Saturday, January 5, 2013

Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism or Grace Alone - By John Hendryx

From Reformation Theology

In semi-pelagianism man's will precedes God's grace. In Arminianism God's grace precedes man's will (but still ascribes faith and repentance to each man's personal wisdom, not to Christ ALONE). But in Divine monergism (grace alone) God mercifully gives man a new heart (Ezek. 36:26), renewing his will and affections, which makes his choice certain and effectual (Jn. 6:37).

It should be noted that Arminians are adamant that they teach salvation by "grace alone" and would take offense if someone were to say otherwise. While I acknowledge that this is what they universally declare, but we are countering this assertion by saying that their theology is not consistent with this declaration.

What most Arminians really mean by "grace alone is "faith alone" which is a related concept, but not the same. The problem here is that they rightly affirm the biblical doctrine of salvation "through FAITH alone", but they do not differentiate this concept enough from the biblical doctrine of "GRACE alone", at least in any historical way the Bible or the Reformation speak of this issue.

The phrase "grace alone" has always historically signified that Jesus or His grace is not merely necessary for our salvation, but sufficient to save us to the uttermost. Jesus provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. In Arminian prevenient grace, on the other hand, Jesus provides no such thing, even by their own reckoning. It claims to lift the natural man out of his depravity, but that man remains unregenerate (has no new heart).

In other words it places man (against his will) in some kind of semi-regenerate state, (which the Bible, of course, never speaks of). And then makes the sinner himself the ultimate determining factor in his salvation, which means he ascribes his repenting and believing to his own wisdom or humility and not to Christ alone. Consider, If two persons receive prevenient grace, and one person believes while the other rejects Christ, what makes them to differ that one had faith and not the other? Why did one believe and not the other? It was not grace since they both had grace, so obviously something other than grace made them to differ? Jesus declares another way.

 He said, "...all that the Father gives to me will come to me" (John 6:37). In other words He ensures that all persons the Father has given to Christ will believe the gospel. Jesus is declaring, in no uncertain terms, that salvation from beginning to end, as the author and finisher, is of the LORD alone, not a cooperation between man and God (Rom 9:15, 16, John 1:13)


  1. "In semi-pelagianism man's will precedes God's grace."

    Only if you take an extremely limited view of God's grace, such as limiting "grace" to an internal operation of the Holy Spirit in a person. But if you would include God's gracious act of sending Christ to the earth as part of "grace", then its clear that God's grace precedes our will by a long. If you would include all the preparation going on for the NT during the OT, God's grace precedes our will by even longer. So, even in semi-Pelagianism, if the meaning of the term "grace" is not limited in a foolish brainless Calvinist way, God's grace precedes man's will.

  2. Jose,

    Good morning and thank you for your comment.

    Maybe you read the statement wrongly or you are misapplying the authors intended point. I do not believe that Hendryx is limiting God's grace to a single, one time action of causing a sinner to come to faith in Christ. Of course God's "grace" (common grace) is evident in a very broad sense too; even to the non-elect. He sends rain to the just and the unjust alike. He has much patience with sinners and treats mankind much better than it deserves.

    Hendryx is simply pointing out that in the semi-pelagian's soteriology, it is man's supposed free will that is the sole responsibility in determining whether or not the sinner would respond to Christ in faith and contrasting it with the soteriology of monergism that states that God alone is the sole cause, from beginning to end, of our salvation.

  3. Dawg, come on, don't play those kinds of pointless games. As I said, if the term grace includes all of God's preparation for the cross and the cross itself then it cannot be said that any Christian position places man's will prior to God's grace. So, obviously the poster is limiting grace to only what takes place in our lifetime, cutting off the cross itself from being called grace.

    The fact of the matter is, it seems to me (and I am right) that almost all of the disagreements in Christianity arise from the fact that the word 'grace' in the Old Testament means 'favor' and 'mercy', that it continues to mean this in the Gospels, but that Paul doesn't seem to use the word in the standard sense and his usage of the word is hard to define. The result is that Christians can't comprehend what each other are saying because they are all using different definitions of grace, and they end up accusing one another of "denying grace" when nobody denies grace. Its just these guys over here use the term grace to mean 'mercy', these guys over here to mean 'a magic enabling power that enabled you to believe', and these guys over here 'everything that God does towards our salvation in the past, present, and future.' With so many different definitions in operation its hard to hold a conversation on 'grace'. But this multiplicity of definitions (unfortunately) is imposed on us by the fact that Paul deviates from the rest of the Bible in his use of the term 'grace': whereas all the rest of the Bible uses it to mean 'mercy' or 'favor' he uses it to mean about 10 different things, resulting in much confusion for centuries.

  4. Jose -

    You and I are talking on different wave lengths. The author is specifically speaking on the application of Christ's redemption and whether it is a monergistic work of grace or one of the two other synergistic views mentioned in the article.

    The author's purpose of the article is the application of redemption; the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.