I found an article Regeneration precedes faith by R.C. Sproul that could imply there is no synergism at all in justification. In other words no part of the human will involved in believing? It is potentially confusing in that it puts regeneration before faith. (I can only only assume he actually believes regenerations as: calling, faith, justification and new birth so that he is actually only referring the the effectual call as preceding faith which no Calvinist would find confusing. But he seems to confuse the issue by arguing against 'faith, rebirth, justification' which as far as I know nobody has ever presented in that order from a Calvinist position.)

On the other hand, as opposed to potential confusion of Sproul's statement (which might actually intend the same as this more traditional classical Calvinist) John Owen could imply that justification is synergistic. (Actually, I know Owen puts the 'initial' work of regeneration before faith, justification and sanctification, but by identifying the human 'will' as a 'cause' of salvation according to all 'Protestant divines' he seems to be sending a message with a slightly different spin from the Sproul's terminology.)

Protestant divines, until of late, have unanimously affirmed faith to be the instrumental cause of our justification. (John Owen's Works Vol 5, Justification by Faith, Chapter three – “The use of faith in Justification”. p108)

So what's going on here? How much synergism (cooperation between God and man) is involved in the 'monergism' (the work of God without human cooperation) of classical Calvinists' in the doctrine of justification?

1 Answer 1


I would argue there is no synergism whatsoever in justification. The natural man, the Bible points out, is not sick and needing a doctor. He is dead and needs resurrection. Dead people don't raise themselves. They need to be raised (passive voice very intentional here). Therefore, the Holy Spirit must raise people from the dead and give them a new heart. Otherwise, they will not desire God. God the Holy Spirit, that is, changes peoples' wills so that they want God. Before that, people hate God and do not want Him.

The traditional Reformed ordo salutis is, IIRC, the following:

Predestination, Effectual Calling, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Glorification. Now the steps of Effectual Calling through Adoption happen nearly instantaneously, so I'm merely writing them out in this way as a logical progression more than as a time progression. Also, all steps up through and including Adoption are completely monergistic. Sanctification is synergistic: 100% God, and 100% man, although even the part that we do is utterly dependent on God's strength.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .