The Life Of Grace

The Catholic doctrine of grace has emerged from two great controversies, the first being the crisis provoked by Pelagius (d. after 413), whose stress on self-sufficient human freedom and commitment underplayed the need for God's grace and represented human beings as capable of achieving salvation largely through their own resources. More than a thousand years later, leaders of the Protestant Reformation highlighted the damage done to human nature by original sin and presented human beings as intrinsically incapable of any good actions. The Council of Trent (1545—63) had to face the question: how does justification through Christ's grace save and change human beings? Besides explaining the teaching on grace as it emerged from the fifth- and sixteenth-century crises, we also need to show the differing aspects highlighted by the Christian West and East (both Orthodox and Catholic) in their understanding of the new life of grace.

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