A while ago, I entered a discussion with someone that covered the topic of synergism versus monergism. The accusation was made my way that my theology turned men into prideful beings, as they looked upon their faith as though it made them better than others with no faith.
My response was that “my theology” (not that I myself invented it, or it rises and falls on my account, but rather it is the theology to which I adhere) could hardly make men prideful. For one, it was given to men as a gift, on account of nothing that they did (cf. Eph 2:8-9). For another, this gift was given completely undeserved. The Lord could have bypassed Tony-Allen and left him an unregenerated sinner, and He would have been perfectly just in doing so – instead, He effectually called him into the fold, for no other reason than His purpose and will (cf. Rom 9:10-11), and owing to nothing but His mercy (cf. Rom 9:18).
Upon what basis can I place my pride? That I was a sinner worthy of damnation? That our blessed Lord had to die to atone for sins which I could never repay? That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to suffer on my behalf and fulfill all requirements of the Law, because I could not do it myself? That it was by the working of the Spirit that my heart was regenerated and not because I was smarter, kinder, or more holy to do it myself? Where in all this can I truly have pride? How can I look upon my faith as proving I’m better than someone without faith when I recognize: 1) that faith is not my own to begin with; 2) sans this faith and regeneration given by God, I would be no different than the person without faith?
I then told the person that it was their own theology, in fact, which led to prideful thinking. This was because they say that God calls to everyone, and pleads with everyone, and it’s up to us to respond of our own power (a rather Semi-Pelagian position). What, then, made them so much more smarter and better than the atheist next door? What made them different than a person who rejects the gospel to their dying day? They would have to be intellectually honest and say that it’s because they were somehow better, smarter, or more receptive of the gospel. They were, in essence, somehow better than the other person.
I recognize, of course, that few synergistic testimonies are about how great and wonderful they are, and most synergists are themselves humble Christians. However, their position in regards to salvation – when truly examined – states that part of their salvation was owed to them. They contributed to it. Even if it was a mere 1% out of 99%, they were still responsible for that 1%, without which God would have failed. They were able to contribute 1% by their own accord, making themselves better and, in some respects, far more religious than those who rejected God and did not fulfill that 1%. My position, on the other hand, states that God’s contribution was 100% His doing. I offered nothing to the table except my own sin, for which God had to suffer, atone for, and then absolve by grace through faith, bringing me to repentance. There is no room for me to be prideful.
Some might say, “But can’t you be prideful that God chose you over someone else?” I respond by repeating what I mentioned earlier: that Christ had to die for me in the first place, to atone for my sins, shames me from any possible pride. With the idea of election comes the responsibility of recognizing that your atonement was paid for at a price (cf. 1 Cor 7:23). I am no more prideful that God granted me faith, at the cost of Christ’s sacrifice, than I am prideful that I love today in freedom because an American soldier in a foreign land died on my account. My salvation was paid for with the atoning blood of Christ, and there is no pride that can be taken from that.
There is only one thing I am prideful one, but it is not pride of my own, but pride I throw upon God, the one who took on flesh, dwelt among us, and gave Himself so that my betrothed and I can be among His flock. All glory that could possibly go to me I redirect to the Lord, and all who desire salvation I point towards Him. God bless.