A Prayer That a Synergist Won't Pray
(An Open Challenge to All Synergists)
by John Hendryx
Here is a prayer that would be consistent with the synergist's theology if he really believed that faith is a product of our unregenerated human nature and not the result of grace alone:
"God, I give you glory for everything else, but not my faith ... This is the one thing that is my very own that I produced of my fallen natural capacities. For this little bit the glory is mine. So I thank you Lord that I am not like other men who do not have faith. When you extended your grace to all men some did not make use of it, BUT I DID.While You deserve glory for all I have Lord, my faith was the one part that I contributed to the price of my redemption, apart from and independent of the effectual work of Your Holy Spirit."
As a quick reminder of terms:
Monergism is the biblical doctrine that regeneration (the new birth) both precedes and elicits faith in Christ in those whom the Holy Spirit sovereignly determines to dispense His grace upon (John 1:13; 6:63-65; Acts 16:14b; 1 John 5:1). When preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, the gospel has the power to open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears. Those dead in sin, therefore, play no part in their own new birth and are just as passive as a new born physical baby in the regenerative act. Thus, man does not cooperate in his regeneration but rather, infallibly responds in faith as the Holy Spirit changes our hearts' disposition. Faith is not something produced by our unregenerated human nature. The fallen sinner has no moral ability or inclination to believe prior to the new birth. Instead, the Holy Spirit must open one's ears to the preaching of the gospel if one would hear. While there is no temporal sequence, regeneration gives rise to all other aspects of our salvation. They all happen simultaneously like the turning on of the light, which is the cause of faith, justification, sanctification, new affections, and the like.
Synergism (or synergistic regeneration) is the erroneous doctrine which believes that faith precedes and gives rise to regeneration. Man cooperates with God in regeneration. Faith is produced by our unregenerated human nature. The fallen sinner has the ability and potential inclination to believe even prior to the new birth. While synergism believes grace plays a role in salvation yet he does not believe salvation is by grace alone - instead it is grace plus our response which makes us to be born again.
Synergists believe the theology that all unsaved persons receive an equal amount of "grace" before God. Those who cooperate with this grace are saved and those who don't are lost. So my question is why does one man cooperate and not another? This makes salvation entirely depend on what we independently do with that information by drawing on some principle (moral ability) within us that our neighbor, who does not cooperate, does not naturally have. The synergist belief is that God only takes us all to a certain half-way point by grace, but then leaves the final decision of whether to believe entirely in the hands of autonomous, natural man. One man responds positively and another negatively. Why is the question? Synergists often tell me that while grace plays a role in salvation, yet the Holy Spirit and grace have nothing to do with their ability to come to faith in Christ, since the gospel is only an offer that carries no power in itself. In other words, They believe their independent faith cooperates with grace while someone else was not able to. Again why? This means, that in the synergists belief system, the Holy Spirit has not enabled people in any way to have saving faith, over my neighbor, since this decision is totally independent of God's action of grace. The result is that natural man must draw upon something within his unaided natural self to determine his/her salvation. This means that one man naturally had this capacity (to receive Christ) while another (who rejected Christ) did not. But our salvation does not depend on the humility or obedience of man since it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble. God is not responding to some virtue He sees in us, but saves us because of His mercy alone.
While prayer recited above is indeed a caricature that no synergist would dare pray, but is what a synergist would pray if he were consistent in his theology. But instead of giving in yourself for you faith ...give glory to God for all that you have.
"Who has ever given to God,
...........that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
........To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Rom 11:35-36)
For "What do you have that you did not receive?" ...Believe the Scriptures when they say, "no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3)... Won't you, then, also glorify God for the Holy Spirit who works faith in you as well?
Of course the prayer will be rejected by the synergist, but you must ask him how it actually conflicts with his theology. I believe that it accurately reflects this erroneous belief system. So below I am offering a challenge to anyone, therefore, to show me where I am off target.
If anyone thinks I am setting up a straw man here, please read and respond to the following challenge:
I often post full debates on these topics at monergism with both sides answers full showing. If you feel I have set up a straw man in my portrayal of your theology you should be able to answer a few easy questions on what it takes to receive Christ. If you can answer these questions and show that you still believe in salvation by grace alone, apart from any merit (or sheer chance) then I shall admit defeat. ("I don't know" doesn't count) Here are the questions:
Responses will be listed below...
Response #3 The Strawman's Prayer - To get a deeper understanding of this issue take the time to read through this extensive debate on the topic. READ THIS!
Response #4 Hendryx Responds to Synergist J.C. Thibodaux debate between John Hendryx (monergist) & J.C. Thibodaux (synergist)
Covers Determinism Vs Libertarian Free Will; Monergism Vs. Synergism; Prevenient Grace. October 2008
Why Do We Pray For Others' Salvation? a short conversation with a synergist
Monergism Vs. Synergism comparing the systems
Does One Person Choose God and Not Another? Synergistic Visitor & John