Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Book Review: Grace For All (Chapter 2: God’s Universal Salvific Grace)

This is an ongoing review of the book Grace For All.  This book is edited by the late Clark Pinnock and John Wagner.  It is published by Resource Publications.

After reading Roger Olson’s chapter on how Arminianism is not “man-centered theology” but instead is “Man-centered theology” with the focus on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross and through His glorious resurrection, we are ready to examine what separates Arminians from Calvinists.  This chapter, “God’s universal salvific grace” seeks to focus on the grace of God for all.  The writer, Vernon Grounds, seeks to build a case from both Scripture and logic that God’s grace was given for all humanity.  It was the grace of God that reached out to lost humanity through the cross.

Grounds contrasts how Calvinism views the grace of God that is given only for the elect (those predetermined by God’s sovereignty to be His elect) and that of Arminianism where God’s grace is the power of God, the acting of God to bring sinners to salvation.  The gospel by nature then is the grace of God reaching out to lost sinners (Matthew 28:19).  God’s grace was fully manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 17-18) and Jesus shed His blood for all (Mark 10:45).  Jesus is the one mediator before God for lost sinners (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

The chapter tends to get bogged down in philosophy more than exegesis.  If one is to err (in my opinion), let them err on spending too much time examining what the Bible says about grace and salvation above what Calvinist theologians have said.  While I do think that it is important to see what some Calvinists have said about grace and particularly how salvation is accomplished by grace through faith in Jesus, it is more important to see what the Bible says above what Calvinists or Arminians have said.  The final authority for both Arminians and Calvinists must be the Word of God.  Therefore, I feel that Grounds doesn’t do justice to this chapter by spending too much time on what Calvinists have said above what the Bible says. No doubt he does cite Scripture here and there but true exegesis is missing.

One need only examine the great commission in Mathew 28:19-20 to see that Jesus intended His gospel to go into every nation.  This is the grace of God at work.  The message of the Church is now: Jesus is King!  Jesus has defeated sin and death.  Jesus has won the victory!  The message of the cross is thus one of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  God calls out to sinners to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15-16; Acts 17:30-31).  Whenever one does repent and believe the gospel, they find that God’s grace was drawing them to salvation (John 6:44).  It was the Spirit of God working to draw lost sinners by the gospel to the cross for salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:1-9).  A person then is justified before God through faith (Romans 5:1) and not by works (Titus 3:5-7) nor is our salvation unto faith (as in Calvinism).

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