How do Lutherans, Calvinists and other protestants that believe in monergism respond to biblical passages that seem to support synergism such as these? For example:

  • "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48

  • "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:17

  • "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." Revelation 3:20

  • The parable of the goats and sheep Matthew 25:31-46

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

  • Is it not enough that I provide the link to them?
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 14:02
  • 1
    Huzzah, that adds some meat on the bone. I am looking forward to seeing the answers. Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 14:24
  • Could you define 'monergism'? As I understand it, that regeneration is the work of the Spirit without human input or cooperation, these verses do not contradict monergism. The passages in Revelation and Galatians would be understood as being addressed to the regenerate. The sheep and goats don't have any input into whether they are sheep or goats.
    – bradimus
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 18:00
  • @bradimus I guess you are right. yes that would be the definition, nothing fancy . So I may need to change the verses. I guess I'm just really over my head with the subject and I have a million questions. How does monergism relate to predestination for example
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 20:26
  • @bradimus The sheep and goats are more complex I think, since God accuses the goats that they did not feed him, visit him... So monergism is sort of tied to the free will/predestination polemic
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


A monergist response to your verses would, I think, be along the lines of:

"Be perfect". We can have fellowship through Jesus taking our sins. In Christ we have His perfection. Who will be in Christ? Those that the Father has given Him. John 17:2 - " He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him." "have given Him" It's a done deal.

"commandments". When God gives a command He either does or does not give the grace for that command to be obeyed. If His will is that someone obeys that command He gives them the grace to obey. If His will is that they do not obey He does not give the grace for that command to be obeyed. Only in this way can He be preeminent in all things. see Colossians 1: 18 "that in all things He may have the preeminence".

Rev 3:20. We choose to open or to leave shut. But, why do we choose one thing or another? We choose on the basis of who we are. Who are we? That depends upon how we were made.

We choose on the basis of how we were made. Judgement is having to live with the consequences of how we were made. Goats and sheep don't make themselves. Goats and sheep are separated on the basis of what they are, i.e. how God made them.

"Freedom". Gal 5:13. Freedom here is freedom from the Law, Old Testament Law, not freedom from some philosophic system of "free will".

[Our wills are not free of how and why God made them].

At one level monergism and synergism are about how people are saved but these spill over into wider issues about ultimate responsibility for evil. Synergism I suggest tries to protect God from the accusation that He is ultimately responsible for evil by saying something He created is autonomous from Him and this created evil. But synergism attacks God's uniqueness because by saying something other than God created evil it means that something other than God can create.

Monergists believe that at the start of every causal chain is one starting point, the Alpha of Rev 21:6. When God, who is light, created darkness [Isaiah 45:7] He had a holy motive for doing so. There is a single purpose behind everything in creation-"all things were created through Him and for Him", Col 1:16.

  • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth...but...He withholds the ability from some of them. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:03
  • @Mike Borden "all men" or all [types] of men? 1 Tim 2:1-2 Prayers for even kings and others in authority i.e. not just fishermen and carpenters.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:35
  • All men, regardless of "type". 1 Tim 2:5 One mediator between God and (individual) men not types of men. Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 13:56
  • @Mike Borden Could there being One mediator reference back to the need and importance of prayers being made to the One God, that men [the elect are men of all types] might be saved? For God predestines the means and the ends.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 18:36
  • Primarily the call here to pray for kings and authorities has to do with chapter 1 explanation of the right use of the law. That's why chapter 2 starts with "First of all then" and the reason for the praying is so that believers may live peaceful, godly lives which further enable their witness and pleases the God who desires all men to be saved. Predestination in Scripture is not all encompassing. Paul (Romans 8) specifically assigns it to to those (the foreknown elect) who are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Election is according to foreknowledge not predestination. Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 12:58
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

44 For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44-45)

When Jesus says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect," he is speaking as the Word that does not return void. God's commands are powerful. They accomplish what they command in the elect.

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