Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Monergism versus Synergism or do we have too many "isms"?

Monergism versus Synergism or do we have too many "isms"?

Now in the “heat” of a recent attack it was stated I did not believe in Monergism and that I believed in Synergism… Here I admit I mistakenly understood Synergism as a different term than was thrown at me. Yet, I do and am a Monergism… but maybe not in the traditional sense or at least by the “Calvinist” defintion.

In fact I see that the Calvinist view is opposed to the Biblical view as I have stated already.

Yet, saying that, the traditional definition of Monergism is:

Monergism (literal "one work.")
Monergists correctly assert that conversion is the single work of God. It is God who saves through Christ. It is God who creates faith through the hearing of the Gospel.

As opposed to synergism.

Synergists believe that conversion is a cooperative work between man and God (see "Pelagianism").

The fifth century heresy of Pelagius who taught that man is not totally corrupt and can be saved by an act of his own will (see "Arminianism," "Monergism," "Revivalism," "Total Depravity").

Now, I know in the past I held a more traditional Armininian view that man was not totally corrupt, yet I see in scripture that all men have sin and no one is righteous. I do see though that the idea of the Calvinistic “Total depravity” may not be as biblical as is supposed.
I see in scripture that man can choose. If one reads Irenaeus they will see that he taught man does know the difference between good and bad… yet it seems mankind has a short coming as far as man being neutral and knowing good from evil yet losing his path and choosing not to come to Christ for salvation… I see that man being neutral chooses his own way, and in that without the Holy Spirit to come to call us out of the path that leads to death one will be doomed to the penalty of his sin… no matter the man more good than bad, sin demands its payment of death. To sin once is to forfeit eternal life…

Many think that man is immortal and the I Scripture clearly states Jesus alone was immortal. This death then is the end of a man… yet with Christ alone man is redeemed. Redemption is the sole act of God. A man seeking after God and His goodness will find that he hears the Calling that leads to repentance and conversion, redemption and salvation.

To say that regeneration takes place first misses that regeneration is the act of the transformation of sinner to saint… it is not that act of Grace that for a moments opens a sinners eyes, for that is Mercy and Grace showing the Loving Kindness of God… this then leads to repentance…

To place regeneration is a grave misunderstanding that confuses the atonement with salvation. Some take justification and salvation as the same and to me they are not. We were justified/atoned at the Cross, this was the sole act of Christ and there is nothing we can add to it. We are also only redeemed by the power of the Resurrection as it is by Christ’s very Life we now Live… for the redemption unto salvation is solely the work of Christ alone and it is that He lives His life in and though us. To think we can add our own “works” to gain more sanctification misses that the reason se are sanctified is that Christ is living in us and these works are His and His alone… they are not ours.

So, I do not make a good Calvinist, yet I do believe that it is the total working of the Calling of the Holy Spirit that we are saved. Our response is only that… a response that we agree that there is no work we can do to be saved and not a work in that we are part of the process of salvation. It is not in our “turning” we are saved, it is in the calling that we hear and respond… and our total surrender that we realize there is no way to salvation except by God’s Mercy and Grace.

There is a joke that illustrates this:

A man died and came to Saint Peter at the gate of Heaven. Peter told them man that he will be awarded points to enter in… he only needed 100 and he would be able to enter into heaven freely.
So the man stated proudly, “I never cheated on my wife.”
Peter replied, “Very good, that is worth 2 points.”
The man stated, “I never stole anything from anyone.”
Peter looked and smiled and stated, “Very good! You now have three points!”
This went on for about an hour and the man wearily looked at Peter and stated, “I have nothing else… it looks like I can only enter by the Grace of God.”

Peter smiled brightly and hit a button… and the Gates opened wide… as Peter stated, “That is the only right answer! Enter in!”

Now remember that is a joke to illustrate a point and I do believe we need to accept Jesus to receive that Grace… this “joke” falls short on many levels yet the point that we are at God’s mercy… and Grace… is the point. If a man thinks there be any other way, he is deceived… and the Truth is not in him.

As far as Synergism or being a synergist… I see that salvation alone is of God… the only part we play is that we come to an end of ourselves and turn to God through Jesus and cry out “Lord, save a poor sinner like me.”, and in that moment are brought into a relationship… is the of desperation a “work” of us? No, I see it a realization of our condition… that being a moral agent we do not have the tools to carry through.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls this “shame” and which is our condition, and in that we can be shamed by most anything so it is not the resolution as it is acquired and learned… Yet, it is in the recognition of our disunion that we find this condition if left on our terms, on reconcilable. It is not that we are totally depraved, but ill-equipped to be able to sustain a “righteousness” that is of God’s approval on our own… we in a sense see what we are to do, but as Paul laments do not do as we ought to do.

This condition is the recognition of having a sin nature… a nature that runs contrary to the good that God desires for us. If left unchecked God then turns one over to their depraved thinking and in that we only earn the wages that sin offers. If given that we have the realization that we are moral agents that have lost their moral grounds, we then turn to Christ Jesus, we find in that the Calling, and in that the Voice of One Who calls out forgiveness and a new way of Life… it is in this Kindness we find redemption as we repent (which means to turn around) which can be either tears of sorrow and thanksgiving or tears of rejoicing and gratitude… repentance in not a formula, but a heart changed by God Himself.

Some may now criticize that I have not given Bible references… and if that is you, then you don’t need them… go and search and then prove me wrong if you need to. Yet, I know there are those who may not have read the Bible… and I commend you for getting past all the “isms” as I hope that an “ism” does not keep you from Jesus. If you have never read the Bible before, start in John, or any of the Gospels… read them as a story of a friend you have just met… and just try to get to know Him… you will be amazed at how much you will grasp with just an open heart. Most who have walked with Christ often assume they know the Gospels...yet, in them even if you do not understand what is going on, Jesus will still speak to you clearly in what you need to know now. In that I hope that the Life that Christ Jesus lived will come to be Life itself for you also.


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