Monergism vs. Synergism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Dec 16, 2012.

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  1. Herald

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    The "How we label ourselves" thread resulted in a lot of good material for further discussion. As a believer in the Doctrines of Grace I prefer not to be called a Calvinist; mainly because Calvin believed in infant baptism and Presbyterian ecclesiology. However I cannot deny that Calvinism is the most commonly used term to describe all who hold to the Reformed view of soteriology. Arminianism is the most commonly used term to describe those who do not hold to the Reformed view of soteriology. But like Calvinism it also carries with it unwanted connections like being able to fall from grace.

    Monergism and Synergism are two terms that get to the core of the belief systems most commonly expressed on this board. A good textbook definition for both is given by Donald McKim's dictionary of theological terms. Monergism is "the view that the Holy Spirit is the only agent who effects regeneration of Christians." Synergism is described as "working together in the gospel. Theologically the term is used for views of salvation, particularly Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism, where the human will cooperates with the divine will in achieving salvation."

    One of the difficulties that this thread faces is getting those who hold to Synergism to actually admit that they do. I believe that everyone who describes themselves as "non-Cal" is a Synergist whether they like the term or not. To be a Synergist, and deny it all at the same time, one must maintain a state of cognitive dissonance when it comes to understanding the fall of man and the effect of sin upon the individual. In other words a person must deny both total depravity and total inability. Total depravity: "that sinfulness pervades all areas of life or the totality of human existence" (Isa. 55:8; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1). Total inability: "because of their sinfulness, humans are not able to perform any action that will lead to their salvation. God must take the initiative to give the gift of faith and repentance" (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph 1:4-5; Eph. 2:8-9).

    If man is not totally fallen (depraved) in his nature, and not totally unable to take positive action towards God, then it can be said that man brings something to the table during justification. Man is not spiritually bankrupt. His balance may be low, but there is something still in the bank; some spiritual currency that he can use to effect his salvation. That spiritual currency is a works-based "faith." God reaches out to the sinner, through the Gospel, with the gift of eternal life, and man reaches back and accepts God's gift. Many "non-Cals" will agree with that statement, not realizing that is the Synergist view. They are caught with their hands in the cookie jar while at the same time claiming they were not trying to take any cookies! Synergists claim that God is sovereign in salvation, but not completely sovereign. I mean, how could He be? Let me share an anecdote to make my point.

    When I was a student at Word of Life, a popular professor explained the Synergist view of salvation this way: "The Holy Spirit will lead the sinner to the lake of salvation, but He won't make them drink. God will not violate the sinner's free will. God offers and man has to accept." If if were to tell that professor he was advocating Synergism he would emphatically deny it. He would say that God is completely sovereign in salvation, but the technical aspects of his theology belied his claim.

    The good part about all this is that most of those who hold to a synergistic view of soteriology deny it at the same time. This is a happy inconsistency that I am thankful for. They understand that Jesus saves. They deny works in salvation, even if they are so invested in their Synergism that they can't possibly let it go. After all, for many of them to embrace Monergism (aka "Calvinism") would be unthinkable! So, they keep to their happy inconsistency for which I am grateful.
     
    #1 Herald, Dec 16, 2012
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  2. Revmitchell

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    A synergist according to you. These terms often include some things that would incorrectly describe us. For instance I hold to a pre-trib, pre-mill position on end times. Some would be tempted to call me a dispensationalist but I do not hold to all the dispensations that typical dispies hold to.

    See the problem is I hold to my positions because I have studied these issues for my self individually and I refused to just by into entire systems of theology. One thing I have noticed is that it is the reformed folks who find it difficult to deal with discussions without being able to have these labels.

    (And I wholeheartedly believe there are a couple on this board who want these labels badly because they love the pejorative nature of them.)

    But I digress.

    Non cals (so to speak) have the ability to discuss these issues without all of these misleading labels of systems. And it causes us no distress of discomfort or even any level of confusion.

    We are quite ok and function very well without all the hub bub. Not sure why it is so difficult.
     
  3. Winman

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    I am a synergist, and have no problem admitting it. I must obey God and trust Jesus to be saved.

    Peter told the Jews he preached to at Pentacost to "save themselves", Peter was a synergist.

    Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

    Salvation is 100% of the Lord. If the Lord had not sent a preacher to tell me from the word of God that I was a lost sinner, I would have continued in sin and perished. If God had not taught me from his word that his Son Jesus died for my sins I could not have trusted in him. It was because God told me to trust in Jesus and be saved that I believed, God gets all the credit. And when I believed, God sent his Spirit into me and regenerated me. I could not possibly regenerate myself and give myself life.

    An analogy: Let's say a doctor comes to your small town. He tells everyone that the water is very poisonous and that soon everyone will die from drinking it. He provides scientific proof that proves what he is saying is true. He also tells everyone he has a cure, if they will take the tablet of medicine he provides they will not die. He says, "Take my medicine and save yourselves!" Everyone who believes takes the pill and lives, those who do not believe do not take the pill and die.

    Did those who take the pill save themselves? NO, and no rational person would take credit for saving themselves, all sensible people would give the doctor full credit for saving them. They would not have even known they would die unless he told them, and they could not have taken the pill that saved them unless the doctor provided it.

    Even Calvinists admit they must believe on Jesus, so you are just as much synergists as any non-Cal, you just refuse to admit it. If you refuse to believe on Jesus you will die lost and go to hell.
     
    #3 Winman, Dec 16, 2012
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  4. Herald

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    Friend, as you indicated "according to you" in your first sentence, I say the same to you. You are happy with who you are and what you believe. I am not going to try and change your mind. But while you don't see what all the hub bub is about, take a look at some of the Baptist seminaries and what is being discussed there. The young men at these institutions are going to be pastoring churches in the not so distant future. Much of their theology is being shaped and honed now. The way we understand God's work in salvation is probably the most important of doctrines. If we get the gospel wrong then the Church is in serious trouble.

    And please keep in mind, I did not write what I did as a personal attack against anyone. I genuinely believe these are important things to discuss. After all, it is a debate forum, and this issue is the most hotly debated topic in Baptist circles today.
     
  5. Herald

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    A self-admitted Synergist would not say that "salvation is 100% of the Lord." If you are working along side God to accomplish your salvation then some of the credit for your salvation rests with you. Either that or you do not understand what synergism is.
     
  6. OldRegular

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    You have been preaching for the last several years that without your consent God could not save you. Now you say salvation is 100% of the Lord!!!!!!
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    I have no understanding what this has to do with pastors coming out of seminary. The idea that somehow one cannot function outside of these labels is just wrong.

    I did not think you attacked anyone.
     
  8. SovereignMercy

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    I'm a monergist in Justification, Sanctification and Glorification. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of his people's faith. If He left the smallest part up to me I freely confess I would screw it up, so would everyone else.

    I'm going through 1 Peter on my radio program right now.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    When I believed in "free will' I was miserable. I kept screwing things up and had no peace, but when He showed me that I loved Him because He first loved me. I was set free.

    You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

    Somewhere is John's Gospel.
     
  10. Herald

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    It's not a matter of functioning outside of a label, it's a matter of knowing one's soteriology. A person usually falls on one side or another when it comes to monergism vs. synergism. What a person believes about salvation will affect their overall theology.

    Also, lets say (just for argument) that "Bob" is a synergist. That doesn't mean he walks in lock-step with every Arminian or semi-Pelagian doctrine. He may believe in eternal security vs. falling from grace. He may believe in original sin vs. tabula rasa. But on the issue of the sovereignty of God in salvation he believes in the synergistic model.

    Thanks. But if you've followed the threads I've been involved with over the past few months I am not the most popular of people. :)
     
  11. Herald

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    There is not a Monergist I know who does not love that passage.
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    Which I am saying is not helpful in reality.

    Which makes my point.



    Welcome to the club.
     
  13. SovereignMercy

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    X2. Who are the whosoever though?

    Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
     
  14. SovereignMercy

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    And who are willing?

    Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth.

    Regeneration must occur before faith.

    Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

    Read the whole Gospel of John in context, not just John 3:16 which you have taken out of its context. Chapter and verses divisions are NOT inspired.
     
  15. 12strings

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    If my 28 month old son can memorize Ephesians 6:1 with the reference, you should really try to learn where this verse is...:laugh:
     
  16. 12strings

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    Question for any who can answer it:

    Is a Calvinist Compatibalist a synergist?
     
  17. WITBOTL

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    No. Not sure I love that terminology, but granting it for the sake of the discussion, the doctrines of grace affirm that man is a free moral agent but that he acts according to his nature. Therefore his depravity prevents him from exercising that will spiritually and properly with true faith in the shed blood of Jesus. He is at enmity with God. Fortunately, through the quickening work of the Spirit he is reformed, given the inseperable graces of repentance and faith and willingly believes. This happens all of God and all of grace and is not synergistic. He does respond willingly upon the quickening of the Spirit. God does not force him to be saved, but the quickening does not fail to secure a positive response. I would say regeneration is not complete until he responds willingly with the faith he's given, but this is instantaneous in time with the quickening of the Spirit. All we contribute is the provision of a wicked sinner in need of salvation.
     
  18. Herald

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    I think WITBOTL provided a good answer to your question.

    I believe that every believer is a Synergist when it comes to sanctification. There is a monergistic part of sanctification that is accomplished at the point of justification (but we must be careful not to conflate the two). We are declared just (Rom. 8:30) and also sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2). The Greek word for sanctified, hagios, means "holy" and also "set apart." Believers are set apart for God's purpose at the point of justification. We are considered a holy thing. There is also the progressive, synergistic aspect of sanctification, where we are becoming more and more like Christ (fitted for heaven) over time. This is the working out of our salvation mentioned in Philippians 2:12.

    Ultimately even sanctification is monergistic because:

    Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    But we are called to action as part of Christian duty. This is the part that is synergistic. But since this is the Baptist Board, and any good point made will be misstated - justification is monergistic.
     
  19. quantumfaith

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    Hello, my name is quantumfaith, and I am a synergist.
     
  20. Herald

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    Thank you for your honesty.
     
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