[Milton-L] crucifixion

JD Fleming jfleming at sfu.ca
Sun Apr 6 16:21:35 EDT 2014

Hm. Well, I'm no theologian, and don't claim to be. But it seems to me that the idea that you can't even get credit for the effort you make to receive grace--which is what the doctrine of prevenient grace, presumably, accomplishes--is much less manifestly ecumenical than you suggest. It is, presumably, a radicalization of the soteriology of grace, at the expense of works (including works of prayer), which one associates with the reformers, notably with Calvin. Who, for that matter, always lavishes praise on Augustine ("this holy man"). Prevenient grace formalizes, because it reiterates, the arbitrariness of salvation sola gratia, which is the basis for predestination, which reaches its apogee (does it not?) in Calvin. You are not saved because you are good, or even because God foresaw that you would be. Rather, you are good because God saw fit to save you. And even your prima facie capacity to be saved is to his credit rather than yours, because he gave you prevenient grace: the grace that makes it possible for you to receivegrace. I would agree that the doctrine does not entail non-universality (since God could perfectly well afford prevenient grace for everybody). But I don't see how it doesn't align with irresistibility. When God reaches in to "remove the stony" from Adam's and Eve's hearts--thus rendering possible the heartfelt scene of prayer and repentance we have just witnessed--that looks pretty darned irresistible. 

But if all this is insufficiently sophisticated for you, we can just denote the doctrine as a soteriological (if not specifically Calvinist) regress. Makes no difference to the actual point, which is that A and E are not forgiven because they repent; rather, they repent because they have been--at least provisionally--forgiven. JDF 

----- Original Message -----

From: "alan horn" <alanshorn at gmail.com> 
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu> 
Sent: Sunday, 6 April, 2014 12:18:55 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] crucifixion 

in 11 we are carefully told that A and E are only able to pray because God has already given them "prevenient grace"--the grace that comes before grace, making it possible for grace to be received. Calvinist regress. 

As I’m sure you know, the need for prevenient grace is not a specifically Calvinist doctrine. I believe it is common to all Christians after Augustine who rejected Pelagianism. Holding it does not imply Calvinist views on whether that grace is resistible or universally available. 

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J ames Dougal Fleming 
Associate Professor 
Department of English 
Simon Fraser University 

Burnaby -- British Columbia -- Canada. 

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