Reformed Theology: God's Grace

JeffLogan's picture

This discussion will be limited to the discussion of God's grace as it pertains to Reformed Theology.

Barry writes,

I would like to suggest that we explore the topic of "God's Grace " as it relates specifically to the process of one's coming to salvation. I personally am particularly interested in the doctrine of "Prevenient Grace", however, at ElderDad's suggestion which points out our primary forum theme, addressing the RT position termed "Irresistible Grace" first is the more appropriate approach.

So, if this approach is acceptable, I would invite someone to begin this thread by first defining the term, then giving a brief re-cap of the history of "TULIP", and concluding with Scriptural references supporting the concept. That should get us rolling.

Barring objections, I would encourage someone in the Reformed camp to please begin.

Grace and peace to all.


Suggested Structure: (Best if viewing options set: Threaded Collapsed | Oldest First | 200/page |)

(The first 3 headings are reserved for Reformed Theology Adherents ONLY)

Defining the terms (No opposing views here)
     Irresistible Grace
     Prevenient Grace
Brief re-cap of the history of "TULIP" (No opposing views here)
     Early History
     Later History
     Unfolding History/Current Understanding
Scriptural references supporting the concept (No opposing views here)
     Irresistible Grace
     Prevenient Grace
1st Discussion: Irresistible Grace
2nd Discussion: Prevenient Grace
3rd Discussion: etc...

Sovereignty and human choice exist in common grace

The premises used and description provided of common grace are conistent with my understanding of RT as well, Berkhof (sp?) being a major proponent. RTS has an entire lecture series on itunes. The premise you have used to describe common grace is essentially that God chooses to give to sinful humans a measure of His grace to allow for the existence of families, civilization and community. Further that the positive impact of that grace, its efficacy, are solely His choice since man is incapable of responding. Is that an accurate summation of your posting?

Also, I am not sure I concur with some of the scriptures you and/or Berhof use to support the idea of common grace and that God's Soveregnty provides the only basis for the extent to which His common grace impacts our world. How do we know God alone "chooses to whom He will give the benefits of common grace"? I concur with the difference between common and special grace though, and see a possible third form of God's grace. Certainly pain inflicts one person and health inflicts another which supports the idea that the Sun can warm one person while another is getting wet.

The RT view of Divine Sovereignty contained in this view of common grace elevates God to that whereby His choice rules supreme in the world and our choices have little or no impact in life at all. I have read Berhof and Hoeksema (sp) and RTS courses, and in the description of common grace I see the premise that essentially relegates humanity to robots. I want to be cautious here because I am aware of the wars that have existed in the past. Yet if we look at the choices people make in response to the blessing of God (who makes the Sun rise on the just and unjust) we find God's Sovereignty is not all there is to it. While I believe nothing can happen to me that God doesnt allow I believe other people's choices and our own are the basis for much of the pain and suffering around us. To maintain a proper scriptural view, IMO, it is essential not to elevate even the Doctrine of Divine Sovereignty above that scripture allows and to the exclusion of other just as biblical doctrines. I am not speaking about balance because I think anyone here would disagree. In fact, most people here would probably agree with the need even though we may disagree where that boundary lies.

Limiting myself to common grace and my understanding/misunderstanding of the RT application of that belief, it seems to me from the outset that if one negates the role of human choice entirely one cannot hold humanity respnsible for war, killing, suffering. Here is an example of common grace and human responsibility from my life. Again, keeping common grace in mind the RT view appears from the outset to make God the primary cause and responsible person for all the pain and evil in the world. When my drunken thieving father (preconversion obviously) modeled the behavior of his father (Jn 8:44) before my brother and I, we each had a choice. My choice was tempered by the loving counter-influence my mother and grandmother provided by taking me to church every Sunday. SInce my brother refused to go and dad wouldnt let anyone be forced, certain values were inculcated into me that were not inculcated into him. When the test came I was able to risk the beating, look dad in the eye and tell him I wouldnt go to hell for him or anyone. Did any of that save me? No, absolutely not. Was God's common grace at work in our lives? Yes absolutely. Was it Sovereignly at work any more in my life than anyone else in the story? I dont think so and I think the point of the passage about sun/rain is precisely that .. the same sun/rain was blessing all of us but we (not God) made very different life choices. Did I have a benefit my brother was robbed of? Yes. But that was a choice my dad made. This is the part that has made RT so unpalatable for so many ... no matter how you slice and dice the wording it makes God the first cause of evil and many of us just wont/cant serve a God defined in those terms because we view Him as totally foreign to the God of the Bible.

Submitted as a poster,