Synergism and God’s Omni-influence

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Timtoolman, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Timtoolman

    Timtoolman
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    Synergism and God’s Omni-influence

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    Monergism is really defined by the belief that God must regenerate a person BEFORE that person CAN believe. We know that to be true because Calvinists will not allow Monergism to be defined in any other way. Logically, Monergism cannot be defined in any other way. I think this is due to the Monergists’ misunderstanding of both grace and their praxis of grace (sovereign grace). The idea of Sovereign Grace really defines Monergism and sets up the dominoes of logic for their doctrine of election, predestination, depravity, perseverance, and limited atonement.

    A major failure in the doctrine of Grace within Covenant Theology is the failure to enter the on going and continuing God Factor into the equation of the human predicament. Although mankind is absolutely depraved and completely evil, the reason all men are not sociopaths/psychopaths is BECAUSE of God’s grace (presalvifically and postsalvifically). The very nature of God’s omnipresence extends His omni-influence within all of His creation (time/space/matter continuum). God’s omni-influence is part of the praxis of His omnipresence. Some call this omni-influence of God His Common Grace. I do not like that term. There is nothing common about anything God does.

    “16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16).

    The word “consist” is from the Greek word sunistao (soon-is-tah'-o). It is the perfect active indicative (intransitive) of sunistêmi. It means to stand with. The idea is that God has not abandoned this creation to the forces of evil and He has not abandoned lost mankind to the estate of his own depravity. God continues to exert His omni-influence through His omnipresence. God has not left mankind alone in the darkness to fend for himself. This omni-influence of God is suppressed in degrees of unbelief manifested by practice (Romans 1:19-32) ultimately ending in reprobation.

    Romans 1:19-32 in itself reveals to us that synergism is the praxis of God’s grace. It is man’s decisions to believe or not believe the witnesses of God’s revelation and the omni-influence of God’s Spirit that moves people either toward an ultimate decision in obeying the Gospel or, by their rejection of God’s grace, they move themselves to the ultimate rejection of God’s influence resulting in reprobation. It is through these witnesses, progressive revelation and the omni-influence of God’s Spirit upon hearts that God is “drawing all men unto Himself” (John 12:32). We might refer to this omni-influence as the Magnet of Grace. Once a person becomes “reprobate” (by choices of rejection and unbelief) the poles of this magnet are reversed and the “reprobate” is now repelled by the Cross (Luke 13:10-15; referring to the apostates/reprobates of Israel in the “high priests and scribes” and those that followed them).

    Lost people suppress two truths regarding the existence of the absolute God. In doing so they are rejecting the grace of God extended to them in these witnesses.

    Unbelievers suppress the voice of their conscience telling them that God exists (Romans 1:19). Man was created in the image of God. Even in mankind’s fallen state, every reflection of himself is to some degree a reflection of God. God’s image was defaced, but not erased. Man has a God given conscience and God has programmed Himself into that conscience saying, “I am, I am, I am.” What this means is that in every person is a conscience that is like a neon light in the darkness of our fallen existence flashing, “God is! God is! God is!”

    However, lost mankind does not like this constant reminder of the existence of an absolute God with absolute rights and wrongs. “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (1:28). By the vanity of human reasoning, they deny the inward testimony of their conscience to the existence of God. In doing so, they put themselves in almost total darkness.

    “9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:9-10).

    “22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23)!

    Lost people suppress the testimony of creation to the existence of God (Romans 1:20). Creation is a shouting testimony to God’s existence.

    “1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof” (Psalm 19:1-6).

    Two invisible things about God are clearly evident in creation (1:20).

    1. “His eternal power”

    “1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. . . 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. . . 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. . . 9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. . . 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. . . 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. . . 20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. . . 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. . . 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 20, 24, and 26).

    2. His “Godhead” (literally His God-hood, this refers to His divinity. He is the Creator/God.)

    Another example of soteriological synergism is what took place in the three miracles in Matthew chapter nine. These miracles of physical healing are intent on portraying the spiritual dynamic of faith (praxis) in salvation.

    “18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. 23 And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. 25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. 26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. 27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. 28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:18-28).

    It would seem Calvinists/Monergists are willing to understand and accept God’s omnipresent influence within fallen creation by restraining the forces of evil and maintaining order in the midst of chaos, but are not willing to extend that influence upon the hearts and minds of lost mankind. It is not enough that God saves “by grace” (His sovereign choice of the elect, which I do not believe refers to individuals), He must also save by force (Monergism as defined by those believing God must regenerate before He can begin the process of regeneration).

    The magnet of God’s grace (the Cross) and the omni-influence of God’s Spirit draws all to Christ and His “gift” “by grace through faith.” To redefine “grace” to mean God’s sovereign force apart from the influence of the Spirit of God upon hearts and minds leading people to a decision of faith is to deny almost every portion of Scripture dealing with the doctrine of grace as defined by the praxis of Divine enablement manifested throughout the Word of God.

    The word “grace” in the New Covenant books is from the Greek word charis (khar'-ece). It refers mainly to the Divine influence upon the heart. This influence is both universal (“upon” the heart) and specific (“in” the heart). The specific influence of the Holy Spirit is different in the Old Covenant (pre-Pentecost) and the New Covenant (post-Pentecost). In the Old Covenant God’s specific influence (“grace”) came upon certain individuals such as prophets, priests and kings. This was known as anointing. The Holy Spirit did not “indwell” believers in the Old Covenant. This dispensational transition in the operation of the Holy Spirit is what defines the operations of God in and through the lives of believers within the New Covenant (Age of Grace)

    “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you {Old Covenant}, and shall be in you {New Covenant}. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:15-20).

    Our understanding of the doctrine of Grace is an understanding of a whole new historical paradigm that changed on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit would now become the believer’s “Comforter.” Some call this Specific Grace in that it applies specifically and only to believers. The word “Comforter” is translated from the Greek word parakletos (par-ak'-lay-tos). We have many English words we use to translate this word; intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter. Most Lexicons would agree that the words Helper or Partner are better representations of the meaning of parakletos. This is really the dictionary definition of the word synergism.

    “synergism: n 1: the working together of two things (muscles or drugs for example) to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects (WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University).

    Theologically, Synergism (Soteriological Synergism) is the teaching that salvation results from the interaction of human will and divine grace. This is certainly the overwhelming example of Scripture. The influence of the Spirit of God works within the human predicament (the “curse”) to seeking out the lost, bringing them to understanding (illumination of truth over against satanic deception), leading them to the threshold of repentance of sin and error, leading them to believe and enabling them to “obey” the gospel by repenting of sin and dead works (a decision of the will), believing/trusting in the objective facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, confessing Christ as Lord, calling on His Name to save them and receiving the Holy Spirit of God. All of those things are decisions of the will enabled by the Holy Spirit’s work. The believer does not do ANYTHING as part of what Christ did in the provision of the gift of salvation (regeneration). ALL the believer does is RECEIVE the gift offered “by grace” (the medium) “through faith” (the means).

    The broader spectrum of God’s grace is really about the realm of God’s existence and character as it impacts the time/space/matter continuum of the human predicament now fallen under the dominion (“world,” kosmos) of the Satan. Grace is God extending Himself (His life, light, love, and mercy) into the realm of satanic deception, death, hate and the destructive consequences of sin. We are all children (descendents) of Adam (Romans 5:12), but in Adam and in the fall we became “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-3). This ties us not just to the Adamic fallen nature, but to the Satanic fallen nature. When the Word of God says, “and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19) this refers to that spirit (nature) of antichrist of which all are born “in Adam.” Grace extends the omni-influence of God into the filth and degradation of the human predicament to lead “whosoever will” out of the darkness into God’s glorious presence. We become children of obedience when we obey the gospel and yield to the enabling of the Holy Spirit who enables us to repent, believe, confess, receive and call. Thus, Synergism is the Biblical praxis (orthopraxy) of soteriological orthodoxy, not Monergism.
    __________________
    (Isaiah 28:9-11).

    http://www.disciplemakerministries.org

    This brother's website has some great incite to the C/A debate. And he articulates it well. A good place to visit for some good Scriptural reasons that show calvinism's faults.
     
  2. npetreley

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    What I find interesting is that the above quote contradicts what a lot of free willers say on this board. Several people say we are "sick" and not "dead". They attribute our (supposedly) only partially fallen condition to the fact that we are made in God's image, and are therefore we have some built-in goodness.

    The above quote says that there is no good in us whatsoever. The only reason we don't act as evil as we are is because God exerts a continual restraining influence on our evil.
     
  3. J.D.

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    quote:
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    Although mankind is absolutely depraved and completely evil, the reason all men are not sociopaths/psychopaths is BECAUSE of God’s grace (presalvifically and postsalvifically).
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    Right, this is known as "common grace" which C's hold to, although not in the sense that A's would look at it. God exhibits grace to the reprobate - he gives them life, pleasures of rain, sun, increase, etc. And only by God's grace we live in a civil society with a God-ordained government to execute wrath upon the evil doers.

    Saving grace is a different issue, for it is not common but particular to the elect.
     
  4. Timtoolman

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    Npetreley, does the bible say they are sick? You should know this if your building a theology on it. (hint) By the way it does use the term sick.

    By the way it says a whole lot more then that.
     
  5. Timtoolman

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    It also shows quite clearly that man maintians his image of God. so far I am getting bits and pieces of attempts at showing this article to be incorrect. But no real substance.
    Appreciate the little quips though.
     
  6. J.D.

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    This is a good example of what sets me off about many anti-calvinists apologetics. It's not the doctrine of common grace that he keys on here - it's the word "common". And then he redefines it to suite his need. The doctrine of common grace has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the acts of God are "common" as in mundane or dull, or not.

    And what is this "praxis" thing? Is this word commonly used in theological examinations?

    Actually, I know what it means and I have seen it used before. It's presumed by arminians to be the ultimate trump-card against calvinism. It has to do the that which is "practical", the application of doctrine as opposed to theoretical doctrine. In other words, "does calvinism work?" is the ploy.

    This is why I resist JohnofJapan's effort to bate me into a forum about evangelism. There's and implication out there that calvinism must defend itself as being useful or practicle.

    For years, long before my conversion to 5 points, I used to say "we ought to live like arminians, as if our salvation depended completely on our works; and believe like calvinists, as if our salvation depended completely upon God."

    That was based on the false assumption that calvinism has no practicle application to the life of a Christian. Boy was I wrong!

    Once I learned what Calvinism actually teaches, I changed that to "we ought to live AND believe like a Calvinist, for that is the only way we can worship in spirit and truth."
     
  7. Timtoolman

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    ,
    I don't know where this came from? It is not set forht in the article. NOr does it represent those who are not calvinist on this board. JD, I would like to know where you got this idea from?

    When I try to read from scriptures with the ideals of calvinism behind them I find the bible flat. With no real value. It seems to mock the word of God at many times. It makes the bible a book of useless information.
     
  8. J.D.

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    I don't know where this came from? It is not set forht in the article. NOr does it represent those who are not calvinist on this board. JD, I would like to know where you got this idea from?


    When I try to read from scriptures with the ideals of calvinism behind them I find the bible flat. With no real value. It seems to mock the word of God at many times. It makes the bible a book of useless information.
    </font>[/QUOTE]
    Right, it is not specifically set forth in the article and it was not my intent to directly imply that. I was speaking of my understanding of praxis and the way I've seen that terminology used before. It is not that I ever believed that my salvation depended on my works, but by way of an analogy I would say "live as if your salvation depend on your works" and so forth.

    I state that to show my former agreement with the idea of praxis - that theology which does not affect my practices - was useless. And that was my opinion of calvinism.

    Again, since coverting to the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of God, the change has been radical, affecting every aspect of my life including the practical. I go soul winning just as I always have, but I go now with a manifold confidence in God's ability to save the elect. I sow, another man waters, but God give the increase. I always pray toward God's will. I no longer swim in a sea of regrets over past decisions. I live, I learn, but God guides all the way.

    This is such a wholesale rejection of the doctrines of grace that I don't know how to respond. I don't know why you can't see that which is so clear to me. On the other hand, I can clearly see what you see, because I used to be in that school. I've heard no anti-calvinist argument that I've not used myself in the past. But one day it all changed for me (the change was incremental, but a crucial moment eventually came in which I totally converted). All I can do is pray that God would open your eyes (whether you want me to pray that way or not).
     
  9. J.D.

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    "He must also save by force" - This description is inaccurate, and the difference is important. Calvinism does not teach that men are "forced" to believe, we teach that they are "changed" to believe.

    "does no violence to the will" is the way the reformers put it.

    However, we do believe that this "change" is an active, not passive, work of God, that "drawing" the elect to Christ involves more than "wooing". If someone chooses to call that "force", then so be it, but it's not Calvin's word.

    "God must regenerate before He can begin the process of regeneration"

    I think this was a typo by the author. He must intend "God must regenerate before He can begin the process of salvation". I don't care for the word "process', but otherwise, this is true, and it is one of the easiest things about calvinism to understand. This is what makes the doctrine of grace vibrant and exciting to me! This is what makes salvation a miracle - God's spirit blows into the human heart, shedding abroad the love of God, making all things new, by which we receive the preaching of the Gospel as our blessed hope and surety.

    "(His sovereign choice of the elect, which I do not believe refers to individuals)"

    Corporate election is a topic for a whole new thread, but has no doubt been dealt with extensively in the past on this forum. I will just add this: Could God elect a "people for his name's sake" that does not consist of people (individuals)?
     
  10. whatever

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    Hey Tim,

    I cannot get past this statement from the second paragraph.
    Is the writer really saying that monergists do not account enough for God's working in the world? That's what it sounds like to me, but I must confess that I've not heard a synergist argue that way before. Usually the complaint is that we have God doing too much, rather than not enough.
    Actually, in monergism also God interacts with the human will. Synergism is the teaching that salvation results from cooperation between human will and divine grace. Monergism teaches that salvation is the result of divine grace operating on the human will. Changing the definitions does not help one's cause.
    Do you know how a monergist defines regeneration? It is the enabling of the will by the Holy Spirit so that the person can choose to believe. It sounds to me like your "synergist" is trying to be a monergist without the name.
     
  11. npetreley

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    Thank you for missing my point entirely. I was afraid you might actually get it this time.
     
  12. Timtoolman

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    Your pt. was invalid. Thanks for missing that!
     

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