Synergism or Monergism: Observations in Ezekiel


Observations in EzekielIn my Old Testament class this morning we were going over Ezekiel. There was something interesting mentioned that I had never really thought about before and it made me think of the argument between synergists and monergists.

Synergists say that God opens the way and man must respond. If man does not respond, God can’t do anything about it because man is free and God cannot interfere. They also believe that if God commands us to do something we can’t do that such a command would be fake, or at worst, evil.

Monergists believe that God must cause faith in the human heart, God must regenerate a person before they can respond to the Gospel, and that no one would ever respond to the Gospel unless God regenerates them. Also, when God regenerates, that person will believe, God cannot be resisted. When God commands, he enables and causes his people to obey.

So here’s what came up in class:

“Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!” As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.” (Ezekiel 2:1-2)

Here is proof, that at least one time in Scripture God commands someone to do something and then makes them do it. Why did God command Ezekiel to stand up? Why not just make him stand up? I mean, Ezekiel’s will wasn’t involved, was it? God commanded Ezekiel and then the Spirit of God made Ezekiel obey. Interesting.

Again, it is seen in this:

“When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 3:18)

So God is saying that if Ezekiel doesn’t tell the people what God tells him to say God will make him responsible for the death of those he failed to warn. But then it continues:

“Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them, for they are a rebellious house. “But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 3:26-27)

So even though God said that if Ezekiel doesn’t do what He tells him, that God will judge him – God tells him that God will make him do what was commanded, and Ezekiel won’t even be able to talk unless God opens his mouth.

And to close:

“The hand of the Lord was on me there, and He said to me, ‘Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.’ So I got up and went out to the plain; and behold, the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory which I saw by the river Chebar, and I fell on my face.” (Ezekiel 3:22-23)

In this case God commands and Ezekiel goes.

It is a beautiful picture of God’s enablement and our own involvement.

Father, may I never boast or become conceited in the work you have called me to. For in the end it is you who will enable and cause me to do your will. But Father, may I never take license and become complacent in my own responsibility to do what you have commanded. I praise you for the great salvation you have granted, that you have worked in my heart that I might see you as beautiful, as desirable, above all else – oh, may I see more of your glory, and be captured by your grace. I praise you for your wonderful salvation that you have wrought in the world – may the nations praise you, and ascribe to you the glory that is rightfully yours.

One Response to Synergism or Monergism: Observations in Ezekiel

  1. Ben says:

    I think you are mischaracterizing synergism … not all synergists are Pelagians, in fact, probably very few. For instance, I characterize myself as a synergist, but:

    Synergists say that God opens the way and man must respond.
    Sort of … it’s more like, a response is possible, and God expects it

    If man does not respond, God can’t do anything about it
    Can’t is the wrong word … “won’t” would be better … God is patient, but will not save without repentance / faith. I certainly don’t believe that God cannot make someone do something, or that he doesn’t on occasion. As in “how long have I wanted to gather you, but you were unwilling.”

    They also believe that if God commands us to do something we can’t do that such a command would be fake, or at worst, evil.
    More like, if human beings have no free will, then all the commands in the Bible are fake.

    Additionally, I would say that at least two of your “monergistic points” are not incompatible with synergism:

    God must regenerate a person before they can respond to the Gospel
    And that no one would ever respond to the Gospel unless God regenerates them.

    So, it doesn’t really seem like your arguments addressed actual synergism.

    From my viewpoint, what I would call “synergism” (the position held, I think, by Orthodox, some Catholics, Arminians, most non-Calvinistic evangelicals) is the middle, reasonable ground between Pelagianism and its opposite heresy, Monergism.

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