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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

For Pablo

Would Luke 3:8 tell in favor of synergism? The principle invoked by John the Baptist seems to be that any state of affairs God could unilaterally bring about (e.g. being a child of Abraham) is not salvific. Our free assent is the only thing God cannot unilaterally bring about, therefore it is required for salvation.

On the other hand, taking the verse literally doesn't make much sense. Despite his omnipotence, God couldn't raise up physical descendants of Abraham from inorganic matter because, by definition, a descendant is generated through the normal biological processes. (Similarly, God couldn't create a genuine dollar bill.) So "stones" and "children of Abraham" must be figurative. Perhaps the stones are the Gentiles who are part of the crowd (e.g. the publicans and soldiers who seek John's counsel a few verses later); the Jews then shouldn't rely on being (physical) descendants of Abraham since God could raise up (spiritual) children of Abraham from the Gentiles. This reading would be more monergistic.

Or maybe the Baptist grabbed his scrotum when he said "these stones."


Blogger pablo said...

I do not see any indication of synergism or monergism in the passage. The chapter is about JtB's minstry stressing repentence, forgiveness of sins, and good works.

Neither is he making some claim that the people there just didn't perform enough good works to earn salvation.

We have to look elsewhere in the bible about the relationship to repentence and good works. (Yes, I know that we are inferring that JtB had a theology consistent with the rest of the New Testament, but it's a fair assertion because he is called a prophet.)

5:15 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

What is the relevance of the fact that God could raise up children of Abraham? To me, it is relevant only on the assumption that in matters of salvation God isn't interested in anything he himself could bring about by fiat, which would include faith if faith is considered monergistically. This idea has some precendent in the Psalm in which God says he doesn't desire sacrifice since he was the one who created all life to begin with. Apparently, God desires something he can't simply will into existence; namely, a free response. If I were God, I would feel the same way! A creation that has a will of its own would be a lot more interesting.

5:48 PM  

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