Paul Zahl


Paul Zahl is an influential Anglican Pastor, Theologian. He has a Podcast called PZ’s Podcast, and is author of one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, called Grace in Practice. He is the father to David, John, and Simeon Zahl, all of who are involved in different aspects of Christian ministry.


“The message of grace has also proven to be provocative, especially in relation to other Christians. Sometimes I have been accused of being ‘long on grace and short on law.’ In other words, some have feared that my emphasis on grace is tantamount to blessing sin. The traditional word for this accusation is ‘antinomianism,’ or teaching that is contrary to the law. Christians who stress grace – unmerited acceptance – are often accused of being ‘antinomian.’ It is almost a sure sign that you are preaching grace when people call you antinomian.” – Paul Zahl (Grace in Practice)

In life there are two governing principles that are at war with one another. The first is law; the second is grace. So powerful are these two principles, so virile and unquenchable, so captivating and irresistible, that all relationships, all human operations, simply life down before them. The law crushes the human spirit; grace lifts it.” – Paul Zahl (Grace in Practice)

“The story of the Bible is the story of perpetual war between law and grace. Law comes in, as the apostle Paul puts it, and human beings become excited by it. They become excited to resist it. The law, which is any form of external command, provokes the opposite reactions from the one it is intended to provoke. Instead of inciting obedience or submission, it incites rebellion. It provokes revolutionary resentment.” – Paul Zahl (Grace in Practice)

“Is the law ever a gratifying thing? Does it produce pleasure? No. But the law is a true thing, an accurate summary or description of what it means to be happy and fulfilled, especially in relation to one’s neighbors. If we were able and willing to follow it, the law would be the answer to humanity’s problems. People who obey the law are, at least in principle, free from accusation. They are in the position of having peace in life, and also in death. But no law has been created that has the capacity to engender what it demands. The truth is, the law invites illegality. It almost cries out for it.” – Paul Zahl (Grace in Practice)

“If we cheat on law, we are cheated on grace. This is why the absolute picture of law that is found in the God of the Bible is a safer interpretation of human failure than the mish-mash of extenuations and rationalizations that the law becomes in the hands of human mediation. There is a weights-and-measures relationship between law and grace: ‘you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;’ but ‘there is a Fountain filled with blood.’ A big view of God’s grace – the blood that cleanses, the balm in Gilead – depends on a big view of God’s law.” – Paul Zahl (Grace in Practice)

“The law of Moses, which in my theology is the law of God, is upright and beautiful. It is ‘perfect…true and righteous altogether’, but it does nothing to create the state that it requires. There is no one enabling word in its arsenal. When Moses came down the mountain, he came down with the truth but not the means with which to apply it, save by suppression through the instrumentality of judgment.” – Paul Zahl (Grace in Practice)

“What is grace? Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called gifts. It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved…Grace is one-way love.” – Paul Zahl

“Christ spoke to people as they really were: publicans and sinners, the sick and handicapped. He did not come to help the free; he came to save the bound.” – Paul Zahl

“Christ’s death maximizes the law. It states that death alone is sufficient to answer the accusation of God’s perfect law.” – Paul Zahl

“The Good News of the Gospel affirms that God is both for us and with us. His being for us means that He does something on our behalf that we cannot do for ourselves. This for-us-ness refers to the Atonement, by which Christ died for us in our place on the Cross, thereby sparing us from judgment and guilt. God’s with-us-ness means that He has “taken our nature upon him,” to accompany us as friend and shepherd during the pilgrimage of living. This with-us-ness refers to the Incarnation, by which God is born into the world and shares the condition of human beings with the single exception of sin.”… And he feeleth for our sadness, and he shareth in our gladness” (Paul Zahl, with Cecil Frances Alexander)


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