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Tuesday
Oct192010

Theological Term of the Week

prevenient grace
The synergistic (or Arminian or Wesleyan) doctrine that there is a universal grace of God that counteracts the universal spiritual death that resulted from the fall, sufficiently restoring lost human freedom so that every person is able to choose to cooperate with saving grace; also called preventing grace.

  • Proof texts used to support prevenient grace:
    The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9 ESV) 
    And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32 ESV)
  • From On Working Out Our Own Salvation by John Wesley:

    For allowing that all the souls of men are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing there is no man that is in a state of mere nature; there is no man, unless he has quenched the Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man living is entirely destitute of what is vulgarly called natural conscience. But this is not natural: It is more properly termed preventing grace. Every man has a greater or less measure of this, which waiteth not for the call of man. Every one has, sooner or later, good desires; although the generality of men stifle them before they can strike deep root, or produce any considerable fruit. Everyone has some measure of that light, some faint glimmering ray, which, sooner or later, more or less, enlightens every man that cometh into the world. And every one, unless he be one of the small number whose conscience is seared as with a hot iron, feels more or less uneasy when he acts contrary to the light of his own conscience. So that no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath.

Learn more:

  1. Ra McLaughlin: What is “prevenient grace”?
  2. R. C. Sproul: Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace?
  3. Thomas Schreiner: Does the Bible Teach Prevenient Grace in the Wesleyan Sense?
  4. Sam Storms: Arminians and Prevenient Grace
  5. C. Michael Patton: Why I Reject the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace
  6. Fred Butler: Examining the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace (mp3)

Related terms:

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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