Prolegomena to a psychology of grace


THE REALITY OF GRACE is a central element of the Christian life and experience. We are generally persuaded that the operation of grace in the human soul carries with it certain definite psychic effects. Yet, throughout the history of the Christian reflection on the revealed reality of grace and on the experience of the life of grace, there has emerged no dear concept of what the precise psychic effects of grace are and how those effects are achieved. The basic objective of the historical Christian reflection has been to define the ontological nature of grace. By and large this effort must be regarded as successful at least successful enough to provide some understanding of the complex relation between grace and nature. The understanding cannot be complete, because it deals with the mystery of divine action and existence, specifically with the relation between the created and the uncreated gift of grace. However successful such a reflection may be, as an ontological reflection it remains on a level of exterior and objective analysis. The analysis yields an understanding that can be partially redueecl to a formulation in terms of the principles of being, but it fails thereby to illumine the effect of grace upon the inner life of the soul. The analysis is therefore valid and necessary, in so far as it determines the essential intelligibility of grace in ks varied manifestations; but it determines nothing in regard to the specific effects of grace in the soul or to the meaning of grace in human life and experience. Unquestionably, a rich fund of data dealing with the effects of grace is to be found in the sources of the Christian tradition. Reflection on the life of grace runs through the Scripture, particularly in the writings of St. Paul. It was carried on and extended in the patristic tradition and found its most sublime expression in St. Augustine. These reflections

DOI: 10.1007/BF01532148

Cite this paper

@article{Meissner2005ProlegomenaTA, title={Prolegomena to a psychology of grace}, author={William W Meissner}, journal={Journal of Religion and Health}, year={2005}, volume={3}, pages={209-240} }