Bible Logic Fallacies of Synergists
by Roger Smalling
The following numbered items are common assumptions made by synergists in rejecting the bondage of the will and God's sovereign grace in salvation.
Fallacy #1. God would not command us to do what we cannot do.
God gave the Law to Moses, The Ten Commandments, to reveal what man cannot do, not what he can do.
A. Premise #1 is unscriptural. God gave the Law for two reasons: To expose sin and to increase it so man would have no excuse for declaring his own righteousness. Why? Because in the context, he does NO righteousness. As Martin Luther said to Erasmus, when you are finished with all your commands and exhortations from the Old Testament, I'll write Ro.3:20 over the top of it all. Why use commands and exhortations from the O.T. to show free will when they were given to prove man's sinfulness? They exist to show what we cannot do rather than what we can do. Yes, God gave commands to man which man cannot do. Therefore commandments and exhortations do not prove free will. Nowhere in scripture is there any hint that God gives commands to natural men to prove they are able to perform them.
[Here is the passage Luther quoted to Erasmus to show that law's purpose is to expose our bondage to sin, not show our moral ability to keep it: "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Rom 3:19, 20]
B. This premise is irrational. There may be many reasons for commanding someone to do something, other than the assumption that the can do it. The purpose, as above, may be to show the person his inability to perform the command. Thus, NOTHING can be deduced about abilities from a mere command. Passages which state things such as "If thou art willing" and "whosoever believes" are spoken in the subjunctive (hypothetical) mood. A grammarian would explain that this is a conditional statement that asserts nothing indicatively. In such passages, what we "ought" to do does not necessarily imply what we "can" do.
C. The consequences of Adam's disobedience on his descendants includes spiritual impotence in several areas: man's inability to understand God (Psalm 50:21; Job 11:7-8; Rom 3:11); to see spiritual things (John 3:3); to know his own heart (Jer 17:9); to direct his own steps in the path of life (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12); to free himself from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:10); to receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:17); to hear, understand or receive the words of God (John 8:47; 1 Corinthians 2:14); to give himself birth into God's family (John 1:13, Romans 9:15-16); to produce repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 6:64,65; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:25); to come to Christ (John 10:26; John 6:44); and to please God (Romans 8:5, 8, 9).
Fallacy #2. Unless our will is free, then we are not responsible.
Or, "If not free, then not responsible." This means if we are unable to make a contrary choice, then our wills are not free. Thus, if we are completely bound in sin so that we can do nothing else but sin, then we are free from responsibility for those sins. This is irrational because the assumption behind this is the idea of neutrality.
A. The Bible does not present the concept of freedom in this way. According to Scripture, freedom is described as holiness. The ultimate freedom is absolute holiness. If that is true, then God is the most free being in the universe. Otherwise, we must say that God is the most enslaved being in the universe because He is the one least neutral on moral issues. Plus, God is not free in the libertarian sense to do something contrary His own nature. For example God cannot lie or be unholy or He would violate his own essence and thus no longer be God (an impossible supposition). but He is free in the Biblical sense...free from sin and the bondage of corruption ... as will be the saints in heaven when glorified on the last day. That they cannot choose otherwise [to sin] when glorified does not hinder their freedom, according to the Bible, who speaks of these persons as being the MOST free.
B. Likewise, if we affirm that bondage of will eliminates responsibility, then the best way to avoid responsibility for ours sins to be as bound by them as possible. The drunk who is bound by alcoholism is therefore not responsible for his actions. Should we encourage people to sin all the more therefore, so that they are not responsible any more?
C. The entire idea of neutrality of will is absurd. If the decisions of the will are not determined by the internal nature of the person, then in what sense can it be said that those decisions are the results of a decision of the person himself? How in fact could be a decision be truly a moral one if it is morally neutral? How can morality be morality at all and be neutral?
Fallacy #3. For love to be real, it must have the possibility of being rejected.
God wants us to love him freely, not by compulsion. Therefore, fallen man must have the ability to love God. It is simply that he chooses to love other things.
A. Scripture teaches that love for God is a product of His grace. 1Ti.1:14. If grace is necessary to make us love God, then it follows that we had no ability to love him before the arrival of grace. It also means that grace is not given because we chose to love God. We chose to love God because grace is given. Grace, not a virtue in man, takes the initiative.
B. This premise is similar to the one that says, "Contrary choice is necessary for freedom to exist." Does God periodically give the saints in heaven an opportunity to hate him so as to be "fair"? Did Jesus have some ability to hate the Father? Or was His love for the Father a reflection of what He himself really is?
C. If faith is a gift of grace, as we saw above, then why is it strange to think that love may not be also a gift of grace?
Fallacy #4. A person cannot be punished for what he cannot help doing.
If that is the case, then a Christian may not be rewarded for what his new nature compels him to do. Let us not forget that the nature of a person is not a thing he possesses. It is something he is.