Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monergism vs. Synergism

I am currently watching(again) a video called "Amazing Grace", The History & Theology of Calvinism. I have seen it before but I finally bought a copy for myself and a few friends of mine. This video somewhat talks about monergism and synergism and I would also like to delve deeper into these two terms to understand how they are relevant today.

Monergism in Christian theology is the theory that the Holy Spirit alone can act to bring about the regeneration of people. The idea is most commonly affiliated with Calvinism and its doctrine of irresistible grace in essence with the contrariety between that theological system on the one hand and Arminianism on the other. In its simplest form monergism states that salvation is all from God, as opposed to synergism, which, in its simplest form, insists that God performs some action leaving salvation incomplete until man performs some action to complete salvation. According to monergism, a sinner is given pardon for sin by the death of Jesus, acceptance with God by the imputed righteousness of Jesus, and faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Sanctification then begins either instantaneously according to some, or as an on going progressive process according to others. But to remain consistent to monergism, justification must be entirely of God.

Synergism is regarding the doctrine of salvation, this is essentially the view that God and man work together, each contributing in part to accomplish salvation in and for the individual. This is the view of salvation found in Arminianism and its theological predecessor Semi-Pelagianism. Arminians would say that there are two efficient agents in regeneration, 1) The human will and 2) The divine Spirit, which, in the strict sense of the term, cooperate. This theory accordingly holds that the soul has not lost in the fall all inclination toward holiness, nor all power to seek for it under the influence of ordinary motives. "In other words, God has done his part, and man must do his. This is opposed to the monergistic view as held by Reformed and Calvinistic groups where salvation is seen as the work of one—God alone. defined by

First let me acknowledge that Calvin was a mere man and we are not to esteem him anymore than the average man. Yes he was the vessel God used to expound this doctrine(monergism) and GOD bless him for that, but he was just the clay and not the Potter. We acknowledge this in reverence for the Giver of all enlightenment and wisdom.

To clarify in case you do not know me personally, I am a Reformed. I hold to the Five Solas and the famous acronym TULIP simply because it is Biblical. I in my personal walk I had people coin me as reformed before I even knew what reformed theology was; just because that was what I was learning in my walk and it just happened to be Biblical. God is Sovereign. Yes, God is absolutely sovereign and knows all. Yes, human beings are called to make a genuine decision to place faith in Christ unto salvation. We understand in the book of Ephesians that even faith is a gift from God. So all of the Glory goes to God alone. The problem comes when we ask this question, "Apart from God's divine intervention can we make a decision to follow Christ and can we hear God?" Scripture is clear on this and dead men are exactly that, "dead."

Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Really, what is the question we are asking here? Monergism says God the Holy Spirit is totally sovereign over everything even in the smallest of activities. The sovereignty of God is something we can only see from a limited perspective now and we will soon understand as the Lord returns and when we see him we will be like him.(1John 3:2) There are countless scriptures the speak of the complete sovereignty of God and God alone. Let us take a look at the acronym used earlier TULIP.

T-Total Depravity. Romans 3:10"There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
U-Unconditional Election-Romans 9:11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Limited Atonement-John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
I-Irresistible Grace-2Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
P-Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints-Romans 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Why is this important?
1) If we do not know our history we almost inevitably will repeat it.
2) Calvinism shapes the way we view our relationship and the distinctiveness of a Holy God.
3) It shapes the way we view our self and people who are unregenerate.
4) It allows us to view evangelism properly and one cannot make true progress in sanctification.
5) Most importantly without this truth, people are more susceptible to error.
6) All Truth of any kind is beneficial in the life of a Christian.

In conclusion it is extremely important not to have a misconstrued understanding of God and the Bible. By this many people have been misled and when we confuse 1)The nature of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. 2)Our total depravity., 3)God holiness and distinction from creatures. This is how heresy is started. I encourage everyone to study God's word in detail because if the claims the living Word of God makes are true; it is the most important thing in this life. God Bless