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The Monergist View of the Human Will

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by Reformed, Oct 1, 2018.

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  1. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    There is an active thread called “I Believe in Free Will” and it is an absolute disaster. No one is listening to each other beyond the sound-byte they need to launch a diatribe against the other poster. I was going to participate in that thread, but I would have just been another din amidst the noise. So, I am going to start a thread to describe what Monergists believe about the human will. I do not expect many replies. With all the BB members I have blocked (and who have blocked me in return) this thread will only reach a narrow audience, and that is fine. As I have written many times before, it is the lurkers – those who seldom post – that sometimes get the most out of a well-written post or reply. So, to those denizens of the BB jungle, I dedicate this thread.

    Each human being has a will. For this discussion, if we define the human will as the ability to think, act, and choose – that will be fine. Both Monergists and Synergists believe that human beings make volitional choices. Contrary to the belief of many Synergists, Monergists believe human beings make choices and they do so freely. More on this later. When I cite scripture references in this thread they are not meant to be exhaustive. For the sake of brevity, I will list relevant scriptures to support a contention or make a point.

    I believe the Bible teaches original sin (Psa. 51:5; Eph. 2:1-3; Psa. 14:2-3). Sin is a pervasive malignancy that corrupts both the material and immaterial parts of man. Sin is a product of the fall (Gen. 3:6). The heart of man is sinful throughout its entire life (Ecc. 9:3). Many Synergists believe that sinful man is not completely fallen. There remains a “divine spark”, a smoldering ember that only needs the Holy Spirit to breath upon it. For these Synergists that divine spark is not enough to assault the human will. The individual must choose to believe the gospel message. Therefore, the term “Synergist” is used. The human will acts in cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel call. God will not make an individual believe. In a sense it is like the saying, “you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.” That stands in sharp contrast to how the Monergist views the human will.

    According the Monergist understanding of scripture, sinners are completely fallen in sin. The will of man is corrupt. There is no part of the human will that is not corrupt. Puritan Ralph Venning wrote a work titled, “Sin, The Plague of Plagues” which was released in 1669. His work has become better known through succeeding centuries as “The Sinfulness of Sin”. The premise of Venning’s book is summarized in Romans 7:13, “Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.” Sin is utterly sinful. It is not a mere condition that nags at the individual. Sin is a terminal disease that has already placed the individual in a state of death. This is what the Apostle Paul revealed to the church at Ephesus when he wrote about their spiritual condition prior to becoming believers: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). The Koine Greek word for “dead” in Eph. 2:1 (νεκρος) nekros, literally means a corpse. The spiritual condition of a sinner is likened to a corpse. This is far different than just an illness or condition that is curable. Sinners truly are dead men walking. This reality was one of the motivating reasons why Martin Luther wrote “On the Bondage of the Will” in 1525. The will of the sinner is literally in bondage to the law of death (Rom. 8:2). The sinner is a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16). The will of the sinner is incapable of doing anything that can help it escape its condition. Scripture states, Romans 8:6-8 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Did you read those words about the mind set on the flesh? It does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. The will of man cannot be separated from the mind of man. The mind of the sinner is wholly corrupt because of sin. It is fallen. It contains no divine spark. Gen. 6:5 states that every thought of man is evil. What makes us think that the human condition has improved since the time of Noah? Every thought of man – today – is evil. We have already seen in Romans 8 that the sinner is incapable of turning to God. This is the consequence of being in bondage to sin. It is the culmination of the sinfulness of sin. Therefore, the Monergist believes that the will of man must first be liberated from its bondage to sin before it can believe.

    Back in Ephesians 2 Paul tells us that the sinner is spiritually dead. He uses the Greek word for a corpse to the make that point. This creates a problem for the Synergist, because he must either wrestle with the text head-on, or dance around it to avoid its only conclusion. A corpse has no ability to do anything. It is dead. When describing the fallen human will it is, well, dead. It will remain dead unless an outside force acts upon it making it alive, and this is exactly what the Apostle Paul reveals further on in Ephesians 2:4-9, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Paul does not write “But man” he writes “But God”. Even while we were spiritually dead in sin, God made us alive. This is the work of illumination and regeneration, whereby God makes the human heart willing and able to believe (Ezk. 36:26). Freed from its slavery and bondage to sin, the individual is now able to freely choose the One who has already chosen him. Nowhere in scripture can we find that a sinner can breathe life into his own dead nature so that it can choose God. However, we have just read that the Holy Spirit does exactly that.

    *edited to correct grammar and typos.
     
    #1 Reformed, Oct 1, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
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  2. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Would it be fair to say that both groups believe the necessity of God intervening in the person's life prior to belief?
     
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  3. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Yes. However, that is where the similarities end.
     
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  4. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Would it be fair to say that both groups believe the necessity of the gospel of Jesus Christ be presented to the unsaved person?
     
  5. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    No. I know some Synergists who believe it is possible for conversion to take place without the gospel being presented. One group I know of believes natural revelation is sufficient.
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  6. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    I am not suggesting Synergists are not Christians or that they do not believe in proclaiming the Gospel. I am pointing out the Monergist view of the human will in relation to the Gospel call.

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  7. SovereignGrace

    SovereignGrace Well-Known Member
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    That view is prevalent on here amongst those of the dissenting view. :(
     
  8. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    The New Testament never presents anything other than the Gospel as the means of salvation (Rom. 1:16). Thankfully, there are many Synergists who agree with that statement, although not all.
     
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  9. SovereignGrace

    SovereignGrace Well-Known Member
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    They take and twist Romans 1:19 to try to make it say what it does not. That verse is talking about knowing God exists, but as Romans 1:23 plainly says, they take that knowledge and then attribute God's work, and His glory, to some sort of idol, whether it be a mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, or reptiles.
     
  10. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'm sure all monergists don't agree with the statement either.

    Generally speaking, both groups accept the necessity of the gospel, correct?
     
  11. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Actually, I do not know any Monergists who deny that the proclamation of the Gospel is est conditio requiritur (a condition that is required). That belief is part and parcel with Monergism. Of course, I could be wrong and someone may produce a quote from a noted Monergist that advocates salvation without the preaching of the Gospel. That said, without any statistics to confirm my assertion, I believe many Synergists view the Gospel as the means of salvation. Is it a majority? I do not know. For those that do, I am pleased by the happy inconsistency in their soteriology.
     
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  12. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    @canadyjd, actually, if you are trying to make a point it will be helpful to the discussion to make it.
     
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  13. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Yes, but the difference will be in whose will is getting acomplishe din the salvation act, either the will of God or of the sinner's!
     
  14. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    The Gospel is the chosen means ordained by God to have the Holy Spirit use it to save the Elect who has been chosen by God to be now saved!
     
  15. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Sounds like Primitive Baptists, Hyper Calvinists!
     
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  16. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Ok, generally speaking, both synergists and monergists believe the necessity of God's intervention and the gospel presentation in bringing people to salvation.

    Is it fair to say that both groups believe the necessity of responding to the gospel with faith in Jesus as the only way to salvation?
     
  17. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    One sees the faith asa gift from God, the other has something they choose to exercise!
     
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  18. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Well, before I consider the differences, I believe it would be profitable to me to understand where the agreements are.
     
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  19. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Fair point!
     
  20. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Do you know where the agreements are?
     
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