Saturday, October 22, 2016

Does a Classical Arminian view of grace (also) lead to a more missional worldview?

What I've learned: a church's dominant soteriology
indelibly shapes its culture (the way people think about and do) for mission.
                                     -Dr David Fitch

*For Part 1, "Does a Wesleyan view of grace lead to a more missional worldview?" click here.

In his journal article, "Regeneration and Resistible Grace: A Synergistic Proposal", Dr Adam Doddswho seems to take a Classical/Reformed Arminian view of Prevenient Grace but without calling it that [1]writes:
Therefore my proposal is to develop an understanding of regeneration that bears many similarities to Wesley’s but which identifies God’s prevenient grace as particular and not universal because God’s self-revelation through the missions of the Spirit and the Church is specific and not general, most obviously through the communication of the gospel. 
Saving faith follows the communication of the gospel (Rom. 10.13-15) and God has specifically ordained that the gospel be communicated through the Church.  
[...] the modus operandi of God’s prevenient grace is not by general but special revelation, for it is through the witness of the Church that God’s prevenient grace operates. [...] God’s prevenient, awakening and convicting grace acts through the Church’s sharing of the gospel. 
And concludes:
Finally, the fact that God’s prevenient grace that enables and causes belief in Christ is offered through the Church’s communication of the gospel is of immense missiological importance. As the Church carries out her missionary task she can be confident not only that Christ has died for all, but also that there is inherent power in gospel proclamation and demonstration, for it is through the Church’s mission that God makes His grace available and people are enabled to repent and believe, and thus experience regeneration/conversion. 

His full article is available in PDF here (this PDF link is from the author's biography at his church website here).

Interestingly, Dr Dodds does not seem to rely on any Classical/Reformed Arminian theologians (that I can recognize anyway), save Arminius himself (and perhaps Bangs and Pinnock, though I am not sure of the view of either), for the view he proposes even though on this point it is basically the same as that which they hold. Instead, he relies on many of the Reformed theologians who moved away from the traditional Calvinist view, including Newbigin, Brunner, Moltmann, Torrance, and Barth.

Here is the abstract: 

This paper presents a synergistic account of regeneration/conversion focusing on the resistibility of God’s grace and the nature of human participation in regeneration. The synergistic proposal is advanced whilst avoiding the twin dangers of monergism, in which God is the sole determinant of eschatological salvation and damnation, and Pelagianism, which undermines the gospel of grace. Differing crucially from John Wesley’s account of prevenient grace, I sketch the resistibility of God’s grace in divine providence and revelation thus establishing a pattern of divine working from which to interpret God’s resistible work in regeneration/conversion. I then give an account of human participation addressing the bondage and freedom of the will, the nature of human cooperation in regeneration/conversion, and how this is commensurate with salvation by grace through faith alone. Therefore, this accounts for God’s desire to save all and the fact that only some have responded in faith to Christ.


[1] For the difference between a Classical Arminian understanding of Prevenient Grace and a Wesleyan understanding, see my article: "An Introduction to Prevenient Grace".

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