Prevenient Grace

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology


The conclusion of this topic is ultimately answered by taking a position leaning toward Calvinism or Arminianism.

Believers are left to choose the approach which is consistent with their convictions.


Prevenient grace, also known as preceding grace or enabling grace, is a concept within Christian theology that refers to the divine grace that comes before and prepares an individual to respond to God’s offer of salvation. It is a foundational idea within various Christian traditions, particularly within Calvinism, Arminianism and Wesleyan theology.


Closely similar topics include:

Total Depravity,”

Prevenient Grace,

Preceding Grace,”

Salvation By Grace Alone,”

Original Sin.


Below a summary of prevenient grace:


Nature of Grace:

In Christian theology, grace is understood as the unmerited favor and love of God bestowed upon humanity. Prevenient grace seeks to identify a specific aspect of this divine favor that initiates and enables a person’s response to God’s invitation to salvation.



Human Fallenness:

Prevenient grace is often associated with the recognition of humanity’s fallen nature due to sin. It acknowledges that, as a result of original sin, humans are spiritually separated from God and incapable of initiating a relationship with God on their own.



Divine Initiative:

Prevenient grace emphasizes that God takes the initiative in seeking a relationship with humanity. It precedes any human decision or action and is seen as a way that God reaches out to individuals, drawing them toward Him.



Enablement for Choice:

This grace is understood as empowering individuals with the ability to make a free choice regarding their response to God’s offer of salvation. It is not coercive but allows for genuine decision-making.


Universal Scope:

Prevenient grace is often considered to be universal in its scope, meaning that it extends to all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances. It is a manifestation of God’s love for the entire world.


Cooperation with God:

The concept of prevenient grace suggests that humans have the capacity to cooperate with (or desire) God’s will. It enables individuals to say “yes” to God’s call and respond to His love.


Salvation Process:

Within the framework of prevenient grace, the process of salvation is seen as a collaborative effort between God and humans. It involves God’s gracious initiative, prevenient grace preparing hearts, and individuals responding with faith.


Wesleyan Influence:

Prevenient grace is strongly associated with the teachings of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism (AKA the Methodist Church). Wesleyan theology places significant emphasis on the role of prevenient grace in human salvation.  They may argue that prevenient grace begins by God offering grace to receive the desire to please Him as a personal initiative.


Debate and Interpretation: The concept of prevenient grace has been a subject of theological debate and interpretation within Christianity. Different traditions may emphasize various aspects of how prevenient grace operates and its implications for salvation.  Critics may call it “a licenses to sin,” “fire insurance,” or “salvation without works.”


In summary, prevenient grace is the idea that God’s grace precedes and enables a person’s response to the offer of salvation. It highlights God’s initiative in seeking a relationship with humanity and provides the groundwork for individuals to choose to enter into that relationship through faith. Opponents to this concept argues that it underscores the collaborative nature of salvation, where God’s grace and human response work together.