Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grace in the Koran and the Bible

Recently, I completed reading through the Koran for the first time [I don't know that I will ever read it cover-to-cover again, but I do hope to re-visit several sections], and I noticed several points of significant contrast between the Koran and the Bible.

One of the most striking contrasts is the presentation of "grace" in each of these competing sources for spiritual authority. "Grace" in the Christian Protestant tradition has consistently been defined as "God's unmerited favor;" "grace" may even be understood as "contramerited favor" because our works have not earned merit before God, but rather earned God's wrath, since they are all characterized by sin (even our best works fall short of God's glory, as we consistently fail to love God heart, soul, and mind, and love neighbors as ourselves). This understanding of grace is based upon several Bible passages, perhaps most famously Ephesians 2:1-10, in which it is crystal clear that we are all naturally "dead in [our] trespasses and sins"  and "by nature children under wrath," AND YET God expresses favor toward us and graciously rescues us from our sins, granting us spiritual life.

On the other hand, Surah 11:3 in the Koran declares:

"Seek the forgiveness of your Lord... and [Allah will] bestow His abounding grace on all who abound in merit!"

The picture of grace consistently presented in the Koran [I think this will be evident in subsequent posts as well] is that the sinner must first begin good works-- "abound[ing] in merit"-- and only then will Allah grant His favor to the sinner.

Have you ever TRIED to live a life free from all sin, and give yourself out in good works? Indeed the Christian DOES forsake sins and do good works-- Ephesians 2:10 declares that believers are "created in Christ Jesus for good works" [emphasis added]-- but these works are based on the realization that God has already saved us, and we realize that we continue to need (and receive!) God's grace as we fall short. This is good news.

I would argue that the Koran's understanding of grace-- in which we sinners must somehow EARN the favor of a holy God-- in NOT good news, but rather a path to increasing spiritual bondage.

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