Sunday, January 4, 2009

Monergism and Romans 3:23-28

I was reading my Grandpa's Bible that was given to him in 1946 when he married my Grandma. It's an old King James with all his written notes. I was also listening to Tony Evans tonight who I love, what a great Protestant Preacher. And I've been at the point where I constantly think 'i'm going to hell' so I opened up at Romans. I read this passage:

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." - Romans 3:23-28

The phrase "That he might be just, and the justifier" utterly clashes with all of modern Catholicism. It is complete Monergism. The idea that God does EVERYTHING and humans do NOTHING. This is what St. Paul seems to be making abundantly clear. There is no simpler way of putting it apparently. It would seem that God is just, and that he justifies those who believe in him. They don't justify themselves. It's not that they believe and are justified, it's that God justifies them and they believe. It's almost like he predestined them or something crazy like that, almost as if they had no say in the matter. This doesn't mesh with my Theology

I picked up Calvin again and he echoes this theme well, he quotes St. Boniface saying: "Human beings are the work of God insofar as they are human, but they are under the control of the devil insofar as they are sinners, unless they are rescued from there through Christ" (Bondage and Liberation of the Will pp 40-41)

And then Calvin adds of his own "the godly, being thoroughly emptied of all misplaced confidence in themselves, [an attitude] which is true humility indeed, make room for the grace of God, from which they may draw strength. Therefore in issuing commands and exhortations God does not take account of our strength, since he gives that very thing which he demands and gives it for the reason that by ourselves we are helpless." (Bondage and Liberation of the Will pp 41-42)

Interesting thoughts on the passage. If only they were right. Calvin may claim to be an Augustinian, but his Ecclesiology is entirely un-Augustinian. Thus I shall continue in Catholicism, for as St. Augustine said, "The Church is a whore, but she's my mother". God never gives us the choice of making a new church. So Ecclesiologically I must remain Catholic, but I still enjoy Calvin. He makes me feel redeemed even though I've done nothing Christ-like for probably a year. In my mind sola fide + election = apathy and sin = Calvin/Luther. But I'm glad some folks like Jared and the many Presbyterians I know can get a great deal from it. For me I doubt anything will work.

God bless my friends.


  1. God being the justifier in no way clashes with Catholic Doctrine. God is the efficient cause of our justification, period.

  2. You might want to read the book "Cajetan Responds," because Cardinal Cajetan in his disputations with Luther highlights how salvation is all by God's grace, which works in, with, and through each man, thereby making the process of salvation a personal experiential encounter with God. Salvation is not a passive process.