False and True Grace

False and True Grace


Christian churches emphasize moral and ethical living largely based on the Ten Commandments. They also teach about “grace” through Jesus’ sacrifice for sin by dying on the cross. Members are taught that if they repent and believe that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins, they are reconciled with God.

While they may believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and vicarious atonement, Christians are still subject to temptations and continue to sin. Sincere church members strive to overcome their back-sliding nature, often becoming discouraged or frustrated at the lack of progress. Others strive less and maintain a false sense of security in their belief that they are saved as a result of their faith in Jesus. Because of this scenario, Christianity can degenerate into a religion where a person may continue to violate God’s laws (in that Jesus’ blood will “cover” the sins of those who believe in his name), and wherein God can accept into His holy house a sin-laden soul merely because of faith in Jesus. Alternatively, it remains a religion not unlike Judaism, with the reliance on law obedience for the purpose of soul purification and as a “way” to God. There is no transformation of the soul – only purification, and therefore no fulfilment of the law by grace.

The truth is that the above is not the grace that Jesus taught and indeed is not grace at all. Neither Jesus’ nor anyone else’s blood has to power to wash away our sins. Also, a soul is naturally purified only to the extent that it is obedient to God’s laws. The message of grace that Jesus taught, and that is contained in the Bible but significantly downplayed and almost unnoticed, is that humans can pray for and obtain God’s Divine Love. This gift of love imparted by the Holy Spirit into the soul can progressively transform the human soul into an immortal divine soul. It is what the Old Testament prophets referred to as the “new heart”, which empowers change and enables the recipient of the Divine Love to more and more avoid sin.

The Divine Love is the real grace which ultimately eliminates sin from the soul as it affects its transformation into a divine soul, and thus brings about a soul condition whereby the laws of Moses are no longer needed. The law is fulfilled by the divine presence of the Father Himself through the Divine Love in the souls of those to whom it comes in response to earnest prayer. It is this love that is the fulfilment of the law.

With the false teaching of grace through the sacrifice and vicarious atonement of Jesus, many do not know about and so do not ask for the Divine Love and are therefore left to their own resources for overcoming sin. Yet, the Father is more than happy to impart the gift of His Love into the souls of those who pray to Him in sincerity and truth. The resultant transformation of the human soul into a divine soul is the true grace and fulfilment of the law.


Reference: The Gospel of God’s Love


Here is a related view from another source:

At-one-ment, Not Atonement

The Franciscan view of atonement theory is a prime example of our alternative orthodoxy. The Franciscan School was dissatisfied with the popular theological idea that Jesus came to Earth as a necessary sacrifice to appease an angry God. As human consciousness advances, more and more people cannot believe that God would demand Jesus’ blood as payment for our sins. It seems to be inevitable that our old logic needs to break up before we can begin to grow up.
The most common reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (generally believed in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and holding sway for most of the second millennium). But even in the 13th century, Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) agreed with neither of these understandings.

Duns Scotus was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, and blood sacrifice, which was understandably used by the Gospel writers and by Paul. Instead, he was inspired by the cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the Prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1-18). While the Church has never rejected the Franciscan position, it has remained a minority view.

The terrible and un-critiqued premise of many “substitutionary atonement theories” is that God demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to “atone” for our sin-drenched humanity. As if God could need payment, and even a very violent transaction, to be able to love and accept God’s own children! These theories are based on retributive justice rather than the restorative justice that the prophets and Jesus taught.

For Duns Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere Plan B or mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness; Jesus’ birth, life, and death had to be Plan A, the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made” (Ephesians 1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the incarnation! Only perfect love and divine self-revelation could inspire God to come in human form. God never merely reacts, but supremely and freely acts—out of love.

Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It did not need changing. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God! God is not someone to be afraid of but is the Ground of Being and on our side. [1]

The Franciscan minority position, our alternative orthodoxy, is basically saying that no atonement is necessary. Some call it “at-one-ment” instead of atonement. There is no bill to be paid; there is simply a union to be named. Jesus didn’t come to solve a problem; he came to reveal the true nature of God as Love.

[1] This is one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy. Join the CONSPIRE 2020 webcast to learn more about this and other themes: https://cac.org/conspire-2020/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy, disc 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015), CDMP3 download;

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 183-188;

Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis, session 1 (Morehouse Education Resources: 2014), Participants’ Workbook and DVD.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Francis loved God above all and wanted to imitate Jesus in very practical ways. Action and lifestyle mattered much more to him than mentally believing dogmatic or moral positions to be true or false. Francis directly said to the first friars, “You only know as much as you do!” —Richard Rohr



For more details on this topic, see also
Vicarious atonement
Salvation — Alternative View (PDF)
Reflections on the Gospels


Photo Credit: Winterdove