity, that term is "grace." In much of the New Testament this term becomes almost a synonym for Christianity itself. Thus in some of the Pauline epistles there are benedictions which mention "grace" alone, with the implication that this term covers everything in the Christian faith, and that if we have "grace" nothing else is needed.

As to the meaning of the term as used in the New Testament writings, there is also general agreement. Grace is the unmerited favor of God in Christ. Salvation by grace, therefore, is not of ourselves, not of works, but the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). And if Christian salvation is by grace, then it is not of works; "otherwise grace is no more grace" (Rom. 11:6)--Alva J McClain, "Law and Grace" p1
"Unmerited favor" may be considered a rather incomplete definition. Some may decry the definition as simplistic or overly reductionistic.
As a matter of fact, all of the Old Testament quotation in verses 25-29 are brought in to support the entire foregoing argument of Romans 9, namely, a divine election within the historical nation of Israel based on sovereign grace.--Alva J McClain, "The Greatness of the Kingdom" p297
Since McClain believed that Old Testament salvation came by sovereign grace, perhaps examining Romans 9 will give some further explanation.
God has the right to reject Israel if He wants to; He has the right to choose one man and reject another. It may not sound right, and to most people probably doesn't seem right. But neither how it sounds to men nor seems to their finite comprehension changes the fact. The doctrine of election is hard to recieve, but remember that God has a sovereign right over His creatures.--Alva J McClain, "Romans--The Gospel of God's Grace" p174
Again, McClain sees election as a critical understanding to sovereign grace. Consider:
That is the answer to the Jew. God chooses according to His own sovereign will and sets aside all human ideas of merit and superiority.--Alva J McClain "Romans--The Gospel of God's Grace" p180
While some may consider such a view to be harsh and loveless, McClain reminds us that election is the only way mercy has come in the past.
Paul says, if you are going to say that God is unrighteous because He chooses one man and not another, then God was unrighteous at Sinai when He let you all live. Everybody should have died then, but God said, "I will have mercy." Grace, mercy, lovingkindness were the only reasons. If you do not like the doctrine of sovereignty and election, just remember that the only reason the nation was not absolutely destroyed was because of the sovereign mercy of God.--Alva J McClain, "Romans--The Gospel of God's Grace" p181
Such a view concerns some, for they believe defining grace with election is simply "head knowledge" and has no practical effect. Yet, McClain offers:
This context of grace is the only environment in which the will of God can be most fully realized in the Christian life. In this context of grace we grow (2 Peter 3:18); we stand (1 Peter 5:12); we are built up (Acts 20:32); we are made strong (2 Tim. 2:1); we are made perfect (1 Peter 5:10); we find freedom from sin's dominion (Rom. 6:14); we find complete liberty from legal bondage (Gal. 5:1-4); we find a sufficient motive for doing the will of God (2 Cor 8:9); we find an enabling power for Christian living (2 Cor 12:9); we find recovery when we fall (Heb 4:16); we find assurance as to the final outcome of the Christian life (Acts 20:32).--Alva J McClain, "Law and Grace" p68
He named us the Grace Brethren.

Perhaps we should consider how he used the word.


  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger Zach Doppelt said…

    I appreciate your clarifying on a major, if not THE major, doctrinal and historical difference between the Grace Brethren and the older Brethren groups. Those of us in the Grace Brethren Fellowship should reflect on our background. Thanks.


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