Old Doxoblogy

Monday, September 19, 2005

4 Views Of Monergism And Synergism

Calvinists are famous for being monergists. We believe that our salvation is a work of God alone. It is a work that God started before the creation of the world and that He will accomplish to the end of time. From election to foreknowledge to predestination to redemption to our calling to regeneration and the birth of faith and repentance in our hearts to our perseverance in salvation, salvation is totally and solely of God.
This is the view of salvation that I take. But that is not really the subject of this post. The subject of this post is to show four different views of monergism and synergism in salvation.

1. Pure Synergism
A pure synergist would say that salvation, from beginning to end is a work of God and man together. In other words, it is God who gives all men equally the ability to accept or reject the Gospel. A man may accept the Gospel today and be saved, and then reject the Gospel tomorrow and not be saved.

2. Synergism + Monergism
These would believe that while God has given all men equally the ability to accept or reject the Gospel, that after a man accepts the Gospel, God takes over and keeps the believer in salvation.

3. Pure Monergism
A pure monergist would believe that God has does absolutely everything in our salvation. He gives us faith, exercises that faith in us, keeps us through faith, sanctifies us by faith, and in all of this man is passive.

4. Monergism + Synergism
These believe that while God effects everything leading up to salvation (predestination, atonement, irresistible grace, regeneration, and justification), that at the moment of new birth (regeneration) our salvation becomes a synergistic work between God and man.

Number one is wrong because the Bible teaches that God initiates and completes our salvation.
Number two is wrong, again because the Bible teaches that God initiates our salvation.
Number three is wrong because the Bible teaches that man must believe in his heart and confess with his mouth that Christ is Lord.
Number four is correct because it takes into account the whole counsel of God concerning salvation.

This means that after regeneration certain aspects of our salvation are indeed synergistic. This is not to negate the assertion that is taught in Scripture that we are being kept by God and will one day by the power of God alone receive a glorified body at the resurrection. That is surely a work that God alone can perform. But while we are being kept by the Holy Spirit we have a role to play in our sanctification and perseverance. We work together with God in these areas. Man can not be passive in the work of sanctification. We must also continue in the faith that has been given us at the moment of regeneration. Regeneration is God making man alive and planting a heart of faith and repentance in him, and conversion is man placing that faith in God and repenting of his sin.
Likewise, sanctification is man, by the empowering work of the Spirit at regeneration, constantly repenting of sin as he finds it in his life and trusting God to conform him to the image of His Son.
Finally, perseverance is man continuing to believe the Gospel as a result of the initial work of the Holy Spirit in his new birth.


Bhedr said...

I always liked multiple choice better that fill in the blank.

J. Wendell said...

You have presented an education on these terms. Thank you. Isn't it true that whatever error one may have regarding these views does not change the way things actually are (in God's mind, not ours)? For example, someone in the pure Synergism camp - like a person that doesn't believe in eternal security - if they are saved, they are eternally secure, whether they believe it or not. Allow me to quote one of my favorite (although hyper-synergistic songwriters... "just keep doing your best, and pray that it's blessed, and He'll take care of the rest..."
God bless you, brother.

Shawn L said...


I believe in Monergism. God is the one who gives ears to hear and eyes to see. God is the one who takes dead hearts that seek after everything but Christ and takes the heart of stone and turns it into the heart of flesh. I always get a kick out of Jesus saying to Nicodemus, "you are a teacher of the law and you don't know that you must be born again". This how we should see the ten commandments teaching us that we are frail and unable to keep God's laws and how much we need a Savior,, they should humble us seeing that we are so in desperate need. The old testament should have taught him this and that with all of the laws many jews thought they could have the obedience to them and not be as pitiful as the prostitutes who needed salvation.

I guess you could call it Monergism and Synergism the way you said it considering the life of a christian after regeneration. I guess I never thought of it that way, but I'll have to study it more.

I believe that yes I desperately seek after the means of grace in my life to keep hanging onto Christ and keep seeking Christ. I need my brothers to keep seeking after the truth, but in reality it is still a work of Grace started before the creation of the World. "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first."

I'm not saying that I don't believe in the importance of our duty to follow Christ and holiness. Without holiness no one sees the Lord, but it is all a work of Grace that I even desire to worship Christ and my desires then for Christ. I then consider myself dead to sin and alive to Christ. This starts from our worship of anything even if we are worshiping and idol in our life.

I do believe we must all seek and continue in the faith, but I still don't see it as a work of man, but a work of Grace. I think we can be misunderstood in the actual fight of faith. Actually many arminians seem to understand this more than the "once saved, always saved" camp. There is no concern for some in those groups to seek and glorify God.

Shawn L said...

J. Wendell,

That is true there are many who are truly saved with a wrong understanding of theology. Keith Green is a awesome example of that as his heart was really one totally given so much Grace.

The readers of the book of Hebrews in chapter 5 were rebuked for not having learned the basic principles of the Scriptures. He rebuked them for needing mere milk when instead they should have been feasting on meat. They should have been ready to teach others.

We already have an abundance of believers in churches that have departed from the necessary need of studying theology. However having said that there is sometimes failure of those who study theology because of our hearts are so prone to wander.

For example, when reading scripture we must pray against the evil in our hearts that skips important truths or gets us puffed up or neglects the means of grace in our life. I think it is when we don't see the need for a Savior and we begin worshipping something else (influence, puffed up). Same is true with a Christian who spends all of his time building his house, but not concerned about the family to be built up in the Lord. He is worshipping something else to be happy in this life.

The problem is it's not the study of theology that is the problem, but our evil hearts that need to be continually renewed and given more grace from God. I have seen it in my own life and pray against it.

We have a church today that has such an large lack of knowledge of the scriptures that many are duped by ever fable and fad that comes out in evangelicalism, but that is partly so we must stress the importance of study of the theology of the Word with a heart that is seeing the scriptures the way the apostles saw it, on their face singing "My sins, my sins, my savior".

To me to ignore the theology of the Word is a sin. It will result in an inability to know how to respond to battles we endure, however to faithfully preach Christ and keep us floundering, an ability to not see how much we worship other things.

Shawn L said...


Let me clarify some more. Please forgive me. Sometimes I type so fast and my thoughts come fast and I don't look over very well what I write.

The "once saved always saved" camp is different to me than the average reformed / electionist (bhedr's quote) guys. To me the "once saved always saved" group doesn't seem to see the means of grace throughout the life.

I do believe that we are once saved always saved, but I think it is a bit confusing to bring up since there are many in that group that believes you can reject Christ and still be saved.

Also my statements about the desires and considering yourself dead to sin are very confusing. I meant to say something more like Romans 6:16 "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?"

Rose said...

I have been much troubled over these things but you cleared it up by this simple statement:
"Number four is correct because it takes into account the whole counsel of God concerning salvation."
Now I am convinced!...NOT! :)

Actually, your logic is unclear in your evaluation of #2, which I lean toward. You say it is "...wrong because God initiates salvation", but if you read #2 the way you explained it (or are you quoting someone?), that view says that God DID initiate it (given the ability to accept [or should we say receive?] or reject to all men). He just initiated it for the whole world, not for a chosen few ... but He still is the author and initiator and finisher.

Steve Weaver said...


Great post! I agree completely!


Do you realize that he explains the simple statement "Number four is correct because..." in the paragraph below? Point not well taken. But you are correct when you say Jeremy's logic is unclear concerning option #2. However, given the context, you know Jeremy means that God initiates salvation that actually comes to fruition. Option 2 merely makes salvation possible, it actually initiates salvation for no one. And no, that view does not make God the author and finisher of salvation, but only the beginner of salvation for all and the finisher of salvation for some.

Bhedr said...

I believe in Monergism too. Both in Justification and Sanctification. I believe it is 100% the Holy Spirits work and that He is wrestling to put the flesh into subjection. The Spirit truly is willing but the flesh is weak. This is why we Abide in Him for apart from Him...We can do nothing. The flesh must subject to the Spirit not work with Him. The flesh can only do one thing and that is strive against the Holy Spirit. He is doing the weaning. It may appear that we are working but it is really Him alone.

Hey I got a point from Shawn and we agree so the score is tied. 1-1. Glad you were wrong this time:-)

Jeremy Weaver said...

J. Wendell,
The one thing that all views have in common is the need for faith in Christ and repentance of sins.
And that is the one thing that is necessary from our point of view. They are the terms and conditions of salvation.
I think we agree?
I'm sorry for the confusion.
Steve spoke my thoughts exactly.
But I have an excuse too. I was sleepy when I wrote this. But I do think I succeeded in my purpose in the post. My purpose was to present the four views and then tell and explain the one I believe. That's why points 1, 2, and 3 were all insufficient descriptions. I thought maybe others would present their own views after the introduction to those views.
Thanks for the defense.

Rose said...

Steve (and Jeremy),
I actually meant the first part of my comment in jest. It is hard to communicate that with typing, but I tried to with the :) (meaning smile)
Certainly didn't mean to offend...

Jeremy Weaver said...

Do you believe in the new birth?
Augustine explained it like this.
Before the fall man had the power to sin or to not sin. After the fall man had the power to sin but lost the power to not sin. After regeneration man has the power to sin and the power to not sin. Finally, at glorification, man will have the power to not sin and will be unable to sin.

I think the writer of Hebrews puts this in proper perspective in Hebrews 11. The Old Testament heroes performed their works by faith, but at the same time they are commended for their own works that were done in faith.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I'm not offended at all. I hope you weren't offended.

Bhedr said...


Yes I believe in the new birth and that it is all of God.

Did Augustine say that? Well if Augustine said it then we musn't argue with him:-)

Bhedr said...


I believe I already have the Power to not sin. It is a source that I wish men would tap into. We all have it as a result of the New Birth. His seed is in me. I cannot sin. The Old man is dead and the sin that dwelleth with me is no longer I. We have the power allready as Jesus did to put Him into subjection. Think in terms of victory now. Rejoice.

Rose said...

I don't get offended, there's not enough time for it!
Back to Steve's original comment to me: I don't agree. Hyper-calvinists are not the only ones that believe God is the author and initiator and finisher of our faith. He HAS done it all! He draws us to Himself. But He wants us to "COME" to Him. This is man's responsibility. But don't get me wrong, just because I believe man has a responsibility, doesn't mean I think he has a part in salvation. I just think of it in terms of the picture that is given in the N.T. Like "gift". Accepting a gift is not a work...it is receiving a gift. Rejecting a gift is the worst kind of insult, but it can be done.

Here I have a question, kindly: Don't you ever become concerned that in the good intention of giving God all the Glory for salvation (which I agree He so rightly deserves) you may take the responsibilty off of people to respond to the Gospel by saying that the Lord must regenerate them first so they will be able to respond? Or is this something that someone with your point of view would not want to talk about to a lost person? Jeremy, do you witness to people via the five points of Calvinism or do you present the gospel and perhaps keep those doctrines to yourself until a later time? Just curious how it fits into the presentation of the gospel to a lost soul, this monergism of the new birth. (I don't really like the way I said that because I do think He performs the new birth upon us, but not if we are not receptive - receiving).

Rose said...

I was thinking about it and I want to apologize for using the term "hyper-calvinist". It may be deragatory and I want to veer away from that. Sorry.

Jeremy Weaver said...

You have misunderstood this post completely. I beleive that we have a responsibility in our salvation. And I said so. The tension between God's sovereignty and human responsiblity is a tough issue for Arminians and Calvinists alike.
However, I don't think there is a divine sovereignty - human responsiblity issue biblically. When we read the bible we often find in the same verses arguments to support both and they are not opposed to one another.
In this post I said God regenerates us and gives us faith, then after being regenerated and given faith our responsiblity is to put that faith in Christ and repent of our sins. In fact, human responsiblity plays as big a role in Calvinism as it does in Arminianism. The difference is that human responsiblity is never set in opposition against God's divine sovereignty in the Calvinistic position.
In the Arminian position though, human responsiblity and divine sovereignty cannot be viewed as complementary since in that system divine sovereignty is subjugated to human responsiblity.

Rose said...

OK, thanks for answering my question?

Your last few sentences are very thought provoking - I need to chew.

Bhedr said...


In good faith toward you and with respect,but you are attempting to do what I have tried to figure in the past. As Spurgeon says, You cannot hammer this on the anvil here on earth.

Monergism+Synergism? Tis an oxymoron. I don't dispute the action of our faith. I simply opt for Monergism and say I cannot explain it.
Rev 19:1. oh Phooey! I am sounding like a Calvanist, but please don't call me one.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I didn't answer the question because it is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Jeremy Weaver said...

It's taught in the Bible.
I would love for it to be true that my sanctification required no effort on my part, but Scripture tells me to work out my salvation, grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and a lot of other stuff. Hard stuff. I would love for God to just say here "Jeremy, you're perfect now."
And He will. But not yet. I don't know who wrote the song, but it is true, 'There's not a crown without a cross'.

Bhedr said...

No doubt you gotta work brother, but thats just it. That hard stuff like husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church. For instance help them and labor for them not playing the king of the house, but picking up the basin and towel and working as Christ did in washing his disciples feet....well I just know myself and thats not me doing it. That my friend takes an act of God. No doubt the road is hard, but it is not you doing it. At the end of the day it is Him as apart from Him you can do nothing. I am going to continue the Green Letter series from Miles Sanford.Principles of Christian Growth. There is a lot in there that I hope will be helpful. I still believe in Monergism and the untapped resource of God and His strength alone. If anything good comes from me it is God 100%, not me. Think not that I am trying to destroy Christ's teachings, I am imploring men to see how they were and are established.

Some bulls are harder to tame than others, but Samson was in the Faith hall of fame as well. Tell me one good thing he did out of his good intentions? At the end of his feeble tug o war life with God He stood between those pillars sanctified with the dross burned off of him. Hey brother don't put any confidence in the flesh.

Bhedr said...

One thing everybody needs to remember is that Jesus did everything for the joy that was set before him. The cross may be death but joy is the motivator. Rejoice always. Thats the whole gist of our suffering in this world it manifests the Joy of the lord and bears witness of Him. The men at work will think it strange that you are happy all the time and will even try to pill more on you to try to wipe the smile off of your face, but Joy cannot be supressed and joy we have for what was given to us. We do not bear our crosses in misery. We bear the cross in Joy as all power is given to us to be His witnesses.

Bhedr said...

I call you back to Heb 12 that you listed yesterday.

Sarah? She laughed at God's promise. She's in the Hall of faith fame as having *recieved* the strength to give birth to Isaac.

Abraham? *after he was tried* he offered up Isaac.

Then it talks about the men that subdued kingdoms. Through their weakness they were given strength.

Again I list Revelation 19:1

Jeremy Weaver said...

The fact remains that they were empowered themselves to complete the task at hand. I'm not saying they did it alone, but they did it, nonetheless.
Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
The point is, you can't sit in your boxer shorts in front of the t.v. all day and expect to be going through the process of sanctification.
Paul told Timothy to "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness."

Rose said...

I just want to tell you that I truly appreciate your comments to Brian and you sound so balanced in them. Mat God empower YOU to continue in your Godly endeavors.

Rose said...

By the way, can you answer my question anyways cause I'm really interested ... :)

Jeremy Weaver said...

I just re-read my comment to you and it sounded like it could be taken in a wrong way. I don't mean to say that you sit at home in your boxer shorts. I'm just saying that in all of your responses you have affirmed the same thing I did. That the Holy Spirit empowers us to do the work.

Sorry if I sounded offensive. Forgive me?

Jeremy Weaver said...

For personal evangelism I use the Two Ways To Live method. It's a great tract that all Christians should be able to affirm.
I can't remember the address right now, but do a search with the title and Matthias Media.

The five points do play a role in my on attitude in evangelism though. For this look at my post titled, A Short Statement On Missions.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Here's the url for my missions post:

Bhedr said...

How did you know I wear boxer shorts? :-)

Perhaps we do see the same thing and are just arguing over words. My only concern is that the human flesh is offended at monergism and its pride still seeks to glorify itself. Oddly enough I was listening to Chuck Smith yesterday and he seemed to be agreeing. Sometimes I wonder if both Calvanist and Arminians see the same thing but plans and formulas inhibit us from seeing things? Or possibaly seeing Someone great. God himself.

You can never have the wrong plan and the right God; but you can have the right plan and the wrong God. This is why all things must start with Yeshua first and then we can argue semantics afterwards. Oh that men would come into an understanding of His Name.

Oh and Spidey boxers are cool.

Rose said...

Oh, Jeremy, I have read that post before! Very interesting...

I'm still not sure if you tell lost people about the "regeneration before receiving Christ" doctrine that you hold when witnessing. I wonder what that would be like? I have a Calvinistic friend here in Toledo who tells people that all they can do if they wish to be saved is mourn and weep over their sins and hope God will regenerate them so they may believe. Is that your approach? (I still wonder what is the point, though, if God already had a foredetermined list of who He would cause to believe). I don't mean to bug you about this. Sorry if I am pressing the issue too much.

By the way, if you were offensive to Brian, that is not what I was appreciating. It was the practical, common sense talk that challenges us to move, not just give up and wait for God to do something in us - like we are a puppet.

By the way, I do think we, as sinful creatures, even though saved, do, at times, desire glory for ourselves, and that is always wrong. However, when we worship (whether in song, deed, or life) it IS us worshipping God, not God worshipping God. He does want something from us. But Brian is right - we shouldn't pat ourselves on the back. Thanks for letting me join in the discussion.

Shawn L said...

I should be working I know, but I will work late at night as I can now. The wonders of being a computer programmer who can work at home.

Yes there are two sides of Sanctification/Holiness that we may be missing. I see the our responsibility because we have been given a new heart and grace upon grace all of the time.

God's Work of Sanctification in the Believer
John 17:17
Romans 8:30
2 Corinthians 6:16-17
Galatians 2:20
Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 3:20
Philippians 1:6
Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you both to Will and to work for His good pleasure"
Colossians 1:27
1 Thessalonians 5:23

Our Responsibility

Luke 9:23
Romans 6:19
Romans 6:22
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
2 Corinthians 7:1
Ephesians 4:1
Ephesians 4:24
Philippians 2:12
Hebrews 12:14

Joe said...

I enjoyed this post and the responses.

I love things that make me think.

Thinking is so foreign to me.

In John 17 Jesus prayed that His followers would be unified.

As I read the comments on this post, I wonder...

How do we arrive at unity, and where is it important?

Jeremy, how about a post on this one day?

Jeremy Weaver said...

There's a good discussion of that going on over at Pyromaniac. I personally don't know the answer.
But I do think that Biblical Discernment has a lot to do with it.

SJ Camp said...
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SJ Camp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SJ Camp said...


My first visit to your blog--very well done--keep on.

One comment on the issue of unity.

1. Eph. 4:1-3 talks about endeavoring to keep the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." By virtue of the new birth, we have been baptized by the Lord with the Holy Spirit into His body. THAT unity is by God's grace and sovereign election.

2. We then as regenerated people are to keep that unity--even guard it. Not positionally (that is accomplished by Christ alone), but in the practical out-workings of our faith (our responsibility and evidence of our faith in the Lord - cp, 1 John 3:14, 4:7).

3. Then there is a unity of the faith (sound doctrine) that Paul also refers to in Eph. 4:13. He begins by our unity of the Spirit which is accomplished solely by His elective grace. But then our responsibility, still by His grace, is made evident, "till we all come to the unity of the faith." Again, this is not the faith to believe, but THE FAITH - the whole council of God - biblical Christianity. IOW, unity must be built around our position in Christ; and upon the truth of His Word. Both are a work of grace; both are essential.

This is a process: as we grow in our walk with the Lord we do so as we learn of Him through the reading, meditating, craving, obeying, studying, etc. of His Word. None of us have arrived with all our theology in tact--no one. That is why we keep on each day in His truth and must remain teachable from others as long to please the Lord by worshipping Him in spirit and truth.

Therefore, whether someone is Reformed, a charismatic, Assembly of God, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. the key question for our fellowship and unity is the gospel of Jesus Christ. From there we grow each day in the truth and knowledge of His Word as part of the body of Christ.

As has been said before, "in the essentials, unity; in the nonessentials, liberty; and in all things charity."

Hope this is encouraging to you...
Grace and peace to you brother
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Jeremy Weaver said...

Thanks for the visit. You're welcome here anytime.
As I try to let everyone who comments here know, disagree with me. I can take it if I'm wrong. But as is the nature of most bloggers, I'm very opinionated and hard-headed. So it may take a while to get through, but if you're right, you will.

Perry Robinson said...

Monergism is wrong because it implies monothelitism. The perfect example of the human and divine wills relating is in Christ. And in Christ the divine will does not trump or determine the human will of Christ because Christ as a divine person is not subject to determination or necessity.

Perry Robinson

Bhedr said...

Hey Jeremy,

Neat you got a visit from the Sledgemeister. Cool. He had good words. I just read them. I am glad to see how he feels about this. In my opinion that was one of the best comments I've seen him make. You gotta be course and rigid and have backbone when it comes to doctrine, but our hands need to be soft. My brother is Charasmatic and I don't agree with his Arminian stance but he does delve into the word and he has hurled darts my way. Darts that tested me. Darts that made me dig. I didn't agree and I still don't agree with all his doctrine but I now know that God in his Sovereignty called for this to happen so that I could know him more. Brother you have the proper blueprint and hold fast to it, but Camp is right, none of us have arrived and we can learn off each other.

Breuss Wane said...

I believe in 3 1/2. :-)

I do not believe that monergism in both justification and sanctification necessarily violates/negates the responsibility of man to respond.

I believe Eph. 2:10, Phil. 1:6, and Col. 2:19 preclude sanctification being synergistic.

just my two cents.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I think this all revolves around the issue of faith. While the Bible clearly teaches that we are regenerated by the Spirit, it also teaches that justification is by faith alone. So do we believe that we have been given faith ar that the Spirit has faith for us? If the Spirit has faith for us then I do not think that it can truly be said that we are justified.
However, if the Spirit gives us faith, that faith becomes ours and we exercise it as regenerate people. So it is a synergistic work of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with a regenerate man.

Breuss Wane said...

I'm not denying that we exercise faith as a regenerate people. But I believe that faith operates outside of soteriological causality. The faith is a response, but it is not synergistic.


Jeremy Weaver said...

I take that as code that we almost agree.