Prevenient Grace: God’s Provision for Fallen Humanity

Bibliographic information:

Shelton, W. Brian. Prevenient Grace: God’s Provision for Fallen Humanity. Wilmore, KY: Francis Asbury, 2014.



God enables all people to exercise saving faith in Christ by mitigating the effects of depravity, an initiative that theologians call prevenient grace or ‘enabling grace.’ This work identifies the proper place of this concept in the theological landscape and calls for a new dialogue about its role in individual salvation. Prevenient grace has been a bone of contention between Wesleyan and Calvinist Christians for nearly five hundred years. The work traces the biblical and historical roots of this concept and concludes that it is vital to understanding how God reaches sinful human beings. Shelton explains, ‘This book endeavors to show that prevenient grace is implicit if not explicit in Scripture; that it is not contrary to any other biblical teaching about salvation; and that it offers the best coherence of the biblical data on saving faith.’ ‘Prevenient grace is just one part of the great drama of salvation. Some of the most brilliant theologians have been perplexed by it, so they have denied and even denounced the doctrine. However, prevenient grace effectively confronts the problem of inherited depravity and yet gives due regard to God’s role in the salvation of fallen human beings. The effect is captured by one contemporary theologian who said, ‘Man is set free to depend on God.”


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