What is Hyper-grace And Why Is It Controversial?

By Julie Roys

Some say the hyper-grace movement is a new reformation bringing Christians new hope and clarity.  Others say it’s a perversion of the Gospel, leading to backsliding and compromise. 

The movement was thrust into the limelight when one of its leading voices, Tullian Tchividjian, former pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, admitted an affair and filed for divorce. Some saw this as a natural consequence of a movement that allegedly overemphasizes grace and neglects holiness. And, they say that not only do hyper-grace teachers fall into sin; so do their followers

Yet, supporters say these criticisms are based on unfair caricatures of the movement.  Hyper-grace teachers are not soft on sin, they’re just “extremely big on Jesus.” And, most followers are not enmeshed in sin.  They’re simply being liberated from judgmental churches that rely on human effort, and neglect the sufficient work of Christ.   

We’ll discuss the movement in depth on Up for Debate this Saturday at 11 a.m. CST.  Joining me will be hyper-grace critic, Dr. Michael Brown of the FIRE School of Ministry – and supporter, Kevin Labby, Executive Board member of Liberate and Key Life. Until then, here’s more about this movement – both support and criticism. 

What is Hyper-grace?

The term hyper-grace was coined by critics of a recent movement in Christianity that places an extreme emphasis on the role of grace. Hyper-grace teaches that God forgives one’s future sins the same way he forgives one’s past sins. Some even say that repentance and confession of sin are not necessary since Christians are eternally forgiven. Sin, according to some with a hyper-grace viewpoint, is bad only because it can be harmful to one’s life, and the only way to truly disappoint God is by not trusting his grace. The idea of progressive sanctification — that believers, with the help of the Holy Spirit, go through a process that gradually separates them from the evil of the world to be more and more like Christ — is dismissed by hyper-grace teachers as legalism. Instead, they believe that a holy life will be a byproduct of God’s grace.

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Criticisms of the Hyper-grace Movement

“In their zeal to exalt God’s grace, hyper-grace teachers often make extreme statements that lead believers to think that they are not responsible for their sins.”

Critics say that the hyper-grace movement teaches that believers are not bound by Jesus’s teachings or responsible for their sin, which it leads many followers to live lives of sin. According to Dr. Michael Brown, president of the FIRE School of Ministry, “In their zeal to exalt God’s grace, hyper-grace teachers often make extreme statements that lead believers to think that they are not responsible for their sins. After all, if we are always perfectly holy in God’s sight, we don’t really sin. Our bodies do! This is dangerous and unbiblical.” 

Defenses of the Hyper-grace Movement

“No legitimate grace-preacher that I am aware of minimizes the reality that sin is evil, wrong, bad, unproductive and unfitting for a new creation in Christ.”

Supporters say hyper-grace teachers do believe in repentance. They just define it differently. As Jeremy White, author of “The Gospel Uncut,” says, grace teachers see repentance as “replacing old thinking with new thinking.” White also objects to accusations that hyper-grace teachers are soft on sin: “No legitimate grace-preacher that I am aware of minimizes the reality that sin is evil, wrong, bad, unproductive and unfitting for a new creation in Christ. What we DO focus on, however, is the Answer to sin, which is Jesus – and the fact that His grace alone is precisely what delivers us from its penalty (death), its power (enslavement) and eventually even its very presence (when we live in the fullness of His heavenly kingdom one day).”

Articles about the hyper-grace movement:

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17 thoughts on “What is Hyper-grace And Why Is It Controversial?”

  1. Wow, no comments here. In all honesty, many of those opposing “Hyper-Grace” are those who believe the Law still holds a place in the life of the New Covenant Christian. In their teachings, they divide the Law into parts. The Old Covenant Law is divided into ceremonial, sacrificial and moral. We as Christians are still under the “moral Law” they teach. When preachers of grace disagree, they are labeled as heretics. The Moral portions of the Mosaic law are more than the ten commandments. Even in the Ten Commandments there is ceremonial Law. Do you “keep” the Sabbath? Do you work on Friday evening through Saturday? If you’re washing dishes or mowing the lawn you’ve violated this Law. The Word of God is clear if you fail one you broken them all. What is the punishment for breaking God’s Law? Death!
    This is why Grace is so vital. We aren’t under Law but Grace. In Acts 15 men like Dr. Brown, Sid Roth, and others were urging the Jerusalem council to force the Gentile converts to uphold the Law of Moses. It wasn’t just a physical circumcision issue. They wanted the Gentiles to observe the Law. The verdict of the Jerusalem council was not Law but Grace. This debate has already been settled. Yet, we see churches now insisting we call Jesus by the Hebrew name, call for observance of Jewish customs and celebration of the feasts.
    Certainly, in any church group or teaching there will be those advocating for the extreme. Universalists and those denying the existence of Hell have tried to intermingle with Grace teaching. Solid Grace teachers like Joseph Prince and Paul Ellis have rebuked these ideas and errors.
    As for denial of repentance or confession that’s a partial truth. Grace simply defines repentance the way the New Testament Greek does. The word is metanoia in Greek. It means to change the mind. We repent all the time under Grace. We change our thinking. His Grace within reveals who we are and whose we are and our thinking aligns with that and it produces change.
    Confession is to agree with God. Because all of our sins have been forgiven once for all time, we can confess our sins not to receive forgiveness but because we already are forgiven. We agree with God. If future sin isn’t forgiven we are all in trouble. The Word of God declared the only thing that can forgive sins is the shedding of blood. Jesus already shed His precious blood. If we are only forgiven up to the point of conversion and then we sin what sacrifice is left to bring forgiveness? Those opposing Grace would have us to believe God has changed and simply our apology is what forgives sins after conversion. Thank God though, Jesus died for all sins, once for all time.
    As for progressive sanctification, that is not in the Scriptures. We are made holy once for all time so says Hebrews 10. What we do see in Scriptures is the progressive maturity into who we’ve already been made into by Christ. If Christians really understood and believed they were righteous and holy right now they would soon begin to conform to that right image in thought and word and deeds. Grace is so good and is not heresy as the legalist wish to believe. They wish to exchange righteousness by faith for a performance based faith. God tried it that way once. It is called the Old Covenant. Yea, that didn’t work so He changed it for a new and better covenant.

    1. I think God doesn’t try and fail later. God doesn’t do trial and error. His actions are perfect and final. no room for error because he is perfect. The old covenant is a vital part of the new covenant. That is to mirror us our fault which now lead us to Gods better covenant, otherwise we insist on our good works.

      1. God doesn’t try and fail, but He tried man’s effort as a basis for covenant in the Old Testament. The Old Covenant was established to prove all humanity is guilty before God. The Law was given to stir up sin not curtail it. Read Romans. The Old is not a vital part of the New. Paul revealed the Old is obsolete and vanished away. The old testament scripture is still God’s Word but much of the Old is the Mosaic Law given to Israel. We can find Jesus in the Old certainly. But unless you’re trekking to Jerusalem 3 times a year, sacrificing animals on the day of atonement, observing the Sabbath, not eating medium rare steak, or shrimp, it’s time to honor the New, Jesus’ Finished Work, the substance and not the shadow.

  2. Hyper Grace is an oxymoron. Sorry, but GRACE cannot be enhanced. The term “hyper grace” is an insult to Jesus Christ’s accomplishment. I see jealousy among churches toward other ministries. Stop it. We have a common enemy. We need to stop the division inside the body of Christ.

    1. Hyper grace or abounding grace? I think that hyper-grace means extending the concept of grace to include that idea that we do not need to obey God. (Shall we sin that grace may abound [hyper]?)

    2. Claudia I challenge you to look at the greek word abounding, when Paul refers to Grace as Grace abounds. we get the word hyper from this word. God’s Grace is over the top, too good to be true but true Good News!

  3. marvin anderson

    The purpose of grace is not to ignore sin , but to overcome sin through the power of faith. Otherwise Jesus died for nothing. Salvation is not a free pass, but it is a commitment between the believer and the Almighty god. He gives grace to the humble, our we humble living a lifestyle contrary to the example left to us by Christ himself who did no sin , neither was there any guile found in his mouth. Solomon left us with this, hear the conclusion of the whole matter, fear god and keep HIS commandments. I did not say the Law of Moses….

    1. Salvation is a free gift (a free pass for us) which is not earned but needs to be believed and accepted by faith in God’s promise through Jesus Christ who willingly died in our place and in three days rose again.

  4. I didn’t notice any scripture in the article. The article says, ” not only do hyper-grace teachers fall into sin; so do their followers.” Wake up & smell the roses? or the skunks? ALL CHRISTIANS fall into sin, I think on a daily basis. James says that in many ways we all stumble. There is, however, the issue of claiming that grace implies that a Christian should freely sin (
    Shall we sin that grace may abound? Let it not be).

    As I read the end of Romans 5 I see that King Grace is a great king that King Sin, and that the Christian LIfe is a free gift. Yet every Christian is a Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, oscillating back and forth between Old Man & New Man, spirituality & carnality.

    Still scripture is conclusive, that just as there is one hoop to jump through for salvation (Believe/have faith/ depend on /trust in) the Lord Jesus, so also faith is the only hoop to jump through for Galatians 2:20-21 to be a reality (no longer I but Christ lives in me. . . by faith in the Son of God. In the great intercessory prayer of Paul for the Ephesians the only action a Christian is to do is faith: Christ by faith may dwell in your hearts . . . filled to all the fullness of God. Grace is the great principle accessed by faith.

    Psalm 37: “Commit thy way unto YHWH;
    Trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.
    And he will make thy righteousness to go forth as the light
    and thy justice as the noonday.

    Grace is the basis (He will make).
    Trust faith is man’s part.
    Righteousness with good works is the inevitable result.

  5. Hyper grace is a extremist distortion. It does lead men into sin and apathy, building the Laodicean Church. Remember the words of Soloman: “the man of God avoids all extremes”. Hyper grace is a doctrine built on 1/2 the gospel.

    1. Hyper Grace is an extreme distortion? Please explain what the other half of the gospel is? Is the “whole gospel” one part God’s Grace and two parts your efforts, your performance, your good deeds, your promise to be a better person, your promise to cease from sin?
      If so why didn’t Paul the Apostle tell this to the Philippian Jailer? He asked what must I do to be saved? Paul responded, believe in Jesus and thou will be saved. Paul didn’t say, believe, then promise to be nicer, kinder, more faithful, more holy, to make more promises that you won’t sin too much…

  6. Very true. The division is too much and the devil is busy laughing at us when we fight against one another instead of him. May God help us.

  7. I think that a big problem with this page is the lack of scripture? You make argument with no proof; it’s just subjective and you don’t back up any of your claims with any evidence.

    Also- the first thing that cam up on this website was “donate now”.
    Which really annoyed me, you should provide a service and then ask for a donation imho-
    I was really put off by being asked to donate to something I don’t know!
    The problem is that you could be a con artist with a clever website and Have no ministry at all! How would I know?

    1. Shaun,
      This post is several years old and was meant to be only a primer for an in-depth discussion on the topic I had on my old radio show. The audio of my discussion is available here: https://moodyaudio.com/products/should-christians-embrace-hyper-grace-movement

      I’m sorry the donate pop-up was annoying to you. Feel free to opt out. It’s just a request. I’ve been taking donations for a year now and will be posting a financial statement with full disclosure on how everything is spent shortly.

  8. I don’t think this is true. if you look at the majority of “Christian” polls, Christians are committed to sin. They are committed to fornication, abortion, homosexuality, and other sins. They embrace politicians that are committed to sin. They are a part of the world, not apart from the world. They are committed to sin and the flesh because the modern church teaches it makes no difference to their salvation.

    1. Elizabeth Dimambro

      AMEN, if you have to be born again to be saved then you have to have a conversion through the Holy Spirit.
      “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Those who are in Christ are distinguished from unbelievers in that they have been gifted with the Holy Spirit, enabling them to bear fruit. Those who are living in sinful behavior do not have the Holy Spirit, therefore are not born again. When I became born again, The Holy spirit convicted me of my sins and led me to clean up my life, and NOW I am the righteousness of God through Christ who lives His life in me.

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