Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagianism

Considering the recent dust up in my church group (we southern Baptists ain’t – yet – a denomination), documented here and rightly rebutted here, it may be beneficial to review the theological presuppositions at work in both camps. The snippet below is from page 5 of a 15 page document entitled “Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagian” (click the title for the whole article). The author makes a compelling argument that there ain’t much tangible difference between the two, although I personally disagree with him as to whether or not Arminianism is heresy (how can you read any of the 5 points of the remonstrance and not consider it heresy?).

Summarizing, most Arminians hold to these distinctive features of prevenient grace. 1) It is bestowed upon all men at birth. 2) It mitigates the effects of the fall mainly by restoring to man libertarian free will that is able to respond positively to the gospel by exercising faith. 3) It allows men to be enlightened concerning the truth of the gospel. 4) It is not saving grace but it leads to faith which does save. 5) It is resistible by virtue of the fact that it enables the ability of the will to act contrary to it if one so chooses. Thus, in order to activate its power one must cooperate with it by not resisting it. 6) It precedes regeneration and thus the spiritual transformation of the believer.

Let us examine ourselves and repent of any and all man-centered, flesh gratifying false theology.

Soli Deo Gloria!

30 thoughts on “Prevenient Grace and Semi-Pelagianism

  1. A close friend is absolutely convinced that man has “a” free will. Although he is a very bright guy, he is not a critical thinker in this area but then again… I don’t know how much common sense it really takes. The “snippet” you included should be considered absolute heresy to anyone who is in a solid bible teaching church and has studied the gospel of John for no less than six weeks!
    The link that included “the articles of affirmation and denial” is a little puzzling to me in article nine. (deny) Why would they site 1Jn. 2:19?

    Good post! No question about it, Calvin had it right!


  2. Rev – In each of their Articles, the semi-pelagian SBC group has the Scripture that support the Affirm and Deny all at the bottom, following the Deny statement. 1 John 2:19 does not appear to have anything to with Article 9 at all!

    Article 2 is where they raised the ire of a well known 5 point Arminian, which resulted in a heretic calling heresy on this bunch. Here’s the statement that prompted that scene: “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.” Even Rome acknowledges imputed sin – they simply wish it away with infant baptism.


  3. I imagine even if they are correct (not) that they had blown their uncorrupted free will by sinning long before they could exercise it to accept Jesus into their heart (foolishness)… Ever see a rebellious two year old have a tantrum when not getting their way?


  4. I’m glad to see and hear of the SBC’s “Founders” leg finally gaining some inroads into the “traditional” SBC soteriology. I pray the Lord grants them continued sucess in undermining and overturning the now-almost-a-century-old semi-pelagian, free-will, Arminian, unbiblical form of soteriology which has misled many people – to Hell no less.



  5. Todd,

    just because it has put some turmoil in my soul, the truth about hell, I want to comment on one thing in your post above.

    You write in part: “…unbiblical form of soteriology which has misled many people – to Hell no less.”

    While I understand your point I want to observe something about the “way” one ends up in hell basis the sermon preached last Sunday by a Pastor in his church, Pastor Sampson. He was dealing with John 3:16. In his sermon he quotes something John Piper observed about “hell” or rather more correctly the “lake of fire” and how one ends up there. His point was no one is led to the lake of Fire.

    Most if not all of us are familiar with this verse:

    Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    What Piper notes in the verse and explains in his certain way I want to note hereon with these following comments.

    Piper notes that no one ever willingly comes up to the “lake” of fire and jumps in like one would after sunbathing during a summer break to cool off. No one willingly jumps into “hell”. Everyone is “thrown” into eternal destruction as God’s judgment.

    The reality is the proclamation of the Gospel is what God uses through His anointed preachers that sets the Elect free from their free will. Freedom from sin and one’s human will comes by way of the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The proclamation of the Gospel has no effect on the reprobate. Only those “already” enrolled in the book of Life receive salvation and that after God first regenerates them and gives the gift of Faith to them so as to believe and repent and thereafter seek the discipleship practice of a lifestyle of forgiveness day by day, becoming partakers of the very same “daily bread” as everyone one called to His Eternal Glory in Christ.

    The Children of God predetermined and foreordained and appointed to Eternal Life are the only ones willing to partake of this heavenly food in the process of salvation by Grace through Faith.

    As the Bible says, “Faith” comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Hearing by the Word of God is fully in the control of God and no will of man has any say in it. God sovereignly opens ears to hear. It is not an act of the free will of man that opens a person’s ears to hear.

    It is as John says so I note it here: Joh 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
    Joh 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Do we choose willingly to do good? Yes according to our will. No according to God’s.

    While I believe it is not good to destroy babies, I have to take it faithfully that is is God’s as I read about in some of the stories in Scripture. The flood or King Saul’s incident are a couple of examples of this.

    Who am I to conclude that that is evil, to kill babies?

    The problem with this free will of man is the same for everyone. We are exercising it in this condition no matter how good we are exercising it.

    We have all sinned. There is none righteous no not one. If I do not repent I will find myself in the same soup as the Israelites the Apostle Paul writes about who went about establishing their own righteousness and not accepting the Righteousness of God which is by Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

    God is Sovereign and He acts according to His Own predetermination, plan and foreknowledge and eternal purpose upon the souls of men.

    So, the question comes to this, in my view in light of that. Who are we, a sinful creature to question Our Righteous God about His Will and Eternal Purpose?

    Hence we see the phrases in Scripture “obedient/obedience to the Faith”, here:

    Act 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

    Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

    Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–

    If it was an issue back then, it certainly will be now, too!


  6. Kind of depressing to think that God can never be surprised in anyway, thrilled in anyway, wonder in anyway, or be amazed in anyway.
    Even heaven and hell is just one long eternal repeat or rerun of knowing exactly what’s going to happen 😦


  7. @David
    I don’t think it’s depressing AT ALL that the Lord is never surprised and never wonders. I prefer it that way actually. It’s actually very comforting to me to know that He is sovereign over all of His creation – including mankind.

    I don’t view Heaven and Hell as an “eternal repeat or rerun” either. After all, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and there is rejoicing in Heaven when one sinner repents.

    I believe it’s best if all people who claim the name of Christ, to study the Bible, setting aside one’s own presuppositions, and let the Scriptures speak for themselves. One very valuable and trustworthy document summarizing truly Reformed Christian beliefs can be consulted, and that is the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. A more updated (language-wise) copy can be found at



  8. So Todd God is like watching last years tour de france event where he know the final score but still cheer leads for the looser?


  9. Again, the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of a creature He created in His own image. What, specifically, is your point and/or question as it relates to this thread/topic?



  10. No Todd this hits to heart of the topic.
    Because if God takes no pleasure but still will’s it, it can only mean that God want displeasure.
    And if you don’t agree this would mean God does not get what God wants?
    Which one will it be?
    It’s just the logical conclusion of this presupposition which you don’t want to admit.


  11. David, it is frivolous to argue the attributes of God with someone who is spiritually dead.

    Here is the real ‘heart of the topic’…
    Your greatest need isn’t a debate on things too lofty for you, your greatest need is that you are currently under wrath by this God that you lash out against and mock. You are a sinner, you have sinned against the Lord and have no hope. Christ came to reconcile sinners back to a God who is holy and righteous and will not tolerate even so much as a ‘little white lie’. You have no understanding of eternal wrath, however, Christ paints a picture of it in Luke chapter 16. It is filled with torment and agony and is everlasting. God is merciful and gracious to undeserving sinners, He gifts sinners who do not deserve to be gifted with eternal life; all because Christ made atonement for sin. God’s greatest attribute is His holiness, which we all have violated. The only way any wicked and vile sinner could be reconciled back to a God who is pure, holy and undefiled is through believing on the death, burial and resurrection of God’s own Son. Christ atoned for sin, He satisfied God’s anger at sin by becoming a sin-bearer. I encourage you to be as the tax collector in Luke 18 and cry out ‘O Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner’…


  12. @David,
    It’s all about perspective here. You stated, “Because if God takes no pleasure but still will’s it, it can only mean that God want displeasure.” I disagree.

    A Biblical perspective on God will, His justice and mercy, His predesination and election, and man’s condition, rightly understood and applied, thoroughly explains the apparent contradiction you’re experiencing with regard to this thread.

    You see, the whole human race deserves to be destroyed in its sin. But God, who is rich in mercy, chose some (and yes, bypassed others) to be recipients of the gift of eternal life. He gifts it to them. He gives them life eternal. Yet, at the same time, those on whom His favor does not rest, will, by their own “free will” continue to act according to their nature and perish in their sins. God takes no pleasure when a reprobate, unconverted, natural man/woman dies without Christ.

    As it is stated by Ezekial, one of His prophets, “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why will you die…”

    Or, if you prefer, Christ Himself lamenting at the unbelief of the people to whom He was sent, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!”

    God’s will is a complex thing. There are, for simplicity’s sake, two main components in it as well. His “DECREETIVE” will and His “PRECEPTIVE” will. Quite simple really, what He “decrees” is His “decreetive” will, and what He “wants” makes up, in large part, His “preceptive” will. I know that short explanation likely won’t codify your concerns, but in this short space, that’s all I’ll type about it here.

    Just know this: if you’ve not been made a do’er of the will of God, and a lover of Christ, you still have a controversy with your Maker, and if you die having controversy and/or without divine reconcilation, Hell is your eternal dwelling place.



  13. Lyn all you need to say is that it would be frivolous to discuss this with a sinner who is spiritually dead, but the moment you continue is to show you do not believe it’s frivolous.

    Todd all you need to say it that scripture said so and that’s all you need, but the moment you try to explain it with the hope of it being logical or within reason which is NOT, and then to end it with the “believe this or else” is to show that the controversy lies within you.
    Thanks anyway

    God bless…


  14. You missed the point of my comment david, I did not address your comment, I addressed your need for God’s saving grace. Addressing your comment is frivolous, which is why I did not respond to your comment; instead I presented you with what you need to hear…Christ crucified.


  15. David: I can’t tell if you are in disagreement just with Calvinist doctrine, or with Biblical Christianity in general. Could you please clarify your beliefs regarding the person and attributes of God, and the Gospel, so your input can be more clearly understood? Thank you.


  16. David,
    these people have graciously shared with you the only real good news there is for a man on this earth, and you tread it underfoot. Why do you continue to heap up wrath for yourself? Don’t you realize that you are more responsible to God in the judgment now than you were when you woke up this morning?
    I implore you to consider the words you have heard here and repent. Throw yourself on the mercy of God and seek His forgiveness through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ… Otherwise the words you have heard here today will be an aggravation of your torment, shame and horror for the endless ages of eternity.


  17. RS just trying to point out the logical conclusion of the Calvinist doctrine about the attributes of God.
    Jonathan I don’t want you to think that I don’t respect your beliefs, my hope here is that maybe your friends and family or those who see it from an Armenian perspective may have similar questions?


  18. David,

    I presented the attribute of God’s holiness in my presentation of the good news to you, that your sins are offensive to a Holy God and He must punish sin. I never meant to present His holiness in an attempt to address any of your comments. You perceive things in a wrong way, possibly to stir up issues to keep a debate going. I am not interested in debating with you, as I stated, someone who is dead in sin will not comprehend anything spiritual; your greatest need is the Gospel. I have no interest in your twisting of comments here and will only do as I have already done, give you what you need most.

    I really do not understand why you continue commenting here, other than to cause dissension. May the Lord be merciful to you.


  19. David – Are you an open thiest, a professing Christian? Trying to see where you are coming from.



  20. David,
    Please move on and quit badgering followers of Christ, there are plenty of Christian bashing sites you can visit where you will be more at home with.


  21. David – I am not sure why the hate but it was just a simple question. Perhaps you should look at the fruit you manifest rather than speculate about others.



  22. Nicholas – How do you define “denomination”? On this, the issue hangs. I look forward to your reply and am confident we will see things very similarly.


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