Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God

 

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What is “Hyper-Grace” and why would anyone think it could be a bad thing? In any debate, whether it be cultural, philosophical, or theological, transforming a pejorative label into a positive identity or a “badge of honor” has to figure somewhere in the argument’s final verdict.  Daniel Silva manages to pull this off in his new book Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God.

Like his debut book It’s All About Jesus Silva offers up a passionate defense of the grace of God in the life of the believer.  Needless to say Hyper-Grace is no dry theological tome; this is “grace” with raw street cred!

Although it’s not mentioned in the title, Silva’s Hyper-Grace is a play on, and response to, Dr. Michael Brown’s recent release Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message. (Yes, “Hyper-Grace” is the theme de jour)

Grace Accusers

Silva addresses a number of standard accusations leveled at preachers and writers in the “grace-camp”.  That they:

* encourage an environment to sin

* shun any form of confession

* believe God is never angry

Essentially though the root of the argument against the modern grace movement is  that grace preachers fail to take sin seriously enough.

Counters Silva:

The message is not that God doesn’t find a problem with sin, it’s that he found such a HUGE problem with sin that he sent his Son to destroy it, and remove it from our lives forever.

Loc. 510

 

That theme underpins Silva’s book.  That it is actually those that stand opposed to “grace” who fail to take sin seriously enough.  They believe sin is a small enough debt that after Jesus makes the initial deposit, we are quite capable of assuming the payments.

Ask yourself how well that has ever worked out for you?

 

Grace Manipulators

Daniel Silva goes on by saying that opposition to grace is used by leaders to keep people in line,

Though many love to throw the word “grace” around, the idea of God’s kindness is still a huge problem for those who need him to be angry in order to coerce their congregations into better moral performance, and scare those on the outside of the church into becoming members as quickly as possible.  Sure, it’s nice when you live up to his standards, but as soon as you don’t, He’s an entirely different person who goes on a rampage; somehow this is called “unconditional love” when it isn’t anything close.”

Loc. 519

Performance is a powerful tool used by leaders and Silva’s Hyper-Grace is not afraid to take them on  for manipulating their congregations.  He suggests there is an ulterior motive to their resistance to the modern message of grace;

If your business consists of putting a carrot on a stick and have people pay you for the opportunity of chasing it, then it’s no good for your business when a group of people comes along and starts giving away carrots for free.

Loc. 514

 

Conclusion

Because a response to Dr. Michael Brown’s book challenging “hyper-grace” is not conveyed in the title, one picking up the book seeking information on what this “Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God” is all about may be confused not realizing they had just walked into a full on debate.  This is certainly an “in-house grace-camp” discussion and the author assumes a certain level of familiarity with the arguments that the reader may or may not have.

Fortunately Silva is deft at bringing the readers up to speed and as the book progresses it becomes less a critique of Brown’s book and more a wonderful unveiling of the Grace of God that we have been freely given.

Dr. Brown “Hyper-Grace” is to be feared;  Silva’s is to be celebrated.   Let the reader decide which “Hyper-Grace” is the more attractive.

5 comments

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  • ” Let the reader decide which “Hyper-Grace” is the more attractive.” That’s the problem with the world today. God’s truths are not popular, attractive, or meant to make us feel good. This is not a buffet line. I guess that is why Christians don’t like the Old Testament. The same God that killed a man for gathering sticks on the Sabbath is the same God you will meet on Judgement day. He is the same God that Jesus obeyed, so who are we to think that we don’t have to obey Him? Yes, God loves you and if you love Him you will sincerely try to do what He says. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14

  • denis

    Reply

    the quotes you have decided to include from Daniel Silvers book? i recognise them as misrepresentations or misunderstandings of what the truth actually is.

    i have read of ‘myths’ concerning hyper grace adherents that traditional church adherents are supposed to hold – from what i have read the opposite is also true in my experience concerning the traditional church according to the ‘myths’/views that are often presented by hyper grace writers

    if what Daniel states above was his experience of Christianity then i understand why he stands where he does now.

    many of us have found rest in the traditional church and do not recognise the pictures Daniel Silva has painted through your chosen quotes above.

    • Steve

      Reply

      Denis, Thank you for your comment. I can’t speak for Daniel but from my own experience I know there are a lot of great traditional churches. I’m glad you have found yourself in one. But there are still many more in manipulative, performance driven churches under the vision of a single pastor that is wrecking havoc in people’s relationships and undertsanding of God. It is important for those people to know that is not what God intends…

      • denis

        Reply

        yes – i think you are right Steve – i have had discussions with ‘leaders’ who run an unhealthy hierarchical framework. (i’d be interested to study the hierarchical frameworks of grace churches also – in an academic sense)

        there are some things said of traditional churches that i know to be true – (such as you have said above and i would put my hands up to, and i speak against also)

        and there are some i know to be caricatures (or the personal experience of the writer – in either case – some i would dispute in their correctness – as i have with Mr Silvas in your blog above)

        as for true rest in Christ – in a healthy relationship – (without the misconceptions i have read from grace adherents) – it can be found in the traditional church – mine came after 30 years – by revelation. (our understanding of certain scriptures may be another matter)

        we in the traditional church need to put our hands up to certain things – methinks the grace adherents chance may come also – by that i mean i’m unsure it is as bright as is claimed – i am yet to hear a negative sounding point from a hyper grace adherent – i just don’t trust that.

        thank you for the opportunity to reply
        very best regards
        denis
        ps tough to keep to a single point! 80)

        • Steve

          Reply

          Thanks Denis..God Bless

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