Sunday, September 05, 2010
I constantly read that any soteriology that is apparently synergistic must be bad. Whether that is second temple Judaism or semi-pelagianism, they are synergistic, and therefore they are the bad kinda thing that the Apostle Paul warned of. But I think that "syngergism" as soteriological category is a misnomer. First, every form of soteriology seems to have an element of divine action and human response. If "salvation" is contingent upon certain human responses, like faith repentance, then anywhere where you have a divine sovereignty/human responsibility tension, then you are gonna have some kind of synergism. Even if God animates the human response directly or indirectly, it is still a human response. Second, the only form of soteriology that is not synergistic is universalism. Unless you do absolutely nothing, no response, no responsibility, no ability, no effort at all, the only form of monergism is universalism, everyone gets saved no matter what they believe or what they've done. Some systems of soteriology are explicitly synergistic and they speak of cooperating with divine grace (e.g., Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodox), however, we should avoid ragging on these with the charge of "synergism" because any soteriology that includes a human response is in some sense synergistic. A better way to evaluate soteriologies (ancient or modern) is to look at the type of divine action, its efficacy, and the human response that makes it effective in a particular scheme.