Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 May 2020
Justifying grace is for Kant the way religion symbolizes, in terms of our relation to God, our hope to overcome the propensity to evil through the change of heart. Divine forgiveness does not abolish or transcend morality but occurs in accordance with morality. The Son of God symbolizes as vicarious atonement our moral receptivity to God’s mercy. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is the way Christianity symbolizes it in revealed religion. For Kant rational religion includes faith in God’s justifying grace. It does not include prevenient or sanctifying grace but does not exclude these either. They are religiously acceptable parts of revealed Christianity, but their reality and our need for them lie beyond what pure reason can know. Some critics claim that Kant’s account of divine grace is inconsistent with itself. But closer examination shows that it is self-consistent, and for Kant rational religion is even consistent with Augustinianism about grace, while neither affirming nor denying it.