What does "grace" mean? During the 1958-9 academic year at the Berkeley Divinity School in New Haven, Visiting Lecturer Dr. Leonard Hodgson (Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford) commented: We begin by repudiating all notions of grace which think of it as a something given by God to work mechanically, after the manner of a medicine given by a doctor to be taken three times a day after meals. We think of Gods grace after the analogy of that help which one can give to another in personal relationships, help which does not set aside or supersede a mans own freedom but enables him to be more truly himself and more fully free: the sort of help which leads him to say with gratitude, I could never have been what I am but for X.
In the Bible, grace is synonymous with favor, mercy, compassion, kindness and love. Because of our human limitations, individuals are unable to establish truly personal, faithful relationships with God solely by their own efforts. Gods grace is extended to us that we might become more aligned with Gods purposes and to mature toward a fuller communion with the Creator and each other. Neither controlling nor coercing, Gods freely given grace enables, strengthens, and empowers. Recipients of grace remain free to respond or not; otherwise, God-given human freedom would be shackled.