July 20, 2010

Pelagianism: A Monergist Model of Redemption

"Pelagianism? Monergist? Martin, I think you need to recheck your definitions."

No it's true! For those that read most internet Calvinist literature, the word 'monergism' is understood to be synonymous with determinism. However, the term specificly means that only one party's actions (energy) matters within the processes of redemption and sanctification. The process involves two parties: God and the human. Therefore, monergism is any belief system that views either party as the only effective actor within the process, whether it be God (Calvinism/Augustinianism) or the human (Pelagianism).

Therefore, it strikes me as odd that many Calvinists seem to celebrate monergism as if the concept alone justifies the superiority of Calvinism. The truth of the matter is, it seems to me that most Calvinists simply think monergisticly. Many believe that it must be God or humanity, and if we are not saying God, that that amounts to saying that it is humanity. That just isn't true.

Here is the truth of the matter:
  • Pelagianism: Monergistic Believes that the human initiates and completes the process of redemption and sanctification by living the kind of life modeled by Christ.
  • Semipelagianism: Synergistic Believes that the human initiates the process of redemption, but it is completed through the assistance of God and Christ's redemptive sacrifice
  • Semiaugustianism (Arminianism): Synergistic Believes that God initiates the process of redemption, and completes it within those humans that respond to His initiatial promptings.
  • Augustinianism (Calvinism): Monergistic Beleives that God initiates and completes the process of redemption and sanctification of a few select persons.

Those that celebrate 'Monergism' and condemn 'Synergism' do so without fully understanding the terms. Both Pelagianism (a monergist theology) and Semipelagianism (a synergist theology) are just as heretical, and both Augustianism (a monergist theology) and Semiaugustinianism (a synergist theology) fall comfortably within the boundries of orthodoxy.

See the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church to collaborate definitions of terms


bethyada said...

I am not certain that Calvinism is any less errant than semi-pelagianism.

Jc_Freak: said...

Well, there is a difference between something being in error, and something being heretical. Historically speaking, Augustinian theology has been considered within orthodoxy, though has never really been the primary theological perspective of the church except in some Protestant denominations. My views on orthodoxy and heterodoxy are based on Thomas Oden's paleo-orthodox views.

Personally, I view Calvinist theology in a similar way as I view Catholic theology: clearly wrong, but not heretical. I oppose Calvinism as much as I do because of the severity of many Calvinist "apologists" today.

Kevin Jackson said...

Good insights. Would universalism be monergistic too?

Jc_Freak: said...


Yes, as far as redemption is concerned. I don't know how most universalists view sanctification. I actually thought about mentioning universalism, but decided not to because I felt I had enough material.

A.M. Mallett said...

Ahh HA! How did I miss this?? This is too rich. I am going to have to sleep this off LOL!!!!