In the context of some prevailing religious thought, disgraceful grace would mean the kind that is just too gracious, allowing bad people to benefit. Bad means non-Christians, unrepentant sinners, criminals, drug addicts, etc. Supposedly it is a disgrace to think or believe that God could and actually would forgive those deemed unworthy by these believers. “Greasy grace” is the dismissive label I have heard attached to grace granted without human involvement and solely because of God’s character.
We have all probably seen the hesitation to express a firm judgment of the deceased’s eternal fate when a close friend or relative of a church member dies outside the church. In those moments the more restrictive and traditional view of grace, the non-greasy kind, never seems quite right. I’ll just leave that up to God is more appropriate when someone precious is the subject of hoped for grace.
Having introduced one concept of disgraceful grace, grace that is too lenient, I’d like to offer an alternative view. I believe that grace becomes disgraceful when it is defined as a mockery of the very definition of grace. The Orthodox version of grace which must be earned and maintained by proper thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors is not grace at all. It’s more like a plea bargain or contractual arrangement. If man does this then God will commit to doing that. For gracious sakes, is that not a blatant contradiction?
No amount of scripture quoting or dogmatic ranting will ever explain a divine grace which is ultimately overruled by divine justice because we humans could not figure out and adhere to the rules behind that grace. Justice is law based, so justice puts mankind right back under what the OT covenant represented.
So what did the OT law represent? Paul had a bit to say on that subject. Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? The law said that all have sinned. To break one commandment is to break them all. There are none righteous. The law was a covenant of death. None of that sounded like good news to Paul.
When grace has rules and requirements associated with it, it is just another law. John 1:17 The law came by Moses but truth and grace came by Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear- law or grace, one or the other, not some “mashup” of two contradictory concepts.