Brian Reynolds, Review of W. Brian Shelton, *Prevenient Grace: God’s Provision for Fallen Humanity*

, posted by SEA

Prevenient Grace: God’s Provision for Fallen Humanity

Author: W. Brian Shelton

Released August 1, 2014

Reviewer: Brian Reynolds

Dr. Shelton’s treatise on prevenient grace is the best written work on the subject that I have seen. This is an excellent book for those who seek to understand this fundamental perspective in a cogent, non-defensive manner that is sure to edify and enlighten the reader. It is obvious that he sought to cover all of the bases in his approach that begins with defining prevenient grace, and expounds on its meaning and application throughout. Shelton says, “Prevenient grace, simply put, makes possible the freedom component that is necessary for belief”…. “Prevenient grace proposes that Christ’s atoning work enlightens people in a way that natural revelation, or their fallen image of God, could not do alone”…”The term ‘prevenient’ is from the Latin ‘prevenere’ to go before, so named because it precedes every act of believing faith that a Christian might execute.”

Dr. Shelton highlights the fact that John Wesley and James Arminius both recognized the total depravity of natural man born into this world, and that man in and of himself cannot turn to God on his own, wherein it is only by the grace of God that man can come – putting to rest any assumptions that these men taught anything different. This work also examined this subject from a historical perspective that helps the reader to grasp how this was understood throughout the ages.

An entire chapter is devoted to prevenient grace in systematic theology. Anyone reading this with an open heart, desiring to follow the truth no matter where it leads, will find himself blessed by the stream of evidence that leaves one to see the implied truth to this doctrine, just as one does when he understands God in His triune nature. Texts such as “That (Christ) was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9), and “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19) – are just a few of the many in which the Wesleyan-Arminian perspective stands. Thus prevenient grace comes to all people, because no one is capable of repenting on their own merits, wherein it is not limited in scope, but is available to all who would respond in faith.

While there are other excellent books written on this topic such as The Transforming Power of Grace, by Thomas Oden; and Streams of Mercy, by J. Gregory Crofford – I would personally hold Brian Shelton’s work above them all. His rich style and exposition will keep you engaged and is supported with solid exegesis throughout. His emphasis on sinful depravity, salvation by grace, human responsibility, and the universal offer of salvation, is clearly laid out. Dr. Shelton is to be commended for this motif, which should be read by anyone seeking to gain a definitive theological understanding of God’s grace made available to all people.