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Baptism, Conversion, and Grace: Reflections on the "Underlying Realities" Between Pentecostals, Methodists, and Catholics

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The past four decades of dialogue between Methodists and Catholics as well as Pentecostals and Catholics reveal a shared soteriological substructure between each communion that is grounded in pneumatology. This article explores the shared substructure in order to point out the inherent tensions it raises with respect to baptism and conversion and then offer a possible solution as a way to advance the dialogues. The initial claim being made is that a tension exists in each communion between their commitment to the prevenient activity of the Spirit and their commitment to the sanctifying activity of the Spirit. This tension points toward a need for greater clarity on the modalities of the Spirit's presence in conversion. By reflecting on these modalities, a second claim is made that Pentecostals, Catholics, and Methodists may find agreement on the bestowal of the Spirit in infant baptism or infant dedication as part of the conversion process for those whose physical birth places them within the family of believers. The specific point of agreement would center on the Spirit's bestowal of the "will for faith" as a particular manifestation of sanctifying grace that serves to separate infants within the church from those outside the church who, nevertheless, still benefit from the Spirit's prevenient activity.

Affiliations: 1: Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, VA 23464, USA


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