"Grace Church" Evangelicalism?

Hi,

This is my first post but I’ve been reading CAF since I began studying the one true faith last year. I’m excited about starting RCIA in September.

My questions involve some concerns I have about my mother. (I’m in my late 20s but recently moved back home for a year while attending law school). My mom is an evangelical and has been attending the mega church in my hometown for about seven years. Recently, she has left the mega church and is helping to start a new church she says is based on “grace” or is a “grace church.” As I understand it, the group forming her new church was basically kicked out of the mega church for their beliefs. She says the pastors thought their ideas were a license to sin.

To me, it all appears to be some kind of an even more radical OSAS belief system. My mom is now giving everyone she knows a copy of a book, “Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace,” by Clark Whitten. While I have not read the book, I am under the impression that it is connected to her new beliefs.

My mom has been a faithful Christian for many years. In her mega church, she would fast for forty days once a year from coffee. Now, she tells me things such as fasting are not necessary because “It is finished!” She tells me this constantly. She tells me my Catholic beliefs are just like she was when she first “got saved.”

For the most part our faith discussions are charitable. I’m now well versed in the Catholic faith after a long period of discerning whether I was going to join the Church. I smile a lot, ask her why she believes something, then explain why I disagree. Obviously, long term, I’d love for her to come to the Catholic faith. But, at the moment, I am most concerned with her seemingly radical shift in theology.

Is anyone familiar with this “grace church” movement in evangelicalism or, more importantly, this book? Am I correct that it is some form of radical OSAS? Any converts from this background have any advice on what brought you to the Catholic faith?

I’ve given her my copy of “What Must I do to be Saved?” by Marcus Grodi. I told her that I wanted her to read it so she’d better understand my beliefs. Obviously, I am hoping it will help her out.

Thanks for the advice.

-Mike

I am not familiar with the specific book or necessarily Grace churches (Although I attended Grace Church of Glendora for a while). The grace church I attended always seemed baptist leaning evangelical and had a pretty heavy lean on OSAS. One of the pastors daughters just now got baptized at 35 years old, because it was unnecessary and the only reason she did it was because it was about time she thought.

Honestly its a sad thing because it is so far from the truth of Christianity.

For me coming over, I found I had to read the gospels myself. Once I read what Jesus actually said, I found that I had been reading a few verses of Paul’s out of context and then dismissing the words of God himself, Jesus.

The parable of the sheep and goats helped me a lot as well as Matt 7. Also, James 2 was a big factor. Don’t let her talk around these things. Challenge her 2 or 3 verse cherry picks with dozens upon dozens of verses of support for the Catholic view.

Not sure. I know some Calvinists refer to their doctrines as “the doctrines of grace,” but I’m not sure this is what is being referred to. From reading some amateur reviews of this book on Amazon.com, Clark Whitten seems to be highlighting the absolute radicalness and amazingness (not really a word) of God’s grace. I haven’t read the book, but based on some critical reviews, some things concern me.

Reviewer s j van buren wrote, “Clark Whitten believes that I John was written to unbelievers instead of to Christians, at least chapter one verse nine about confessing our sins to God.” If this is true, it is a serious problem. The truth is that there is post-conversion sin. How can we be reconciled to God if we never confess sins we commit after our conversion? Yet, it is the belief that 1 John was written to unbelievers that lays the groundwork for the other problematic belief that s j van buren claims Whitten teaches, “He also does not believe we have a sin nature anymore since we were saved.”

S j van buren concludes his review by saying, “A new believer could get some wrong ideas from this book and there is some danger in that. I certainly would not endorse this book and believers need to not except everything that someone they admire such as a pastor is saying. I have really gone through the scriptures after reading this book and stand firm in my belief that the book is flawed. Grace is precious and always we should be thankful for it!”

It’s possible that the new theology your mother has encountered is nothing more than antinomianism dressed up as “grace.”

Welcome! You have given mom the truth. Now, your attention will perhaps best be turned to prayer on her behalf. The Holy Spirit is the great Uniter, while worldly spirits seek only division. It is easy to see which of them your mom is currently subjecting herself to. At some point, it will be difficult for her to continuously resist the urging of the Holy Spirit toward truth and unity in Christ. A suggestion: You may very well have heard of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or “holy hour” Most parishes offer it. Find an hour per week and go to adoration at a nearby parish. Christ is there, waiting. Offer up your prayers, anxieties and pains for the conversion of your mom. Then, be as patient with the Lord has He has been with you. With patience, you may expect a miracle.

This is a coincidence, because I was wondering about it myself a couple days ago. There are Grace Lutheran churches, Grace UMC churches, etc. I wondered what the Grace means.

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is by grace that we are saved, healed, delivered, set free, etc. It is favor of God that we did not earn.

Grace itself is not controversial. Grace is central to Christianity. What is questionable is how some Christians understand the theological implications of grace. There is a spectrum and many people gravitate towards the two extremes. On one side you’ve got people who think “I can do whatever I want because God has already forgiven me.” This is commonly called “cheap grace.” Then at the other end of the spectrum you have legalism or works righteousness where people all but negate grace. These kind of people believe that it is their own actions that will save them. While few Christians will ever admit to following legalism or works righteousness, there are Christians who do this in practice whether they admit it or not.

Thanks, :slight_smile: but I’m wondering what the words signifies in the title of the church. Does Grace Lutheran have a different belief system from St. Matthew’s Lutheran?

No. It’s no different than having two Catholic parishes named St. Mary’s and St. Peters.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and help. It is much appreciated! Keep me in your prayers. God Bless.

-Mike

This hints at the sin that Catholics would call “presumption”, or assuming God’s mercy and grace, while lacking true repentance and contrition for one’s sins. Presumption is a sin against the second theological virtue of hope. From the catechism:

Hope

2090 When God reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and of incurring punishment.

2091 The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption:

By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to his justice - for the Lord is faithful to his promises - and to his mercy.

2092 There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).

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