Does Regeneration (Monergism) Precede Salvation, as Calvinism Supposes?
Updated: 6 days ago
Monergism is the view within Reformed Calvinist theology that holds to the philosophy that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration prior to salvation, regardless of the individual's cooperation.
Calvinists claim that man is supposedly so depraved and dead as to have no ability to respond to the things of God or to God’s conviction and thus has no choice in the matter of salvation. He will either be forced into salvation (unconditional election from the foundational of the world), or was simply never elected to be saved (unconditional reprobation). Because of mans total deadness, he doesn’t have any ability to change God’s will concerning this. This is where monogerism comes in. The sinner must allegedly be first made alive, regenerated, born again, before he can respond to the gospel, which is known as monergism, because he is depraved so totally that he doesn't have the ability to even exercise faith or repentance.
Upon monergism rests much of what the TULIP proclaims. You pull one strand of the TULIP flower, the whole thing collapses like Humpty Dumpty.
Passages such as John 1:13; 6:44, 65 are misused and abused to support their claim that repentance and faith are the fruit of regeneration (monogerism), not the cause of it. Other Scripture corrupted to prooftext this unscriptural Calvinistic philosophy include Gen 6:5; Is 64:6-7; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:10-18; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3; and 2 Th 2:13. Reformed Calvinists do not get their position from a passage; they come to the passage with their presuppositions. They come to the text with assumptions and then force the text into them. Naturally, one error leads to more error, thus boom, in enters the cardinal point of reformed theology to the maxim. Regeneration (monergism) must allegedly precede faith, so that man can respond to the salvation God has elected him too.
James White affirms:
“The Reformed assertion is that man cannot understand and embrace the gospel nor respond in faith and repentance toward Christ without God first freeing him from sin and giving him spiritual life (regeneration).”
It follows then, as H. Hoeksema states:
“regeneration can take place in the smallest of infants . . . in the sphere of the covenant of God, He usually regenerates His elect children from infancy.”
". . . when we hear the gospel, we will never respond positively unless God performs the miracle of regeneration. . . . We must first experience the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. . . . John teaches most clearly that regeneration precedes and enables faith. . . . Faith is the effect of new birth, not the cause of it. . . . New birth comes first and enables the repentance and faith of conversion. Before new birth we are dead, and dead men don’t meet conditions. Regeneration is totally unconditional. It is owing solely to the free grace of God” (Desiring God, Kindle location 1007-1067).
Piper has a seriously perverted view on the new birth, regeneration and faith, all of which certainly brings about an accursed gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), which means he is false teacher (Gal. 2:4-5) and wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15; Ac. 20:29-30). Pipers heretical philosophy is based entirely on human reasoning with zero Scriptural support, which goes as follows: Men are dead in sins; therefore, they can’t believe, and they can’t believe unless they are regenerated. On the other hand, while the Bible does teach that the unsaved are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), it also says these lost men can believe and lost men are commanded to seek after God (e.g. Is. 55:6; 2 Ch. 7:14; 15:12; 19:13 Ps. 10:4; 14:2; 27:8; 53:2; 119:155; Pr. 1:28; 8:17; Ecc. 7:25; Is. 9:13; Lk. 12:31; Matt. 13:44; 45-46). Nowhere does the Bible say that men are born again before they believe. Everywhere in the NT men are commanded to repent and believe, which doesn't require regeneration, and salvation is said to follow faith. The best proof text that Piper offers for his heretical doctrine and accursed gospel is out of the very ungodly NSRV translation of 1 Jn. 5:1,
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (Desiring God, location 1055).
Yikes! What perversion! Practically every other version reads the same as the KJV, which says:
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God . . .”
It’s a serious perversion to change “is” (esti) to “has” ("echo" — never found in the Greek manuscript), and obvious that Piper had to do some searching to find the perverted version that would support his heresy. Such happens to be the practice of most "pastors" today in Reformed and Evangelical churches, bouncing between perversions of God's Word to find support for their heresies and other agendas. These are heretics that need to be expelled from the pulpit. Again, clearly markings of a ravening wolf. But it actually doesn’t support his heresy at all. Even if the NRSV’s translation of 1 Jn. 5:1 was legit, which it isn’t, it doesn’t say that regeneration precedes faith. One has to read that into the verse, and it’s also contrary to the teaching of many clear passages of Scripture, such as the following, which clearly teach that faith is NOT preceded by regeneration: Jn. 1:12; 3:15-18; Ac. 8:36-37; 10:43; 16:30-31; Rom. 1:16; 3:21-22; 4:5; 5:1;10:8-13; Eph. 1:13; etc. Thus he also doesn't know how to rightly divide the word of God (2 Tim 2:15), which further establishes his impostership. Lastly, Piper’s Calvinist idea that faith itself is a work is heretical and not based on Scripture, which says faith is the opposite of works (Eph. 2:8-9).
Andy Naselli published the following article in the Master's Seminary Journal in 2021, entitled "Chosen, Born Again, and Believing: How Election, Regeneration, and Faith Relate to Each Other in the Gospel According to John." Naselli is fairly popular among the faithful followers of men (reformers, calvinists), many of which refer to his teachings. That he teaches at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minnesota, the school of the heretic and wolf in sheep’s clothing John Piper, is unsurprising. He eisegetes (not exegetes) Jn 1:9-13 in the article, coming to the text with assumptions and then forces the text into them, the very definition of the dishonouring and corrupted eisegesis. Naselli says that this text does not say that faith causes the new birth. He says,
"being born of God [is] logically prior to receiving Jesus."
Is that what one reads in John 1?
If faith comes from the light, that means it comes from God. If faith comes from the Word of God, then it comes from God. If faith comes after the knowledge that manifests in people, then it comes from God. Faith does not require or need regeneration in order to be from or of God. Faith does not come by blood, by the will of the flesh, or by the will of man, because faith is given by God and obtained from God. It is not a work but it requires wilful desire and repentance.
He corrupts the command by God for man to seek Him, to search for Him, to exercise faith in Him and His Word (Is 55:1-3, 6-7; 2 Ch 7:14; 15:12; Ps 10:4; 14:2; 27:8; 69:32; 105:4; 119:155; Pr 8:17; Ac 15:17; 17:27; Heb 11:6; etc). These passages, among many, are crystal clear for man to seek after God, or was God just playing mental gymnastics with people, commanding them something that they couldn’t really do? He says,
"The basis of the new birth is not . . . what you desired."
Naselli equates faith with the "act of a human." He is saying that faith is our will and since the new birth or regeneration does not come "by the will of man," then it also cannot come by faith. The problem is that nowhere does the Bible say that, including Jn 1:9-13, one has to force the meaning into the text. Naselli obviously does not believe that faith precedes regeneration, like most Calvinist’s, but it has to, Scripture is abundantly clear on that, since it is faith in God’s Word that eventually leads to conversion:
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17).
Other passages buttress this truth. In Jn 5:34 Jesus said,
“…these things I say, that ye might be saved.”
And Peter in 1 Pet 1:23-25,
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. . . . But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
This point alone exposes Naselli as a heretic teaching a faith-less gospel which is not the true gospel but “another gospel” (2 Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-9). He completely messes up the doctrine of salvation. He is perverting what the passage says and what God says salvation is and how it comes about.
What kind of damage is this teaching doing? It can lead to someone not wanting to receive Christ, delays receiving Christ, because he is waiting for regeneration. I've seen that through the years, and this heretical teaching is only one of many perversions of Calvinism that keeps people on the broad path that leads to eternal destruction.
This heresy also effects the character of God. It’ll affect what people think of the love of God. If someone does not believe, then God apparently did not regenerate, which then means that God does not love that person enough to desire him or her to be saved. This person also did not apparently receive irresistible grace—which corrupts God’s grace (cf. Gen 6:8; Eph 2:8-9; Ti 2:11; 1 Pet 1:10-13; Jam 4:6; etc), and Christ did not atone for him—which corrupts Christ’s atonement and thus the gospel (cf. 1 Jn 2:2). The explanation is easy for the Calvinist: God foreordained him to Hell. That means God is glorified and pleased by having people birthed into this world for simply no other reason than their eternal damnation, in which God is well pleased. If scripture taught this was the love and grace of God, I would happily believe it. But it isn't what the Bible says is the love of God or the grace of God. Its a major perversion of His love and grace. The grace that saves appears to all men (Ti 2:11). The love that God has is towards all the world (Jn 3:16).
Yes, there is bit of an enigma as to why some are saved and some are not. The enigma for the Calvinist is why God chooses some and He rejects others before they were ever born. The enigma for others, like myself, is why some receive Christ and others don't. But it’s only partial enigma because scripture tells us the cause of this rejection. Jesus says that it's the condition of the soil in Matt 13. Paul says that the god of this world blinds men's minds (2 Cor 4:4). Jesus says its because men love darkness rather than light (Jn 3:19-21), so they won’t repent (Lk 13:1-5).
God is sovereign about His own sovereignty. We can't make God more sovereign than what He says He is. Jn 1:9-13 as it reads in its plain meaning does not contradict a scriptural understanding of the sovereignty of God. It does not make salvation by works and it also doesn’t negate the responsibility of man in salvation.
Naselli reads into a text, and speaks where Scripture is silent, both serious corruptions of truth that are very very common among all Calvinists, while the Bible says those who are truly saved “are not as many, which corrupt the word of God” (2 Cor 2:17).
Naselli fills in the silence by quoting Calvin:
“Faith is not produced by us but is the fruit of spiritual new birth.”
He then adds even further to the silence, by quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
“The act of regeneration, being God’s act, is something that is outside consciousness.”
Yikes. Wow. That is heresy if I’ve ever read. Do you understand what he's saying? He's saying that a person becomes a child of God outside of his own consciousness! Is that what Jn 1:9-13 say?!? Of course not! This is utter and complete heresy being portrayed by men who twist and pervert the scriptures to fulfill their own lusts, to fit their false doctrine and to keep the ungodly system rolling. Obviously, if one was to go out witnessing to people and God was regenerating those people, outside of their consciousness, they would have believed. Wouldn’t they? Of course they would, but Calvinism with their monergism is not true. It’s a horrible fable that results in unsaved people staying unsaved.
I could provide other examples of individuals that teach this and corrupt Scripture to fit this heresy, including ones from the heretical Reformed Calvinist Church Grace Bible Fellowship and their wolf-pack of supporters, but I am attempting to limit any notoriety. They are heretics and dangerous wolves and everyone should avoid them like the plaque. I will mention one name though and that is pastor Peter Fehr of the EBMC church Countryside Community Church. He has preached this from the pulpit and also in personal communication with this author. He is likewise a heretic (what reformed calvinist and evangelical preacher isn't?!) and the denomination he is part of is exposed here: Apostasy in the Evangelical Bergthaler Mennonite Conference (EBMC).
The problem with these men and their followers is that they do not know the God of the Bible so they create a new God that fits their perverted carnal lusts and puffs them up with their pompous self-righteousness. And that is precisely how they behave when someone challenges their heresy.
Monergism is explained as God working through His Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through firstly spiritual regeneration enabling ability to respond, regardless of the individual's cooperation, since Calvinists believe man has no free will. This also is evil. Apparently man is so depraved is that they’re totally dead and can’t respond in any fashion, as dead as someone in a casket. Since spiritual death is total inability, then I would assume that these dead men could not suppress the truth. The way it reads in the KJV in Rom 1:18 is that these dead men "hold fast the truth in unrighteousness." The understanding of "hold fast" is that they hold the truth away from themselves in their unrighteousness. They suppress the truth. How is God's wrath justified against these unrighteous? Well, these men have suppressed the truth. Dead men know the truth. There is even an inclination toward believing it, or else how could they suppress it? And God's wrath against them is for what reason? Because God didn't choose them? Or regenerate them? If Gods grace was involved, then it was unsuppressable, right? Wrong. One understands that Gods wrath was vindicated by the fact that people who knew God, had sufficient knowledge to be saved and were thinking about the truth, suppressed it out of rebellion.
Supposedly you’re so dead, you can’t repent. Not true. We are able to repent because of revelation and God’s accord (Rom 2:4), which is why men are without excuse (Rom 1). Since God's Word is alive and powerful (Heb 4:12), when it interacts, it does enable us to respond. We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). He chooses us to salvation "through… belief of the truth" (2 Th 2:13). We know people don't reject God because of Him, but because of them, so some are enabled and illuminated by revelation, but rebel. They taste but don’t eat and drink (Heb 6:4; 2 Pet 2:20-21). When salvation is all done, we know God did it, but we also know that it could be resisted. Both are taught in the Bible.
Scripture that very clearly refutes regeneration before faith includes: Mk. 16:16; Lk. 8:12; Jn. 3:16; 5:24; 20:31; Acts 16:31; Rom. 1:16; and Eph. 2:8.
Reformed Calvinist must conform the scriptures to their theological philosophy, which is privately interpreting the Scriptures (2 Pet 1:20-2:3), a prerequisite for understanding calvinist doctrine, as they famously do with Jn 6:43-46. The Bible doesn’t actually say anywhere that man can only respond when enabled (or regenerated) by the Spirit. That is reading Calvinist doctrine into the Bible, aka. eisegesis, which is seriously unbiblical.
Jn. 6:43 in the KJV declares that
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
This doesn’t tell us that the Spirit first enables or regenerates sinners to respond. That is Calvinist eisegesis.
Who is that God draws? Only those that are enabled or regenerated? It doesn’t say that. It also doesn’t say only some men are drawn.
Jn 12:32 tells us who is drawn, where Jesus said:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL men unto me.”
So ALL men are drawn not just some men. Again, nowhere do we read that they are first enabled or regenerated by the Spirit.
Jn 16:8 Jesus plainly tells us that “when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” This tells us what He does and with who He does it. He reproves the world, which is ALL people. Pr 1:23-24 also tells us the same, amongst other passages: “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;”
These passages consequently mean all men can respond positively without first having to be born again, or regenerated, which is serious confusion. The reformed Calvinist says you must first be regenerated. These passages don’t say that, nor does Paul the Apostle. Acts 17:30-31 is a great example:
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth ALL men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto ALL men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
There is that elusive “all” again. Twice. So all men are commanded to repent. Why? Because all men are first regenerated by the Holy Spirit? No. If all were first regenerated—the necessary prerequisite for Calvinist repentance—then all men would be saved. But that is certainly not the case. All men are commanded to repent because “He hath given assurance unto ALL men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The command for all men to repent is not based on regeneration/enabling of the Spirit, but because all men have assurance of His resurrection and thus the coming judgment of righteousness by the Son of man. It has nothing to do with pre-birth regeneration though all sinners genuinely interested in the truth and seeking after God will be illuminated by the Spirit of God.
How about God’s grace, does it only sovereignly appear to those He has enabled or regenerated?
Ti 2:11 Paul says,
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL men,”
To how many men? And to what kind of men? Only those regenerated?
Total Depravity is foundational to the Calvinist doctrines of grace even though it largely disregards the plain teachings of Scripture, so pull out this letter (or any of the other letters of the TULIP for that matter), and Humpty Dumpty, the whole thing collapses. It is heresy and requires exposure.
Calvinism’s Total Depravity should be renamed as Total Inability. It is entirely contrary to the plain teachings of Scripture. If the depravity of man results in an inability to respond to the gospel, as Calvinism believes, then God is to be blamed for man’s destiny. But that is entirely absurd (2 Pet 3:9; Jn 3:15-17). If salvation entirely depends upon God who is not willing that any should perish and man has really no responsibility in salvation and can never respond without first being regenerated, which is only for those that are elect, then why are people going to hell? Why isn’t all mankind born again? God is not willing that any should perish, so if Calvinism was true, then no one would be unsaved. None would perish. Man however can believe the gospel when it is offered to him in the context of God’s enlightenment (Heb 4:16), conviction (Jn. 16:8), and drawing (Jn. 12:32) and he does not need to be first regenerated.
It is to be understood that man’s will is bent toward sin and that mankind is dead in trespasses and sin, but to take it to the extent or level that Calvinists like you do, is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture. It is corrupting the plain teaching of scripture and reveals an inability to rightly divide the word of truth and a propensity to eisegetically interpret the words of God which is greatly dishonouring to God. Eph 2:1-3 says nothing about the sinner’s inability to respond to the gospel, nor does this passage or the rest of the context (at least to v. 10) require the necessity to be first regenerated or enabled before having the ability to respond. The analogy of a “dead man” is not to be taken out of proportion, but rather to be interpreted within the boundaries of God’s Word.
Everywhere in Scripture we read of man’s responsibility in salvation, and that the saving God does is entirely reflective of man’s response: Is 1:18-20 for instance, where we note the call of God to reason together and the consequence of our response or lack thereof.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
Notice the “if ye” speaking of man’s response. Though God reproves, rebukes, draws, convicts, etc, salvation is contingent on man’s response. Paul’s writings are full of this truth, including 2 Tim 2:13,
“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
Salvation is of the Lord (Jon 2:9), meaning that it is not by works (Ti 3:5-6). It is by grace alone (Eph 2:8-9). It is a gift of God (Rom 6:23) but appropriated through man’s conscious and willful response (Rev 22:17; Is 55:1). Here are a few of my favourite places that teach this:
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev 22:17).
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Is 55:1).
Phil 1:29 says,
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."
2 Pet 1:1,
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
First, it is given unto you to believe on Christ. Second, people obtain like precious faith. Salvation is by faith, not by works. If faith was a work, that wouldn't make any sense. How does someone obtain faith from God? It starts with revelation. What is to be known of God is manifest in people (Rom 1:19) and then clearly seen in creation (Rom 1:20), which is general revelation (Ps 19:1-6). Next comes special revelation, the Word of God (Ps 19:7-11). As Rom 10:17 says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." This fulfills the message of Ti 2:11, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." What I'm describing is what precedes faith. God the Spirit reproves all people of sin, of judgment and of righteousness (Pr 1:23; Jn 16:7-11). “God . . . commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Ac 17:30) and its the “goodness of God [that] leadeth thee to repentance” (Rom 2:4), “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Ac 11:31) like “repentance to Israel,” (Ac 5:31). Much more could be said on this. The revelation of God is the grace that appears to everyone that gives faith that people obtain to repent and be saved. God gives and grants but man is responsible to exercising the repentance and faith from an intellectual, emotional and volitional position.
Jn 1:9-13 plainly tells us that faith precedes regeneration:
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Becoming a child of God and regeneration are the same thing. Look at v. 12. Which comes first? Receiving Jesus Christ or becoming a son of God? It's plain. What comes before receiving Him? Look at v. 9. "The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
The idea that regeneration precedes faith does not come from scripture. Why is that doctrine taught and believed then? In my opinion, it is a man-centred addition to their heretical gospel, that supports the heretical TULIP. The light coming, revelation producing faith, that isn't good enough. They've got to go one step further to show how salvation does not depend on man. They are men and they have invented this doctrine though. The doctrine depends on them. But its heresy, and even more-so, its “damnable heresy” (2 Pet 2:1), damning many souls into eternal hell fire.
The fatalistic doctrine of Calvinism that the unregenerate man is unable to believe or respond to the gospel is thoroughly corrupt. There are overabundances of Scripture that clearly teach man’s responsibility in responding to the Gospel. Here are a few:
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:25)
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will,let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev 22:17)
“...If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (Jn 3:37)
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Ac 16:31)
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." (Rom 6:17)
Is God sadistic to the point that He would deliberately command men to respond to and obey the gospel whilst leaving them in a state of inability? God forbid!
Cherry picking a few verses out of the Bible is twisting scripture and privately interpreting these passages, and that does not booster Calvinism theology but reveals a serious spiritual internal problem. In fact, I do not believe anyone that believes this heresy is actually born again, because it doesn’t happen at salvation, and it doesn’t occur in the Bible.
Read here to be truly regenerated by the Spirit of God: ARE YOU SAVED?