Thursday, September 17, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

In what ways does the “how much more” of God’s grace manifest itself in your story?


Rhett & Valerie said...


Are you referring to a specific passage here? Like Matthew 7:11/Luke 11:13? And also Hebrews 9:14? (hooray for online concordances).

I was going to make some references to a knowledge or feeling of God's personal love for me in my life, but sometimes those feelings are stronger than others, and sometimes they don't seem to testify to anything at all. But I would say that the gift of His Holy Spirit and the testimony of the Scriptures are a huge comfort and encouragement in good times and bad.


Greg said...

Thanks. Yes, I was. The passage I had in mind was Romans 5 and the "how much more" that is found there. Where sin exists grace abounds. As our stories go we are sinners, yet God's grace transforms us into his children and a new story begins.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Where I sin, I already have forgiveness, that is abounding grace in my eyes. Much more, than I deserve.
Living, i.e. not going to die and not dying(!), is another "much more" difference in Romans 5. And it is also grace! If we consider law and our sins... Oh man!
Praise be to God for his grace he shows us every day!!!

And I guess being transformed is another grace. We do not stay the way we are. He reigns in our lives. Though I sometimes wish it would be more visible...

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Interesting, sin was the first thing, that came to my mind, without Gregs mentioning of Romans 5. But in Romans 5 there is much more weight laid on our blessings / on the grace.

Can we discover this in our lives, that grace is much more present and much more weighty than these stupid things we stumble upon? (Question to me and you...)

Greg said...

Thanks. True, and these are some of the reasons that "how much more" is so amazing.

Seems to me that God does reign in our lives -- And that he gives us a degree of accountability to make that more visible.

Greg said...

Good question. Yes, I believe that we can not only discover this grace, but also act upon it and because it is so "how much more" weighty than sin, grace can ripple out through ourselves, towards others, and into the world. After all, if it's true, then this should be a living possibility.

Nita de Oliveira said...

Dear Greg and Friends,
Let me jump into this discussion, if I may. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." (Romans 5:20) I always loved this scripture, from the first time I read it, right after conversion, over 30 yrs ago, all the way thru many other "conversions" away from my misleading, winding roads towards the steady path of God's irresistable grace. Karl Barth's commentary on Romans, in spite of all its polemical takes, joins the old Rev. Spurgeon's sermons on grace as they both point to the unique gift of God's revelation as something totally undeserved, as the gift of life itself. Regardless of my stubborn, self-deceptive stupidity and pride, God is there and is not silent –after all these years! I have been thinking a lot about self-understanding, subjectivation, technologies of the self, and the like – yes, Foucault got it right when he saw this interesting link between the Greek truth-saying in self-knowledge and the Christian practices of self-care, confession and pastoral guidance: human beings are, after all, on the same erring boat as they try do deal with nature and their own nature thru subtle techniques and technological domination and transformations of nature and themselves –hence the intriguing correlation between self-control and social control. Now, God's grace cannot be just another subtle trick of self-deception that helped Christians being brainwashed and socialized into Christ's servants –just another form of slave morality and civilizational domestication (as Nietzsche and Freud rightly suspected). Too bad that some US fundamentalists do sound like little church clones, but I think that God's grace transcends all these idiosyncrasies and social, cultural pathologies precisely because it "abounds all the more" (Greek "hyperperisseuo," to overflow), overcoming the self-centered elements of all subcultures (including US and Brazilian Christendom –thank God!) and every human, all-too huamn, attempts at self-overcoming (such as the autonomous self of sufficient reason, Zarathustra's Übermensch and postmodernist self-help bricoleurs!). In the last analysis, God's grace alone is what gives me motivation to pursue self-esteem and self-respect in the love of every other human being, regardless of our sinful condition.

Greg said...

Thanks. We talked about some of this at lunch today. Initiation into "the how much more" leads to a growing post-conversion receptivity of God's grace and a new accountability that gradually, yet substantially transforms us in correspondence to our destiny to be like Christ.

I think I prefer 'always present' and in Ricoeur's terms "superabundance", to irresistible grace, but I think I see what you're getting at.

I would wager the selves you talk about could be configured as false selves remaining false in spite of their sometimes accurate critique, and false selves who don't stop with a sometimes accurate critique, but are becoming true selves because of God's grace.

Christians and cultures so often close down the world through the spin of deceit and fear, and might I add, arrogance, that engagement with God, self, other, and world are left in dust and ashes.

Thankfully, God's grace towards us all is excessive.

Nita said...

Thanks, Greg! I really appreciate your sharing so many beautiful thoughts about God's grace and the "false selves" we fashion after our own desires, drives, and passions. I think that you're rightly pointing out that our selves remain "false in spite of [our] sometimes accurate critique," precisely because it must be the work of God's grace within ourselves that will bring about real, radical change, conversion of the whole self, "metanoia." But this is what bothers me most, that this conversion keeps "taking place," as it were, "in the making," as if we were beginning everything anew --well, perhaps that's the idea, that we are daily experiencing God's grace as an excess, superabundance, as you remarked, in this sense more dynamic than the idea of an "irresistible grace" that is often associated with a once-for-all experience of conversion. I'm glad to think that, after all, "we are becoming true selves because of God's grace," period! To a large extent, my existential struggles with my own self-identity as a Christian, suspecting anything related to Evangelicalism, had to do with this, as some of my professors and mentors at Aix thought that I wasn't entirely convinced about an intellectual conversion of the self, as if I could be emotionally committed to the born-again status but deep inside if I were to remain honest to God I wasn't 100 % sure that "this" particular view of Christianity was the "true truth." Now I realize that this somewhat "intellectual" metanoia is something that has taken longer for my self-perception as a Christian, esp. as an Evangelical Christian or how I am willing to identify myself in the public sphere. Sorry to bother again with more questions, but how do you deal with this whole issue of an Evangelical self-identity? I have been thinking about what you said regarding Evangelicals, as opposed to Fundamentalists, and came across the Evangelical Manifesto and Os Guinness's website --I remember OG's talks at L'Abri and that helped me reflect on the role of Christians in a post-secular society. I understand there is still a lot going on this debate about right-wing, conservative Evangelicals and how they have been mistakenly associated with L'Abri ministry --I was just curious to hear your take on this issue, what do you think of this manifesto and how does it relate to Dr Schaeffer's manifesto?

Greg said...

Thanks for the response. Perhaps, the terminology of being and becoming is relevant to conversions that keep taking place. That is, conversion creates status - being like Christ - that is the referent for transformation - a destiny of becoming like Christ. We don't start anew each time, but grow into that which has already been created and precedes us. The dimensional trajectory might be thought of as not from nothing to something each time, but from something to something more, "how much more" that opens us up anew to being and becoming true selves.

Unfortunately, I haven't looked very carefully at the Evangelical manifesto and am slightly suspect of manifestos per se. They tend to say too much or too little. Of course, it's unlikely that anybody would agree with all that the other says.

As for Schaeffer, it seems to me that he often went against the flow, yet remained faithful to the central tenets of the truth of the Scripture.

harry coe maynard said...


Great discussion guys, Greg and Nita, Keep talking.
The world needs Doctoral level folks talking openly, and struggling with the toughest things out there.

Most people are struggling privatley anyway.

Many think Intellectual Christian is an oximoron.


Greg said...

Thanks Harry coe. Good point about people struggling privately and the importance of open discussion.