Monday, April 25, 2011

What is Monergism?

In the comment section of this post, Evan posted a link to an article by a Roman Catholic on monergism. This article starts off by offering a definition of monergism.
Monergists, i.e. Calvinists and some Lutherans, claim that man cannot cooperate with God in salvation, because that would detract from God’s glory.
And this is where the problem begins. The Reformed (and Lutheran) understanding of monergism is particularly concerned with regeneration, and not all of salvation. A simple look at the five solas of the Reformation should make this clear, one of which is sola fide or "by faith alone." The Reformers taught that believers must have faith to be saved. This is something the believer does. Granted, faith is a free gift from God and it is not meritorious in any sense, but it is still something that the believer does. In regeneration, on the other hand, the believer is completely passive. In other words, regeneration is something that happens to the believer and the believer does nothing for it to happen. In John three Jesus likens the new birth with the first birth. So, just like a baby is born without doing anything, so too a Christian is born again (i.e., regenerated) without doing anything. defines monergism as: "In regeneration, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ independent of any cooperation from our unregenerated human nature." Notice there is nothing about salvation as a whole. I think the problem here might be with the term "salvation." This term can refer to an aspect of the total work God does in the elect (i.e., justification) or the whole of God's work. In theological discourse, however, especially when critiquing another view, a person ought to be a careful as possible and offer the best the other side has to offer, not the worst. It is easy to pick the low hanging fruit off a tree. Thus, by confusing the terms salvation and regeneration, our Roman Catholic blogger is able to make the Reformed faith seem unbibilical, when in fact the view he is interacting with is not the Reformed view at all. He would benefit from a better understanding of the view he is attempting to decry. Straw men are easy to knock down, I guess that is why theologians enjoy building them.


  1. well thanks for the clarification. I don't mean to keep strawmen alive. and for a little clarification of my own, my name is Evan not Eric!! :)

  2. Evan,

    Thanks for the correction. I fixed the blog post for you.


Before posting please read our Comment Policy here.

Think hard about this: the world is watching!