Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What My Dog Has Taught Me About Christianity: Pt. 3-Picking Piper (A Case for Synergistic Divine Election)

The night my wife and I got Piper was a wonderful evening. We had been searching for a dog for a few weeks. After going to a bunch of pet stores and weeding through countless Craigslist ads and e-mailing tons of dog sellers, we finally found a plausible opportunity.

After finalizing with the people, my wife and I drove to North Carolina one evening after school and work. We met the people in a Wal-Mart Express parking lot where they pulled up in a truck with a pile of puppies in the back. That's right, it was a pile of cute, shivering puppies (it was November and a bit cold). It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

We weren't sure which of the pups to choose so the people opened the crate and I stuck my hand inside. Only one of the puppies reacted to that. She came forward and licked my fingers a few times. We took her out and held her for a few minutes and we just knew she was the one for us. It was Piper's response to us that told us we wanted to choose her. 

This, I think, is a good picture of how we are saved. What do I mean by that? First, we have to talk about some theological backgrounds to understand better.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to God and people's roles in salvation. The first is called Monergism and the second is called Synergism. 

Monergistic theology believes that people do absolutely nothing in the process of justification. The act is only a divine one. If God does not initiate the salvific process with a person, then it is not attainable for them. Monergism is the main school of thought within Reformed communities. Theologians like RC Sproul, Tullian Tchividjian, etc. are Monergists. It is generally associated with being a Calvinist or having Calvinistic tendencies. 

The opposite of the Monergistic paradigm is Synergism. This views holds that people's responses are at least in some way responsible for their salvation. Of course, a common critique launched against those who are open synergists are that they believe in a works salvation. "Works" have a bad name in the Protestant church ever since Martin Luther tried to cut the book of James out of the Bible by calling it "a book of straw." 

This critique is unfortune because it demonstrates a relinquishing of personal responsibility. Synergists don't believe you are saved by doing certain rituals or what have you. However, you are saved through Christ Jesus and His sacrifice but it can only be effectual through your belief. It's something you have to choose, choosing being an action or a work. 

Now that we have this background, let's go back to the Piper iillustration. The way Piper reacted to my hand made me choose her. I think it's the same way with God. He gives us all an opportunity to be his puppies, it's a question of how we react to Him sticking His hand in the crate. 


  1. Another great blog! I agree with you on the Synergism.