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Monergism is the concept that salvation is not a cooperative effort between God and Man that leads to Man’s salvation. What is the biblical basis for this claim?

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What is the biblical basis for monergism?

Monergism is a Christian theology held in certain denominations which holds that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration, regardless of the individual's cooperation.

Monergism is the view within Christian theology which holds that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration, regardless of the individual's cooperation. It is most often associated with the Reformed tradition (such as Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, low church Anglicanism, Puritans, Dutch Reformed Church, Reformed Baptist etc.) and its doctrine of irresistible grace, and particularly with historical doctrinal differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.

According to monergism, faith in Christ only springs from a heart first renewed by God.

According to monergists, all men are conceived and born with an unregenerated human nature, and faith to believe is beyond the power of this unregenerated human nature. God circumcises the heart. The apostle John is understood by some monergists as having recorded Jesus saying that we love darkness, hate the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19,20; monergists assume that "doing the truth" and "loving the light" in consequence are the results of God's irresistible grace which brings a love and faith enabled by grace. The natural man, apart from the quickening work of the Holy Spirit, will not come to Christ on his own; since he is at enmity with God; and so, will not understand spiritual things (meaning the experience of loving God; i.e. seeing God's loveliness) (1Cor 2:14). Reading or hearing the word of God alone cannot elicit saving faith in the reader (1Thess 1:4,5). The monergist believes in heralding the gospel indiscriminately, and the Holy Spirit regenerates whom He will, according to His sovereign grace.

Monergists believe that once the "eyes have been made healthy" a person will inevitably follow God; because the Infinite is effective to what the Infinite wills to effect. "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13. God always does according to His good pleasure; and no thing can stop an infinite Being's good pleasure.

Monergistic salvation, synergistic damnation

Lutheranism and Reformed Protestantism, including those who ascribe to Covenant Theology, hold to the soteriological position of monergistic salvation and synergistic damnation, rejecting Calvin's monergistic damnation and Arminius' synergistic salvation.

Lutheranism teaches that God predestines some to salvation via His foreknowledge but does not predestine others to damnation, as God wills that all might be saved (1 Tim 2:3-6, Rom. 11:32, etc.). The Scriptural basis for man's justification by faith alone is summarized in the Epitome of the Formula of Concord under Free Will and The Righteousness of Faith Before God. The Righteousness of Faith, and fully discussed in the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord under Free Will and The Righteousness of Faith. Likewise the Defense of the Augsburg Confession discusses the Scriptural basis of man's Justification. Lutherans thus confess that salvation is monergistic, saving faith being the work of the Holy Spirit alone while man is still the uncooperative enemy of God (Rom. 5:8,10), but man's damnation is synergistic - Scripture states repeatedly that man participates in and bears the responsibility for resisting God's grace of the free gift - not enforced gift - of salvation (ex: Matt. 23:37, Heb. 12:25, Acts 7:51, John 16:9, Heb. 12:15, etc.). Thus, you will see Calvinists incorrectly accuse Lutherans of Arminianism and Arminians incorrectly accuse Lutherans of Calvinism. Lutherans view their stance not as having one foot in Calvinism and one foot in Arminianism, but having both feet firmly planted in scripture. This view is also shared by some Augustinian denominations such as the Church of the Redeemer.

The following articles may be of interest to some:

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  • The thought that cooperative grace can be resisted has important implications for understanding monergism. This article on Thomas Aquinas helps explain the Roman Catholic view. thomasaquinas.edu/news/…
    – Jess
    Jan 17 at 5:33

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