When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

17 December, 2012

Heresy of the Week: Synergism

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.

Synergism is an Arminian protestant, Semi-Pelagianism-family heresy that teaches man and God work cooperatively together for salvation. In other words, God offers the salvation, but man must receive it. This is the source of the Arminian prevenient grace doctrine, which means God comes and offers salvation to the human being (who cannot come to faith without this grace being offered), but the human may then freely choose to accept or reject faith. This is similar the teaching of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, both of whom reject total depravity of humanity and maintain that even after the Fall, humans remain free and human nature has not been totally corrupted, particularly after baptism.

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:
  • 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.
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".
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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are exactly correct Synergism is heresy. By definition it suggests man contributes energy towards salvation.