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We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia: Northern Churchman

We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia? The Northern Churchman There is a familiar feel to this time of year. The Christmas advertising on television, the darker evenings, the Carol Services – and the inevitable scoffers who call the Christmas story a myth. Not ‘Once in Royal...

Mark Pickles: The Story of Two Trampolines

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Story of the Two Trampolines:  A passage that is frequently referred to during times of great revival is Isaiah 64:1-3:  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your...

Ten Thousand Bibles for London’s Children

TBS Auxiliary Meets Ten Thousand Bibles For London’s Children The Greater London Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society was delighted to report at its Annual Meeting held on 15 November that over 10,000 Bibles have been distributed to London schools since the...

Good News for Egypt’s Christians

Barnabas Fund Reports Good News for Egypt’s Christians The government of Egypt licensed 125 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 14 November. It is the 24th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in...

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw In the aftermath of Desmond Tutu’s daughter being refused permission to preside at a funeral in a Church of England parish, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told The Guardian that the “C of E must move swiftly to welcome lesbian...

Collins: Who’s Your Righteousness?

Who’s Your Righteousness? By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins Who’s your righteousness? "The Lord our Righteousness" was the sermon preached March 20, 1757 at St. Mary's Church in Oxford. It offended nearly everyone that day and William Romaine was invited to never preach...

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963 Persons Against Whom Proceedings May be Instituted. Proceedings under this Measure may be instituted against an archbishop, any diocesan bishop or any suffragan bishop commissioned by a diocesan bishop or any other bishop or a...

Editorial: Joy to the World Cup

Editorial Joy to the World Cup The result of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is already in. And it appears the Church of England has lost. The latest advice from the Church of England’s Support Hub is for parishes to consider the timing of Christmas Carol Services to avoid...

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership By Chris Sugden Andrew Symes is to stand down as Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream on January 1, 2023, after nearly ten years in post. Rev Symes, 56, who had earlier served with Crosslinks in South...

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension By George Conger The former Bishop of Ramsbury has been suspended for life from the ordained ministry after he admitted to having sexually abused two women. The Daily Mail reported the Rt Rev. Peter Hullah had been the subject of...

Sanlon’s Response to Turner’s Letter

Sanlon’s Response to Turner’s Letter

Dear Mr Turner,

Thank you for engaging with my article on Common Grace. You are correct that neither the 39 Articles nor Westminster Confession use the phrase. When the Westminster Divines met they were aware of the term – the Assembly minutes record discussion of it.  The point is worth noting as sometimes people mistakenly think the concept was invented by Kuyper.

The debate is whether you think common grace a useful term to summarise Biblical verses which show God gives gifts and shows kindnesses to unregenerate people. One may treat all that under the rubric of providence – but many reformed theologians have felt that ‘common grace’ orders the data elegantly.

Calvin discussed God’s gifts to the unregenerate in Book 2 – under the heading of ‘Knowledge of God the Redeemer.’ He was happy to use the word ‘grace’ to refer to God’s gifts to unbelievers: ‘so universal is this good that every man ought to recognise for himself in it the peculiar grace of God.’ (2.2.14)

No reformed divine who uses the term would intend for common and special grace to be confused. Berkhof wrote, ‘No amount of common grace can ever introduce the sinner into the new life in Christ.’ (p.439)

Like all theological terms, Common Grace can be misunderstood or disconnected from other doctrines. I believe it remains a helpful term but, of course, nobody is under compulsion to use it. The relevant doctrines can, as you suggest, be treated as aspects of providence.

In Christ,

Revd Dr. Peter Sanlon 

Tunbridge Wells

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