12 June 2007


by Frank Turk

I was reading AOMIN.org this weekend, and was struck with the really important point James White was making over there about the difference between the necessity of Grace and the sufficiency of Grace. Superficially, many people think this is a very slim distinction, but in all seriousness, this is what separates the boys from the men intellectually -- and the Gospel from all its imitators theologically.

Nuance. A shade of meaning which distinguishes a wolverine from a ferret.

I don't have any extended scriptural reference to give you, or an exegesis of Galatians 2 to underscore the point. I just wanted to remind you that it's important to have some sense of how to make fine distinctions if you want to understand the things which are happening around you. Everything cannot be sorted out with the intellectual-equivalents of hammers and tongs: once in a while, you have to use a flour sifter or a comb.

Carry on.


Hayden said...


Excellent, short, concise point! One that I thouroughly agree with. I notice there are some in the "blogosphere" that always bring the mallet.

You have had some excellent posts in the past week that I have really appreciated.

I once had a professor in seminay tell us budding pastors "There is a difference between patience and comprimise in ministry." That is a nuance I have learned.

donsands said...

"and the Gospel from all its imitators theologically."

I wonder how many different ways the Gospel is nuanced? Innumerable I would imagine. Satan and his ministers are clever foes to the truth.

Anonymous said...

Nuance is the post-modern enemy of clarity.

Yes, you can quote that if you wish.

steve said...

Frank, could you please provide a link to where James White made this distinction? I went over to his site but couldn't find it.

Anonymous said...

Just last night I got in a conversation with my fiance's mother about Rome. I was grateful I'd read AOMIN that morning, because I was able to bring that very thing up to her.

FX Turk said...


Shoot. I meant to link that in my post.

This is the article I'm talking about.

FX Turk said...


I would reject your statement without any qualification. In postmodernism, nuance is utterly lost -- it is something they cannot grasp.

Hang on. Let me post something, and then you can see what I'm saying.

FX Turk said...


this is what I'm talking about

Anonymous said...

Ouch, a Pyro-spanking of the first degree. Thank you sir, may I have another?

See my response to Cent's response at his place.

A great illustration of the fact that a sound-bite communication style does not lend itself to clarity - or the proper employment of nuance.

FX Turk said...


J♥Yce Burrows said...

Made me think muchly. :-)

Stefan Ewing said...

Is grace necessary or sufficient? Are we saved by God's grace plus some stuff that we do, or by God's grace alone, in spite of all the stuff that we do?

Nuance schmuance....

Mark B. Hanson said...

The people who think they have their particular belief together in compact form seem to be the most immune to nuance. Here I picture the Roman Catholic who says, "Well I guess you Protestants can't say the Nicene Creed then, since you obviously don't believe in 'one holy, catholic and apostolic church' like we do."

The nuances lie in our scriptural understanding of the words "one", "holy" "catholic", "apostolic" and "church". We probably agree what "and" means.

The other folks I immediately thought of who routinely pooh-pooh nuance are our Arminian friends on John 3:16: "What part of 'whosoever' don't you understand?" Sigh.

Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan Ewing said...

Cent's thoughts on nuance here and on his blog have been great.

I was being facetious in my comment, but only half facetious, because in the specific case that got Cent thinking about this, from a computer scientist's* point of view, there is a world of difference between "necessary" and "sufficient."

*For those who were paying attention in class.