Squashing Beetles

It seems that all the loonies are in flight this time of year and a couple of people have asked me to respond to a recent Youtube video by Monty Collier accusing me of Arminianism or worse.

To make a long stupid story short, on the Facebook “Gordon Clark/Unitarian/Semi-Arian” page Monty started by asserting that Gordon Clark taught “monergistic sanctification.”  When I showed him this was false and for Clark sanctification is synergistic as man is not passive in progressive sanctification, rather than simply admitting his error and moving on he then asserted that justification by faith is monergistic which is also false because God doesn’t believe for us.  In justification regeneration is monergistic as man is altogether passive and regeneration is entirely an act of God, who, by his free grace, makes us willing and able to answer the call of the Gospel and “to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”   Saving belief, however, is an assent to the propositions of the Gospel, and, per Clark, assent is an act of the will.  As the WCF explains: “Those whom God effectually calleth he also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous:  not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone:  not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them , they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith:  which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.”

So while saving faith is passive in the sense that it “receives and rests” on Christ alone and his righteousness, it is active in the sense that we must believe in order to be justified which is why faith itself is included as an “evangelical obedience” per the WCF.  Evidently this distinction was too much for Monty and he wasn’t satisfied in my insistence that regeneration is monergistic and not the entire Christian life. So, again, instead of simply admitting his error and moving on, Monty continues to confuse the effectual call with justification by faith alone or WCF X with WCF XI and ends up a slandering me in the process.

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91 Comments on “Squashing Beetles”


  1. Since faith is a gift, faith is itself monergistic. Sanctification is monergistic in that it is God that works in us both to will and do. (Philippians 2:11-12). If you check out the chapter on sanctification in the WCF you’ll see that it does not mention synergism there. Also, Clark’s view is that God is absolutely sovereign in all that happens, so when he says that sanctification is “synergistic” he does not mean it in the Arminian interpretation of that verse.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    God causes whatsoever to come to pass therefore everything is monergistic. This is why things can degenerate quickly if terms are not defined. Per the Century Dictionary; “In theology, [monergism is] the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration [the new birth] – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated [born again], and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

    If God works in us to be will and do then we too are “doing,” therefore it is not monergistic. And, of course, Clark doesn’t advocate Arminianism.

  3. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, yes, faith is a gift as God the Holy Spirit causes us to believe the truth, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t therefore exercise faith. Again, God doesn’t believe for us, but by His grace we are enabled to respond to the call of the Gospel and assent to its truth. Since there are two actors involved in the the exercising of faith in justification it follows that it is not monergistic. God is the efficient cause but the act of believing is the instrumental cause in justification. That’s not monergism. As R.C. Sproul explains:

    “A monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person. The prefix mono means one. The word erg refers to a unit of work. Words like energy are built upon this root. A synergistic work is one that involves cooperation between two or more persons or things. The prefix syn -means “together with.” http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sproul01.html

    Anyway, Clark maintained that faith is an act of the human will (in response to the irresistible and regenerative work of God alone to be sure) and that sanctification is synergistic because there is more than one energy or will is involved. To reiterate, regeneration is monergistic.

  4. Hugh McCann Says:

    Did Clark (or does Gerety, or even Collier for that matter) make the necessary biblical distinction between progressive sanctification (one’s growing in active, outward Christ-likeness) and definitive sanctification (one’s being declared holy – 1 Cor. 1:29, 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14 (cf. v.22)?

    John Murray wrote well on the biblicism of def. sanc.:
    http://www.reformedliterature.com/murray-definitive-sanctification.php

    (It’s also in pdf via Monergism.com.)

  5. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    Silly. He says monergistic ‘justification by faith’ = ‘God believes for us’. Gerety wants people to work for salvation. Just like Sproul, etc. He’s saying only regeneration is monergistic, then we’re left to ourselves. It’s a tenet of FV, like Piper was shown teaching… Some ‘final justification’ based on works, etc. Double-justification? Nonsense. Gerety actually speaks of ‘assent’ more in the Arminian sense (the will is free). He quotes the WCF to make his article ‘stand’, but his excerpt says something opposite than he has. This is a misrepresentation of Clark and the WCF. Gerety tries to make both fit his own twist and views. If the entire Christian life is not monergistic, then God isn’t sovereign. This guy’s an Arminian.

  6. Sean Gerety Says:

    Brandon, you do know Gordon Clark says sanctification is synergistic and is something we cooperate in, right? Does that make Clark a defender of free will? Is he too an “Arminian”?

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, Brandon, tell me is this guy an Arminian:

    “But there is a difference between regeneration and sanctification. As to the former, “we are altogether passive therein.” In the latter we struggle. One must not deny either the Spirit’s power or our activity.”

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, while I’m at it, is this too a denial of God’s sovereignty:

    “Both Calvin and God did the Institutes. And in an even stricter sense both God and Moses wrote the Pentateuch. They cooperated, and as in all cooperation their precise activities in producing the result were different. God is the source of our abilities and the effective determiner of how we use them. But it is we ourselves who must fight the good fight and run the straight race through God’s grace.”

  9. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    Yep, I know what you’re citing from Clark, but I agree with C. Ray’s concluding statement at the top of this thread. Because God is absolutely sovereign over all human activity does not make us mechanical, and not human. We conduct ourselves genuinely, under God’s ordination. ‘Our activity/struggles’ are all from God.

    http://gospelnotlaw.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/samson-saved-by-faith-alone/

    To imply that any human activity is free from God’s direct control is to assert, on your part, that man has ground apart from God. Man does not. All of man’s ‘cooperation’ with God, or rebellion against Him, is from God alone, and steered by God alone, for His Own glory.

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    To imply that any human activity is free from God’s direct control is to assert, on your part, that man has ground apart from God.

    That’s not what I have asserted at all. But I thank you for admitting that you think Clark is an “Arminian” too. Like I said, all the loonies are in flight this time of year. Thanks for stopping by Brandon.

  11. Ryan Says:

    //And, Brandon, tell me is this guy an Arminian…//

    I’m glad you are still able to derive some benefit from my posts 🙂


  12. […] here to check out a little correspondence I had with Sean Gerety today. I want to show how bad his […]

  13. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    Clark an Arminian? That’d be like calling you a determinist/monergist, or a Calvinist.

    The ‘loony’ bit. Good, rational response 🙂

    I think it’s a shame that you’re able to be published in decent places.

  14. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Ryan. It’s hard to argue with Clark and it would be stupid for me to type it out myself. I only wish you agreed with him on the Trinity. Heck, even if you didn’t agree with Clark I only wish you agreed with the Trinity.

  15. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Brandon. It’s hard to have a rational discussion with someone who says things like; “If the entire Christian life is not monergistic, then God isn’t sovereign. This guy’s an Arminian.”

    I suppose my response to you would be different if you actually had an argument, instead of making silly and abusive assertions using words you don’t understand.

  16. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    There’s nothing in your quote of me there that’s irrational.

    Before I ever wrote anything to you, you had already used phrases and terms like ‘Squashing Beetles’ and ‘loonies’, etc. You have said those things about my brothers and I. And you’re hurt because I’m ‘abusive’?

    The words you claim I don’t understand, point them out and explain.

    Last two comments from you, you’ve shut the door on your way out. Well, here I am, opening the door again and saying something. If you want the ‘rational discussion’, then explain your criticisms. If not, you should block me or whatever.

  17. Sean Gerety Says:

    There’s nothing in your quote of me there that’s irrational.

    I assume then in your mind petitio principii is a valid form of argument. Of course it isn’t and it doesn’t follow that if the entire Christian life isn’t monergistic then God isn’t sovereign.

    The words you claim I don’t understand, point them out and explain.

    You, like your brother, do not understand what the word “monergism” means which is why you equate it with God’s sovereignty. Just because God is the ultimate cause of everything, that doesn’t mean that everything is “monergistic.” Again, R.C. Sproul explains the meaning of the word “monergism” as follows:

    “A monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person.”

    If God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure, and He is, then there is more than one person involved in that work. This is why Clark maintains that sanctification is synergistic, not monergistic. This is also why monergism is a word that is traditionally restricted to regeneration and not the whole of the Christian life as you and your brother have used it. That is because regeneration is a work produced singly, by one person. As Jesus said; “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it came, and where it goes: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” That’s monergism.


  18. >>>If God works in us to be will and do then we too are “doing,” therefore it is not monergistic. And, of course, Clark doesn’t advocate Arminianism.<<< Simply because we do something does not mean that God is cooperating with us. The doctrine of absolute predestination refutes any idea of "synergism". Although Clark did use the term "synergistic" in his discussion of sanctification, it would be hard to believe that he thought that God needs our permission or cooperation to work out sanctification in us. In fact, sanctification is a gift of God. I understand the doctrine of compatibilism. We are fully responsible for what we do. But God is under no obligation whatsoever to "work in us both to will and do" what pleases Him. He could at any time remove the gift of sanctification and cause the elect person to fall away for time in discipline. Pride goes before a fall.

    I am not as dogmatic about this as Monty would be, but I tend to agree with Monty that sanctification is monergistic. One small gaff by Clark in his audio lecture does not refute his numerous other writings on God's absolute sovereignty over even human will and choices. Even reprobation is clearly an absolute decree of God and numerous texts show that God moves the human will wherever He wants. (Proverbs 21:1, etc. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

    I don't think that Clark meant that we have libertarian free will after we are regenerated and converted. Even Luther rejects the doctrine of libertarian free will prior to the fall of Adam. The only sense in which we have free will after conversion is that we are set free from the bondage of the will to the sinful nature and are therefore enabled to believe and to live a live of faith, which faith is not perfected by sanctification. Sanctification is forever imperfect until glorification and therefore can play no part in sanctification or salvation. Living faith is a faith that produces a valid profession of faith before men and the church. Coram Deo, before God, the only basis for our justification and sanctification is the cross of Jesus Christ.

    This might sound like a hedge but I agree that we "cooperate" in some sense with sanctifying grace but only as God monergistically moves us to "both will and do" of His good pleasure. Even then He sometimes decrees that the elect will temporarily fall into grievous sins. The Bible is full of examples of that.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Charlie


  19. Basically, since I’m familiar with Clark’s overall theology, I know that Sean is not saying that man is sovereign over God in man’s own process of sanctification. I might be going out on a limb here but I think all Clark meant was that Christians are fully accountable to God to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” If we do so, it is because God decreed that we would do so before the foundation of the world. In as much as we disobey God, we have no excuse that God caused us to sin since God is not the author of sin. We are moral agents and fully accountable to God any time we break God’s moral law. Christians still have an obligation to obey the moral law out of gratitude to God for His mercy and pardon. It’s called the 3rd use of the moral law. Antinomianism is not an option for the Reformed believer. But neither is libertarian free will.

    Brandon has not read Clark that much yet so any misconception on his part is understandable. Monty is not the best source for understanding Clark. Reading the primary materials that Clark wrote is the best way to understand Clark’s thought.

    Despite our numerous disagreements, Sean, I sincerely appreciate your blog and the perspectives you present here. They do cause me to think. I’m looking at ways to reconcile what Clark said in The Incarnation with a two minds view that you have suggested. It seems to me that this is not rejected per se by the Definition of Chalcedon since Jesus had a “reasonable human soul” or “personality.” The problem with Chalcedon is that it does not go far enough and leaves some issues hanging. The idea that Jesus had two wills is indication enough that He had to have had a human soul/mind and a Divine mind/soul.

    Anyway, I’m not trying reopen the debate on that. I just wanted to let you know I’m trying to think through these issues and what you have said about the incarnation has caused me to reconsider the problem in fresh ways.

    I might point out that Drake Shelton deliberately inflamed the entire discussion and it would appear that he had an agenda behind it. He’s revealed himself as a heretic since he apparently does not believe in the Trinity.

    The peace of God be with you,

    Charlie


  20. John Murray isn’t the best source for studying the doctrine of sanctification. Murray is one of the proponents of justification by works and the theology of Norman Shepherd.

  21. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Charlie. That was encouraging. Peace.

  22. Hugh McCann Says:

    Charlie – Prove your nasty allegations, or point us to links, quotes, etc. Otherwise this is mere asinine slander: John Murray isn’t the best source for studying the doctrine of sanctification. Murray is one of the proponents of justification by works and the theology of Norman Shepherd.

    Murray was certainly not a proponent of justification by works. Not even his harshest critics (Winzer, Robbins, Gerety, or Collier) make such a mistake! Repent and retract, or prove your ridiculous claim. Thank you.


  23. Good one, Hugh. Murray’s distinction is absolutely necessary in this “debate.”

  24. Hugh McCann Says:

    I note that Murray’s most excellent biblicism regarding the term “sanctification” is lost in the debate ‘twixt Reformation21 & Gospel Coalition reps:
    http://72.47.212.95/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?search=Tchividjian+&IncludeBlogs=1%2C2

    The same happened at Trinity Foundation in their otherwise fine article in Jan-Mar 2012:
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%20304%20Sanctification%20Half%20Full%20Kauffman.pdf

    So, until I hear otherwise, I’ll assume the answer to my query above is, “No.” That was:

    Did Clark (or does Gerety, or even Collier for that matter) make the necessary biblical distinction between progressive sanctification (one’s growing in active, outward Christ-likeness) and definitive sanctification (one’s being declared holy – 1 Cor. 1:29, 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14 (cf. v.22)?

  25. Ryan Says:

    “I only wish you agreed with him on the Trinity.”

    As I said before, it’s as good a try from the mainstream Reformed view as there is, but it’s not enough. See point 7 here. The criticisms I’ve made aren’t new.

  26. Sean Gerety Says:

    James Anderson maintains that numeric unity is the only orthodox position which is why he views Clark’s generic unity based on philosophic realism as some sort of crude version of social trinitarianism and Hays thinks Clark solution is modalistic. Are you now admitting your Unitarianism has more in common with the paradoxical Van Tillian idea of numeric unity? I suppose you would if you were in fact advocating a Trinitarian view of the God.

    However, instead of even defending an indefensible conception of the Trinity like Anderson and Hays have done, you instead argue that if the one true God “is to be found ‘in’ the Trinity per se rather than in a member of the Trinity” that is something you “can’t accept.” Which is why you’re not a Trinitarian and have placed yourself entirely outside of the Christian faith in your ontological subordination of the Son. Frankly, I have more in common with irrationalists lik Anderson and Hays, who despite their errors, are at least still Christians.

  27. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hugh (and Patrick), I’m not exactly sure how you think Murray’s piece is relevant to the discussion as definitive sanctification, or God’ssetting apart, seems to be another way of expressing the idea of election and regeneration which would be monergistic. Murray writes:

    “We are thus compelled to take account of the fact that the language of sanctification is used with reference to some decisive action that occurs at the inception of the Christian life and one that characterizes the people of God in their identity as called effectually by God’s grace. It would be, therefore, a deflection from biblical patterns of language and conception to think of sanctification exclusively in terms of a progressive work.”

    I agree we shouldn’t think of sanctification exclusively in terms of a progressive work, only that Monty thinks that even thinking of sanctification in terms of a progressive work is similarly “monergistic.”

    Also, and not to disrupt this moment of peace as I genuinely appreciate Charlie’s replies above given the back to back battles I seem to be having with those who at least tacitly identify themselves with Clark’s Scripturalism, specifically Monty on the one hand and Ryan on the other,, I think Charlie’s criticism of Murray has more to do with his covenantal scheme and its relationship to Shepherd.

  28. Ryan Says:

    My response has nothing to do with what Anderson’s own position is. It has to do with what Anderson’s criticisms of Clark’s view are. Anderson himself says “Other advocates of social trinitarianism acknowledge this problem and attempt to resolve it by suggesting further ways in which the Persons are a unity (without going so far as to affirm numerical unity).” That is what I’ve done. I don’t assert the species is identical to the genus or other species of that genus.

    If there are 7 billion species of the genus “human,” then there are 7 billion humans. If there are three species of the genus “God,” then there are three Gods. Thus, tritheism. That’s the criticism (one among others, anyway).

    Your definition of Trinitarianism is a-historical and ad hoc.

  29. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, thanks for approvingly quoting Murray. We still wait for Charlie to explain and defend his ridiculous and libelous charges against Murray.

    Murray’s article is important for at least two reasons:

    (1) “…it is a fact too frequently overlooked that in the New Testament the most characteristic terms used with reference to sanctification are used not of a process but of a once-for-all definitive act.” (See texts below.)

    And (2) It’s more than a deflection from biblical patterns of language and conception to think of sanctification exclusively in terms of a progressive work!

    In fact the tired, historic majority report has been unbiblical to exclude the scriptural testimony* – I dare say it’s been too often downright anti-biblical in its emphasis.

    * To wit: It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness [sanctification] and redemption. I Cor. 1:30 (All from NIV.)

    And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (6:11)

    And by that will, we have been made holy [sanctified] through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb. 10:10)

    For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy [sanctified]. (10:14)

    let us draw near to God with a sincere heart
    and with the full assurance that faith brings,
    having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience
    and having our bodies washed with pure water.
    (10:22)

    * Scripture overwhelmingly speaks of our being completely sanctified in Christ alone as a done deal.

    Thank you.


  30. Because there is a sanctification – a setting apart unto holiness – that is monergistic. This is using biblical (not typical theological) language. Indeed, God’s justification of sinners is itself a “sanctifying” of them.

    But it is incredibly crucial to distinguish this monergistic setting apart (note, I am not speaking of regeneration) from the process of God working in us to will and do, etc., which is what is typically meant by the term “sanctification,” which is synergistic.

    With regard to regeneration, God’s causing of unbelieving minds to believe, it is monergistic. But the conversion that follows logically (but happens simultaneously) is synergistic.

  31. Sean Gerety Says:

    Because there is a sanctification – a setting apart unto holiness – that is monergistic.

    I agree with everything you say, but it seems to me irrelevant to Monty’s and his brother’s point that the entire Christian life is “monergistic.” They are unwilling to make any distinctions whatsoever and they think even the word “synergism” necessitates “Arminianism.”

  32. Sean Gerety Says:

    “Other advocates of social trinitarianism acknowledge this problem and attempt to resolve it by suggesting further ways in which the Persons are a unity (without going so far as to affirm numerical unity).” That is what I’ve done.

    Hardly, but do you even know what social trinitarianism is?

  33. Hugh McCann Says:

    which, Which, WHICH sanctification is Herr Collier concerned with?

    the variety exampled in the verses above (@ 5:20pm) is monergistic.

  34. Hugh McCann Says:

    Does it mean that they’re sociable?

  35. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hugh, you’re asking Monty to make distinctions. You must know by now that you can’t do that. 😉


  36. For the record, I don’t reject definitional or positional sanctification in addition to an imperfect and progressive sanctification. I don’t particularly like Murray because he is on the lordship salvation side of things. Call me an antinomian but I don’t agree with the whole union in Christ thing. If justification is the basis for salvation, then logically justification and sanctification are not part of of a bifurcated “union with Christ.” That view is essentially to confuse justification with sanctification. Justification is imputed and I would say that definitive sanctification is imputed. But when you mix that with an imperfect progressive sanctification to come up with “salvation” then you have undermined any basis for assurance of salvation.

    I recently heard Gary Crampton advocating the lordship salvation view over at Sermon Audio. I was disappointed to say the least.

    Grace is not a license to sin but neither is grace going to perfect anyone in this life. Wesleyan perfectionism is based on lowering God’s moral standards so that the Arminian can “appear” to be holier than he or she actually is.

  37. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    To Sean:

    I haven’t equated monergism with God’s sovereignty. I’ve said that if you don’t concede that sanctification is deterministic in the divine sense, then you are giving man ground apart from God. It does mean that all motion in the universe is steered by God’s direct control, and nothing apart from Himself, when we say that God is the ‘cause’ of all which comes to pass. You go to Sproul, Sr. for a definition, which shows that you’re a Sproul fan, and that you like his teachings and work. There’s another instance where you’ve turned your back on the Trinity Foundation and their criticisms of Sproul.

    Why the emphasis on ‘man’s cooperation’? Why do you wish to emphasize man’s ‘involvement’?

    If you don’t like our (and other men’s, even here, now) use of the term ‘monergistic’, then you should request we use another term. However, I’ll provide a few: Deterministic, predetermined, predestined, etc. You understand what is meant by our use of the term ‘monergistic’. Regeneration is ‘monergistic’, yes, but sanctification is also ‘only God’s work’. Is it technically irrational to assert that because the candle burns all day, it burns ‘at my hand’? No, it isn’t, because I lit it, and put it in a dark corner, and stood over it.

    Compatibilism asserts that ‘free-will’ and ‘determinism’ are ‘compatible’. That too is unBiblical, and irrational. That’s just a nonsensical philosophical position that James White and all these ‘neoReformers’ cling to, and which fits well with their ‘Lordship Salvation’.

    Charlie has stated “Sanctification is monergistic”. Aren’t you going to correct him? Or did you like his ‘vibes’ and ‘tone’? You aren’t being objective. You’re showing yourself here to be a relativist, because you base your ‘truths’ on vibes and tones.

    What Clark has said in using the term ‘synergistic’ must be interpreted by the light given in his views on supralapsarianism/determinism/predestination/sovereignty/reprobation, etc. It doesn’t take a ‘Clark-veteran’ to figure that out.

    Charlie seems to have told you that ‘libertarian free-will does not exist, post-regeneration’, and there’s no protest from you on this point? Unbelievable. And indeed, he has used the term ‘monergistically’ now, again, in a way which is unsatisfactory to you. No protest?

    Again, Ray has not disagreed with what Monty or I have said, and in fact has argued the same points. But for some reason, to him you have responded, “Thanks. That was encouraging. Peace.” Anything goes, huh? Maybe depending on the time, the mood, etc.?

    To imply that man can even perform one action apart from God’s direct control is to assert that God is not sovereign.

  38. Hugh McCann Says:

    Charlie,

    Quit stalling with a long-winded self-justifying smokescreen. Either put up or shut up: Prove your nasty allegations, re: John Murray.

    Murray was certainly not a proponent of justification by works. Not even his harshest critics (Winzer, Robbins, Gerety, or Collier) make such a mistake! Repent and retract, or prove your ridiculous claim.

    Otherwise yours is merely libelous loose-lipped lunacy: John Murray isn’t the best source for studying the doctrine of sanctification. Murray is one of the proponents of justification by works and the theology of Norman Shepherd.

    And for the 3rd & final time I’ll ask:

    Did Clark (or does Gerety, or even Collier for that matter) make the necessary biblical distinction between progressive sanctification (one’s growing in active, outward Christ-likeness) and definitive sanctification (one’s being declared holy – 1 Cor. 1:29, 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14; cf. v.22)?

    Still silence? I guess not, then…

  39. Ryan Says:

    “Hardly, but do you even know what social trinitarianism is?”

    Essentially, it’s precisely what you yourself wrote in “Choosing Paradox – Part 2”

    //…the idea of a generic unity obtaining between persons of the Godhead, sometimes called the “social trinitarian” view, and a position advanced by theologians as diverse as Gordon Clark, Richard Swinburne, Thomas Morris and others, is dismissed as heterodox despite providing a biblical, rational, and non-contradictory solution to the problem of the Trinity.//

    What is your reply to the criticism of tritheism?

  40. Sean Gerety Says:

    I haven’t equated monergism with God’s sovereignty.

    Yet you’ve used both words synonymously. Weird.

    I’ve said that if you don’t concede that sanctification is deterministic in the divine sense, then you are giving man ground apart from God. It does mean that all motion in the universe is steered by God’s direct control, and nothing apart from Himself, when we say that God is the ‘cause’ of all which comes to pass.

    Proving once again you don’t understand what the word “monergism” means. But you have proved that you think God believes for us. Thanks for making my point.

    You go to Sproul, Sr. for a definition, which shows that you’re a Sproul fan, and that you like his teachings and work. There’s another instance where you’ve turned your back on the Trinity Foundation and their criticisms of Sproul.

    You really need to learn what the fallacy of begging the question is. I’m a Sproul fan when Sproul is right and he’s right about monergism. John Robbins was a Sproul fan too when RC stood up on the floor of the PCA GA and rightly protested that the FV as an attack on the doctrine of imputation. I was a Monty fan until he unfortunately was embarrassed for saying stupid things and doesn’t know how to admit he was wrong.

    Why the emphasis on ‘man’s cooperation’? Why do you wish to emphasize man’s ‘involvement’?

    Because men are involved in progressive sanctification and men believe the truth unto salvation and by God’s grace.

    If you don’t like our (and other men’s, even here, now) use of the term ‘monergistic’, then you should request we use another term.

    You need to use another term.

    However, I’ll provide a few: Deterministic, predetermined, predestined, etc. You understand what is meant by our use of the term ‘monergistic’.

    Are you saying monergism is synonymous with determinism, predetermined, predestined, etc.? So you equate monergism with these but not God’s sovereignty? Would you care to actually define monergism as I’m confident you still don’t know what the word means.

    Regeneration is ‘monergistic’, yes, but sanctification is also ‘only God’s work’.

    Or course sanctification is not “only God’s work,” otherwise we wouldn’t be involved. I realize this is going to sound harsh, but maybe you mean that God isn’t sanctifying you which would explain why you think it’s mongeristic as you are not involved in that process.

  41. Denson Dube Says:

    Sean/Ray Ray/Hugh/everyone,
    Is the pot the work of the potter and the clay “cooperating” to produce the pot? Isn’t what we do, whether being sanctified or sinning to destruction simply the outworking of God’s sovereign foreordination and determination to His good pleasure? Just as accountability to God does not imply free will, so believing(an act of the will) does not imply synergism(cooperation).

    Do I distinguish between regeneration and sanctification? Of course I do. But the distinguishing feature is not monergism vs synergism. Rather it is that one is the cause and the other the effect.
    (Sean, I think you are the dung beetle here and need to get your feet off it(so you can see where you are going) or get squashed ! 🙂 )

  42. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    Sure, I know what you mean when you define monergism as strictly connected to regeneration alone. I already said that.

    God doesn’t ‘believe’ for me. I believe solely ‘of’ Him, because He’s endowed belief. Nothing is of myself.

    I just found it odd that you’d cite Sproul, someone who doesn’t even have justification by faith alone correct, which Robbins showed. Couldn’t you have cited Robbins or Clark themselves on monergism? Sure you could’ve.

    It is better to emphasize God’s activity rather than man’s. This gives more glory to God. God has called man’s ‘righteousness’ menstrual rags.

    No, I’m not equating the term monergism with terms like determinism, etc. Men whom you are treating as friends here at this post have also come forward and used phrases like ‘monergistic sanctification’, and you have not attempted to correct them. You say you use the term in its strict, definitional form (applied to only regeneration). You know that Bennett and Juodaitis both call sanctification ‘monergistic’, correct? What do you say to them? And Charlie has used the phrase multiple times already here. Are we all using the term so wrongly and illegally? What we mean, again, is that regeneration AND sanctification are all of God alone. I accept your strict adherence to the term (so you say), as related only to regeneration, as definitional, yet I, and all these men I’ve listed, believe the phrase ‘monergistic sanctification’ is a viable one. And you know what we mean by this. I’m not gonna join you in your ice-skating dance around everything else I’ve said. I don’t like Christmas THAT much.

    Here’s a little gift to you from Monty tonight:

    “Gerety is a liar. He does NOT only use the term monergism in relation
    to regeneration. He is publicly on record with Ryan Hedrich in stating
    and defending that JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION are
    synergistic. This is heresy.”

    Yes, all human activity (which would obviously include sanctification) is only God’s work. A brother has pointed out to remember that in Scripture, humans are spoken of as ‘clay’ of ‘lumps’. God is the Potter, and His pieces don’t scram after He finishes them. And His vessels of mercy do not move about on their own. They were fashioned for God’s Own purposes. I wonder if you looked at my post on Samson, which showed, as the Bible already explicitly does, that all of Samson’s activity was steered and moved by God, that he would judge the Philistines in specific ways, and through sinful means. The only ‘involvement’ on Samson’s part was that he was a created vessel. He was one of God’s creations, and God did with him what He wanted to. Samson was a vessel of mercy, and that is his only ‘contribution’, if you can even call it that. You can’t. And if you’d assert that Samson possessed the ability to have done otherwise than what was written of his life in Scripture, then you are an Arminian, or a Molinist at ‘best’, since you assert simultaneously that God is ‘sovereign’. A libertarian.

    God primarily sanctifies through belief in the truth, and correct, Biblical doctrine (John 17:17). Not through ‘works’ or ‘conduct’, which are filthy rags to God. There are certain moral improvements which have gradually and firmly occurred in my life due to faith in Christ, but why does that make me any different than the Mormon at my front door? They’re ‘nice’ and ‘friendly’ and ‘moral’, too, aren’t they? Big deal. Sanctification primarily has to do with believing truth. Inevitably, the true Christian will manifest ‘better’ moral behavior as time and sanctification go on, but we don’t look to our filthy rags for assurance, or to boast. Someone like you tells the carnal saint to ‘try harder’ if there is a ‘weak sanctification’ taking place. “Work! Work! Work! Try harder! God isn’t THAT sovereign! You still have to work! So get to work, and ‘sanctify’ yourself!”, instead of encouraging them through the Good News of Christ’s work for them.

    I smell prevenient grace, does anyone else?

    But no, your personal stab missed, and wasn’t ‘harsh’ or offensive to me.

  43. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    Thank You Lord, for Denson Dube! Ha ha…

  44. Ryan Says:

    Monty blocked me from his videos because he is a coward.

    “Gerety is a liar. He does NOT only use the term monergism in relation to regeneration. He is publicly on record with Ryan Hedrich in stating and defending that JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION are synergistic. This is heresy.”

    I said justification presupposed synergism, not that the declaration of our righteousness is itself synergistic. Only God is involved in the declaration of righteousness of the believer in Christ. So justification is monergistic. However, because justification presupposes faith and faith presupposes our active assent – our assent may be caused by God’s grace alone, but it is still our assent – justification presupposes synergism. Clark agrees that in the technical sense, faith is active, not passive (What is Saving Faith? pg. 149):

    //Embarrassing as it may be to the present writer in his aim of commending Calvin, the great Reformer actually says a few lines below (III, ii, 8), “The assent which we give to the Divine word… is from the heart rather than from the head, and from the affections rather than the understanding.” But even here, it is still assent. When Calvin in his next phrase calls it “the obedience of faith,” the word obedience warns us that assent is voluntary: It is an act of will, not of the affections. The will is active (activated by the Spirit, of course); affections, as the name indicates, are passive.//

    Also, Gordon Clark clearly stated sanctification is synergistic:

    http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2012/12/gordon-clark-on-synergism-in.html

  45. Sean Gerety Says:

    Do I distinguish between regeneration and sanctification? Of course I do. But the distinguishing feature is not monergism vs synergism. Rather it is that one is the cause and the other the effect. (Sean, I think you are the dung beetle here and need to get your feet off it(so you can see where you are going) or get squashed

    I guess think you’re going to squash Clark too since he says 1) we cooperate in sanctification, and, 1) sanctification is synergistic.

    If God is the cause and our growing in knowledge is the effect then that is synergistic. Cooperation doesn’t imply a libertarian free will any more than WCF IX “Of Free Will” is Arminian (although I expect you beetle heads think it is).

  46. Sean Gerety Says:

    God doesn’t ‘believe’ for me. I believe solely ‘of’ Him, because He’s endowed belief. Nothing is of myself.

    I realize that logic and the law of contradiction mean nothing to you and your brother, but if your believing this or that is nothing of yourself, why do you use the word “I”?

    I just found it odd that you’d cite Sproul, someone who doesn’t even have justification by faith alone correct, which Robbins showed.

    What Robbins showed is that Sproul has, like most Reformed theologians, a confused understanding of saving faith. He certainly never said, as your brother has, that someone with a tri-fold view of faith is a “non-Christian.” Frankly, your brother has brought untold shame on the good names of Clark and Robbins over the years which is why I have banned him from posting here.

    Couldn’t you have cited Robbins or Clark themselves on monergism? Sure you could’ve.

    I pulled selected bits from Clark’s work, The Holy Spirit, that Ryan transcribed above, here is the larger and more relevant bit that also answer’s Denson’s objection; “Is the pot the work of the potter and the clay “cooperating” to produce the pot?” Well, according to Clark the answer is yes:

    “The Keswick movement, of which I think Mrs. Smith and her husband were a part, used such phrases as “Let go, and let God”; “We must not try to sin”; “Let him do it all.” For example, Mrs. Smith declares, “Man’s part is to trust, and God’s part is to work…. Either we must do it for ourselves, or someone must do it for us… it is something we are unable to do…. Plainly the believer can do nothing but trust…. Surrender and trust… is positively all the man can do We do not do anything, but He does it” (p. 29-31).

    As a dedicated, and many will say extreme, Calvinist, I more than gladly insist on God’s doings. No one understands much of the Bible unless he believes in sovereign predestination. But if God predestinated Calvin to write the Institutes, and if God has predestinated me to write this greatly inferior booklet, it was nonetheless Calvin and it is nonetheless I who must put down the words on paper. Mrs. Smith’s statement, “Either we must do it ourselves, or someone must do it for us,” is in its context a false disjunction. Both Calvin and God did the Institutes. And in an even stricter sense both God and Moses wrote the Pentateuch. They cooperated, and as in all cooperation their precise activities in producing the result were different. God is the source of our abilities and the effective determiner of how we use them. But it is we ourselves who must fight the good fight and run the straight race through God’s grace.”

    Pay careful attention to the false disjunction Clark explodes in the Keswicks which is the same disjunction being advanced by the Beetles. I recommend you pay close attention to Clark’s lecture on Sanctification because it seems you and your brother do not understand it: http://www.trinitylectures.org/MP3/Sanctification.mp3

    You know that Bennett and Juodaitis both call sanctification ‘monergistic’, correct? What do you say to them?

    I haven’t discussed this with Bennett but I have discussed this with Tom and at length. I think initially Tom too was operating under a deficient understanding of terms. However, when I explained how Clark was using the word “synergism” and how the term “monergism” is traditionally restricted to the doctrine of regeneration or the effectual call, he said: “I think to avoid any more confusion, all parties (Monty that includes you) must define their terms – thanks for doing so below, Sean, and those reading must read in light of those definitions, even if you disagree with those definitions.” I can tell Monty did not receive Tom’s correction.

    Here’s a little gift to you from Monty tonight:

    “Gerety is a liar. He does NOT only use the term monergism in relation to regeneration. He is publicly on record with Ryan Hedrich in stating and defending that JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION are synergistic. This is heresy.”

    Umm, I think I have restricted my use of the word “monergism” to regeneration. Who is the liar now? 🙂


  47. Yesterday I checked out several Reformed systematic theology works at the library at Southeastern University. By and large the majority of them uphold Sean’s view of sanctification. So accusing him of “Arminianism” on Monty’s part would be irrational. That’s especially true when Gordon H. Clark himself called sanctification “synergistic.” Personally, I am uncomfortable with the terms “synergism” and “cooperation” because of the Arminian connotations those terms carry. Be that as it may, the Reformed theologians I consulted one and all upheld sanctification as a supernatural gift, not pelagian effort or moralism.

    Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology is online and his summary is representative of the others. Louis Berkhof’s explanation is similar.

    See: The Reformed View of Sanctification


  48. It seems to me that the Westminster Confession of Faith the Larger and Shorter Catechisms teach a system of doctrine. Absolute predestination would over rule any idea of Arminianism. And I would point out that even though the Reformed theologians call progressive sanctification “synergistic” and “cooperative” this is by no means moralism, pelagianism or Arminianism since they all attribute even the synergism sole to a supernatural working of God. Berkhof is a good example of that view. Maybe I’ve misused the term “monergistic” but I do so because I came from an Arminian background and I personally dislike the connotations of saying that we “cooperate” with God. I understand that the Reformed use of the term is completely different from the Arminian use. Arminians tend to think in terms of “foreknowledge.” Calvinist think in terms of providence, predestination, and God’s absolute sovereignty. It seems to me that the total picture matters here, not just focusing on one inductive particular–namely “synergism”. Even the most hardcore Calvinist, however, must say that man is a moral agent and accountable to God. That’s true of both the reprobate and the elect.


  49. Sorry about the typos. It seems to me that being too trigger happy sometimes causes quick judgments. I am as guilty of that as anyone else. When I read J. I. Packer’s statement that sanctification is “synergistic” my immediate gut reaction was that he was catering to the Anglo-Catholics with whom he is in ecclesiastical relationship. It seems that maybe I’ve been too quick to judge him. Given the proper definition of synergism within the overall context of the Reformed confessions and the commentary of the major Reformed theologians in the systematics I reviewed yesterday, it would seem to me that Monty is out on a limb–though I still lean toward a more hard determinist view.

    It seems to me that taking a more irenic tone often gets the point across much better. If I’ve offended anyone with my harsh rhetoric, I do apologize.

  50. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hey, Charlie – This is a rebuke from me (then I’m done*) – you’re in sin for libeling Murray. It is not a matter of typos or “being too trigger happy.”

    You need to repent of specific sins specifically. A vague, blanket “apology” is insufficient.

    Nor is it simply that you “offend” folks, it’s that you misrepresent and libel men of God. (You were in OTC mode!)

    Nice that you exonerated Packer (I’m sure he’d be relieved); now do the same for Murray. Recant your drivel: John Murray isn’t the best source for studying the doctrine of sanctification. Murray is one of the proponents of justification by works and the theology of Norman Shepherd.

    * Last time I’ll tell ya – yer free now of my complaints.

  51. Hugh McCann Says:

    Denson, RE: Isn’t what we do, whether being definitively* sanctified or sinning to destruction simply the outworking of God’s sovereign foreordination and determination to His good pleasure?
    AMEN.

    We can say too that our being progressively sanctified [our acting Christianly] is likewise simply the outworking* of God’s sovereign foreordination and determination of our willing and doing His good pleasure?**

    Sean / GHC: Amen: We cooperate in progressive sanctification, which is thus synergistic.

    These statements are not contradictory, nor ~ I thought ~ too difficult.

    Note: B/c our God has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be [reckoned definitively] holy and [judged to be] without blame before him in love, let us therefore be[act, behave] holy and without blame before him in love! {Eph. 1:4}

    * See 1 Cor. 1:30, 6:11; Heb. 1:1, 14, 22.
    ** Phil. 2:12-13.

  52. Brandon R. Burdette Says:

    @ Lyin’ Hat-trick (aka ‘Ryan Hedrich’)-

    To say that Collier’s a ‘coward’ is to say that he’s afraid of you, given your context. Ha… Maybe he just doesn’t want you posting your crap about synergism under his videos, huh? Think about it… You gave some quote emphasizing man’s ‘cooperation’, just like your guy Gerety, from Crampton, and maybe Monty just doesn’t want anymore of that stuff there, huh? You haven’t noticed that he’ll block people who post garbage and heresy under his videos? Perhaps you’re the coward for not just emailing him personally and starting it up there.

    If you’re saying now that ‘justification presupposes synergism’, then you haven’t said anything different than what Monty’s accused you of. Your philosophical and confusing explanation is not consistent.

    @ Conned Parody (aka ‘Sean Gerety’)-

    I use the word ‘I’ because I am a created being of God, subject to His will. I don’t use it like you do, exalting my own actions/performance/self.

    Yeah, Sproul, Sr. does have ‘faith’ confused, doesn’t he? And that’s enough for me. I don’t need to go to some heretic for a definition. This ‘tri-fold’, Latin, Roman Catholic understanding of ‘saving faith’, which is alright with you (as long as the heretic’s a ‘Christian’, right?) was NOT okay with Robbins. Robbins thought Sproul was a Roman Catholic, and that’s it. I don’t care if you’ve got a crush on Sproul. Robbins didn’t. And he also said MacCatholic was ‘among the non-Christians’.

    http://gospelnotlaw.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/the-triunity-of-rc-sproul-john-gerstner-thomas-aquinas-a-trichotomous-faith-asserted/

    After this comment from me tonight, I want you to ban me too, alright? Throw me into the trash with Monty. I’d rather have my place there with him that be accepted among all you guys with all your ‘time’ and ‘debate’.

    You don’t restrict yourself to the use of ‘monergism’ as pertaining only to regeneration. If you did, you’d bark every time one of your pals used it illegally here.

    @ You, My Can (aka ‘Hugh McCann’)-

    Well, you just seem like some pissed off ‘Christian prick’ who only recognizes ‘OTC’ demeanor because he gets jealous whenever he sees it elsewhere outside of himself, and who’s ready to kill for Murray. Give it a rest, man. Just email Charlie, gosh.

  53. Ryan Says:

    Brandon,

    “To say that Collier’s a ‘coward’ is to say that he’s afraid of you…”

    Which he is.

    “You haven’t noticed that he’ll block people who post garbage and heresy under his videos?”

    I wrote one post on one of his videos. You want to know what that was? This:

    “Salvation is not a 50%-50% relationship (as per Arminianism and Open Theism), said Edwards; neither is it a 100%-0% relationship (as in hyper-Calvinism). Rather, it is a relationship wherein man is totally dependent on God’s sovereignty and grace, while man is involved.” – W. Gary Crampton, An Analysis of Open Theism

    So quoting Crampton, a respected Scripturalist, is what you and Collier think passes for garbage? That explains a lot. I see he’s lying on his comments too, saying Sean and I affirm free will to the exclusion of God’s sovereignty. But I was quite clear in my dialogue with Collier I thought man’s will is determined by God[‘s grace]. You can find a sample here. The levels of misrepresentation he has to resort to is really quite pathetic. You should read what was actually said rather than taking Collier’s word for it.

    “Perhaps you’re the coward for not just emailing him personally and starting it up there.”

    I told Monty I was done replying to him on the GHC board he was kicked off of for his lying and full-on retarded comments.

    “If you’re saying now that ‘justification presupposes synergism’, then you haven’t said anything different than what Monty’s accused you of. Your philosophical and confusing explanation is not consistent.”

    You find Clark unclear? Man’s assent to the gospel is active, not passive. Man is therefore an actor. His activity is determined by the Spirit, but it is still his activity. Thus, our coming to faith requires multiple actors: God causes our belief – and He alone efficiently causes it by His grace – but we must believe. Hence, synergism. Do you get it now? Is that simple enough?

  54. Sean Gerety Says:

    You don’t restrict yourself to the use of ‘monergism’ as pertaining only to regeneration. If you did, you’d bark every time one of your pals used it illegally here.

    I have restricted monergism to regeneration. As for the rest, I have no idea what you’re talking about as you’re just embarrassing yourself now.

    After this comment from me tonight, I want you to ban me too, alright? Throw me into the trash with Monty. I’d rather have my place there with him that be accepted among all you guys with all your ‘time’ and ‘debate’.

    Not a problem. You’re banned.

  55. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yesterday I checked out several Reformed systematic theology works at the library at Southeastern University. By and large the majority of them uphold Sean’s view of sanctification. So accusing him of “Arminianism” on Monty’s part would be irrational. That’s especially true when Gordon H. Clark himself called sanctification “synergistic.” Personally, I am uncomfortable with the terms “synergism” and “cooperation” because of the Arminian connotations those terms carry. Be that as it may, the Reformed theologians I consulted one and all upheld sanctification as a supernatural gift, not pelagian effort or moralism.

    Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology is online and his summary is representative of the others. Louis Berkhof’s explanation is similar.

    See: The Reformed View of Sanctification

    For some reason Charlie’s post above was in the spam filter, although I’m sure Brandon will think it was a “monergistic act of God.” =8-) However, the quote from Hodge’s Systematic Theology nails it and even though Bradon has requested that I ban him I hope he reads your post in particular this bit from Hodge:

    “When Christ opened the eyes of the blind no second cause interposed between his volition and the effect. But men work out their own salvation, while it is God who worketh in them to will and to do, according to his own good pleasure. In the work of regeneration, the soul is passive. It cannot cooperate in the communication of spiritual life. But in conversion, repentance, faith, and growth in grace, all its powers are called into exercise. As, however, the effects produced transcend the efficiency of our fallen nature, and are due to the agency of the Spirit, sanctification does not cease to be supernatural, or a work of grace, because the soul is active and cooperating in the process. (3.215).”

    Notice that in regeneration “the soul is passive” and “cannot cooperate,” but in repenting and believing all of the soul’s power are “called into exercise.” And, while the “the soul is active and cooperating in the process,” that does not mean that sanctification ceases “to be supernatural work of grace.” I’d say that’s Q.E.D. or in Monty speak, a slam dunk.

    I wonder if Brandon and Monty think that Charles Hodge is a “Roman Catholic heretic” or worse? I’m tempted to lift the ban just to watch their heads explode. 🙂

  56. Denson Dube Says:

    “The Beetles”,
    Synergism/monergism are terms used for two contradictory views on the role of man and God in the salvation of an individual. I think it debatable if these terms are an appropriate choice for a discussion on sanctification. However, if anyone insists, I choose monergism, voluminous quotations of reformed views from Sean, not withstanding. Need I remind us that Clark and Robbins were also post-millenial, a view I don’t share(I am amillenial), and that many reformed were confused about the nature of faith(as Clark amply demonstrated)? I just think their view rather defective or naive. The universe does not “cooperate” with God, rather God sustains all things by the power of His word. Salvation is of the Lord from end to end. Soli Deo Gloria!


  57. Clark was definitely Premil. I thought I heard Robbins was Amil, but I’m not sure.

    I’m really not sure why this whole concept is so hard to grasp. Monergism means one actor. Just because the playwright wrote and directed the play, doesn’t mean the actors don’t act (as directed).

  58. Sean Gerety Says:

    Synergism/monergism are terms used for two contradictory views on the role of man and God in the salvation of an individual. I think it debatable if these terms are an appropriate choice for a discussion on sanctification.

    This is a complaint you should be placing squarely at Monty’s feet as he was the one who started this stupid “debate” by proclaiming that Clark teaches “monergistic sanctification,” which is false. He’s the one who has consistently misapplied key terms and when corrected rather than simply receiving that correction he continues to make stupid videos slandering me.

    However, if anyone insists, I choose monergism, voluminous quotations of reformed views from Sean, not withstanding. Need I remind us that Clark and Robbins were also post-millenial, a view I don’t share(I am amillenial),

    As Patrick mentioned Clark was historic pre-mil and I’m pretty sure John was amil.

    The universe does not “cooperate” with God, rather God sustains all things by the power of His word. Salvation is of the Lord from end to end.

    Simply because men cooperate with God that does not mean that their cooperation can be anything other than what God has foreordained it would be. Cooperation does not presuppose a libertarian free will any more than the word “responsibility” assumes an undetermined will.

  59. Hugh Says:

    Sean,

    To prove that I am just as smart & godly as your most pious & brilliant contributors to this blog:

    Bran-dung Turdette! Ta-da! I be just as smart as him is!

    Burdette & Carp & Duncan & Bain are plotting a new denom for disgruntled, whinging hyper-curmudgeons: The Glass-is-Half-Empty-&-My-Shorts-are-Too-Tight Fellowship for disenfranchised & disillusioned misfits, aka The Lollipop Guild!

    (sorry, guys; couldn’t resist – it’s nearly Friday!)

  60. Denson Dube Says:

    Patrick/Sean,
    Thanks for your comments. You are probably the second or third(?) secondary sources on Clark and Robbins’ eschatology that I have heared and of course all different. Clark, premil? Wow! I thought I was pretty sure Clark and Robbins were postmil. Thanks for the correction.

    I also cannot understand why God’s absolute sovereignty as creator is so hard to understand. There are two entities involved both at generation and sanctifification, the one the cause of the other. The fact that God alone is the cause does not mean there is no “role” for the “actors”. The role of the actors and their acting is foreordained by God.

    And yes, “cooperating” implies the puny god of Arminianism, begging and pleading for your “cooperation”. Otherwise language has no meaning!


  61. Denson, just to be clear, Sean, Ryan, and I affirm:

    1. God’s absolute sovereignty as creator.
    2. The role of the actors and their acting is foreordained by God.

    If you think we’re denying either of these, then you have misunderstood us (and every other Reformed theologian up to and including Gordon Clark).

    That God is active is agreed upon. That makes one active subject.

    God’s act causes the act of the man. Because of God’s action, Man is now active where he couldn’t be otherwise. This makes two active subjects.

    Mon = one active agent

    Syn = two active agents

    Sanctification, in this context, is the process in which God causes us to act in accordance with his will. Ergo, two actors, ergo, synergism.

    Regeneration (the context in which the terms monergism & synergism are most commonly used) is purely monergistic, as “regeneration” is purely the act of God. We do not regenerate ourselves.

    Belief is the act of man (though of course it is purely because of God’s causing it in us). I hope this clears things up.

  62. Hugh McCann Says:

    With you Patrick, up til the final paragraph.

    Would just want to describe belief as something other than “act.”

    I realize I am disagreeing with WCF/ LBC, but there you are.

    They sound almost contradictory: “…by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting them as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone. [Yup!] They are not justified because God reckons as their righteousness either their faith, their believing [Yup, yup!], or any other act of evangelical obedience.” [Yup! But also Yuck! Belief is not an “act” of any sort on our part.] ~ 11:1 ~

    “…the first and most important acts of saving faith are those directly to do with Christ, when the soul accepts, receives, and rests upon Him alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” ~ 14:2 ~

    I hold that the Holy Spirit invades, not that he merely empowers man to accept. That God ravishes (old sense of the word), not that he merely enables man to receive & rest.

    To wit: The “drawing” [dragging] of John 6:44 and “giving” of v. 65 are meant to indicate (dare I say it?!) monergism.

    Saving faith is simply God imprinting upon our minds the truth that Christ died for our sins, etc. But I see our assent as passive, not active. And certainly we’d all agree, unmeritorious.

    With progressive sanctification: In being born again unilaterally by God we are given abilities to do those things that please God, according to his word.

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


  63. Mark 16:16, it is man who believes. Assent is an act of the will of man, no matter how directed and irresistibly caused it is.


  64. If you disagreed with the final paragraph, you should have disagreed with my earlier statement that…

    “Because of God’s action, Man is now active where he couldn’t be otherwise. This makes two active subjects.

    Mon = one active agent

    Syn = two active agents

    Sanctification, in this context, is the process in which God causes us to act in accordance with his will. Ergo, two actors, ergo, synergism.”

  65. Hugh McCann Says:

    Doesn’t “syn” = “with,” Not “two”?

    Progressive sanctification? I’m with ya!

    Because of God’s action, Man is now active where he couldn’t be otherwise. This makes two active subjects.

    Mon = one [alone] active agent

    Syn = [with] two (or more?) active agents

    [Progressive] Sanctification, in this context, is the process in which God causes us to act in accordance with his will. Ergo, two actors, ergo, synergism.

    With ya!

    This, I gotta mull over (not yet with ya) – “Assent is an act of the will of man, no matter how directed and irresistibly caused it is.”

  66. Hugh McCann Says:

    Assent is an act of the will of man….

    Hmm….


  67. Clark’s “Faith & Saving Faith” is very helpful in this area.

  68. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hmm… Will re-reread! Danke schön!

  69. brandonadams Says:

    Thanks for this helpful post, Sean. Providentially, it coincides nicely with some conversations I’m having with my brother-in-law.

    I just read this essay from Beisner and it is somewhat (though not directly) related if anyone is interested:
    The Roles of Faith in Justification and Sanctification:
    A Constructive Criticism of an Element of Sonship Theology

  70. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Brandon. I wonder if you have been following the discussion of Ryan’s and Drake’s view that monotheism consists not in a Trinity of Persons but in the concrete person of the Father and if you had any thoughts?

  71. Hugh McCann Says:

    Yes, thanks, Brandon – food for thought on many levels!

    It appears @ first glance that Beisner has the biblical balance on sanctification, but he nearly equates “Progressive Sanctification” under the broad term, “Sanctification,” as do most Presbyterians, Reformed Baptists, etc. Beisner appears caught in the Westminster Standards’ definition of Sanctification – a sadly truncated one. One wonders if/ how he read John Murray.

    Great Ferguson quote on page 6! Hang on to this one, saints:

    “Jesus Christ is our sanctification or holiness (1 Cor. 1:30); and it is through union with Christ that sanctification is accomplished in us… Christ is our sanctification. In him it has first come to its fulfillment and consummation.” 🙂

    [Emphasis his.]

    Beisner approvingly quotes Ferguson, and can say that “Definitive Sanctification consists in Christ’s holiness becoming ours because of our union with him” (p. 6). That DS is “complete at conversion” (p. 5). Amen!

    But Beisner writes that, “Definitive Sanctification is not a legal declaration, but our being transformed…” as in, regeneration?!

    He claims that Definitive Sanctification is “truly transforming the unregenerate sinner” (p. 6). It does, he claims, “involve a real change in the constitution of the convert” (p. 7).

    While Beisner tries to steer clear of Rome (p. 7), he partially misses the completely declarative/ definitive aspect of DS indicated by Paul.*

    Contra Beisner, it is indeed “an alien righteousness that constitutes our definitive sanctification”! Come, on Cal!

    * We note that ALL the alien attributes of Christ are completely ours in union with him (all from the ESV):

    I Cor. 1:30 ~ you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption;

    6:11 ~ you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Heb. 10:10 ~ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    v.14 ~ For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

    v.22 ~ let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
    with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
    and our bodies washed with pure water.

  72. Hugh McCann Says:

    Ferguson’s right emphasis: Christ is our sanctification. In him it has first come to its fulfillment and consummation.
    🙂

  73. Cliffton Says:

    If monergism implies that man is passive and synergism implies that man is active, man is passive or active relative to what…God as the only real cause of all things?

  74. brandonadams Says:

    Hi Sean, I’ve been pretty tied up with work and family, so I’ve only been able to glance every so often at the discussion, and have not even read it in full… so I can’t say I have any thoughts, sorry :/

  75. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Brandon. No problem.

    @Cliffton. I’m not really sure what it is you’re asking, but monergism implies that man is passive only in the sense that “a monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person.” Monergism is the act of a single will. If God works in you to both will and to do, then there are two wills involved and that’s not monergism.

  76. Cliffton Says:

    Cliffton: If monergism implies that man is passive and synergism implies that man is active, man is passive or active relative to what…God as the only real cause of all things?

    Sean: I’m not really sure what it is you’re asking, but monergism implies that man is passive only in the sense that “a monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person.” Monergism is the act of a single will. If God works in you to both will and to do, then there are two wills involved and that’s not monergism.

    Cliffton: Regeneration is a work produced upon the mind of an individual. Therefore, in some sense the mind of man is “involved” (to use your word). The relevant question is, in what sense is man involved? According to you, a monergistic work is a work produced by one person. What distinguishes monergism from synergism then, is the number of producers and not the work produced. Thus my question in a slightly altered form (with the implied criticism), what does it mean that man is a producer of a work relative to God as the only real producer of all works?

  77. Sean Gerety Says:

    I don’t agree. Prior to regeneration man is spiritually dead and his mind is enmity toward God, Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit enabling us to answer the call of the Gospel and “to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.” Regeneration logically and necessarily precedes faith.

    To your criticism; would you say it’s wrong to refer to Calvin as the author of the Institutes since God is the only real producer of all works?

  78. Sean Gerety Says:

    Also, is God the only real producer of any errors in the Institutes?


  79. Come on Sean. You know there aren’t any errors in the Institutes 😉

  80. Hugh McCann Says:

    Inerrant only in the autographs, right?

  81. Cliffton Says:

    Cliffton: If monergism implies that man is passive and synergism implies that man is active, man is passive or active relative to what…God as the only real cause of all things?

    Sean: I’m not really sure what it is you’re asking, but monergism implies that man is passive only in the sense that “a monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person.” Monergism is the act of a single will. If God works in you to both will and to do, then there are two wills involved and that’s not monergism.

    Cliffton: Regeneration is a work produced upon the mind of an individual. Therefore, in some sense the mind of man is “involved” (to use your word). The relevant question is, in what sense is man involved? According to you, a monergistic work is a work produced by one person. What distinguishes monergism from synergism then, is the number of producers and not the work produced. Thus my question in a slightly altered form (with the implied criticism), what does it mean that man is a producer of a work relative to God as the only real producer of all works?

    Sean: I don’t agree. Prior to regeneration man is spiritually dead and his mind is enmity toward God, Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit enabling us to answer the call of the Gospel and “to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.” Regeneration logically and necessarily precedes faith.

    Cliffton: If the above is an explanation of why you don’t agree, then you are confused. In fact, because you affirm that MAN is spiritually dead and that it is MAN that is regenerated, then by necessity you affirm that MAN is “involved.” Again, the issue in monergism is the producer of the work, not the work produced.

    Sean: To your criticism; would you say it’s wrong to refer to Calvin as the author of the Institutes since God is the only real producer of all works?

    Cliffton: In relation to God as the sole cause of all things, Calvin is not the real (ultimate, metaphysical, absolute) producer of the Institutes. Relatively speaking, that is man relative to other men, Calvin is the author of his work. But of course, to claim that both God and man are producers of sanctification is to equivocate on the term “produce”.

    Sean: Also, is God the only real producer of any errors in the Institutes?

    Cliffton: God is the only real (ultimate, metaphysical, absolute) producer of all errors.

  82. Sean Gerety Says:

    Regeneration is a work produced upon the mind of an individual. Therefore, in some sense the mind of man is “involved” (to use your word).

    If it’s a work of God produced “upon the mind” then the mind of man is not involved at all. Man is, in the words of the WCF, “altogether passive therein,” Therefore, there is no sense in which the mind of man is involved. Consequently, your argument doesn’t follow.

    Cliffton: God is the only real (ultimate, metaphysical, absolute) producer of all errors.

    And all this time I thought God could not lie. Silly me.

  83. Cliffton Says:

    Sean, the mind of man is regenerated and yet not “involved” in any sense? Whose mind is regenerated? Man is involved in the sense that it is man’s mind that is regenerated. This should be obvious.

    The issue in monergism (and synergism) is not the work produced but the producer of the work. In that sense, God is the only real producer in regeneration. Likewise, in sanctification, the issue is not the work produced but the producer of the work. In that sense, God is the only real producer in sanctification. This is a matter of a simple deduction from the truth that God is the real producer of all works.

    You aren’t keeping your categories clear and distinct. For example, in response to my claim that God is the ultimate cause of all errors you talk of God and lying. God doesn’t lie because lying is a sin and sin is a violation of law. Law only applies to what God’s creatures ought to do and according to which they are held accountable. To suggest that God could lie would be to confuse ethics with metaphysics. The suggestion itself is a categorical fallacy. God is truth. God doesn’t lie because that would be in inherent contradiction to the definition of God. However, to use this as a response to my claim that God is the ultimate producer of all errors seems to suggest that you deny my claim. To do so would imply that you worship an idol…like Ryan and Drake’s god.

  84. Cliffton Says:

    You can have the last word…for which you will be held accountable to the God of truth.

  85. Sean Gerety Says:

    the mind of man is regenerated and yet not “involved” in any sense? Whose mind is regenerated? Man is involved in the sense that it is man’s mind that is regenerated. This should be obvious.

    What ought to be obvious is that the mind of man is completely passive, as in oblivious, to the work of the Spirit. You’re starting to sound like an Arminian yourself Cliffton since it is Arminians who maintain that the mind of man cooperates with the ubiquitous work of the Spirit in regeneration.

  86. Denson Dube Says:

    Hi Sean,
    Clifton’s point (and mine) is that “involved” is vague. The turkey you had for Thanksgiving is “involved” in your sanctification. The question is what is the “involvement” or what is the “role”. Man is a “passive” recipient of God’s grace in that man is neither the originator or a contributor to any part of the work of redemption from end to end. The whole of redemption is the work of God alone.

    And by the way, I understand the concern that attributing “everything” to God leads to misunderstanding grace as implying anything from lazy do-nothings to anti-nomianism. But these are old and tired anti-Calvinistic arguments refuted ages ago. God has ordained both the end and the means of grace.

    Have a great family day tomorrow to ya all.

  87. Ryan Says:

    “Not only do destructive critics make such mistakes; many sincere and devout worshippers are also confused. They often say that we are saved by faith alone. This of course is false. We are justified by faith alone; but we are regenerated without any previous faith or works; we are sanctified by faith and works; and we shall be glorified by neither. A closer study of Scripture would help us avoid confusion relative to the several distinct phases of an all-inclusive salvation.”

    – Gordon Clark, The Pastoral Epistles, pg. 133

    To say that man is not “involved” in regeneration is simply to say we are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will (activity) of man, but of God alone.

  88. Hugh McCann Says:

    GHC shoulda read Murray, too!

    We are sanctified definitively by grace through faith alone, and progressively by faith & works; and we shall be glorified by neither. A closer study of Scripture [along with reading MURRAY!] would help us avoid confusion relative to the several distinct phases of an all-inclusive salvation.

    Merry Christmas /
    A Blessed Advent /
    Happy Incarnation Day, everyone!

  89. Ryan Says:

    The difference is that it is clear what Clark means by sanctification. After all, you were not confused by the possibility Clark was referring to “definitive sanctification,” and the reason is because the few Christians who even know what soteric act that phrase refers to don’t just call it “sanctification.” In fact, I can’t recall having ever heard or seen anyone mean to refer to “definitive” sanctification while just calling the act in question “sanctification.” Such persons always qualify it in my experience.

    On the other hand, I have often heard and seen people say “salvation” instead of the specific soteric act they actually mean.


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