Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.

Referring to the Greek in 1 Corinthians 3:9

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    Referring to the Greek in 1 Corinthians 3:9

    "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." KJV

    If we look at the word for "labourers together with God", which some Bibles translate as "God's fellow workers", it should be noted that the original Greek reads "synergoi". I think this is something of the which we should take note. Now I am no Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox, both of whom try to outdo each other in Synergism. But neither am I a TULIP Calvinist, or for that matter, even a BotW Luther. I tend to be thankful that BotW never made it into the Book of Concord.

    So, where does this leave us? Well, obviously we all must decide for ourselves. But, it might make for an interesting topic of discussion. Thoughts, anyone?

    #2
    Hi Diego, we Calvinists see everything up to the point of justification as a monergistic work of God, but from that point on, our growth as Christians, is a synergistic work, God continuing His mighty work in us while we work alongside Him to grow in Christlikeness .. e.g. Philippians 2:12-13 (something that was not possible for us in our natural state .. 1 Corinthians 2:14).

    St. Paul is speaking specifically to Christians in 1 Corinthians 3 (granted, many are "infants" in the faith, but Christians they all are). Perhaps some context is in order:

    1 Corinthians 3
    1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.
    2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,
    3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
    4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
    5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
    6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
    7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
    8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.
    9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
    10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.
    11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
    12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—
    13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
    14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
    15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
    16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

    "God's fellow workers" are always Christians, which is why a synergism with Him is possible. So we are justified/saved by a monergistic work that is wholly of God, but our sanctification is us doing all we can to work with Him throughout the rest of our lives to grow up in Christ (though it should still be clearly understood that our salvation is of God, that it is He who sees us through this life to Glory, and that apart from Him, even in sanctification, no one could be saved).

    Yours in Christ,
    David




    "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began
    a good work in you will perfect it until
    the day of Christ Jesus"

    Philippians 1:6
    Last edited by David Lee; 02-24-2017, 03:11 PM.
    Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

    "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

    "Instead of a river, God often gives us a brook, which may be running today and dried up tomorrow. Why? To teach us not to rest in our blessings, but in the Blesser Himself." ~A. W. Pink

    "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

    "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
    Comment>

      #3
      Just going to share this, a few pages from Michael Horton that goes into the Lutheran and Calvinist doctrine (Perseverance of the Saints): For Calvinism - Michael Horton - Google Books

      And I just like to express that I have an issue using the word Synergism in describing cooperation which is a result of the monergistic works of God. Perhaps you can clarify better, David Lee, as to why the use of Synergism when describing The ending doctrine of the TULIP, P. of the Saints, a doctrine that emphasizes the Grace of God to the end. One of the concerns I have is that Synergism leaves the impression that Grace is not irresistible when it pertains to the Regenerate. While I acknowledge that Perseverance of the Saints is conditional, that is, it relies on Perseverance on behalf of the Saints whose “eternal security” is contingent on sanctification and on faith. Our choices are always based on our desires and our desires are the direct result of who we are by nature. Regarding our sanctification God gets all the glory since it was He who implanted the new desires when He gave us spiritual birth.

      ... Good works are a condition of salvation. Of course, there’s a condition behind the condition. If “eternal security” is conditional on perseverance, then perseverance is conditional on God’s preservation of the elect. And that’s a sure thing. - Alpha Omega Ministry
      I think, by using Synergism to describe Perseverance, the resulting wagon is thrown before the horse which is working monergistically in salvation! I think this analogy really describes us Calvinist, we do not want to take credit for the work of the horse, but then again we do not want to be perceived as being totally passive (we hold fast to the cart just as we do to the faith). Wouldn't it be better to suggest that "What God works "in" (monergistically), we work "out" as in Philippians ""work out" your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure". I still do not see how this verse is synergistic since it is God that works in us, "both to will, and to work for his good pleasure". That is, if the desire and will to work for his good pleasure runs back to reemphasize the monergistic work not only initially but throughout our salvation to the end?

      Perhaps you can alleviate some of the concerns I have by elaborating?

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

        #4
        Hi William, perhaps I misunderstood what Diego was after in the OP, as my post was not concerned with perseverance specifically, or TULIP in general. The only point I intended to make was that Calvinists are wholly monergistic where justification is concerned, but that we do see a synergism as we work out the salvation we already possess in fear and trembling with God, while He continues His mighty work in us.

        If I am still misunderstanding the OP's intent (or anything else), please let me know.

        Thanks :)

        Yours in Christ,
        David
        Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

        "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

        "Instead of a river, God often gives us a brook, which may be running today and dried up tomorrow. Why? To teach us not to rest in our blessings, but in the Blesser Himself." ~A. W. Pink

        "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

        "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by David Lee View Post
          Hi William, perhaps I misunderstood what Diego was after in the OP, as my post was not concerned with perseverance specifically, or TULIP in general. The only point I intended to make was that Calvinists are wholly monergistic where justification is concerned, but that we do see a synergism as we work out the salvation we already possess in fear and trembling with God, while He continues His mighty work in us.

          If I am still misunderstanding the OP's intent (or anything else), please let me know.

          Thanks :)

          Yours in Christ,
          David
          My question is whether "cooperation" or secondary causes can be attributed to our salvation, which I would define as true Synergism. Possibly that's where some of my confusion is coming from, the use of cooperation in a synonymous form with all the implications of full blown synergism. My personal view on whether Sanctification is monergism or synergism more closely aligns with Calvin and Herman Bavinck.

          Now you have me doubting as to whether I understood not only Diego but your post :). I first read of another Calvinist, Sproul, that said our Sanctification is synergistic, which I continue to take issue with:

          John Calvin (1509-64)

          Commenting on 2 Peter 1:5 (“make every effort to add to your faith…”), Calvin says:
          As it is an arduous work and of immense labour, to put off the corruption which is in us, he bids us to strive and make every effort for this purpose. He intimates that no place is to be given in this case to sloth, and that we ought to obey God calling us, not slowly or carelessly, but that there is need of alacrity; as though he had said, “Put forth every effort, and make your exertions manifest to all".

          For Calvin, growing in godliness is hard work. There is no place for sloth. We must exert ourselves to obedience with speed and diligence. The believer is anything but passive in sanctification. But later, while commenting on the same verse, Calvin also warns against “the delirious notion” that we make the movements of God in us efficacious, as if God’s work could not be done unless we allowed him to do it. On the contrary, “right feelings are formed in us by God, and are rendered by him effectual.” In fact, “all our progress and perseverance are from God.” Wisdom, love, patience—these are all “gifts of God and the Spirit.” So when Peter tells us to make every effort, “he by no means asserts that [these virtues] are in our power, but only shows what we ought to have, and what ought to be done.”

          Francis Turretin (1623-87)

          Turretin employs sanctification as a theological term “used strictly for a real and internal renovation of man.” In this renovation, we are both recipients of God’s grace and active performers of it. “[Sanctification] follows justification and is begun here in this life by regeneration and promoted by the exercise of holiness and of good works, until it shall be consummated in the other by glory. In this sense, it is now taken passively, inasmuch as it is wrought by God in us; then actively, inasmuch as it ought to be done by us, God performing this work in us and by us” (Institutes of Elenctic Theology 2.17.1).

          When it comes to the grace of God in regeneration, Turretin is opposed to “all Synergists.” He has in mind Socinians, Remonstrants, Pelagians, Semipelagians, and especially Roman Catholics, who anathematized “anyone [who] says that the free will of man moved and excited by God cooperates not at all” in effectual calling (Council of Trent). Turretin is happy to be just the sort of monergist Trent denounces. But then he adds this clarification about synergism:
          The question does not concern the second stage of conversion in which it is certain that man is not merely passive, but cooperates with God (or rather operates under him). Indeed he actually believes and converts himself to God; moves himself to the exercise of new life. Rather the question concerns the first moment when he is converted and receives new life in regeneration. We contend that he is merely passive in this, as a receiving subject and not as an active principle. (2.15.5)

          Given this caveat, it’s hard to think Turretin would have been comfortable saying sanctification is monergistic, though he certainly believed holiness is wrought in the believer by God.

          Wilhelmus A Brakel (1635-1711)

          Like Turretin and Calvin, A Brakel makes clear that sanctification is a work of God. “God alone is its cause,” he writes. “As little as man can contribute to his regeneration, faith, and justification, so little can he contribute to his sanctification” (The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 3.4). This may sound like we are completely passive in holiness, but that’s not what A Brakel means.
          Believers hate sin, love God, and are obedient, and do good works. However, they do this neither on their own nor independently from God; rather, the Holy Spirit, having infused life in them at regeneration, maintains that life by His continual influence, stirs it up, activates it, and causes it to function in harmony with its spiritual nature. (3.4)

          We contribute nothing to sanctification in that growth in godliness is a gift from God. And yet, we must be active in the exercise of this gift. A Brakel even goes so far as to say, “Man, being thus moved by the influence of God’s Spirit, moves, sanctifies himself, engages in that activity which his new nature desires and is inclined toward, and does that which he knows to be his duty” (3.4, emphasis added). That’s why A Brakel later exhorts his readers to “make an earnest effort to purify yourself from all the pollutions of the flesh and of the mind, perfecting yours sanctification in the fear of God. Permit me to stir you up to this holy work; incline your ear and permit these exhortations addressed to you to enter your heart” (3.24). So in one sense (on the level of ultimate causation and origin) we contribute nothing to sanctification and in another sense (on the level of activity and effort) we sanctify ourselves.

          Charles Hodge (1797-1878)

          We find these same themes–sanctification as gift and sanctification as active cooperation–in the great systematician from Princeton. Hodge stresses that sanctification is “supernatural” in that holy virtues in the life of a believer cannot “be produced by the power of the will, or by all the resources of man, however protracted or skillful in their application. They are the gifts of God, the fruits of the Spirit” (Systematic Theology, 3.215).

          And yet, Hodge is quick to add that this supernatural work of sanctification does not exclude “the cooperation of second causes.” He explains:
          When Christ opened the eyes of the blind no second cause interposed between his volition and the effect. But men work out their own salvation, while it is God who worketh in them to will and to do, according to his own good pleasure. In the work of regeneration, the soul is passive. It cannot cooperate in the communication of spiritual life. But in conversion, repentance, faith, and growth in grace, all its powers are called into exercise. As, however, the effects produced transcend the efficiency of our fallen nature, and are due to the agency of the Spirit, sanctification does not cease to be supernatural, or a work of grace, because the soul is active and cooperating in the process. (3.215).

          There are several important ideas in Hodge’s summary. First, he affirms that sanctification is a work of supernatural grace. It is not something that comes from us or could be accomplished by us. Second, he suggests that the soul is passive (monergism) in regeneration, but not in the rest of our spiritual life (note: by “conversion” he means our turning to Christ not the new birth). Third, he does not hesitate to use the language of cooperation. We are active in the sanctifying process with Christ as he works in us.

          Herman Bavinck (1854-1921)

          More than Hodge, and more like Calvin, Bavinck emphasizes the “in Christ” nature of sanctification. He wants us to see that we are not “sanctified by a holiness we bring out ourselves.” Rather, evangelical sanctification “consists in the reality that in Christ God grants us, along with righteousness, also complete holiness, and does not just impute it but also inwardly imparts it by the regenerating and renewing work of the Holy Spirit until we have been fully conformed to the image of his Son” (Reformed Dogmatics, 4.248). Bavinck goes on to say that Rome’s doctrine of “‘infused righteousness’ is not incorrect as such.” Believers “do indeed obtain the righteousness of Christ by infusion.” The problem is that Rome makes this infused righteousness that ground for forgiveness. We are given the gift of righteousness (by which Christ “comes to dwell in us by his Spirit and renews us after his image”), but only as we are also declared righteous by the gift of an imputed righteousness (4.249).

          Sanctification, for Bavinck, is first of all what God does in and for us. But that’s not all we must say about sanctification.
          Granted, in the first place [sanctification] is a work and gift of God (Phil. 1:5; 1 Thess. 5:23), a process in which humans are passive just as they are in regeneration, of which it is the continuation. But based on this work of God in humans, it acquires, in the second place, an active meaning, and people themselves are called and equipped to sanctify themselves and devote their whole life to God (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 12:14; and so forth). (4.253)

          While Bavinck may be more willing to stress the passive nature of sanctification rather than use the language of cooperation, in the end he hits the same themes we have seen in Calvin, Turretin, a Brakel, and Hodge. Bavinck sees no conflict “between this all-encompassing activity of God in grace and the self-agency of people maintained alongside of it” (4.254). He warns that Christians go off the rails when they sacrifice “one group of pronouncements to the other.” Sanctification is a gift from God, and we are active in it.

          Louis Berkhof (1873-1857)

          We see in Berkhof the same tendency to guard against any notions of self-helpism on the one hand and human inactivity on the other.
          [Sanctification] is a supernatural work of God. Some have the mistaken notion that sanctification consists merely in the drawing out of the new life, implanted in the soul by regeneration, in a persuasive way by presenting motives to the will. But this is not true. It consists fundamentally and primarily in a divine operation in the soul, whereby the holy disposition born in regeneration is strengthened and its holy exercises are increased. (Systematic Theology, 532).

          In other words, sanctification is essentially a work of God. But it is also “a work of God in which believers co-operate.”
          When it is said that man takes part in the work of sanctification, this does not mean that man is an independent agent in the work, so as to make it partly the work of God and partly the work of man; but merely, that God effects the work in part through the instrumentality of man as a rational being, by requiring of him prayerful and intelligent co-operation with the Spirit. (534)

          Source: Link
          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

            #6
            Hi William, I have to run to Bible Study, but I would like to continue our discussion as it is certainly one that has my interest. R.C. is the one who taught me, so I hold a similar position to his where sanctification is concerned.

            See you on the flip-side (Dv) :)

            --David
            Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

            "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

            "Instead of a river, God often gives us a brook, which may be running today and dried up tomorrow. Why? To teach us not to rest in our blessings, but in the Blesser Himself." ~A. W. Pink

            "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

            "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
            Comment>

              #7
              Originally posted by David Lee View Post
              Hi William, I have to run to Bible Study, but I would like to continue our discussion as it is certainly one that has my interest. R.C. is the one who taught me, so I hold a similar position to his where sanctification is concerned.

              See you on the flip-side (Dv) :)

              --David
              That explains it! Thanks brother, it is good to understand your position and I look forward to your comments.

              Enjoy your bible study!

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

                #8
                Originally posted by Diego View Post
                So, where does this leave us? Well, obviously we all must decide for ourselves. But, it might make for an interesting topic of discussion. Thoughts, anyone?
                Diego, how do you understand synergism for the sake of dialogue? From my own understanding any cooperation in synergism is two ways, both God cooperates and man cooperates. In other words, if man initiates or invokes the name of God, God responds, thus man could be credited with his salvation. In the monergistic work of God, it is Him alone that conditions our hearts (regeneration), in this fertile soil, "Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the growth". I see man in God's works as co-laborers, merely the ordinary means or instruments God uses to call men to Himself by the great commission.

                STRONGS NT 4904: συνεργός

                συνεργός, συνεργόν (σύν and ἘΡΓΩ) (from Pindar), Euripides, Thucydides down, a companion in work, fellow-worker (Vulg.adjutor (Philippians 2:25; 3 John 1:8 co-operator)): in the N. T. with a genitive of the person, one who labors with another in furthering the cause of Christ, Romans 16:3, 9, 21; Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:3; (1 Thessalonians 3:2 Rec.); Philemon 1:1, 24; Θεοῦ, one whom God employs as an assistant, as it were (a fellow-worker with God), 1 Thessalonians 3:2 (G L text WH marginal reading but with τοῦ Θεοῦ in brackets; Rec. et al. διάκονον, which see 1). plural: 1 Corinthians 3:9; with the genitive of the thing (a joint-promoter (A. V. helper)), συνεργοί ἐσμεν τῆς χαρᾶς, we labor with you to the end that we may rejoice in your Christian state, 2 Corinthians 1:24. εἰς ὑμᾶς (my) fellow-worker to you-ward, in reference to you, 2 Corinthians 8:23; εἰς τήν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, for the advancement of the kingdom of God, Colossians 4:11; τῇ ἀλήθεια, for (the benefit of) the truth (others render (so R. V.) 'with the truth'; see Westcott at the passage), 3 John 1:8. (2 Macc. 8:7 2Macc. 14:5.)
                Obviously, we must decide for ourselves, but as Calvin warns, “the delirious notion” that we make the movements of God in us efficacious, as if God’s work could not be done unless we allowed him to do it. On the contrary, “right feelings are formed in us by God, and are rendered by him effectual.” In fact, “all our progress and perseverance are from God.”

                Seems to me that Calvin believed Sanctification is monergism and rejected the two-way street of synergism. Calvin's interpretation seemingly fits when understanding that "God gave the growth", that is, he was stating that "all our progress and perseverance are from God".

                Now, what I am asking is whether the use of "synergoi" has all the "theological" implications of today's synergism? Perhaps even Origen would like to chime in?

                If you wish to share your position, any insights or thoughts, they most certainly are welcome?

                God bless,
                William
                Comment>

                  #9
                  Thank you, William, for asking the question. At present, I am still working on a response. But, I do believe this much so far (and mind you, these views are subject to change as my knowledge increases):

                  I am struggling with the issue of Free Will v. the over-arching sovereignty of God. What part do WE play in Salvation? "Knock and the door shall be opened unto you, seek and ye shall find."

                  I like the argument above that states that we co-operate with God, but I admit to being a bit disturbed by the idea that God has to call US first. That implies that God plays favourites among his children, and that he deliberately created some humans with full intention of having them roast in Hell, with not even a chance of anything else. NOT COOL, in my mind.

                  It seems to me that God calls us ALL to him. We have to be free to accept or reject that. In my own personal experience, after 42 years on this Earth, and study of every major religion in existence, I had my own "come to Jesus moment", in the most literal sense of the concept.

                  I went to a Lutheran Church, and was minding my business, being the polite guest. I was sitting in the pew next to my wife and niece after Divine Service, when with no warning, Jesus literally came to me, reached out his hand from the Cross, and spoke to me. "You are a sinner. You deserve death and eternal examination in Hell. But take my hand, Sinner, and be saved."

                  Well, I am not the kind of guy that is graced with visions every day! I thought I was cracking up. So, as if to make sure I understood the reality of what had just happened, just a moment later, perhaps a few seconds, perhaps two minutes (I don't know, time had lost meaning), it happened again, the same Vision. Well, I WAS NOT going to argue with God when he was being THAT in my face! I went to the Pastor, introduced myself the second time, and asked when I could start conversion classes. The date was 29 May 2016, my 42nd birthday. I was confirmed into the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod on 21 August 2016.

                  My point in telling that story was to indicate that I suppose I could have refused Jesus. I'd have been a fool, but I suppose I COULD have. Is any of this making sense? Thoughts?
                  Comment>

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Diego View Post
                    My point in telling that story was to indicate that I suppose I could have refused Jesus. I'd have been a fool, but I suppose I COULD have.Is any of this making sense? Thoughts?
                    Makes sense, but lemme ask you brother, when you say that it would show favoritism: "That implies that God plays favourites among his children, and that he deliberately created some humans with full intention of having them roast in Hell, with not even a chance of anything else. NOT COOL, in my mind".

                    Exactly who are the children of God, and who have the right to be called so? Seemingly, you're not distinguishing between all men that are created by God, and only those who are called and adopted?

                    Does this not show that God does indeed favor?

                    On the meaning of foreknew in Romans 8:28-30: For example in Amos 3:2, God, speaking to Israel says,“You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” The Lord knows about all the families of the earth, but He knew Israel in a special way.* They were His chosen people whom He had set His heart upon. See Deuteronomy 7:7,8; 10:15. Because Israel was His in a special sense He chastised them, cf. Hebrews 12:5,6.*God, speaking to Jeremiah, said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” (Jeremiah 1:5). The meaning here is not that God knew about Jeremiah but that He had a special regard for the prophet before He formed him in his mother’s womb. Jesus also used the word “knew” in the sense of personal, intimate awareness. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers’ “ (Matt. 7:22,23). Our Lord cannot be understood here as saying, I knew nothing about you, for it is quite evident that He knew all too much about them – their evil character and evil works; hence, His meaning must be, I never knew you intimately nor personally, I never regarded you as the objects of my favor or love. Paul uses the word in the same way in I Corinthians 8:3, “But if one loves God, one is known by him,” and also II Timothy 2:19, “the Lord knows those who are His.” The Lord knows about all men but He only knows those “who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28) – those who are His!
                    Nice to understand your view, Diego! Looking forward to more dialogue.

                    God bless,
                    William
                    Comment>

                      #11
                      Hm. You do have an interesting point there. I shall have to do some investigation of the matter further. I am in the process of reading the Lutheran Confessions. I see what they have to say as well.
                      Comment>

                        #12
                        Originally posted by William View Post
                        Now, what I am asking is whether the use of "synergoi" has all the "theological" implications of today's synergism? Perhaps even Origen would like to chime in?

                        If you wish to share your position, any insights or thoughts, they most certainly are welcome?
                        Who me? What did I do? lol

                        Comment>
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