AskDefine | Define synergism

Dictionary Definition



1 the working together of two things (muscles or drugs for example) to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects [syn: synergy]
2 the theological doctrine that salvation results from the interaction of human will and divine grace

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. synergy
  2. The theological doctrine that one's salvation is brought about by a combination of human will and divine grace

Extensive Definition

Synergism, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently. The word synergy or synergism comes from two Greek words: erg meaning "to work", and syn meaning "together"; hence, synergism is a "working together."
In Calvinism, Synergism is used to describe the Arminian doctrine of salvation, although many Arminians would disagree with the characterisation. According to Calvinists, Synergism is the view that God and man work together, each contributing their part to accomplish regeneration in and for the individual. John Hendryx, a leading Calvinist thinker, has stated it this way: Synergism is "...the doctrine that there are two efficient agents in regeneration, namely the human will and the divine Spirit, which, in the strict sense of the term, cooperate. This theory accordingly holds that the soul has not lost in the fall all inclination toward holiness, nor all power to seek for it under the influence of ordinary motives."
In other words, God has done his part, and man must do his. This is opposed to the monergistic view as held by Reformed or Calvinistic groups in which objects of God's election participate in, but do not contribute to, the salvific or regenerative processes. Classical Arminians and most Wesleyans would consider this a straw man description, as they have historically affirmed the Reformed doctrine of total depravity. To this, Hendryx replies by asking the following question: "If two persons receive prevenient grace and only one believes the gospel, why does one believe in Christ and not the other? What makes the two persons to differ? Jesus Christ or something else? And that 'something else' is why Calvinists believe Arminians and other non-Augustinian groups to be synergists." Regeneration, in this case, would occur only when the unregenerate will cooperates with God's Spirit to effectuate redemption. To the Monergist, faith does not proceed from our unregenerate human nature. If faith precedes regeneration, as it does in Arminianism, then the unregenerate person must exercise faith to be regenerated.
Synergism is also an important part of the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
synergism in Norwegian: Synergisme, teologisk
synergism in Polish: Synergizm
synergism in Russian: Синергизм (богословский термин)
synergism in Finnish: Synergismi
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