LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Friday, October 12, 2007

Brief Theological Definitions: Monergism

I thought it might be fun to define some commonly used theological terms. My goal is to give as uncomplicated a definition as possible such that my children can understand what the term means.

The word Monergism could be used to describe the conversion of the Apostle Paul.

Paul was thoroughly entrenched in Pharisaic doctrine as a Jew, and absolutely zealous for the law. He rejected Christ outright and went so far as to persecute Christians to the death. Paul was the very definition of an anti-Christ. It was in the pursuit of his anti-Christian agenda that Paul was met on the Damascus road.

Paul was not on the road looking for Christ, rather he was on the road determined to destroy Christianity. Paul did not seek Christ first, rather Christ sought Paul. Paul did not "figure out" on his own that Jesus was the Christ, rather Jesus revealed Himself to Paul plainly.

Paul did not receive instruction randomly or by chance, rather Christ instructed Annanias to go directly to Paul and to open his eyes, thereafter Paul was in fellowship with those whom God directed to go to Paul.

We see in Paul's conversion the practical outworking of what we call Monergism: the idea that it was God at work in us as the Author and as the Finisher of the faith by which we were saved. Monergism means we receive divine favor not because we generate it by making the right decisions or doing the right things, but rather because God has determined to show favor to us while we were yet sinners, that is, in spite of our being entirely undeserving of it.

Monergism is most visible in our theology when we answer the question: how does God save a sinner?

The synergist believes that God is wooing everybody, but that only some of us will be moved to respond to that wooing. Those of us who do respond, in doing so give God the opportunity to save us. At the end of the day, those who respond to the gospel do so because they made better choices than those who did not, that is, their choice to have faith was the key that opened God's shackles and allowed God to finally save them. The God of the synergist is wringing his hands in heaven hoping that some of us will hear about him, and hearing about him will then choose him so that he can possibly save them, and hopefully - if they are faithful - keep them saved.

The monergist believes that God is gracious to all men, and offers salvation freely to all men, but that this offer is being made to a race of people who are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sin, and by virtue of this death are entirely unable to respond to the gospel. The monergist believes that the gospel is a call upon all men, but that all men are equally dead and unable to respond to it. God's call is not to be confused with the gospel - which is given to all and rejected by all. God's call comes when we are yet sinners and dead in our sin, but it is not a call given to all, lest all would be saved. Make no mistake - the gospel is offered to all, and all reject it being dead spiritually in their sins. That is what being dead in sin means - it means being utterly unable to receive the gospel. Yet God has determined to show mercy on whom He will show mercy - and so from among these who are dead in their trespasses God elects some to show mercy to, and this mercy comes in the form of life - first and foremost as the ability to savingly receive the gospel. That is what scripture means when it says you were dead in your sins but God made you alive (c.f. Ephesians 2). Those upon whom God shows mercy upon (such as the Apostle Paul), God draws to Himself through Christ (c.f. John 6:44), and those whom are drawn come one and all - no one is lost.

Monergism means that God actively chooses whom He will save, and as many as God elects to save - these are saved.

Synergism means that God passively and reactively saves as many as make the right decision. Where God is sovereign in Monergism, in synergism he is bound by man's sovereign decision to produce salvation for as many as merit it by their own free choice. In synergism God is the means by which a man can save himself. God may be responsible for 99.999999999999999% of the salvation process, but it is the 0.00000000000000001% that man adds to the mix that ultimately makes man sovereign in his own election, and in fact, makes election an empty word.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Daniel said...

I know, I know, what kind of tyrant trumps a birthday post?

My kind.

<Kojack voice>
   Who loves you baby?
</Kojack voice>

October 12, 2007 3:05 PM

Blogger jazzycat said...

Right on. This was a very good explanation of monergsim.

October 12, 2007 4:11 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Y E S!!!!!!!!!

October 13, 2007 10:38 AM

Blogger Susan said...

The flip side of this, of course, as James White once pointed out, is the odd notion that while synergists believe they have that x percent free will determination over God's total sovereignty, some believe they can't lose their salvation.

But why not? If they themselves made the "choice for Christ," then why couldn't they themselves undo their own choice?

October 13, 2007 10:44 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, Susan, Susan - Always with the profound questions! :-)

October 13, 2007 11:34 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Just tryin' to keep up with you!
Futile, I know...

October 13, 2007 12:01 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home