Three More Great Articles For You to Check Out

Below are the blurbs and links from SEA,

This article is posted with permission from the publisher, the scholarly journal Bibliotheca Sacra. Please click on the attachment to view Robert B. Chisholm Jr., “ANATOMY OF AN ANTHROPOMORPHISM: DOES GOD DISCOVER FACTS?” Bibliotheca Sacra 164 (January-March 2007) 3-20.

This article reconciles God’s foreknowledge with some of the most difficult texts in the Old Tesament that can be taken to imply that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge. Classically, Arminianism holds to God’s exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, a doctrine included in SEA’s statement of faith (see http://evangelicalarminians.org/sof) and to which SEA members must adhere. At the same time, Chisholm shows that these texts at least show that God’s knowledge is (sometimes) contingent on what people do. Though he does not draw the implications out for the Arminian/Calvinist debate, his conclusions support the Arminian view of God’s knowledge (and hence also his foreknowledge) of free human acts as contingent on those acts rather than on divine unconditional decree.

“ANATOMY OF AN ANTHROPOMORPHISM: DOES GOD DISCOVER FACTS?”

This article is posted with permission from the publisher, the scholarly journal Bibliotheca Sacra. Please click on the attachment to view René A. López, “IS FAITH A GIFT FROM GOD OR A HUMAN EXERCISE?” Bibliotheca Sacra 164 (July–September 2007) 259–76.

“IS FAITH A GIFT FROM GOD OR A HUMAN EXERCISE?”

Does Arminianism Diminish God’s Glory? One charge often heard against Arminianism is that by allowing for human agency to play a significant role in the process of salvation, Arminians decrease the scope of God’s agency and thus diminish the glory that is rightly due him.  Warfield, for example, urged that “men owe in each and every case their actual salvation, and not merely their general opportunity to be saved, to [God].  And therefore, to him and to him alone belongs in each instance all the glory, which none can share with him.”  (Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, n.d., p. 23, emphasis added). This argument by Calvinists has strong emotional overtones, and tends to be effective in silencing would-be objectors, given that no truly humble believer wishes to be seen as diminishing the glory of God.

Does Arminianism Diminish God’s Glory?

The Arminian and Calvinist Ordo Salutis: A Brief Comparative Study

The ordo salutis is the “order of salvation.”  It focuses on the process of salvation and the logical order of that process.  The main difference between the Arminian and Calvinist ordo concerns faith and regeneration.  Strictly speaking, faith is not part of salvation in the Arminian ordo since it is the condition that is met prior to God’s act of saving.  All that follows faith is salvation in the Arminian ordo while in the Calvinist ordo faith is the result of salvation in some sense.  What follows is how I see the Arminian ordo compared to the Calvinist ordo along with why I find the Calvinist ordo theologically problematic.

Arminian ordo salutis:

Prevenient grace

Faith

[Union with Christ]

Justification

Regeneration

Sanctification

Glorification

Notes on Arminian ordo:

Again, it is important to note that strictly speaking prevenient grace and faith are not part of salvation but are necessary to salvation.  Prevenient grace makes the faith response possible and faith is the God ordained condition that must be met before God will save.  Faith is synergistic in that it is a genuine response that is made possible by God’s enabling grace.  All that follows (the various aspects of salvation) are a monergistic work of God.  While salvation results from faith, faith does not cause salvation.  God causes salvation in response to faith according to His promise to save believers.

There are other aspects or expressions of salvation that are not explicitly included in the above ordo.  Adoption, for instance, would probably be included under both regeneration and glorification.  Regeneration would include the commencement of adoption while glorification would include the culmination of adoption.  Election would be tied to union with Christ.  We would become the elect of God upon our union with Christ (the elect One) as we would come to share in His election through union and identification with Him.  Faith joins us to Christ (Eph. 1:13) and all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Christ become the believer’s upon union with Him (Eph. 1:3-12).

Temporally, these blessings would become ours simultaneously, but logically it is important to place justification prior to regeneration and all that follows, since one must first receive forgiveness and have sin removed prior to the reception of new life and the attaining of holiness (sanctification).  One cannot have life while still under the condemnation of sin and the wrath of God for “the wages of sin is death”.  And one cannot be made holy apart from justification.  So the moment we are joined to Christ we are cleansed by His blood and new life and holiness immediately result from that cleansing.

Predestination would have reference to the predetermined destiny of believers through union with Christ.  Believers have been predestinated to ultimate adoption and conformity to the image of Christ (glorification).  Predestination does not have reference to God’s predetermination of certain sinners to become believers and be ultimately saved.

Calvinist ordo salutis:

Election/Predestination (unconditional)

Regeneration

Faith

Justification

Sanctification

Glorification

Notes on Calvinist ordo salutis:

The Calvinist ordo begins with an unconditional divine selection of certain individuals for salvation.  This divine selection of those to be saved would fall under election and predestination.  God would then regenerate those pre-selected individuals in time (usually upon the hearing of the gospel).  Regeneration would cause a faith response.  Most Calvinists would say that the faith response would be automatic and immediate.  The moment one is regenerated by God that person believes.  Calvinists tend to speak of faith as an unconditional and irresistible gift from God rather than the condition for receiving salvation.  It is part of the salvation package as it arises from a primary aspect of salvation- regeneration.  Calvinists will often say that faith is monergistic, but it is hard to see how faith could be monergistic unless God does the believing for the individual.  But most Calvinists deny that God believes for the person while maintaining that faith is an unconditional monergistic work of God along with every other aspect of salvation.

The difficulty with the Calvinist ordo has to do with the priority of regeneration (the new birth).  Logically, the new birth (regeneration- the beginning of spiritual life) precedes justification in the Calvinist ordo just as it precedes faith (and the Bible is clear that justification is by faith).  So logically speaking we have people receiving new life prior to justification.  Since justification includes forgiveness and the removal of God’s wrath, the Calvinist ordo results in the receiving of life logically prior to being forgiven and prior to the wrath of God being removed.

A further difficulty comes from trying to place adoption in the Calvinist ordo.  Do we place it at the new birth (regeneration)?  If we place it at the new birth then we also have the person becoming a child of God (which I think must be part of regeneration) logically prior to being forgiven and justified.

And still another difficulty comes from trying to place sanctification in the ordo.  I think most Calvinists would agree with where I have placed it here.  Yet I have heard (and read) many Calvinists claim that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification.  If that is the case then the Calvinist also needs to explain how one can be sanctified (made holy) prior to being justified.

It is also hard to place union with Christ in the Calvinist ordo.  When do we become united with Christ?  Do we become united to Christ in regeneration logically prior to a faith response?  This would lead to the conclusion that one can be in union with Christ logically prior to believing in Christ.  If union with Christ is placed after regeneration and faith in the ordo we run into the difficulty of sinners receiving new spiritual life logically prior to being joined to the source of life- Christ.

The Calvinist ordo has much to account for and seems to be hopelessly problematic.  In placing regeneration prior to faith the Calvinist ordo salutis involves itself in numerous theological absurdities while the Arminian ordo avoids them all.

Related posts:

 John Piper Tweets Out and Already Refuted Calvinist Argument on 1 John 5:1

Jesus Says the Dead Will Hear Unto Spiritual Life

What Can the Dead in Sin Do?

Dr. Brian Abasciano on the Conditionality Implied in Romans 9:16 and its Connection to John 1:12-13

Does Jesus Teach That Regeneration Precedes Faith in John 3:3, 6?

Is the New Heart of Ezekiel 36:26-27 a Reference to Regeneration Preceding Faith?

Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Sanctification by Works?

Examining Inconsistencies in Calvinistic Monergism Part 2: Sanctification

Parallel Passages on Regeneration

Synergism as a Model for God’s Glory

Examining A Rather Strange Proof Text For Irresistible Regeneration

Quick Questions for my Calvinist Friends

Paul Washer’s -“Doctrine” of Election: An Arminian Critique

“Saved by Grace”-Through Faith

Synergism as a Model for God’s Glory

Several common accusations we hear from Calvinists are that a Synergistic view of faith (as opposed to regeneration) ‘robs God of the glory.’ “It’s man-centered,” they say, “and gives man room to boast in saving himself!” But does such logic really stand up to scripture? Let’s take a look at another important aspect of salvation: sanctification.

Is Sanctification Synergistic?

One of the most effective arguments Ben and I have ever employed against the idea of exhaustive determinism (the belief that there is no real libertarian free will/contrary choice of any kind) comes from 1 Corinthians chapter 10,

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God is faithful, and with each temptation He makes a way of escape so that we can endure it rather than yield to it. Yet if we do fall into sin, and that sin was predetermined (as it must be in exhaustive determinism), then the only possible conclusion is that God allows us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure, contrary to the scriptures. We have yet to hear a tenable defense against it by any of the hard determinists we’ve spoken to. This and other passages on the subject haven’t escaped the notice of quite a few Calvinists. John Hendryx, one of the foremost defenders of Monergism declares,

I recall R.C. Sproul saying that the sanctification process is synergistic and it seems the Scriptures would also testify to this. Only regeneration is monergistic (solely the work of God). The Scripture itself testifies to a synergistic sanctification…

“work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Phil 2:12b,13.

This is a clear indication that there is a synergism taking place in our sanctification. (http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/questions/sanctification01.html)

But if sanctification is synergistic, then this raises the question….

Does Our Sanctification Glorify God?

Absolutely. In John 15, Jesus declares to His disciples,

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:8 )

This raises obvious difficulties for the standard Calvinist arguments against Synergistic faith: How does Synergistic faith somehow rob God of the glory, while Synergistic sanctification brings Him glory? Are we now to label sanctification as ‘man-centered?’ Why would Synergistic faith give us reason to boast in our salvation, but Synergistic sanctification not give us reason to boast in our holiness? Why is Synergistic faith not ‘of the the Lord,’ yet Synergistic sanctification obviously is? Suddenly, the arguments against Synergism don’t sound so clever, and the four-hundred year effort at producing a craftily-worded smear campaign starts to ring very hollow. Hendryx attempts to salvage the Calvinist case,

Yet this is a synergism in which God receives the glory because the Holy Spirit indwells and enables our new desires yet it is we who make choices based on that new nature. (Ibid.)

Yet the Synergistic view of faith is that one can only believe through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart, for the heart of man is hopelessly lost due to his fallen nature apart from grace. It’s true that we believe that grace is resistible, but this does not rob God of the glory, for the work of the Spirit in sanctification is likewise resistible – else we could never sin. Yet any holiness worked in us cannot be ascribed to he who complies with the Spirit, but to He who supplies the Spirit (Galatians 3:5). Jesus said,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Using a similar analogy, Paul adds in Romans 11 that we are not even to boast against the branches that were cut off from the root [Christ], for we do not support Him, but He supports us! God’s grace is the beginning, sustainment, and completion of our salvation and sanctification. Free though he is to choose between God and himself, man is powerless on his own. He then has no reason to think himself focal, no right in claiming glory for his redemption or holiness, and no room to boast in what God has freely supplied him with. Without the grace of God, we truly are nothing, and this Synergist saved by grace can only reply, Sola Deo Gloria!

More on Calvinism and Sanctification

I wanted to post the following excellent comments left by “Westwind” in the Quick Question for My Calvinist Friends combox as it relates to my recent post on sanctification in Calvinism.

I never have had a Calvinist of any level of education or experience come forward and offer an explanation why effectual grace cannot be resisted but sanctifiying grace can be resisted. As I’ve argued in the past ( http://www.ovrlnd.com/theology/arminianthought.html ):

1) Within Calvinist theology, common grace is given to all with the goal of sustaining the good, but never with salvation in mind. Only effectual grace has the goal of justification in view. Hence within Calvinist theology there are differing kinds of grace. Therefore to the Arminian mind, the Calvinist apologist must make a case from the Bible that differing kinds of grace do indeed abound and the Arminian apologist needs to set forth that there is but one kind of grace that operates within differing modes.

2) Within Arminian thought, there is only one kind of grace which is said to go before, or, operate ahead of, (hence the term “prevenient”) that enables all good and righteous acts and thoughts, thereby providing to our Lord all the glory of such acts and thoughts—for it is His doing. Ultimately within Arminians thought, prevenient grace has the goal of sanctification but its more immediate goal is justification and these two different goals can be thought of as simply modes of operation by the same kind of grace that always goes before encouraging and enabling. Within the Arminian system of thought, prevenient grace is said to be offered to all. In this sense prevenient grace is irresistible because the offer of grace to all cannot be denied. Nevertheless because prevenient grace has justification and sanctification in view and not all are justified and neither is sanctification ever complete or perfect even for the most holiest of saints, prevenient grace is also said to be resistible in both its justification and sanctification modes of operation. Positively, in acceptance, prevenient grace is said to be passive and negatively, in rejection, the heart is said to be active—a volitional stand against God and the willful suppression of truth (cf. Paul’s argument in Romans 1). Consequently, arguments against prevenient grace that hold as a premise that the human will as the basis of salvation, are simply in error—although they are very common. So common that I’ll state it again: arguments against freewill are not addressing Arminian theology. The only people who give a hoot about freewill are underinformed lay persons, philosophers, and Calvinist apologists who believe they are addressing Arminian soteriology in a meaningful way when they talk about free will but are, in fact, not.

3) In Calvinist thought, one must be regenerated before being able to exercise faith. This prompts a question: is regeneration by grace and is this grace not “going before”? Remember prevenient simply means “going before.”

Furthermore, as stated above, to the Arminian mind there is an inner ambiguity within Calvinist thought that says, in effect, there are different kinds of grace. Some kinds of grace are resistible and some kinds are not. This is clearly illustrated when we consider that the elect may not resist saving grace, but for some reason they can resist sanctifying grace. Herein we have two different kinds of grace within the same individual. As an additional note: in all the Calvinist systematics I have read, I have never heard of a Reformed thinker argue that even common grace is resistible. This is one area I would like to confirm from those who have conducted similar surveys because if true, if the Calvinist scheme of grace is never resistible, howbeit that sanctification is resistible? I’m wide open for folks to share and teach me.

Ultimately, Arminian thinkers hold that Calvinist apologists need to first build an argument of differing kinds of grace from the discipline of biblical theology before assuming differing kinds of grace that operate differently depending upon the situation and they need to do this as an a priori before basing other arguments upon it—especially so when Calvinist apologists seek to prove other points supported by this premise to Arminians who will, in turn, reject these arguments because of the unproven premise.

In contrast to Calvinist thought, in Arminian thought grace is said to always be going before. In point of fact, grace is said to always operate preveniently: it is going before we are justified drawing and empowering our faith. Following justification, grace continues to move preveniently, preparing the way for “righteous responses” to and with our acts of faith, generating elements and fore-tastes of God’s perfection within us. When we “improve” upon grace, it moves on ahead, preveniently improving us still further toward the glory which our Lord has for us. In every act of grace, our Lord’s action is first, our faith is responsitory.

Therefore, in so far as grace is concerned, Arminian thought has a unifying principle as to how grace always operates.

Examining Inconsistencies in Calvinistic Monergism Part 2: Sanctification

“Salvation is of the Lord.” Calvinists proudly proclaim this and will often charge that Arminians deny it. Either salvation is all of God (Calvinistic Monergism), we are told, or it is all of man. Some Calvinists give Arminians a little credit and say that they believe salvation is partly of man. Calvinists contend that if man contributes anything to salvation it ceases to be all of God. Arminians find it strange to hear Calvinists speak of faith as a contribution to salvation. Rather, Arminians see faith as a complete trust and reliance on God to save them. The object and focus of faith is Christ. If we are trusting in Christ for salvation (which is what “faith” means) then we cannot be trusting in ourselves. The moment we trust in ourselves we cease to trust in God. Truly, Arminians wonder why this is such a difficult concept for Calvinists to grasp. They do not believe that their faith saves them; rather, they believe that God saves those who trust in Him. To meet a condition is not necessarily the same as making a contribution to any aspect of the conditional promise. It only means that the promise will not be fulfilled until the condition is met. Arminians, therefore, firmly believe that salvation is of the Lord and rely on Him alone to save.

Calvinists view faith as a symptom of salvation rather than the God ordained condition for salvation. Faith is just part of the salvation package. God gives faith to those He irresistibly regenerates. If God did not cause faith irresistibly then man would supposedly have room to boast in his “contribution” (faith) to salvation. Unless God does absolutely everything then it cannot be truly said that salvation is of the Lord. This may sound reasonable enough until one understands the simple distinction between meeting a condition and making a contribution. The logical fallacy is further exposed when one considers the fact that Calvinistic Monergism is incompatible with the important Biblical doctrine of sanctification.

What is sanctification? Narrowly defined, it is the work of God to make believers holy by empowering them to overcome sin, and by conforming them to the image of His Son. Sanctification is a very important part of the salvation process. Calvinists will generally agree with Arminians that there are three aspects to salvation. We have been saved (initial conversion), are being saved (sanctification), and will be saved (final glorification in the physical kingdom of God).

Ben Witherington III recently posted on apostasy in Hebrews. In this post he references Calvinist F.F. Bruce while describing the proper soteriological view regarding sanctification:

Here perhaps it is well to mention just how important sanctification, both the inward work of God and the human response thereto, is to final salvation in our author’s view. Heb. 12.14 puts it succinctly—without internal sanctification, no one shall see the Lord. F.F. Bruce was right in saying a long time ago that sanctification which involves both divine and human action is no optional extra in the Christian life but something which involves its very essence, and without which, final salvation will not be obtained. [F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), p. 364.]

Sanctification is therefore an essential part of the believer’s faith journey. As the believer continues to trust and rely on God he or she is being sanctified. God makes him or her holy. As the believer cooperates with the Spirit’s sanctifying work, his or her character and attitude begins to more and more reflect the character and attitude of Christ. Sanctification is not optional for the believer. Consider the following passages:

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God…Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now, having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. [Rom. 6:5-6, 11-13, 21-22]

The entire chapter is instructive. Through sanctification we live for God and die to sin. The result of this process is “eternal life” (verse 22). Look at Romans 8:

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. [8:5-6, 12-14]

Sanctification is accomplished by yielding to the Spirit’s work. The believer is responsible to put to death the deeds of the flesh through the Spirit’s power working in him or her. This is not optional for “we are under obligation” (vs. 12). If we fail to yield to the Spirit’s work and neglect to put to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will surely die. Only by yielding to the Sprit’s work in us can we live and only those who are presently following the Spirit’s leading in the sanctification process can lay claim to being God’s children (vs. 14). Let us not forget Galatians:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, an things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law…Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. [5:19-23; 6:7-8]

Passages like these could be easily multiplied. Just as we are converted and justified by faith, so are we also sanctified by faith:

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel… [Col. 1:21-23]

That sanctification is necessary for final salvation and that sanctification is conditional creates big trouble for the claims of Calvinistic Monergism.

Calvinism must somehow come to grips with the fact that not every Christian responds to the Spirit’s work of sanctification in the same way. Many Calvinists never stop to consider this fact. If sanctification is a necessary part of the salvation process and salvation is monergistic, then according to Calvinist definitions, the believer should have nothing at all to do with God’s sanctifying work. He or she cannot “yield” to the work of the Spirit, for that would mean that by yielding to the Spirit’s work the believer would be making a “contribution” to sanctification, and therefore a “contribution” to salvation itself. If God’s work of salvation is an irresistible and unconditional work of God alone, then how do we explain the fact that not all Christians behave exactly the same with regards to resisting temptation and overcoming sin? Consider 1 Cor. 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

J.C. Thibodaux was the first person to draw my attention the relevance of this passage in his Correspondance with a Monergist Theologian. The implications are both obvious and devastating to Calvinistic Monergism. God gives sufficient grace to all believers to resist temptation. Why then do some believers repeatedly fail in certain areas while other Christians overcome in the same areas? Unless we are comfortable blaming God for these failures then we must admit that there is a human element to God’s sanctifying work. All believers are given sufficient sanctifying grace, but not all believers respond the same to that grace. The implications seem plain: sanctification must be synergistic. There is an important element of human cooperation with the Spirit’s work in the sanctification process.

Calvinistic Monergism has a serious dilemma to overcome to maintain consistency. It must deny the synergistic nature of sanctification. By doing this Monergism must then explain why God sanctifies some believers better than others. The Bible declares that our sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:10). This leads the Monergist to embrace the absurd theological position that the Holy Spirit actively and purposely grieves Himself by refusing to irresistibly give the sanctifying grace necessary for some believers to overcome certain sins. It also puts the Monergist in plain contradiction to the inspired declaration that sufficient grace is given to all believers to resist temptation in any given situation (1 Cor. 10:13; James 4:6-8).

The Monergist might rather try to downplay the necessity of sanctification with regards to the process of salvation. By doing this he or she will be at odds with the numerous passages of Scripture which teach the necessity of sanctification in the life of the believer with regards to final salvation (see above).

Perhaps the Monergist would rather agree with Calvinist R.C. Sproul who is happy to affirm the synergistic nature of sanctification while holding only that initial salvation must be monergistic.

This is also a problematic “solution”. By affirming the synergistic nature of sanctification, the Calvinist can no longer claim that “salvation is of the Lord” in the strict Calvinistic sense of Monergism. Since Calvinists insist that any act of yielding to the Spirit’s work constitutes a “contribution” to salvation, the affirmation of synergism in sanctification would force the Calvinist to admit that salvation is partly the “work” of man. If the Calvinist wants to insist that actively yielding to the Spirit’s work of sanctification does not equate to a “work” or “contribution” of man, then they must give up their long cherished arguments regarding the necessity of Monergism with regards to initial salvation as well. The Calvinist cannot give cooperation with the Spirit in sanctification a pass while denying the possibility of a similar cooperation with regard to initial salvation.

The Arminian contends that God gives sufficient grace for the sinner to yield to the Spirit’s work unto initial salvation in the same way that God gives sufficient grace to the believer in sanctification. We believe that in both instances it is still proper to contend that man’s yielding to and cooperation with the Spirit in faithful submission can in no way be properly termed a “work” or “contribution”. Salvation is freely given on the condition of faith and the Spirit’s work of sanctification is continued on the condition of faith. The believer must continually surrender to the Spirit’s work in order to finally reach his or her destination in glory. The unregenerate sinner enabled by prevenient grace yields to the regenerating grace of God in initial salvation and the regenerate believer yields to the sanctifying grace of God in the continuing process of salvation. Sanctification through faithful submission is no more a “work of man” than initial salvation through faithful submission to God’s grace is a “work of man”. The sinner who yields to God’s saving grace in faith can no more claim to save himself than the believer who yields to God’s sanctifying grace can claim that he “sanctified himself.”

Conclusion:

Calvinistic Monergism is incompatible with the Biblical doctrine of sanctification. The Calvinistic insistence that synergism is synonymous with “working” for ones salvation is logically fallacious and Biblically unfounded. Unless Calvinism acknowledges a synergistic view of sanctification it will be forced instead to embrace one or more of the following absurd theological positions: 1) sanctification is not a necessary component of Biblical salvation; 2) God alone is to blame for the believer’s failure to conquer sin and grow in his or her relationship with the Lord; 3) the Holy Spirit is pleased to actively and purposely grieve Himself; 4) contrary to the word of God, sufficient grace is not given to all believers to endure temptation, overcome sin, and draw near to God.

In my next post dealing with Monergism we will carefully explore the Calvinist charge that conditional salvation gives grounds for boasting and pride in the believer.