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Monergist or Synergist?

Discussion in 'Sabbath and The Law' started by bbbbbbb, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. Synergist

    3 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Monergist

    3 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. Neither

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  4. Both

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
  5. Confused

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Well-Known Member

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    On another thread I threatened to start this new thread to find out who here considers their self to be synergist and who considers them selves to be monergists. For those who are unfamiliar with the terms here are Wikipedia entries for them.

    Synergism - Wikipedia

    Monergism |

    You will see that these theologies have various strange bedfellows. For example, the Roman Catholic Church is strongly synergistic as is one of their strongest opponents - the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Speaking of which, various SDAs here have expressed strong beliefs on both sides of this spectrum. Where do to see yourself?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Ilikecats

    Ilikecats Member

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    I would be a monergist. People come to faith on no part of their own whether it be the conditions that surround them or the opportunities given to them.
     
  3. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    I lean towards synergism. Orthodoxy is more comfortably synergistic than Catholicism. It's possible that the dichotomy breaks down at a certain depth. I believe this spurious quote actually comes from Ignatius of Loyola:

    Pray as though everything depended on God;
    act as though everything depended on you.
    I don't fully endorse that idea, but in some ways it is a helpful aid.
     
  4. Daniel9v9

    Daniel9v9

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    Fun fact - Lutherans are Monergists when it comes to salvation, but not when it comes to damnation. That is, we hold that salvation, from beginning to end, is from God. But damnation is entirely from man. This holy mystery is sometimes referred to as Crux Theologorum.
     
  5. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    It's an interesting idea, but I don't find it to be coherent. Well, neither do Lutherans, do they? That's why they call it a "holy mystery"?
     
  6. Daniel9v9

    Daniel9v9

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    Exactly. We believe this to be one of several holy mysteries in Scriptures, akin to the Trinity, the Two Natures of Christ, and the Sacraments. We hold to these holy mysteries as articles of faith, and so, rightly apprehended through faith, not reason. Sometimes this view is criticised as "blind faith", but that's an inaccurate understanding, as most Church bodies recognise some mysteries in Scripture, but more importantly, it's a position of humiliation, recognising that our reason is not above God, His nature and means. In this respect, the Lutheran Church is somewhat aligned with the Eastern Orthodox.
     
  7. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Well-Known Member

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    Which reflects, somewhat, on Luther's early life in an Augustinian monastery.
     
  8. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    What would you say is the difference between a mystery and a contradiction?
     
  9. Daniel9v9

    Daniel9v9

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    There's a big difference. God is not divided, and neither is His Word. The doctrine of God's salvation and His judgment are not contradictory but in perfect union; it's a paradox of two truths. They cannot be separated nor confused.

    It's like the Two Natures of Christ: Is He a man? Yes. Is He God? Yes. Not a demi-god, not 50/50, but 100% man and 100% God. This does not agree with reason, but that's OK - they have the appearance of being contradictory, but they are not - this is the simple truth that Scripture gives us and what the apostolic and catholic Church has held to since the beginning.

    Just like the holy mystery of the person of Christ, which the Roman Catholic Church also believes in, the Lutheran Church also holds that the whole person and works of our Lord Jesus Christ is a holy mystery.

    Very simply: In salvation, we see God's mercy and goodness. In damnation, we see God's righteousness and holiness. They are both true, and so we uphold both in simplicity.
     
  10. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    So what is the difference between two propositions that merely seem to be contradictory, and two that really are? Is there any way to tell them apart?

    1. Jesus is fully God
    2. Jesus is fully man
    3. A human cannot be God
    4. God cannot be human
    5. To the extent that something is human, it cannot be God
    6. To the extent that something is God, it cannot be human

    Obviously 1 & 2 form a contradiction if we hold to 3-6. Yet if we reject 3-6 then there is no contradiction between 1 and 2. All the same, there is no basic contradiction between 1 and 2. There is only an indirect contradiction for those people who hold to some of the propositions found in 3-6.


    Now let's look at Lutheran soteriology:
    1. Salvation is 100% God
    2. Damnation is 100% man

    The idea here is apparently that God acts upon man to save him, and those men who are damned act contrary to God's grace in such a way that they are fully culpable for their own damnation. Of course the problem is that if man is able to actively damn himself then he must be able to passively save himself. That is, if he has the ability to effect his own damnation, then he must also have the ability to not-effect his own damnation and allow God to save him. This presents us with a basic contradiction in a way that Jesus' divinity does not. It's not clear what third principle we could reject to avoid the contradiction. The best candidate is, "If man is able to act to achieve some end, then he is also able to not-act to avoid achieving that end." But how can that principle be coherently denied?
     
  11. Daniel9v9

    Daniel9v9

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    Well, first of all, thank you for drilling down - they're good questions!

    I can't agree with this Christology, for a number of reasons. One of the more foundational aspects to this is that we hold that the doctrine of the Trinity surpasses all wisdom and human reason. It's a holy mystery. This is why when someone attempts to reason with it, it ultimately amounts to heresy.

    Now, in light of the above, Scripture is clear on that in the man Jesus Christ dwells the fullness of God bodily. He is God in flesh. This, logically speaking (according to human reasoning), is a seeming contradiction if you run through what the implications are. We can observe this from early heresies that fall on either side, such as Arianism and Docetism. A later example - Zwingli, a radical rationalist reformer, taught that what is finite cannot contain what is infinite. That's logical enough according to reason, but Lutherans (and I believe, the Roman Catholic Church) disagree, because this is exactly what Scriptures teaches regarding Christ.

    About soteriology - Again, I have to disagree, because the thought process exercised here is more in line with the philosophical Problem of Evil than it is with Scripture. The problem is that they're really two entirely different and incompatible frameworks, and we cannot and should not impose this philosophical concept upon God's Word, which is governed by a different framework.

    We believe that in the Scriptural framework, there is such a thing as holy mystery, which should not be confused with contradiction. That is, if there are two explicit truths divinely revealed by God, we uphold both as true, by virtue of God's own Word. If they are not divinely revealed, then we can safely surmise that they are either inconsistent or misunderstood. Again, take the example of the Trinity: God is one, yet He is three Persons. We can formulate a dogmatic expression of this, but no one can fully comprehend what this actually looks like. It breaks all reason. Now, add to this flesh and bones, and it becomes another level of incomprehensible. We understand this as a holy mystery, apprehended through faith.

    This is a very complex subject with a lot of nuances, to be honest. But, a bit shallowly, I think perhaps the root of the issue is that the Lutheran Church, along with the Eastern Orthodox, gladly embrace the paradoxes presented us in Scripture, whereas other Church bodies believe that Scripture is governed by reason. There's, of course, a place for reason in the Lutheran system, but the key difference is that we believe that reason is governed by Scripture, not that Scripture is governed by reason. So, it's really a question of authority in dogmatics, and really, in Church.

    In a nutshell: The Lutheran Church recognise that our faith has holy mysteries, and we comfortably embrace them. Just because we cannot scientifically explain something, doesn't mean it's false. It's a matter of trust. We trust in the person and works of our Lord, even if we cannot fully grasp it. We confess that we cannot know God and His design in its fullness, but only in part as far as He has revealed it to us through His prophets, apostles and His Son. As St Paul says: "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
     
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  12. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Sure!

    That's not true. If reasoning with the doctrine of the Trinity is a heresy then everyone present at the Council of Nicea was a heretic.

    No, it's not a contradiction. I just gave an explanation of why in my previous post.

    The fact that someone can fall into heresy does not mean that someone must fall into heresy, nor are many of the early heresies indicative of some sort of rationalism.

    Okay, fair enough.

    When someone claims that the Trinity is logically contradictory we explain why it is not. I've claimed that the Lutheran doctrine is a logical contradiction, and it seems that you have no ability to explain why it is not. It seems that you have no way to differentiate between a mystery and a contradiction.

    For Catholics a mystery may look like a contradiction at first sight, but it can be explained why it is not a contradiction.

    Then it seems to me that you are willing to believe contradictions uttered by Scripture, but not those which are not found in Scripture. Thus if Scripture says 2+2=5 you would believe it. If Scripture does not say 2+2=5 you will not believe it because it is a contradiction.

    What place does reason have in Lutheranism if Scripture is permitted direct logical contradictions?

    The difficulty is that a fully incomprehensible revelation is of no use at all. We always approach Scripture through reason.
     
  13. Daniel9v9

    Daniel9v9

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    I think we have very different approaches to reason and different ideas of what reason means, so we're talking past each other. And I have to say, I don't agree with these conclusions at all. That would not be an accurate understanding of the Lutheran position.

    For example, we hold to the Athanasian Creed, which is a Trinitarian dogmatic formulation. This ecumenical creed is a great example of the Lutheran approach. That is, (1) it's really only a summary of Scriptural ideas, but (2) it doesn't attempt to scientifically explain or speculate beyond what God in His grace has revealed. And so, it's a true and faithful confession that remains a holy mystery, rightly apprehended through faith.

    We argue that the holy mystery of the Two Natures of Christ is not only limited to His person but also to His works. If the Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches a Christology that is not above reason (I don't think they do, but I could be wrong!), then that is a position Lutherans would emphatically reject.

    When I say "above reason", what I mean is: The union between His two natures, while they can be dogmatically formulated, are in reality, in their fullness, incomprehensible, because there is nothing else known to us in the universe that has two full natures in one person, or is accurately comparable to it. And, if we add to this the relation to the whole God-head, it becomes, according to human reason, a mathematical and philosophical impossibility. Or, if you want, a seeming contradiction. I think if we can't agree on this, it's going to be difficult to align, and probably very challenging to appreciate the Lutheran framework.

    I think if you want to understand the Lutheran position on this, perhaps you can try our confessional writings on Election: The Epitome of the Formula of Concord - Book of Concord. The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord - Book of Concord Perhaps also in light of the articles on Original Sin, Free Will, Justification, and the Person of Christ.
     
  14. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    Those in Christ are His children ..... we can drop all the other labels.
     
  15. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    ok so ... "cut to the chase"

    "Monergism is the view within Christian theology which holds that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration, regardless of the individual's cooperation.It is most often associated with the Reformed tradition"

    John 1:11 "He came to HIS OWN and HIS OWN received Him not"
    Rev 3 "I STAND at the door and KNOCK if anyone hears My voice AND OPENS the door I WILL come in"

    Rom 10:9 "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation"


    Isaiah 5:4 "What MORE could I have done than that which I have already done? WHY then when I expected..."
    Matt 23 "Jerusalem Jerusalem .. How I WANTED... but YOU would not"

    2 Peter 3 "God is NOT WILLING that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance"

    1 John 2:2 Christ is "the Atoning Sacrifice for OUR sins and not for our sins only but for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD"

    2 Cor 5 "We BEG YOU on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God"

    So then "yeah" -- not monergism
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2020
  16. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    ok so now that raises a question - I have assumed that the only "monergists" that could be found on planet Earth - were Calvinist and EVERYBODY else - all Christians in all Christian denominations are therefore synergist by definition -- other than Calvinists. (And I am not at all certain that 3 point Calvinists are monergist)

    (and of course there "exists" Calvinist individuals within a number of different denominations).

    Are you about to tell me that this rule has an exception? If so what is it?
     
  17. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I am uncertain about which rule you are talking about. Please be more specific.
     
  18. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    I am not a monergist (I emphatically maintain that it is a Christological heresy akin to monophysitism), nor am I the thing that most people think of when they think of "synergism" (that Wiki article does not do any kind of justice to the Orthodox understanding of tbe term).

    I will say that I am a synergist, but I'll explain what I mean.

    What I *don't* mean is that I do my percentage and God does His percentage, and when you add them together you get 100% and I'm saved. (Monergism makes that same mistake, except instead of 0.001% + 99.99%, it is 0% + 100%).

    Rather, synergism is defined in the Incarnation. Christ is simultaneously 100% God and 100% man. As Christ Himself is our salvation, then our salvation is simultaneously 100% the work of God and 100% the work of man (a salvation which is 0% the work of man and 100% the work of God is rooted in a Christ who is 0% man and 100% God, and that is no Christ at all). It is just as St Paul says: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God Who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure."

    It is not "sharing the load" or anything like that, and it is not zero-sum.
     
  19. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. Both ends of the spectrum lead to some nasty conclusions. Perhaps a weakness in the EO approach is that some might find some form of merit accrued before God through righteous deeds, as, for example, saints. Although many, if not most, would deny that their personal righteous deeds do not earn them their salvation, they might come to view the saintly lives of recognized saints as having accrued such merit that they were able to achieve theosis as a result.
     
  20. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    In my experience, that is not an issue.
     
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