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HISTORY of Christian Theology

A term derived from the Latin word praevenire, meaning “to come before.” It refers to the grace of God that comes before an individual chooses to accept saving grace in faith in contrast to grace that is realized through faith. Disputes regarding the interplay between free will and grace typically involve the existence and role of prevenient grace. Most traditional Western Christian traditions adhere to Augustinian’s view that prevenient grace causes faith while some evangelical Protestant teachings follow the Arminian view that prevenient grace is preparation or offer that is ultimately up to individuals to accept or reject. Calvinist perspective of the Augustinian concept is called “irresistible grace,” while the Catholic Thomistic view is called “efficacious in itself.”

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