In the background, one Orthodox Christian is preparing to respond to the Exegesis Challenge I previously presented (link). Meanwhile, an Internet poster (Matt) from BeyondFundamentalism.com has accepted a challenge to debate Monergism vs. Synergism. Here's a link to the debate page (link), as well as the present author's introduction, below:
The present debate is one that is of great importance and interest in the church today, as it has been for many years. The issue is the administration of salvation: is it monergistic or synergistic? The present author will advocate for monergism and respond to Matt's advocacy of synergism.
There are, in essence, three views of salvation with respect to the role of God and man in its administration. The first view (which neither the present author nor Matt will advocate) is a view that man saves himself - help from God is not needed. This view is usually classified under the heading of Pelagianism, whether or not the historical figure Pelagius actually held such a view. For the sake of completeness, we could label such a view anergism, though such a term has not been academically accepted. This view suggests that grace is not necessary: man has the ability unassisted to avail himself of salvation, and any grace from God is superfluous. In other words, anergism argues that the grace of God has no essential role in salvation. Conversely, anergism either denies that God can positively influence man's saved/unsaved status, or that God chooses not to. Anergism can handily be identified as the view that "Salvation is possible for the unassisted, and God has left the decision up to man as to whether he will perish."
A second view is a view that man cooperates with God in order to be saved. This view is held by - among others - Arminians, Semi-Pelagians, and modern-day Roman Catholics. It is also held by others that are usually grouped outside of Christianity, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. This is the view that the present author identifies as synergism. This view acknowledges that grace is necessary, but asserts that grace is not sufficient. Conversely, synergism denies that God can entirely determine man's saved/unsaved status, or that God chooses not to. Synergism can handily be identified as the view that "God has made salvation possible, has provided assistance to man, but has left the final decision up to man as to whether he will perish."
The third view is monergism, the view that God by grace alone saves man. This view is held by those within the "Reformed" and "Calvinist" communities as well as by many pre-Reformation Christians, most notably Augustine. This view is also the view of the present author and his namesake Francis Turretin. Monergism holds that grace is both necessary and sufficient for salvation. Consequently, Monergism affirms that God ultimately determines who will be saved and who will perish, and denies that God either cannot save some or that God restrains Himself from saving those whom He wants to save. Monergism can handily be identified as the view that "God's grace ensures the salvation of those upon whom God chooses to bestow grace."
Anergism and synergism, to the extent that they attempt Scriptural justification, both rely on the Scriptures that focus on man's need to do various things such as confess, repent, believe, and persevere. Synergism goes further and recognizes the Scripture that teaches that grace is necessary - that man cannot be saved apart from grace.
Monergism completes the Scriptural testimony by recognizing that even man's good actions: confession, repentance, faith, and perserverence are gifts of God and the fruit of the Spirit's work in a person. Monergism concludes from these Scriptures that man is unable to do good of himself (sometimes referred to as "total depravity"), that man is changed from unable and unwilling to able and willing by an act of God's regeneration (sometimes referred to as "irresistable grace"), that God exercises His grace to preserve the sonship of His children (sometimes referred to as "perseverance of the saints"), that God chooses His children without regard to their merit (sometimes referred to as "unconditional election"), and that Christ's sacrificial work was offered for all and only the chosen children, whom God alone knows (sometimes referred to as "limited atonement").
The philosophical considerations noted above are typically with respect to the issue of "free will," with anergists and synergists viewing man's will as essentially autonomous from God's will, and monergists viewing man's will as subordinate to God's will. Scripture, of course, is typically brought to bear on the issue, with the anergists and synergists emphasizing the requirements made of man and certain general statements of God's interest in salvation, and monergists emphasizing the omniscience, wisdom, and omnipotence. Synergists and monergists also typically appeal to God's love, though in different respects: synergists claiming that they understand God's love to be broader, and monergists that they undestand God's love to be deeper.
The present author believes that monergism is the purest expression of Scriptural truth as to the administration of salvation: it is all of God. We do act, but we are not the cause of our salvation: we run as though we have not seized the object, and yet we have already been seized by Christ. We trust in Him to save us, and we trust in Him because He has converted us.
Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
Psalm 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.
Therefore, the present author affirms monergism as the truth of Scripture.
As agreed, the following three questions are presented to challenge Matt to consider the issues. In order to set the stage for the questions, I present the following account:
In 1950 a man named Osama and his twin sister Theresa are born. He lives and dies in 2010 without ever having had faith in Christ. He does not inherit eternal life. She comes to faith in Christ in 2009 and dies in faith in 2010 with her twin brother. She does inherit eternal life.
1) In what way and at what time did God desire to save each of these twins?
2) Did God love these twins differently (from each other) at any time?
3) Did God get what He wanted with respect to each of these twins?
I hope that this provides a good platform for this informal debate, and I welcome any comments, clarification, and so forth. [Incidentally, I welcome comments by any readers of this blog on the questions presented, particular readers who are synergist or anergist in their soteriology.]
May God use this debate to the edification of all those who pass by,