A Couple of Complications With Calvinism, Part 2

Now, there is a second issue that would seem to be problematic for the Calvinist’s “ordu salutis.” For the Calvinist, man is totally depraved and is therefore unable to respond to God unless and until God first regenerates him thus enabling him to exercise repentance and faith to be converted. Apart from this initiative that is God’s and God’s alone, man cannot and will not be saved. Once God regenerates the fallen individual, repentance and faith are all simultaneous with regeneration bringing about conversion and new birth. As Calvinists are challenged with the charge that they believe “regeneration precedes repentance and saving faith” their response is often “no, that is not what we believe.” Since they believe the process is all simultaneous, then they can honestly say they do not believe “regeneration does precedes repentance and faith.” However, this is not really a totally accurate response and when asked, “Do you believe repentance and saving faith precede regeneration and conversion,” their answer is often more evasive than direct.

Here is a major problem for what is called a monergistic approach to conversion. Monergism posits a belief that God and God alone through the Holy Spirit works to bring about “effectually” the salvation of individuals with no input from the individual himself and so the tenet of “Irresistible Grace” and “Limited Atonement” come into focus. In this position, God and God alone saves individuals who are condemned because of their sin.
There is a major problem with this position. Jesus is BOTH Lord and Savior. The Reformed position certainly focuses on Jesus becoming Savior. God chooses who is and is not saved. The question that needs to be answered is this: If God indeed makes Jesus ones Savior through the gift of faith and grace that He and He alone gives to the new born individual, does He then also by this same gift of grace make Jesus Lord of that person’s life? The argument that propels Calvinism is this notion that God in His sovereignty is a God who “saves those He has chosen to save” as opposed to being a God who “wants to save those He has chosen to save.” Here is the question. If God does save as the Monergistic God of the Calvinist posits, then does He not also make Jesus Lord for the same individual?

Because Jesus is certainly Savior of the new born Christian, how does the monergistic view of conversion apply to the Lordship aspect of the new born Christian? How does the presence of sin in the life of the new born Christian challenge the Lordship aspect of the monergistic role of God in the salvific process? If God and God alone does save and cannot fail in His decretive work, it would seem that God’s salvific work would also make God sovereign in the Lordship aspect of the new born Christian’s existence and that would by necessity lead to a life of sinlessness for the new born Christian. The Reformed Theology proponent holds on to God’s monergistic work in the tenet of irresistible grace whereby the lost, unregenerate individual accepts Jesus as Savior and God who is sovereign accomplishes what He sets out to do. If this same tenet is applied to God’s making Jesus Lord of the same individual, then it would follow that in His sovereignty He would also make the new born Christian immune to the power of sin because he will submit to the Lordship of Christ instead of continuing to be held captive to the old sin nature that God has effectually and efficaciously put to death at conversion.

Since the new born Christian is not set free from sin completely, one of two conclusions must be true. First, salvation is not monergistic or it would make God not only responsible for those who go to hell, it would also make God directly responsible for the sin the saved person commits. If Jesus is indeed Lord in a monergistic mindset where God does not just “want to save” but accomplishes what He decrees with respect to Jesus as Savior, the same must be true of His Lordship in the life of the new born believer and the ongoing effects of sin on the believer. The second conclusion is simple. Since sin is a present reality in the new born Christian’s life and challenges the question of the implicit benefits of an actual Lordship relationship in the life of the new born Christian, God’s monergistic work with respect to the Lordship of Christ in the new born believer is in all actuality challenged and along with it, His monergistic work in making Jesus Savior. If making Jesus Lord is synergistic as opposed to monergistic, so must making Jesus ones Savior be synergistic as well.

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33 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Joshua Bennett on February 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    You know this kind of thing is practically like a personal invitation to me – “Josh, write stuff!”

    In bible college, I heard this kind of stuff all the time from my professors. So at first, since I had been converted for 11 months when I arrived there, I pretty much accepted all they said; I didn’t know any else. I didn’t know any of the alternatives to these arguments. However, now I do, and I would like to bring out a few of them.

    I am not sure which Calvinists you are talking about in the first paragraph. It is absolutely true that Calvinists believe that part of the ordo salutis is regeneration, repentance, faith (some might say regeneration, faith, repentance). However, you have played on a common misunderstanding of our position. People who read this and are not particularly familiar with the ordo salutis discussion are going to be confused – or at least, they are not going to understand that ordo salutis has always been a discussion regarding the logical order of salvation, not the chronological order. You play on this understanding, intentional or not, when you say, “Since they believe the process is all simultaneous, then they can honestly say they do not believe “regeneration does precedes repentance and faith.” You are confusing the logical element with the chronological element. Both are pertinent to the discussion, but this sounds to me like the bait-and-switch I heard in Bible college. I honestly believe that at the moment of conversion, regeneration is the thing that brings about a man’s repentance and faith. The logical order is regeneration, then faith-repentance. The chronological order is that this all happens in an instant. This is no contradiction. It is absolutely vital to the discussion and to obscure it is to have an obscured view of the whole discussion, no matter where you stand on the issue. 

    Your other argument is a little more troubling, in my opinion. I was definitely exposed more to it in Bible college than any ordo salutis discussions. You seem to imply that if monergism were the case, new Christians would be immune to sin? I don’t want to restate your case, but this sounds like what you imply when you say “If God and God alone does save and cannot fail in His decretive work, it would seem that God’s salvific work would also make God sovereign in the Lordship aspect of the new born Christian’s existence and that would by necessity lead to a life of sinlessness for the new born Christian.” 

    You spend your second paragraph leading up to this conclusion by asking two questions, which are “If God indeed makes Jesus ones Savior through the gift of faith and grace that He and He alone gives to the new born individual, does He then also by this same gift of grace make Jesus Lord of that person’s life?” and “If God does save as the Monergistic God of the Calvinist posits, then does He not also make Jesus Lord for the same individual?” 

    These are excellent questions – very pertinent – but your answer is not one I have ever heard from any Calvinist. In the end of your third paragraph you engage in a tactic that is far, far too commonly used by both Calvinists and Arminians. I will use it by way of example: “You know that Arminians are really open theists, don’t you? Because, if they believe that election is based upon divine foreknowledge, then those who were foreknown to choose Christ cannot make any other choice – after all, God can’t foreknow something just to have them change their mind? So, in order for Arminians to be consistent, they have to be open theists.” This is what I am talking about. You do this when you say “The Reformed Theology proponent holds on to God’s monergistic work in the tenet of irresistible grace whereby the lost, unregenerate individual accepts Jesus as Savior and God who is sovereign accomplishes what He sets out to do. If this same tenet is applied to God’s making Jesus Lord of the same individual, then it would follow that in His sovereignty He would also make the new born Christian immune to the power of sin because he will submit to the Lordship of Christ instead of continuing to be held captive to the old sin nature that God has effectually and efficaciously put to death at conversion.” This is exactly the same tactic. The problem is when you say “if this tenet is applied to blah blah blah…” The Bible does not honor that connection. Neither do Calvinists. So when you say, “This is a problem with Calvinism” you are not even talking about Calvinism. The Bible teaches that Christians are people with new hearts that want to obey God. It also says that this new desire expresses itself in struggle; Paul makes this clear in Romans 7 when he talks about “doing the things he does not want to do, and not doing what he wants to do.” To say “if Calvinism was true, people would not sin” is a huge straw man. The Bible does not say that, Calvinists do not say that, it is not a logical necessity in our position. 

    So why do you say it? Presumably, you say it because you think  “because he will submit to the Lordship of Christ instead of continuing to be held captive to the old sin nature that God has effectually and efficaciously put to death at conversion.” But the Bible does not teach this. So why do you think Calvinists should teach this? Why should anyone teach this? You fail to demonstrate how this is a logical necessity in our position (it’s not). 

    The final paragraph is a classical false dichotomy that does not honor Scripture or Reformed Theology. The false presupposition that undermines it is that God is somehow answerable to us, or that his decisions must come into conformity to some external standard. You do not say anything like this, but statements like “First, salvation is not monergistic or it would make God not only responsible for those who go to hell, it would also make God directly responsible for the sin the saved person commits” beg the question “responsible to whom?” Must God justify his action to some external committee? Or is God free to do as he pleases?  

    In the final paragraph, you also say “If Jesus is indeed Lord in a monergistic mindset where God does not just “want to save” but accomplishes what He decrees with respect to Jesus as Savior, the same must be true of His Lordship in the life of the new born believer and the ongoing effects of sin on the believer.” Why must the same be true? Because you think it should? Because making this statement, which is non-sequitur in nature, makes it easier to argue against Calvinism without actually addressing Calvinism?  

    Your conclusion is predicated upon the reasoning in your writing, so in your conclusions there are false dichotomies and a non-sequitur as well. When you say “Since sin is a present reality in the new born Christian’s life and challenges the question of the implicit benefits of an actual Lordship relationship in the life of the new born Christian, God’s monergistic work with respect to the Lordship of Christ in the new born believer is in all actuality challenged and along with it, His monergistic work in making Jesus Savior,” you are more or less restating the problem from earlier. Sin in the Christian’s life does not challenge the Lordship of Christ by itself. What the Bible says challenges the Lordship of Christ (and conversion itself) is the “practicing” of sin (i.e. 1 John) – literally, the continued embracing of sinful patterns with no “Paul-esque” struggle ala Romans 7. 

    “If making Jesus Lord is synergistic as opposed to monergistic, so must making Jesus ones Savior be synergistic as well.” – Says who? Why must it be this way? Because you think it should? This is another example of an arbitrary objection to Calvinism. Also, I find that unbiblical commands like “make Jesus Lord” or “make Jesus Savior” tend to be unhelpful – after all, how do you know when you have done these things? They are not in the Bible, so it is kind of left up to us to determine if we have (or who else has or has not) done these things. 

    I think there are two ways to think about these issues. The first is through the lens of our experience. We can interpret all these passages in Scripture (or even the whole Bible) by means of our experience – what we see people do. Passages that deal with God’s monergistic work in justification are obviously going to be obscured because every converted person we know “made a choice” to believe the gospel (and it was a real choice too)! We are setting ourselves up for failure this way. This same thinking undergirds the hermeneutics that dominate religion departments at American Universities – feminist hermeneutics, liberation hermeneutics, etc. These people have looked at the world around them, then looked at the Scriptures to try to find answers. 

    The second way is to interpret human experience by means of the Scripture, and to subject our experiences to it. It will doubtlessly take a lifetime to master this; indwelling sin tempts us to be our own masters. But this method allows us to embrace the entire Bible for what it is – God’s complete, sufficient revelation of his saving work in Christ. 

    Reply

    • Joshua,

      Much learning can make a man wise or mad. There is a fine line between the two. I have no idea what kind of exposure you had at bible college but I am afraid you either failed to comprehend WHAT I wrote or you simply failed to address the issue I wrote about. My point is simple. Jesus is not just Savior; He is BOTH Savior and Lord. Calvinism focuses on the efficacious calling of God in Christ as ones Savior. Man has no part in that process; it is ALL God.

      That is well and good except Jesus is BOTH Savior and Lord; not one and then maybe the other. So my point is simply this; if God gives the unregenerate saving grace THEN it would seem to reason that He would also give the regenerated individual Lordship grace as well. If God makes Jesus Lord as He does Savior, then the newborn Christian would have no problem with ongoing sin.

      I do not believe irresistible grace to be true and that is why I submit monergism does not hold up because if it did, Jesus would be BOTH Savior and Lord since God does not fail in anything He decrees and He cannot decree that Jesus be Savior and not Lord so my conclusion is that He does neither.

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Posted by Joshua Bennett on February 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

        Bob –

        I am a little disappointed here. I spent four years sitting under this kind of teaching every day. I am very well versed in what you are saying – I fully comprehend it. If Calvinism is what you say it is, I wouldn’t believe in it either. What Calvinist has ever said that Jesus might be Savior but not Lord (that is the tactic of the Pelagian Free Grace Society – I sat under some of these in college)? What Calvinist has ever said that God does not “give the regenerated individual Lordship grace as well”? This is exactly what Paul deals with in Romans 7. It is frustrating to me that I took the time to deal with all that and you respond by continuing to misrepresent my position. No Calvinist has ever held the position you write against. This strange division of “Savior and Lord” is not espoused by Calvinists. Also, most Calvinists are very clear that failure to submit to the Lordship of Christ over a length of time demonstrates that a person was never converted.

        In the past I have praised you for your honest portrayal of the Reformed position. Have you given that up?

      • Posted by Joshua Bennett on February 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

        You also did not address the straw man present in “ordo salutis.” I forgot to mention that a few minutes ago.

      • I am not trying to be difficult but apparently you are still missing my point. You wrote, “This strange division of “Savior and Lord” is not espoused by Calvinists. Also, most Calvinists are very clear that failure to submit to the Lordship of Christ over a length of time demonstrates that a person was never converted.”

        I understand that and you are correct. My point is, if Lordship is achieved over time, then it must not be effectually accomplished by God at conversion by the giving of His special grace of Lordship as Calvinists claim happens with respect to Him becoming Savior. I do not see how it could be possible for God to efficaciously decree Jesus to be Savior and not efficaciously make Jesus Lord at the same time.

        Since Jesus is BOTH Savior and Lord, how can God give anyone grace to make Jesus Savior and then no grace to make Jesus Lord? If God DID give anyone grace to make Jesus Lord, would that person not walk with Him perfectly as Lord as he does with Jesus as Savior? That is my point.

        ><>”

        PS… not sure what you mean about the “Strawman”; I still do not really understand what that is… I hear it all the time from Calvinists but since I am not one, seems a little confusing to me. With respect to your remark about regeneration, I said Calvinists like to say it is all simultaneous you said it was instantaneous… wo I would say we are saying the same thing. When I challenge anyone who is a calvinist, my qualifying characteristic is that they believe regeneration predeces repentance, faith and conversion. Some will argue they do not believe that because they use the argument that it is simultaneous or instantaneous and not so much a 1,2,3 process; so technically regeneration does not precede repentance and saving faith. That was my only point there and it is one that I hear quite often, not from you but from a number of others.

      • Bob,

        I have to fully agree with what Joshua has written. You have not stated the Calvinists’positions. Notice I did not say you don’t understand it. I said you have not stated it correctly.

        That is what a straw man is. One posits his “opponent’s” position erroneously and then proceeds to debunk it (or knock the straw man down).

        No Calvinist I have ever known of posits what you say they posit or believe.

        One more thing. Calvinists, at least the ones I’m familiar with, say that all of the Christian life is “of grace.” In fact all of life for everyone is all of grace, else we would be obliterated by God for our disobedience. That does not mean that we believe that man has no responsibility in the Christian life. We do. The bible is replete with commands to Christians. We are to obey. We are to live under the lordship of Christ. But when He saves us we are not robots in the salvific process (though it is monergistic). We must believe! We must repent! He, by is grace, grants those to us when we are born again by the Spirit but we do those things with our new hearts.

        But the Christian walk has fits and starts. We progress in sanctification as God enables us and as we grow in our faith. As Joshua rightly pointed out about Paul in Rom.7, we do not always do what we should. We even sometimes deny our God given new desires.

        Re-read Joshua again about logical and chronological relating to conversion. He is right on.

      • Bob,

        Couple more things I forgot to mention, especially after seeing your reply to Dr. Willingham.

        You said to him, “If God gives the unregenerate the gift of grace enabling him to repent and exercise faith, then should He not also give the newborn Christian the effectual grace to make Jesus Lord in his life as well?”

        And you said earlier to Joshua, “If God DID give anyone grace to make Jesus Lord, would that person not walk with Him perfectly as Lord as he does with Jesus as Savior?”

        Of course God COULD do that…make a person be perfect. But He doesn’t. The bible does not teach that. No Calvinist believes that and it is not a logical consequence to monergistic regeneration.

        Remember, when God aves someone and “declares him righteous” (imputed righteousness) He DOES NOT therefore “make him righteous” (imparted righteousness).

        Calvinists and you too do not believe in “imparted righteousness.”

      • Les,

        You too are missing the point of MY post. I am NOT saying Calvinists believe in imputed and imparted righteousness. I know they dont. So you can set the strawman a side.

        What I AM saying is this: If God efficaciously makes Jesus Savior, WHY does He not efficaciously make Jesus Lord in the same person? That is the essence of my argument. It is not at all an indightment on Calvinists but on Calvinism.

        You wrote, “We progress in sanctification as God enables us and as we grow in our faith. As Joshua rightly pointed out about Paul in Rom.7, we do not always do what we should. We even sometimes deny our God given new desires.”

        So is it fair to say that sanctification (the process of making Jesus Lord) is synergistic? If it is monergistic, then God and God alone is the One who “enables us to grow in our faith.” This kind of creates another problem for calvinism, in that Calvinists say that “faith is a gift of God” as well… so does God give the regenerated person grace to grow and if the regenerated person does not grow it is because God did not give him enough grace to do so?

        All this theological stuff sure can get complicated!

        Remember something. Monergism is 100% God. Synergism is 99% or less God and the balance man; it does not have to be 50/50. This is why I personally do not believe monergism is a correct theological position and the issue of making Jesus Lord illustrates that to me.

        ><>”

  2. Bob, the Sovereign Grace believers of Southern Baptists, such as James Petigru Boyce, E.C. Dargan, and several others have clearly stated that regeneration does precede conversion which involves repentance and faith. They are simply following int he steps of the first major theologian Baptists ever produced. I am referring to Dr. John Gill whos commentaries and Body of Divinity and other works were recommended to the ministers of the association by the Charleston Baptist Association back in the late 1700s/early 1800s. The Charleston was in fellowship with the Philadelphia Assn. which set forth circular letter (around 1803, I think) which took the same view about regeneration preceding conversion and repentance and fatih. John Gano also wrote one of the circular letters for the Philadelphia Assn., and his calvinism is very apparent. You might want to read Gill’s Body of Divinity, Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology, E.D. Dargan’s Doctrines of our Faith, and the circular letters of the Philadelphia and Charleston Assn…along with those of other associations from the 1700s and 1800s. And remember these are the people who have the blessing of the the Great Awakenings during the ascendancy of that theology along with the launching of the Great Century of Missions. Just take the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742), the Westminster Confession and the Baptist Confession of 1689, and you have a compendium of what Spurgeon calls the Gospel, and it is this theology that the main preachers of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions preached (note: Finney comes in some 10-20 years after the Second Great Awakening (which I date from 1790-1820). Also note that the Mission Century gets launched by a bunch of calvinists: Edwards (whose Humble Attempt was the call to prayer that led to the launching, and you know what he believed), William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, Basil Manly, Sr., Richard Furman, and others. If salvation is synergistic, then man gets credit for his part in salvation. I think he would hardly be justified in casting his crowns at the feet of Jesus…unless Jesus deserves all of the credit, because He really did it all on some lumps of clay, some dirt.

    Reply

  3. Dr. Willingham,

    Your response has nothing to do with the issue of God’s salvific activity in the Lordship of Christ for the newly regenerated individual. If God gives the unregenerate the gift of grace enabling him to repent and exercise faith, then should He not also give the newborn Christian the same effectual grace to make Jesus Lord in his life as well? If Jesus is efficaciously made Lord, then how does the ongoing state of sin in the newly regenerated individual relect that Lordship?

    Reply

  4. Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Bob.

    If I understand the jest of your post (and please correct me if I am wrong), it is the question of why irresistible grace guarantees the sinner will come to faith in Jesus Christ, but that after conversion, this same irresistible grace doesn’t guarantee the born again believer will live a perfect and holy life.

    In other words, this irresistible grace guarantees the person will choose Christ and reject the sin of unbelief every time, but after conversion, this irresistible grace doesn’t guarantee the person will choose obedience and reject sin in regards to the Christian walk.

    Of course, all of this talk of “regeneration precedes faith” is just goofy. It reeks of Mormonism.

    The biblical order of salvation is…

    Grace, faith, justification, regeneration

    The calvinistic “ordo salutis” is…..

    Irresistible grace, regeneration, faith, justification.

    Romans 8:10 (NLT)…
    And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life BECAUSE you have been made right with God.

    Why does the Spirit give us life?

    Because we (believers) have been made right (justified) before God. That is the biblical answer. But calvinism says…. “No. We are given life so we can be made right with God.” A complete denial of what the word of God teaches.

    Romans 5:18 (NIV)…
    Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings (spiritual) life for all men.

    Notice it says that it is justification (being made right with God) that brings spiritual life. But, again, calvinism says… “No. It is spiritual life that brings justification.”

    With that, let’s now turn to the book of Nephi…..

    God bless.

    wingedfooted1

    Reply

  5. wingedfooted1,

    “The biblical order of salvation is…”

    Well. Glad you cleared that up with your pronouncement. Whatever have theologians been doing all these centuries without you clearing that up for us?

    “With that, let’s now turn to the book of Nephi…..”

    Very cute. I really don’t appreciate being associated with Mormonism.
    Now may I be cute as well?

    I’m reminded of the Keith Green album titled “For Him Who Has Ears to Hear.’

    Or, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

    Here’s hoping the bit is not too painful.

    Reply

  6. Posted by wingedfooted1 on February 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Les,

    No worries. We’re good.

    God bless.

    wingedfooted1

    Reply

  7. Posted by John W. on February 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Bob,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this post and the comments, and wanted to add my 2 cents.

    I think there is some confusion about what Calvinists mean when they say monergism. Within the ordu salutis, Calvinists believe that regeneration is monergistic, while sanctification is synergistic and progressive. Synergism means man working with God, not apart from God. Man is still dependent upon God throughout the process of sanctification. God is still efficaciously making Jesus both Lord and Savior.

    The reason Calvinists believe regeneration is monergistic is because it would be contrary to a sinner’s nature to make themselves born again, and Calvinists believe people choose according to their desires and within the boundaries of their nature. After regeneration, sinners have a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17) and are able (as opposed to unable, i.e. Totally Depravity/Total Inability: the old nature is unable to obey God; Rom. 8:7) to make choices in accordance with that new nature, which leads to sanctification (Rom. 6:19).

    More specifically, if a person without faith is incapable of pleasing God (Heb. 11:6), then after regeneration, a person with faith is capable of pleasing God. The person then works together with God to pursue Christlikeness, as they were predestined to do, though still with dependence upon God (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 2:12-13).

    As to the argument of God “efficaciously [making] Jesus Lord,” that is true. The completion of sanctification is glorification, which is efficacious for the believer (Rom. 8:29). I guess you could say that glorification is mongergistic (Phil. 1;6), but typically Calvinists reserve that term for regeneration.

    You said, “If God does save as the Monergistic God of the Calvinist posits, then does He not also make Jesus Lord for the same individual?” I believe your argument hinges on the idea that all the elements of the ordu salutis must be monergistic, or else they must all be synergistic. Is this correct?

    Reply

  8. You have at least come closer to speaking to the jest of the post. Here is the deal. As I mentioned in Part 1, I do not believe TD and TI are Biblical principles. I believe man is depraved but not to the extent that Calvinists contend. With that basis, I do not believe that regeneration is required before faith can be exercised and one can be “born again.”
    I believe God and God alone is responsible for one’s salvation in that He and He alone has provided the provisions for ANYONE who would believe that He is everything that He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do. (Heb 11:6b)

    I believe conversion is like sanctification, synergistic in that man is trusting in God’s promises. Conviction of sin is a necessary work of the Holy Spirit in the conversion process but man is responsible for HIS response as opposed to God being responsible for that choice. God has decreed that man MUST choose; he had no choice in that choice and man has no choice in the consequences of those choices. God has chosen the consequences.

    The thrust of my article is simple. Calvinists contend that God in His sovereignty does not “seek to save”; He saves to the uttermost those He has chosen to save and no one else can be saved apart from His efficacious calling. My point is this:

    If God and God alone gives grace to make Jesus Savior… THEN God would also give grace to make Jesus Lord in the individual He has just irresistibly called to salvation for Jesus is BOTH Savior and Lord. The calvinists contend that God is sovereign in ALL things and cannot fail. So when He saves to the uttermost, Jesus should be Savior and Lord in the life of the new born believer.

    I understand that is NOT what the Calvinist believes but I am saying IF one presses a monergistic approach to conversion, then why does he not also see God as monergistic in Lordship as well? it is as if God cannot fail in conversion but He can fail in sanctification or making Jesus Lord; which is different from glorfication.

    If God makes Jesus Lord in ones life, that individual WILL walk with God and not sin because where Jesus is LORD there is no sin.

    My point is, IF sanctification is synergistic, 95% God and 5% man, then the possibility exists that conversion can be the same.

    Thanks for your comment.

    ><>”

    Reply

    • Posted by John W. on March 1, 2012 at 4:10 am

      Bob, thanks for your kind reply.

      According to Calvinism, regeneration is monergistic. Neither conversion nor sanctification are monergistic. Faith, repentance and obedience are three things the Bible teaches that unregenerate people are unable to do. That is why we must first be born again. I explained the Calvinistic understanding of the relationship between choice and nature pre- and post-regeneration in my first comment.

      You’ve made the statement time and again, “If God efficaciously makes Jesus Savior, WHY does He not efficaciously make Jesus Lord in the same person?”

      The only answer I can think of is, he doesn’t because he doesn’t. The only Calvinist who can give a more detailed answer is one who believes that “making Jesus Lord is as monergistic as making Jesus Savior,” and I’m not sure he exists.

      How does the fact that Christian still sin after conversion disprove Calvinism? It’s typically the more Arminian denominations that believe in sinless perfection. If you can prove that Calvinism necessitates monergistic entire sanctification and then show that Christians continue to sin after conversion, then you would be right.

      Reply

      • Hey John,

        The following statement is where the problem lies from my perspective: “Faith, repentance and obedience are three things the Bible teaches that unregenerate people are unable to do.” I believe the Bible teaches faith and repentance are our our responsibility while revelation and reconciliation are God’s.

        “That is why we must first be born again.” I do not believe we must be born again to exercise repentance and saving faith. Take the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and then went away sorrowful because he had great riches. If Calvinism were true, the ONLY conclusion there would be God did not regenerate him or else he WOULD have not gone away sorrowful.

        He went away sorrowful not because of what God did or did not do, but because of what he refused to do and that was come to grips with the reality of choosing Jesus. He refused to turn loose of his god and take hold of Jesus and by faith trust Him instead of his great wealth.

        Now to your final comment. “If you can prove that Calvinism necessitates monergistic entire sanctification and then show that Christians continue to sin after conversion, then you would be right.”

        My point is really this; Calvinsm assumes or posits monergism in conversion (or as you suggest regeneration; I would argue that conversion IS monergistic in the Calvinist mindset since repentance and faith are both seen as gifts from God and once they are given, man IS born again.)

        The logic behind monergism is that God in His sovereignty is not a God who just “wills” that men are saved and what He wills is trumped by human will or response. This is actually a logical deduction on the Calvinist’s part. My problem is with the logic that leads the Calvinist to come to this conclusion.

        If one does allow for this conclusion, my point is, why do calvinists not see Lordship in the same way? Lets be fair. If God and God alone is responsible for regeneration which “makes the unregenerate a Christian,” then why does God not complete the process by making Jesus Lord in the individual’s heart as well as Savior?

        This IS A VALID QUESTION. Since God has made Jesus BOTH Savior and Lord, my point is, IF MONERGISM IS VALID, it would seem to me the product of God’s work (which is the new born Christian) would by necessity be perfect, because what God wills He accomplishes. How can God will Jesus to be JUST Savior in a person’s life if He has made Jesus BOTH Savior and Lord?

        I am challenging the monergism argument in that it would seem that the same logic that applies to my making Jesus my Savior would by necessity apply to my making Jesus Lord. Since making Him Lord is not monergistic, I am suggesting making Him my Savior is not monergistic either.

        ><>”

  9. Bob,

    I think you are continuing to try to correlate two things, regeneration and sanctification, in such a way that they can’t be done.

    Let me here insert a definition of monergism from the Century Theological dictionary (I think):

    “In theology, [monergism is] the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration [the new birth] – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated [born again], and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

    You: “I am challenging the monergism argument in that it would seem that the same logic that applies to my making Jesus my Savior would by necessity apply to my making Jesus Lord. Since making Him Lord is not monergistic, I am suggesting making Him my Savior is not monergistic either.”

    So if I understand you, you are positing that if regeneration is monergistic then it follows that sanctification (Lordship) should also be monergistic. Is that pretty close to what you are saying?

    You also said, “I believe conversion is like sanctification, synergistic in that man is trusting in God’s promises.”

    And as a consequence you are advocating that regeneration (and conversion) is NOT monergistic but is in fact synergistic.

    To summarize so I can be sure I understand, you believe:

    1. Conversion (including regeneration, faith and repentance) is synergistic.
    2. Sanctification is synergistic.

    and, you are saying:

    1. If Calvinism insists that regeneration is monergistic (see above definition on monergism), then it should follow that sanctification (“making Jesus Lord”) be monergistic.

    Do I have this right?

    Reply

  10. “So if I understand you, you are positing that if regeneration is monergistic then it follows that sanctification (Lordship) should also be monergistic. Is that pretty close to what you are saying?” Yes. If God is indeed responsible for regeneration in my making Jesus Savior, it does not seem logical to drop that line of reasoning in my making Him Lord, since God is the One who made Jesus BOTH Savior and Lord.

    “1. Conversion (including regeneration, faith and repentance) is synergistic.
    2. Sanctification is synergistic.”

    1. I believe repentance and faith bring regeneration; repentance and faith are my response to God’s revelation of Himself and drawing in reconciliation.

    2. Sanctification is synergistic, yes.

    I will say for now that you seem to have grasped what I am saying. Verdict is still out, but looks like there is a glimmer of potential, yes! LOL…

    ><>”

    Reply

  11. Bob,

    We may be getting somewhere. But just to clarify, when I refer to monergism, I am referring to regeneration. See this definition I had posted above:

    ““In theology, [monergism is] the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration [the new birth] – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated [born again], and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

    Now, I do not grant your suggestion that “If God is indeed responsible for regeneration in my making Jesus Savior, it does not seem logical to drop that line of reasoning in my making Him Lord, since God is the One who made Jesus BOTH Savior and Lord.”

    But if you insist that regeneration is synergistic (some % God’s contribution and some % man’s contribution) then please interact with this quote from Spurgeon:

    C.H. Spurgeon once described the folly of trusting in natural ability by praying as a synergist would if he was consistent with his beliefs:

    “Lord…If everybody has done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Spirit given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not – that is the difference between me and them.’ That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah! When they are preaching and talking slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it.”
    ( C.H. Spurgeon Freewill– A Slave).

    How would you respond to Spurgeon’s “sample” synergist’s prayer?

    Reply

  12. Les,

    I fully understand the concept. You wrote, “In theology, [monergism is] the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration [the new birth] – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated [born again], and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

    This actually illustrates my point very well in that once regeneration takes place, what happens? Jesus becomes Savior. Man has NOTHING to do with this event.

    My point is, why does regeneration just make Jesus Savior when God has made Jesus BOTH Savior and Lord? I see that argument as a fallicy of the regeneration argument altogether. I understand you will not, but that is basically the essence of my argument.

    This example you cite by Spurgeon is the basic argument behind a salvation by works.

    The difference as I see it is when God convicts someone of their sin and their lost condition, pride goes out the window and that conviction brings one to the stark reality of answering what I call Lifes Crucial Question: What am I going to do with this person called Jesus? Will I surrender my life to Him because of all He has done for me or will I continue to serve self and trust in my own ability to please God?

    Faith and repentance are my responsibility. I do not believe the bible teaches they are God’s responsibility. He and He alone is sovereign in providing the provisions for salvation. I am responsible for accepting those provisions. That is the good news of the gospel; that Jesus Christ has come to bring to life those that believe.

    ><>”

    Reply

  13. Bob,

    I still think we are basically missing each other.

    Calvinists believe the new birth is God’s work alone.

    Calvinists believe that faith and repentance involve the human will and action. Man must exercise faith. Man must repent. God does not believe for the man. God does not repent for the man.

    After a man becomes a Christian, he embarks on a life of sanctification, progressively. He never reaches perfection this side of heaven. He submits to the Lord (Lordship) sometimes and sometimes not…never perfectly. For instance, man never 100% loves God with all his heart, soul and mind perfectly. He never 100% loves his neighbor as himself. i.e. man is still a sinner.

    Now, you may wonder why according to Calvinism God is monergistic in regeneration and yet does not monergistically make man perfect in this life, but you are asking a question He will have to answer for you.

    Your ‘logic” that it doesn’t make sense will just have to remain a mystery.

    I suppose we will just have to leave it at that.

    Reply

    • Les,

      “Calvinists believe the new birth is God’s work alone.

      Calvinists believe that faith and repentance involve the human will and action. Man must exercise faith. Man must repent. God does not believe for the man. God does not repent for the man.”

      This is all well and good. However while faith and repentance involve the human will and action whereby man must repent and he must exercise faith, these WILL happen because God and God alone has given man a new nature and these are responses to that new nature. So, while God does nto believe or repent for man, man cannot do either apart from God’s efficacious work in regeneration. Some even say regeneration, faith and repentance are all simultaneous… which makes it very difficult to separate the events into what man does and what God does; because what God does causes man to do what he does and man cannot do what he does if God does not do what He does.

      Understand something; my point is related to the Calvinist’s assertion NOT what the Calvinist says happens. The reasoning behind the assertion is what I am challenging; not the assertion itself. I think that is where we are missing the boat.

      In an analogy of sorts, this may better explain what I am trying to say here.

      Calvinists posit a monergistic approach to regeneration. That is a conculsion that Calvinism presents; it is not a clear cut Biblical position. It is a theological position that has Biblical support for some. That is an accurate statement.

      The logic that leads one to a monergistic position in regeneration would seem to me to also apply to Lordship of Christ but I realize it does not; my point is that the fact that it does not do so makes the argument to accept it with respect to regeneration is made weak.

      ><>”

      Reply

  14. Posted by John W. on March 1, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Bob, very good discussion.

    You said, “1. I believe repentance and faith bring regeneration; repentance and faith are my response to God’s revelation of Himself and drawing in reconciliation.”

    I’m assuming that you believe the two items you responded to: “God’s revelation of HImself” and His “drawing in reconciliation”, are two things that God has done to the exact same degree for every single person, am I correct?

    Earlier you stated, “He and He alone has provided the provisions for ANYONE who would believe…”

    SO why did you believe, repent, and exercise faith when so many others receive the same amount of revelation and drawing, and yet don’t believe?

    Reply

    • John,

      I cannot say that God’s revelation of Himself and drawing in reconciliation are “two things that God has done to the exact same degree for every single person.” That is a deduction you made not one that I have even hinted to.

      This brings us to an all important question: does God reveal Himself to all men and seek to reconcile Himself to all men? I do not know. All I do know is He says He does and Jesus said He has come to seek and to save them that are lost. I don’t know how He does that, entirely. He has revealed some of the ways He reveals Himself and seeks to reconcile Himself in the Bible. My conviction is to be as diligent as I can be in following the instruction He has given to me in His Word that is the sole authority for my life.

      God reveals Himself as well as His promises to me and through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit I am responsible for my response to His promises and His provisions available to me through faith in Him and His promises. My redemption is accomplished through faith in His promises.

      Why did I repent and turn to Christ when others did not? I do not have an answer for that. I do know that my answer is not because God determined for me that I would turn to Him and He determined for the others that they would not. God gave me the choice to choose and my choice has consequences which He has both determined and provided for.

      >”<>”

      Reply

  15. John W,

    You said, “SO why did you believe, repent, and exercise faith when so many others receive the same amount of revelation and drawing, and yet don’t believe?”

    Great question and is the point the Spurgeon quote was making. He said,

    “they had as much of the Holy Spirit given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ…”

    “I made use of what was given me, and others did not – that is the difference between me and them.”

    Great question is why?

    Bob, according to your view the difference is *you!* The final verdict on your salvation, according to you, is you. I can’t help but draw that conclusion.

    Reply

    • “Bob, according to your view the difference is *you!* The final verdict on your salvation, according to you, is you. I can’t help but draw that conclusion.”

      This is really a misrepresentation of my position. The final verdict is God’s. I stand before Him condemned. He offers payment in full for my sin in Jesus. The choice is for me to choose, life or death, Christ or self. My choice determines His final verdict.

      John, according to your view the diffierence is God. The final verdict on ones salvation and eternal damnation is according to God. I can’t help but draw that conclusion.

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Bob, “This is really a misrepresentation of my position”

        I really don’t mean to misrepresent you. My point is this: If you believe and are saved and the guy sitting next to you is not saved, and you both received equal revelation and equal work of the Holy Spirit, then the difference in you and that guy is you. God does the same thing to you both. You say “yes.” He says “no.”

        Why? If your theological understanding is correct, the difference is your choosing by your will. i.e. the difference is you.

        Unless, you are also saying that God does something more or different in you than the other guy.

      • As I stated in John’s other post, the Bible never states anywhere that I am aware of that He gives “equal work of the Holy Spirit.” I have no idea HOW God does what He does, all I know is He says He will forgive anyone who comes to Him with a repentant heart and He will save all those who call upon Him believing and in faith. You and I believe that, the question is not what God WILL do it is why or how He does it.

        You believe He wills individuals to be saved; I believe He wills those who believe to be saved. You say, I believe that too; but one cannot believe unless and until God gives him a heart to repent and believe. This is a deduction that I do not agree with.

        That is where we part ways. I believe God draws and my redemption is determined not by Him but by the choice He has given me to make. If God gives me a choice, then is He any less sovereign in what happens? No.

        That is the difference in our definitions of the sovereignty of God. I say God can do what He wants to do and if He wants to make my eternal destiny a matter of my choosing, then I believe He can do so.

        That is what I believe the Bible teaches and I am sticking to it. Besides, if Calvinism is correct, I am a Calvinist whether I know it or not and when it is my time to see the light that I cannot see until He shines it in me, I will remain a non-calvinist. If and when He decides I need to be a calvinist, He will bring me to it.

        ><>”

  16. Posted by John W. on March 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Bob, you said, “Why did I repent and turn to Christ when others did not? I do not have an answer for that”

    >>Is that not a cop-out? Jesus stated exactly why some believe and some didn’t.

    Bob said, “John, according to your view the diffierence is God. The final verdict on ones salvation and eternal damnation is according to God. I can’t help but draw that conclusion.”

    >>Precisely. “Salvation is of the Lord.”

    You said BOTH “The final verdict is God’s. ” AND “My choice determines His final verdict.”

    >>Are these not contradictory statements? You can only have one final verdict.

    Reply

  17. “Is that not a cop-out? Jesus stated exactly why some believe and some didn’t.”

    It is not a cop out for me; you asked me a question and I gave the best answer I knew to give. Not sure which statement you refer to as to why some believe and some don’t; especially where that answer points to God’s involvement or lack of involvement in their NOT believing.

    “You said BOTH “The final verdict is God’s. ” AND “My choice determines His final verdict.” >>Are these not contradictory statements? You can only have one final verdict.

    No they are not contradictory at all. One is conditional the other is final. My choice is the condition upon which God’s final verdict is delivered.

    ><>”

    Reply

  18. Posted by John W. on March 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Bob, do you take requests? 🙂

    I would like for you to make a positive case for your views.

    All we know is that you reject the Calvinistic doctrines of depravity, original sin, regeneration. I’d like to better understand your position on the spiritual status and ability of unbelievers, the purpose and extent of the atonement, nature of the will, election and predestination.

    I think it would make a great series of posts to put forth an SBC Non-Calvinist ordo salutis.

    I had a 9 hour drive today and I enjoyed mulling over the discussion of the past week.

    Reply

  19. John,

    If you will click on the “Foundation” tab at the top of the page, you will see an overview of my thoughts. I am in the process of changing the first one, of “Totally Lost” to “Total Separation.”

    I am actually working through that one but basically it clarifies for me, what is the basis for our “sin nature.” I am seeing that nature as one connected to our position with respect to what I am calling, God’s perpetual presence. When Adam sinned, mankind was changed. When he sinned, he did not die, physically at that moment. So what happened? God banished him from the garden of Eden and from His perpetual presence. What does sin do? Sin separates us from God; it does not separate God from us. God is both the creator and sustainer of life. What is death? Death is the absence of life. So when God separated Adam from His perpetual presence, in a sense Adam did die. We are born outside God’s perpetual presence because we are born outside the “garden.” So, every decision we make outside God’s perpetual presence is sin. We cannot please Him in ANYTHING we do until we come into His special perpetual presence.

    In the incarnation God corrects mankind’s ‘sin problem” by correcting the “separation problem.” When conversion takes place, what happens? The Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and walla, God corrects the separation problem once and for all, because the Holy Spirit’s residency in our hearts is secure intil we are glorified.

    Take the separation issue another step. What is prayer? Prayer is coming into God’s presence. I maintain it is virtually impossible to sin while I am in God’s special presence. God accepts me just as I am and He takes me from where I am and moves me to what He wants me to be. So the challenge that life presents is to stay in His perpetual presence so that God can do in us and through us what HE wants instead of what we want. Remember, the definition of sin is anything that falls short of the glory of God. The only thing that is not sin, is related to my position with respect to His presence which allows His power to provide His provisions for my life.

    I hope to have this completed soon. it is in my head I just have not gotten in it print yet.

    Thanks for the interaction!

    ><>”

    Reply

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