Recently I have been concerned about grace in Christianity, and have participated in discussions concerning it in CAF. At present I am studying recent work, especially by John Barclay, and it seems to me now that there is agreement among many Christian thinkers, whether Catholic or not.
In summary Christians may agree that:
1 We are saved by the merits of Jesus Christ;
2 We can do nothing meritorious without grace;
3 Grace is a free gift from God unmerited on our part, especially initially;
4 Grace is unconditioned (given without requiring our worth), but is NOT unconditional (our response is expected, since God is a judge). In the ancient world every gift was in expectation of a return.;
5 The old way of expressing the unmerited gift of grave was via prevenient grace, the supernatural gift given to enable us to do meritorious actions, since without grace we cannot do actions pleasing to God;
6 Another term for prevenient grace is antecedent grace, perhaps more common in Catholic circles. (Other terms are gratia praeveniens, antecedens, excitans, vocans,operans);
7 Trent confirms this “In adults the beginning of justification must proceed from the antecedent grace of God acquired by Jesus Christ”.
In conclusion all Christians can now agree on what grace is.
However I am not sure if I am correct, so I would welcome comments and corrections.