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IRRESISTIBLE GRACE (or EFFICACIOUS GRACE) is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism
Calvinism
, which teaches that the saving grace of God
God
is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (the elect ) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel , bringing them to faith in Christ . It is to be distinguished from prevenient grace particularly associated with Arminianism
Arminianism
which teaches that the offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method, but rather in an influence-and-response fashion that can be both freely accepted and freely denied.

CONTENTS

* 1 The doctrine

* 1.1 Objections to the doctrine

* 1.1.1 Arminian
Arminian
* 1.1.2 Lutheran

* 1.2 Biblical passages related to the doctrine

* 2 History of the doctrine * 3 See also * 4 References

* 5 External links

* 5.1 Pro * 5.2 Con

THE DOCTRINE

Fourth-century Church Father
Church Father
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
taught that God grants those whom he chooses for salvation the gift of persevering grace, and that they could not conceivably fall away. This doctrine gave rise to the doctrine of irresistible grace (gratia irresistibilis), though the term was not used during Augustine's lifetime.

According to Calvinism, those who obtain salvation do so, not by their own "free" will, but because of the sovereign grace of God. That is, men yield to grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God's will are evidence of God's own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin , and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, God
God
must powerfully intervene by drawing the sinner to himself. In short, Calvinism
Calvinism
argues that regeneration must precede faith.

Calvin says of this intervention that "it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant,". Despite the denial within Calvin and within the Calvinist confessions of violence or coercion being done to the will, Puritan
Puritan
scholar Perry Miller characterized Calvin's view of regeneration as being "a forcible seizure, a holy rape of the surprised will." John Gill says that "this act of drawing is an act of power, yet not of force; God
God
in drawing of unwilling, makes willing in the day of His power: He enlightens the understanding, bends the will, gives an heart of flesh, sweetly allures by the power of His grace, and engages the soul to come to Christ, and give up itself to Him; he draws with the bands of love. Drawing, though it supposes power and influence, yet not always coaction and force: music draws the ear, love the heart, and pleasure the mind."

OBJECTIONS TO THE DOCTRINE

Arminian

Christians associated with Arminianism
Arminianism
, such as John Wesley
John Wesley
and part of the Methodist movement , reject this Calvinist doctrine. They believe that as Adam and Eve were free to choose between right and wrong, humanity is able, as a result of the prevenient grace of God through Jesus
Jesus
Christ, to choose to turn from sin to righteousness and believe on Jesus
Jesus
Christ who draws all of humanity to Himself. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32. In this view, (1) after God's universal dispensation of grace to mankind, the will of man, which was formerly adverse to God
God
and unable to obey, can now choose to obey through the work of Christ; and (2) although God's grace is a strong initial catalyst to effect salvation, it is not irresistible but may be ultimately resisted and rejected by a human being.

Both Calvinism
Calvinism
and Arminianism
Arminianism
agree that the question of the resistibility of grace is inexorably bound up with the theological system's view of the sovereignty of God. The fundamental question is whether can God
God
allow individuals to accept or reject His grace and yet remain sovereign. If so, then grace can be resistible. If not, then grace must be irresistible. This different understanding of sovereignty is often attributed to an improper understanding of total depravity . However, both Calvin and Arminius taught total depravity . Total depravity
Total depravity
is expressly affirmed in Article III of the Five articles of Remonstrance . Nevertheless, Calvinist Charles Hodge
Charles Hodge
says, "The ( Arminian
Arminian
) and ( Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
) doctrine is true, if the other parts of their doctrinal system are true; and it is false if that system be erroneous. If the (Calvinistic) doctrine concerning the natural state of man since the fall, and the sovereignty of God
God
in election, be Scriptural, then it is certain that sufficient grace does not become efficacious from the cooperation of the human will.".

Calvinism's rejection of Prevenient Grace
Prevenient Grace
leaves humanity in a state of Total Depravity which requires Regeneration of an individual before that individual is capable to believe or repent. John the Baptist called all to his baptism for the remission of sins Mark 1:4 and multitudes responded without regeneration Mark 1:5. The New Testament regularly calls individuals to REPENT AND BELIEVE with no indication that they had been previously regenerated. The Apostle Peter called the Jews to repent and be converted Acts 3:19. Jesus
Jesus
promised that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin John 16:8. Calvinism's response is found in Limited Atonement
Limited Atonement
. So as a result of the Calvinist understanding of God's sovereignty, one must conclude that God's election does not depend upon any human response, necessitating a belief in (1) both Total Depravity and Unconditional Election , (2) Irresistible Grace
Irresistible Grace
rather than Prevenient Grace
Prevenient Grace
, and (3) Limited Atonement ; if any of these beliefs are rejected, this logic fails.

Lutheran

Like Calvinists, Lutherans view the work of salvation as monergistic in which an unconverted or unrepentant person always resists and rejects God
God
and his ways. Even during conversion, the Formula of Concord says, humans resist "the Word and will of God, until God awakens him from the death of sin, enlightens and renews him." Furthermore, they both see the preaching of the gospel as a means of grace by which God
God
offers salvation.

Calvinists distinguish between a resistible, outward call to salvation given to all who hear the free offer of the gospel , and an efficacious, inward work by the Holy Spirit. Every person is unwilling to follow the outward call to salvation until, as the Westminster Confession puts it, "being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it." Once inwardly renewed, every person freely follows God
God
and his ways as "not only the obligatory but the preferable good," and hence that special renewing grace is always effective.

Contrary to the Calvinist position, Lutherans hold that whenever the Holy Spirit works outwardly through the Word and sacraments, he always acts inwardly through them as well. Unlike Calvinists, Lutherans believe the Holy Spirit always works efficaciously . The Word heard by those that resist it is just as efficacious as the Word preached to those that convert . The Formula of Concord
Formula of Concord
teaches that when humans reject the calling of the Holy Spirit, it is not a result of the Word being less efficacious. Instead, contempt for the means of grace is the result of "the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God
God
offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word..."

Lutherans are certain that the work of the Holy Spirit does not occur merely alongside the means of grace to regenerate, but instead is an integral part of them, always working through them wherever they are found. Lutherans teach that the Holy Spirit limits himself to working only through the means of grace and nowhere else, so that those who reject the means of grace are simultaneously resisting and rejecting the Holy Spirit and the grace he brings.

BIBLICAL PASSAGES RELATED TO THE DOCTRINE

The Five Points of Calvinism
Calvinism

(TULIP)

TOTAL DEPRAVITY

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

LIMITED ATONEMENT

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

* v * t * e

The statement of St. Paul is said to confirm that those whom God effectually calls necessarily come to full salvation: "(T)hose whom (God) predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified" (Romans 8:28,30). Of course, this confirmation depends upon the belief that when God
God
elected certain individuals for salvation, He either did not know or did not consider who would respond and obey, though the Apostle Peter refers to the "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God
God
the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus
Jesus
Christ". 1 Peter 1:2

Calvinists also rely upon several verses from the sixth chapter of the Gospel
Gospel
of John , which contains a record of Jesus' teaching on humanity's abilities and God's activities in salvation, as the central proof text for the Calvinist doctrine:

* John 6:37,39: "All that the Father gives me will come to me.... And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day." * John 6:44–45: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.... Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me." * John 6:65: "(N)o one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

- Proponents of Arminianism
Arminianism
argue that the word "draw" (Greek : ἕλκω, helkô) as used in John 6:44 does not require the sense of "drag", though they this is the word's usual meaning (as in Jn. 18:10; 21:6; 21:11; Acts 16:19; 21:30; Jas. 2:6). They point to John 12:32 as an example: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." Many Arminians interpret this to mean that Jesus draws all people to Himself but some are able to resist this drawing since, if the call is truly irresistible, then all must come to Christ and be saved. They may also note that in the Septuagint
Septuagint
version of Jeremiah 38:13, when Jeremiah is lifted out of the pit where he was left to die, this Greek verb is used for the action which his rescuers performed after he voluntarily secured the ropes under his armpits, and that this rescue was certainly performed in cooperation with Jeremiah's wishes and would have failed if he did not cooperate. Therefore, they may argue, even if the semantics of "draw" are understood in the usual sense, this should only be taken to indicate the source of the power, not the question of whether the person being drawn independently desires the drawing, or to indicate that the drawing is done irrespective of their wishes.

Calvinists argue that (1) the word "draw" should be understood according to its usual semantics in both John 6:44 and 12:32; (2) the word "all" (translated "all people" in v. 12:32) should be taken in the sense of "all kinds of people" rather than "every individual"; and thus (3) the former verse refers to an irresistible internal call to salvation and the latter to the opening of the Kingdom of God
God
to the Gentiles , not a universal, resistible internal call. Of course, that argument requires acceptance of either the doctrine of Limited Atonement or universalism , since John 12:32 clearly states that " Jesus
Jesus
will draw ALL". Some have asserted on this basis that the text of John 6:44 can entail either universalism or Calvinism
Calvinism
(inclusive of Limited Atonement
Limited Atonement
), but not Arminianism.

Arminian
Arminian
William Barclay argues that "man's resistance can defeat the pull of God" mentioned in John 6:44, but commentator Leon Morris contends that "(n)ot one of (Barclay's) examples of the verb ('draw') shows the resistance as successful. Indeed we can go further. There is not one example in the New Testament
New Testament
of the use of this verb where the resistance is successful. Always the drawing power is triumphant, as here." Such arguments invite the criticism that Calvinists teach salvation by decree of God
God
rather than justification by faith alone , that they "so zealously sought to guard the free grace of God
God
in salvation that they denied faith any involvement at all in the actual justification of sinners." But even if the drawing power is always triumphant, the ability to resist does not depend upon the meaning of the word "draw" in John 12:32, but on the question what the "draw" is intended to accomplish. Calvinism
Calvinism
assumes that persons who Jesus "draws" will be regenerated. Arminianism
Arminianism
states that all are drawn to Jesus
Jesus
to be given an enabling grace. " Jesus
Jesus
does not define what 'His drawing' will accomplish in John 12, only that He will do it." Even if the semantics of "draw" are understood in the manner Calvinist's urge, this should only be taken to indicate the sufficiency of the power to draw (they were "not able to draw" as in John 21:6, or they were able to do so as in John 21:11), rather than to define what God does to those He draws. Arminians reject the Calvinist teaching that God
God
draws for the purpose of forced regeneration irrespective of their wishes. Rather Arminians believe God
God
draws all persons to provide all with an ability or enabling to believe, as prevenient grace teaches.

HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE

Main article: History of Calvinist– Arminian
Arminian
debate

In the Catholic Church, debates concerning the respective role of efficacious grace and free will led to the establishment of the Congregatio de Auxiliis at the end of the 16th century by the Pope Clement VIII
Clement VIII
. The Dominicans insisted on the role of the efficacious grace, but the Jesuits embraced Molinism
Molinism
, which postulated greater liberty in the will. These debates also led to the famous formulary controversy in France which pitted the Jansenists against the Jesuits.

The doctrine is one of the so-called Five points of Calvinism
Calvinism
that were defined at the Synod of Dort
Synod of Dort
during the Quinquarticular Controversy with the Arminian
Arminian
Remonstrants
Remonstrants
, who objected to the general predestinarian scheme of Calvinism, rejecting its denial of free will and its condemnation of the "majority of humanity for the sole purpose of torturing them in hell for all of eternity, and that they never had a choice". In Calvinist churches, the doctrine is most often mentioned in comparisons with other salvific schemes and their respective doctrines about the state of mankind after the Fall , and it is not a common topic for sermons or studies otherwise.

SEE ALSO

* Calvinism
Calvinism
portal * Christianity
Christianity
portal

* Justification * Prevenient grace
Prevenient grace
* Total depravity
Total depravity

REFERENCES

* ^ Forlines, Leroy F.; Pinson, Matthew J.; Ashby, Stephen M. (2001). The Quest for Truth: Answering Life's Inescapable Questions. Nashville: Randall House Publications. pp. 313–321. * ^ Hägglund, Bengt (2007) . Teologins historia (in German). Translated by Gene J. Lund (4th rev. ed.). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-0758613486 . * ^ John Calvin
John Calvin
. "John 6:41-45". Commentary on John. 1. * ^ Westminster Confession
Westminster Confession
of Faith, X.1 * ^ Canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine, Article 16 * ^ Miller, Perry (June 1943), ""Preparation for Salvation" in Seventeenth-Century New England", Journal of the History of Ideas, University of Pennsylvania Press, 4 (3): 261, JSTOR
JSTOR
2707254 * ^ John Gill . "John 6:44". John Gill's Exposition of the Bible. * ^ Charles Hodge
Charles Hodge
. "Efficacious Grace". Systematic Theology. 2. * ^ Calvin, John. Institutes of Christian Religion. Book 3, Chapter 3, Section 1. p. 509. * ^ Formula of Concord
Formula of Concord
: Solid Declaration, art. ii, par. 71; par. 18 * ^ Solid Declaration, art. ii, par. 59 * ^ Westminster Confession
Westminster Confession
of Faith, X.1,2. * ^ Loraine Boettner . "Efficacious Grace". The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. * ^ A B " Calvinism
Calvinism
and Lutheranism
Lutheranism
compared". Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod . Archived from the original on 2009-09-27. Retrieved 2009-03-30. * ^ Henry Eyster Jacobs : A Summary of the Christian Faith. Philadelphia: General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, 1905, pp. 216-17, Engelder, Theodore E.W. (1934). Popular Symbolics: The Doctrines of the Churches of Christendom and Of Other Religious Bodies Examined in the Light of Scripture. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 58. * ^ Solid Declaration, article xi, "Election", par. 41 * ^ Smalcald Articles
Smalcald Articles
, part 8, "Of Confession": "n those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word." * ^ Henry George Liddell , Robert Scott. "helkô". A Greek-English Lexicon . Retrieved 2009-03-26. * ^ Brian Bosse (2005-10-11). "A Logical Analysis - John 6:44" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2009-03-26. * ^ Leon Morris
Leon Morris
(1995). The Gospel
Gospel
According to John (revised ed.). p. 328, n. 116. * ^ McKelvey, Robert J. (2011). That Error and Pillar of Antinomianism’: Eternal Justification. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 239-40. * ^ Yuriy, Stasyuk. The Reluctant Skeptic http://yuriystasyuk.com/being-drawn-to-god-calvinism-and-arminianism-in-john-644-and-john-1232/. Retrieved 29 May 2017. Missing or empty title= (help ) * ^ Corey, Benjamin. "Why Calvinism
Calvinism
Makes Me Want to Gouge My Eyes Out". Patheos. Retrieved 16 April 2017.

EXTERNAL

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