Monergism versus Synergism


Are you …
  1. A monergist Christian?
  2. A synergist Christian?
  3. Some other Heathen?
  4. Confused?

0 voters

  • Monergism: (Greek mono meaning “one” and erg meaning “work”). “Salvation” is God’s work alone: God is the active agent; humans are passive receivers.
    • is a free, comprehensive online theological library comprised of Reformed Christian resources designed to bring glory to Jesus Christ alone. The directory consists of original and aggregated content from around the world emphasizing the good news that salvation is God’s free gift for guilty sinners, not a reward for the righteous.”
    • Deterministic [Free Will]
    • A Table of the Main Christian Positions
  • Synergism: (Greek syn meaning “with” and erg meaning “work”). “Salvation” is the result of human cooperation with God.
    • In Christian theology, synergism is the position of those who hold that salvation involves some form of cooperation between divine grace and human freedom. Synergism is upheld by the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Churches, and churches that subscribe to Arminian theology.
    • Free Will [Deterministic]
    • A Table of the Main Christian Positions

I am a monergist Christian.and, currently, a “hard-boiled Determinist”, which I found, to my surprise, is something that I share with the reprobate, Sam Harris. [I’m reading Sam’s short book: “Free Will” (2012).]



For more on Free Will and Determinism, see my thread What is Luck?

Maybe there is another option that you have not listed? (Nah, I just should checked “Some other heathen” :grin:) I am a ‘God-is-omnitemporal Calvinist’. How God works in providence is a wonderful mystery to those of us who love him, and tensed language (the only kind we have, or at least English is) does not apply.

The “Poll” was mostly for me: to see how many Christians were familiar with the concepts and how many of those who were familiar knew which camp their beliefs put them in. From the number of views, I’m guessing that not many folks are familiar with the concepts. From the number of votes, I gather that not many bothered to look at the Table and “find their lot in life”. Historically, in another forum that I used to frequent, folks would pick a possible answer and then add a comment, identifying themselves, and arguing against other voters’ choices.

Well then … in that spirit!

Based on nothing more than the definitions you helpfully provided under the poll itself, the synergism option looks the most reflective to me (through my own biased lenses) of what scriptural testimony showcases most often. While we can certainly affirm that all praise and glory belongs to God, through whom and by whom we are even here at all, much less rescued from our sins - we can also note that salvation isn’t a passive bestowal of some status, such as if I just pick up a rock and paint it. The parable of the potter and clay notwithstanding - we are a living and responsive clay (or we are expected to be, anyway). We are here for a function - whether it be of ‘honorable’ use or of ‘mundane’ use - but useful and active we are expected to be. So we most definitely participate in our salvation, even if we are powerless to either initiate or sustain it without God’s presence. Our lives lived are our only way that such salvation is even being worked out. It is the visible part of our salvation - visible to us and our own conscience at least; not necessarily visible to the world at all points - although we are expected to be that too, and not always be a lamp hidden under a bushel.

Most often?! :slightly_smiling_face: Your glasses filter out Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 and a whole lot more! We had a pretty extensive discussion about the Christian’s confidence, including The Christian’s Confidence & Eternal Security, a list over at Spinoff: Law vs. Grace?

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Let the record show that you said that, not me. I just agree with you. :smile:

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So noted. :grin:

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Absolutely. That’s why I wanted another poll option in Terry’s list. :slightly_smiling_face: It’s not the ‘free ticket to Heaven’ that @Edgar kept characterizing my stance as presenting, nor is it ‘entitlement’, per @mitchellmckain’s characterization.

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How so? I like Romans 8 … and 7 and 6 and 9, 10, and 11 which all help give a context for where Paul goes with the salvation theme. And especially in Ephesians 1 as well - another magnificent chapter!

But I don’t really mean to press this here if Terry wants more people to engage in his poll before we dicker about any of it down here.

In Romans 8 there is this,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined


Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?

and also this:

neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That means once we are adopted, we are forever. Nothing, including hypothetically ‘my choice’, can dissolve that bond.

ahh! Well in that case I guess I’m in agreement too - other than I don’t draw as much out of the earlier referenced “predestined” as I guess Calvinists would.

And I also realize that these two chosen terms for this poll probably represent much deeper and more extensive systems of thought than my (mostly ignorant) preference for one of them here can take into account on short notice. No doubt they both manage to embody some concepts that have a place in our collective corpus.

So much more to say, and so much more reading/listening to do!

Ya’ think so?

Let’s review the record:

  • From my post #9 in Salvation:Faith or works?
  • Terry_Sampson
    • salvation = getting out of undesirable circumstances
    • Jewish phylogeny
      • Jews living in Egypt
      • Yahweh appears to Moses and says: I want Israel, but not as slaves in Egypt, so I’m going to save them. Go break the news to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go, but don’t expect him to do it, because he doesn’t know who I am and doesn’t have the motivation to set my chosen people free.
      • After a number of lessons in what Yahweh can do, Pharaoh gets to know a little about Yahweh, decides that he doesn’t like Him, and figures he can avoid him, by avoiding Moses and Aaron.
      • Question: At this point, Pharaoh is annoyed and treating Israel worse, Moses and Aaron are starting to think they;re on fools’ errands, and Israel is still in Egypt and worse off than before Yahweh took an interest in them. How many “faith” points should we give to Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh, and Israel? How many “work” points should we give to Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh, and Israel?
      • Then, Yahweh establishes the calendar and tells Moses and Aaron, to tell Israel to obtain year-old, male lambs without blemish, slaughter and roast them whole, paint their doorposts with lamb’s blood, and eat their last meal with their hiking clothes on, because it’s time to leave Egypt.
      • Then Yahweh passed through Egypt and killed the firstborn of everybody–from Pharaoh down to prisoners in Pharaoh’s dungeon, including the Egyptians’ livestock. The Egyptians decided it was time for Israel to leave and told them so. Israel high-tailed it out of town.
      • That’s the end of the 1st phase of Israel’s salvation from Egypt.
      • Now how many “faith” and “work” points would you give to each of the parties in this story, so far? From where I sit, the only one doing any work is Yahweh, and Moses, Aaron, and Israel get “faith” points, but no “work” points unless someone wants to give them a point for leaving Egypt, which would seem weird to me to do.
      • Next comes the one-day bus ride into Canaan; oh, wait, … Israel didn’t ride a bus into Canaan, did they? How long did Israel take to get into Canaan? Check our source material: I think it was about 40 years wasn’t it? whining and complaining most, if not all, the way; following a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
      • How many “faith” and “work” points do you want to hand out for this second phase of Israel’s salvation, and to whom? IMO, I’d say “1 faith” point for each of the humans, and “1 work” point to Yahweh

Correct me if I misunderstand your position, but it seems to me that you’re inclined to give Israel a “work” point for killing a lamb and painting their door posts with its blood, and another “work” point for putting one foot in front of another on their trek through the desert for 40+ years following the Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night.

  • Christian Ontogeny (i.e. the Christian version of Israel’s salvation):
    • Jesus of Nazareth, the unblemished Lamb of God, provided by the Father, was crucified, died, was buried, and was resurrected by the Father.
    • What part of believing that Jesus died for you do you want a “work” point for, when you wouldn’t even know that he did if someone else hadn’t told you?
    • Then there’s what I call “the second phase of salvation”: putting one foot in front of the other, through the desert, in response to the call: “Come follow me.” Do you want a “work” point for leaving “Egypt” and trusting the Lord?

It’s one of those tensed verbs (as opposed to all the other kinds :grin:), but ‘draw as much’? What’s to draw? It’s pretty binary. :slightly_smiling_face:

I guess I don’t share in all this preoccupation with “work points”. All your examples are rather making my point for me, are they not? There seems to be a lot of responsive participation in the whole salvation project. There are a few cases in the bible where people (or entire armies) are instructed to just stand still and watch God “gitter done”. But a whole lot more yet give instructions for people to trust God enough to actually do something … like painting door posts with blood and getting ready to leave in the middle of the night.

I’ll retract that. It is a mystery beyond our comprehension how our omnitemporal God executes his providence in sequential, linear time. And again, tensed words – and any word beginning with ‘pre-’ is timebound! – tensed words cannot be directly applied to God.

I think it revisits our discussion at Spinoff: Law vs. Grace?. Wasn’t the book of James mentioned? :grin:

I’m sure it does … and I’d be disappointed if James wasn’t worked in somehow!

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I’m not preoccupied with them, I’m just calling them what they are: credits for doing what one is instructed to do.

Not by a longshot.

“Responsive participation”??? Ha! I’m a Christian monergist: Free Will is an illusion. So, although I would agree that there’s “responsive participation”, I suspect that you and I don’t agree on what it is. To me, “responsive participation” is “fruit of the Holy Spirit” and not a reward for obedience.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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