I briefly mentioned Synergism in my first Heresy of the Week post on Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, so I thought it might be time to expand a little bit. First, a brief overview.
Arminian theology was named after Jacobus Arminius, a 16th century Dutch theologian, who opposed John Calvin and his elimination of free will from theology. Arminianism goes the exact opposite way from Calvinism a la Synergism--instead of predestination (or worse, double predestination), we have pure free will and the ability of a Christian to have a role in his salvation. Both are wrong.
A review from the Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism post:
Arminianism teaches, in line with Semi-Pelagianism, that:
The primary difference between Synergism and Semi-Pelagianism is that in the latter, man can choose to have faith without grace, whereas in the previous, man can only have choose to have faith as a "response" to "prevenient grace".
- It is possible to not sin (posse non peccare).
- While man is inherently sinful (Original Sin), he isn't entirely fallen and still has the opportunity to choose good (and, indeed, must choose good because God can only offer faith, man must "receive" it).
- God offers faith, but man has to "choose" to "accept" faith on their own, through "prevenient grace", which God gives to all sinners.
- Man's "role" in salvation, as a "response" to "prevenient grace", is to freely "choose" to "accept" faith in God
- Once man "accepts" faith, God justifies man and continues to give further grace to sanctify man.
For a good analysis of the soteriology of Calvinists, Arminianists and Lutherans, read this one page document from a friend of mine, Pr. Gregory Wagner.
One thing I find interesting is that I've yet to met someone who actually claims the name Arminianist, and says that he is a Synergist. I know many Calvinists who full TULIP or Double TULIP believers, a range of Lutherans, Catholics, etc., but I've never met an Arminainist who actually claims to be an Arminianist (I know some Weslyians, but no one who truly claims the name Arminian). Fascinating, don't you think? I'm sure they're out there, just not in my circle of acquaintances.
Arminianism, or perhaps more specifically, Synergism, seems to have totally infiltrated the mega-churches and non-denominational churches in America. The focus on decision theology is proof of that.