In discussing sovereignty from the Reformed perspective with those unfamiliar with it, many have never encountered the arguments contained within, and as a result, can sometimes hear things not being said. For instance, when we say God “ordains whatsoever comes to pass,” this is not doing away with secondary causes and forces at work that bring about an ordained end, such as the free agency (will) of the creature. As the Westminster Confession makes abundantly clear, that God “ordains whatsoever comes to pass,” underlies and enforces those very secondary choices or events.
Progressive secularists know in their heart that God exists (Rom 1:21). Every time they moralize about racism, slavery, torture and corporate corruption they presuppose His existence. For if there is no ultimate justice then all of their moralizing would unintelligible because they have no point of reference… no objective standard to which they can appeal to in order to reveal how they know their morality has any basis. If they were consistent, it would mean that genocide was no different than a day with the family at Disneyland. We must gracefully but repeatedly take the time to ask them how they KNOW their view is true and what basis they have for declaring Christianity perverted and immoral.
– John Hendryx, Founder, Monergism.com
If you are a Premillennialist (whether Dispensationalist or not), there are several things you must necessarily believe:
- You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.
- You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the fall of man.
- You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.
- You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.
- You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.
- You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.
Amillennialists don’t see these beliefs being taught in Scripture.
From Monergism.com’s eschatology page on Premillennialism: http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Eschatology/Millennial-Views/Dispensational-Premillennialism/
“Many today build a theology around the idea which assumes that God’s commands to us in the Bible somehow imply our moral ability to keep them … but we soon forget that Romans 3:20 declares that ‘…through the law comes knowledge of sin.’ In other words, the commands exist to reveal our moral inability, not our ability. This inability also includes God’s command of all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, an impossible act of natural will apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit uniting us to Christ. Only the quicking grace of Jesus Christ applied by the Spirit can turn our heart of stone to flesh and illumine the Text in such a way (to open blind eyes and deaf ears) wherein we and able to see Christ’s beauty and excellency. Those who are unregenerate cannot see Christ’s excellency and thus have no capacity to love what is spiritual and so are not partly but wholly dependent on God to translate them from darkness to light. This means that man’s affections are in complete bondage to sin until Christ sets them free … and if the will is in bondage, it is not free. It chooses, not by coersion but by necessity to sin.”
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:44
When sticking with this one verse (Jesus’ own statement) you cannot escape the conclusion: No one comes to Jesus, believes in Jesus, cares anything about Jesus, unless the Father who sent Jesus draws that person to Him, and the one who comes to Christ in faith will be raised on the last day. Which comes first, the giving of the person by the Father to Jesus, or the person coming to Jesus? This verse is clear. The Father does something that has an effect. Regeneration (the new birth) precedes and gives rise to faith, monergism. Bryson attempts to reconcile his free-will theology with what is plainly stated in this verse.
Even though I could go through and give arguments for each of the five points, I believe this is much more helpful. This debate cuts directly through to the core of the matter. Many believers who know and love Christ disagree on Calvinism and its tenets, but the heart of the debate can be summed up in the debate between the theological system of monergism and synergism and nothing more. Though these may seem like high and lofty words, used merely by scholars to define doctrinal systems, just bear with me for a moment because these concepts are not difficult at all: synergism is essentially the idea that “faith arises out of an inherent capacity of the natural man,” (Hendryx) or in other terms, that faith is produced by our unregenerated (i.e. sin bound) human nature, that man cooperates with God in salvation and more specifically in regeneration; and monergism is the idea that God alone does the work in salvation, having provided everything necessary to save His people, and that our faith in Christ is simply the result of a newly regenerated heart. Or simply put in a question format, does man cooperate with God in salvation, or is it God’s work alone? When two people hear the Gospel, why does one person believe while another doesn’t? Your answer to these questions reveals your system of doctrines on the nature of God, man, sin, election, regeneration, faith, justification, sanctification, as well as many other doctrines. And though many think these two opposing concepts to be mere hair-splitting over theological differences, these really do have larger ramifications in the areas of personal sanctification, evangelism, prayer, ministry philosophy, teaching/preaching, and many other areas. This is indeed a very important debate and much is at stake for the Gospel and ultimately God’s glory. And the main question we must answer is, what does the Word of God teach concerning these things?
Here I’ve listed what I feel are some very important articles addressing this subject with substantial Scripture references, and I ask you to take some time and read them, study the Scriptures mentioned, and determine it for yourself. I really do believe (speaking from experience of course) that once you understand and see that monergism is the more Biblical of the two positions, you will be drawn deeper into worship of the Almighty God, and stand in awe at your own unworthiness and His great might, power, and mercy to save His people from the consequences of sin and reconcile them to Himself (the latter being the greatest of all the blessings of salvation).
Two Views of Regeneration (A Very Helpful Chart)
Monergism vs. Synergism – John Hendryx
The Work of the Trinity in Monergism – John Hendryx
Monergism – Synergism Debate – Hendryx vs. Moser
Responding to Critics of Monergism – Hendryx
Regeneration Precedes Faith – R.C. Sproul
Just wanted to give everyone a brief introduction to Monergism.com. The breadth of material on this site is astounding, on almost every conceivable theological topic imaginable. Monergism, in its basic form, is about the Gospel; the Biblical, truthful Gospel. It’s about self-deprecation, God-exaltation; it simply describes the very Biblical truth that in our sinfulness, we cannot and will not understand the things of God, His way of salvation in Jesus Christ, or that we are even in need, apart from Him coming and removing our heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. Monergism is all about the fact that it is God alone who regenerates us, we don’t participate in the regeneration of our hearts. To say that we in any way cooperate with God concerning our salvation is to not understand human nature from a properly interpretted Biblical point of view. It is true that God does not believe for us, we exercise our own faith and truly believe on Christ of our own volition, but that volition is dead in sin until God creates in us something that was not there. The only reason anyone is saved at all is because of God applying the work of redemption on those He’s chosen, the work of redemption bought by Jesus Christ on the cross, paid for in His blood. Monergism is an admittance to how unbelievably wicked we are, how we will never turn to Christ apart from His regeneration to give us eyes to see and ears to hear, and how infinitely loving and merciful God is to save anyone at all. This concept can be found in many parts of Scripture, but somehow seems to go overlooked by many pastors and teachers these days. It’s comfortable in our humanness to believe things about God that make us feel warm and fuzzy, but it seems that as soon as you give people a taste of what it’s like to not be sovereign, to be a true subordinate on the eternal level, that’s when people seem to throw up all of their offenses against God, that He is free and can do whatever He pleases. It is in my opinion that this concept unlike any other concept really tests where your faith is. In my experience, most people (not all though) that struggle with this are also in some way struggling in their faith to some degree or another. This is not to say that every person who disagrees with this very Biblical concept is floundering in their faith, but it is to say that the people I have personally dealt with on this issue of God’s election, application of the atonement, etc., almost every one of them were struggling with their faith at some level. So basically, the theme of the Scrpitures is one of Monergism, that God does it all, that we are “dead in our sins” prior to faith, the faith that God gives us on His own agenda. This website is one of my favorite sites, I always learn something new, and it challenges me to always be loving Christ with all my heart in my time spent with Him personally, to love Him with all my mind in pursuing the knowledge of Christ through Biblical theological understanding, and to love Him with all my strength by putting hands and feet to my actions, behavior, and in every other way, to gloryify Christ because He is my lovely Savior.
I cannot stress the importance of understanding what is at stake here in this debate. Many believers set this debate aside as a “non-issue” or that we’re just arguing over theological semantics that have no real significance in the believers life. What is at stake is a correct and truthful understanding of 1) man, 2) God, and 3) how a person is saved, which inevitably affects your Gospel presentation.
What you believe concerning these things has ramifications in your life all across the board in regard to your dictation of the Gospel to unbelievers, what you believe about God, and how you live out what you believe in your life, just to name a few. It has to do with coming to a true, scriptural understanding of our nature as humans being so exceedingly corrupt and God’s unsurpassable holiness, justice, love, mercy, grace, perfection, sovereignty, and righteousness.