God-Centered vs Man-Centered Salvation-by Alan Kurschner


A Touchstone for God-Centered Salvation Vs. Man-Centered Salvation

10/29/2010 – Alan Kurschner

The “Calvinist vs. Arminian” debate is substantially a debate between what is called “synergism” and “monergism.” There is no third option (unless one is willing to affirm Pelagianism). For those who are new to the Calvinist-Arminian debate, the following is a primer on the two perennial branches of theological systems in Christianity. Or to put it another way, there are two very different ways for believers to view their salvation.

In general, the first type (the Arminian-Synergist) affirms what is called “synergism.” Synergists believe that two forces in the universe are necessary to bring about regeneration in the life of the sinner. In specifics, the two forces at work (cooperation) that are necessary to bring about regeneration, or spiritual life, is the will of man and the Holy Spirit (grace).

To put it another way, the work of the Holy Spirit is dependent on the creature’s will, hence, “synergism” (working together). These individuals will sincerely say, “I believe in grace alone.” But in reality, they believe that grace is not alone (sufficient), but that man’s will is necessary for regeneration to be effective.

It could be said that these individuals are “functional” Arminians because even though some will deny the label, their theology functions synergistically (thus, how they identify themselves is inconsistent with what they teach and believe).

The second group of believers (the Calvinist-Monergist) affirm what is called “monergism.” Monergists believe that there is only one force in the universe (grace alone) that brings about regeneration in the life of the sinner. In specifics, because of the deadness of man’s spiritual state, his moral inability, the Holy Spirit performs the miracle of spiritual resurrection (regeneration) in that person, hence, “monergism” (one work). Grace is sufficient to be effective, and does not depend on some action of man.

In other words, the Holy Spirit does not merely whisper in the hardened sinner’s ear, hoping that the rebel sinner will “cooperate”; rather, while the sinner is in a state of hardness and rebellion, the Holy Spirit penetrates in the will of man and performs the miracle of spiritual life (regeneration). That is grace alone. Faith does not precede regeneration, regeneration precedes faith.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13

He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47

Arminians cannot affirm monergism (grace alone); they must always have the creature’s will as the final determiner of their destiny, not God. Inconsistently, Arminians pray (without knowingly) Calvinisticly, “God, change my unbelieving relative’s heart.” I have never heard them pray, “God, only whisper in my relative’s ear, but don’t change their heart unless you’ve been given permission.” But the Calvinist prays and affirms biblical truth consistently.


About laura754

Saved by His undeserved mercy
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7 Responses to God-Centered vs Man-Centered Salvation-by Alan Kurschner

  1. lynnylou says:

    hmmm, this sounds a very blinkered view of salvation & doesn’t make sense???

  2. dawnmarie4 says:

    Thank you Laura. Such a simple, very understandable “in a nutshell” view of the two views of salvation.

    John 6:43-45

    43Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

    44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    45It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

    John 6:36-38

    36But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

    37All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

    38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

    Romans 8:28-30 (King James Version)

    28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

    30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    Ephesians 1:3-5

    3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

    4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

  3. laura754 says:

    good verses Dawnmarie

    Hi lynnylou, good to hear from you. 🙂

    I spent years in churches that taught that we give God permission to come into our hearts. That God is a gentleman and never forces Himself on anyone.

    Though I read the Bible for years and believed in His sovereignty in everything else, I was blinded by my churches teaching when it came to His sovereignty concerning salvation.

    When I came out of the church that had started supporting Rick Warren and ecumenical stuff, I came across clear teachings on God’s sovereignty in salvation.

    It was a glaring contrast to the popular but wrong view of asking Jesus into ones heart.

    One simply believes on Him for salvation.

    We don’t give Him permission to save us.

    He decrees. We submit.

    He justifies.
    We are TAKEN from the kingdom of darkness, where we dwelt as spiritual dead men without any regard for Him.

    He sets us into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the Son.

    We are as called from spiritual death to life, as surly as Lazarus was called from the tomb by Jesus.

    Lazarus was unable to call out to Jesus to bring him to life.

    Jesus acted from His position of Divine Sovereign, in calling forth Lazarus.
    Lazarus was raised as an example of the POWER and authority of God over SPIRITUAL death as well as PHYSICAL death.

    Romans 8:29-30 that Dawn quoted:

    29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

    30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    There is a reason that we all have been misdirected in this teaching on God’s sovereignty in salvation.

    And when you see the results of Rick Warren and his rotten leaven in the church today, it’s no surprise. Look at what is going on today in the church.
    we have the growing influence of Catholicism in the visible church,
    we have Rick Warrens Purpose Driven agenda,
    and the low view of God concerning His sovereignty in man’s salvation –

    ALL THREE of these support a view of a false god who is sought by works.
    Presenting a different Jesus and a different gospel.

    There is biblical support for God’s sovereignty in all matters,
    and that will always include His sovereignty in mans salvation.

  4. lynnylou says:

    Hi Laura,

    I do understand where you are coming from with regard to the apostacy of evangelicalism. I also see the seriousness of trivialising God’s plan of salvation. I also do believe that there is a lot of flippancy over salvation caused by those who advocate asking Jesus into your heart. I much prefer these days to use the terminology of ‘you must be born again’ as Jesus explained to Nicodemus. Having said all that though, I am not a Calvinist, neither am I what Calvinists designate Armenian. The Calvinist view begs the question that if God chooses who shall be saved, then does He also choose who shall be destroyed in Hell? “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
    I have a lot of respect for such teachers as John McArthur in his stance for holiness, but I cannot adhere to the Calvinist interpretation of predestination. God does foreknow who will be saved but this does not mean that people do not chose whom they will serve. If there was not an endowment of free will upon mankind from the beginning in the Garden of Eden onwards, then there would be no need for a Saviour. Is there not a choice made in simply believing on Him [Jesus] for salvation as you have above stated?

    Hopefully we can agree to differ in this area & nevertheless join forces against the current evil of mysticism invading & taking over churches which are sadly no longer the assembly of BELIEVERS!

    Blessings to you in Christ our Redeemer

  5. laura754 says:

    Good morning Lynnylou!
    I certainly appreciate your response and desire for fellowship especially over the concern for the state of the ‘church’ today. 🙂

    You know, I am not a Calvinist either!

    I appreciate much of what Calvin did in his time. But I hope to not fall into Hyper-Calvinism.

    I also cannot be described as reformed.
    I appreciate much that comes from John MacArthur too,
    but I don’t agree with him in all that he teaches.

    I love the doctrines of grace as a reformed preacher would present them.

    But I do not go for certain applications to their teaching such as infant baptism for example.

    Concerning this topic of op, this is what I focus on concerning the salvation of the lost, since I know I don’t know everything: prayer for the lost.

    We are exhorted to pray, always.
    We know that God is sovereign, He knows everything. He knows the end from the beginning.

    Yet, He asks us to pray.

    Jesus said to be like the persistent widow.

    And what saved mom with an unsaved son or daughter do but be like that widow when it comes to persistently praying for salvation for her beloved kid?

    Jesus said to do so. SO that is what I do. Cause I have at least one unsaved son.

    We pray for many things, but as believers we should pray especially for the lost to be saved.

    We know that all are lost from the start.

    Until He regenerates/causes to be ‘born again’ or born from above; all are lost.

    We are not God that we know who will in the end be saved.
    So we pray for all whom we love, like family and friends, plus others.

    We know that Jesus said that all will come to Him if the Father has given them to Him.
    No one can come to Jesus unless the Father first gives them to Him.
    Jesus talked about the Fathers will and the lost.

    John 6:37- 40
    All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,

    and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

    For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

    This is the will of Him who sent Me,
    that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

    For this is the will of My Father,

    that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life,

    and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.’

    v 44
    ‘No One can come to Me

    unless the father who sent Me draws him;

    and I will raise him up on the last day.’

    v 65
    And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you,

    that no one can come to Me

    unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
    I have learned to accept that I need to pray for family without knowing God’s final sovereign will regarding them. I just obey and pray for salvation.

    Specifically I pray now for the Father to give them to Jesus, that Jesus will call them unto life, (regenerating them), so they can put their faith in Him and believe.

    I can’t say I understand completely the doctrine of God’s sovereignty concerning the unsaved and who is called.

    But because He calls us to pray, we assume it affects His will somehow.

    I firmly believe that when we pray God hears, and God answers.

    But He answers with His own will and glory in mind.

    Each person we pray for, just like us, has a free will.

    Yet we know that our free will is corrupted and blinded by the dead uncircumcised heart within us.

    Since all are lost anyway from the start, we can only first be grateful for His having regenerated US while we were in our corrupt, blind, spiritually dead condition.

    I pray specifically now for my lost family, that God would override their corrupted free will and give them to His Son.

    I don’t worry about ‘if’ they are called.

    I just want to obey God; and I do what any loving mom/ family member would do; and pray for the salvation of the lost

  6. lynnylou says:

    Amen to that Laura! I have at least 2 of my 4 adult sons who is in need of prayer for salvation & this is my daily prayer. There is much that we don’t understand but this is where our faith in our Sovereign God comes in. Let me tell you a funny (but sad) story about a pastor my husband & I once met in a Charismatic church we went to with my friend who fellowshipped there. My husband was talking to this pastor about healing & as my husband said to him that we need to pray for God’s will as to healing, this pastor literally shrank away from us to the other side of the room without saying a word. Don’t think he could stand the idea of a Sovereign God who doesn’t do man’s bidding. You know how a lot of charismatics insist that you must be healed no matter what – well this guy was one of those.


  7. laura754 says:

    wow, that’s sad Lyn. It seems that the Sovereignty of God is probably on the list of the 10 most UNDER studied attributes of God, by pastors.

    And with us as well.

    (I am going to be on a five day work stretch as of tonight, so it will be ‘quiet’ here till Mon. 😦
    did you know I work nights now? Just started less than 2 weeks ago.)

    but I am totally grateful for the work, believe me! 🙂

    have a great weekend if I don’t talk to you before then.

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