Synergism/Synergistic Effect of
Cooperating With God

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The Annunciation - by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo - from Museo del Prado, Madrid . . . . . .
The Blessed Virgin Mary received God's Grace and Cooperated with it. Because of her Fiat, she became
Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Queen of Heaven


We are Saved by God’s Grace, upon our Receipt of and Cooperation with It.


Synergism/Synergistic Effect
of Cooperating With God

from various sources

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Synergism is the Interaction of Two (2) or more agents so that their Combined Effect is greater than the Sum of their Individual Effects (1 + 1 >> 2). For example:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Usual Concentrations of Sulfur Dioxide alone would not produce Respiratory Problems, but in conjunction with Suspended Particles, contributes to Bronchitis and Emphysema.

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) The Insecticide DDT is found in the Ocean in small concentrations. DDT is not Soluble in Water, but is extremely Soluble in Oil. As a result of an Oil Spill, Marine Life is exposed to a much more Harmful Concentration of DDT than usual. Therefore, the Effects of an Oil Spill are 'Enhanced' or Synergistic.

Synergism comes from the Greek Sunergos meaning Working Together. The Cooperative Interaction of Two (2) Ideas, Objects, or Organisms has Relevance in many Fields:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) In Physiology, it is the Cooperation between Muscles that produce Coordinated Movement.

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) In Business, Cooperation of Subsidiaries and Parts of a Corporation result in an Enhanced Combined Effect.

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) In Theology, it is the Combination of "Divine Grace" and "Human Will" through which Individual Salvation is Achieved.


Examples of Positive and Negative Effects of Synergism in Theology

Divine Grace + Human Will   arrow002.gif (3348 bytes)   Salvation
[Positive Synergistic Effect]

Divine Grace  - Human Will   arrow002.gif (3348 bytes)   Hell
[Adverse Synergistic Effect]

Notāre Bene: Ultimately, only God can Save Man, but He expects Man to 'Cooperate'. The Truth is that Man is called to 'Cooperate' with God in All-Things, with a view toward the Ultimate Purpose of his Life - his Salvation and Divinization. With God, Man "Creates" the World; with God, Man "Creates" his Personal Salvation.


Thus, Synergism is “the Cooperation of Two Elements or People toward a Single Purpose”. We find that the Bible has many such cases from Adam and his Care for the Garden of Eden, to Moses and his Intervention between God and the Children of Israel, and many others. This thought is a Hard Pill for many to Swallow when they Realize that God Expects our Participation in the Salvation Process. Erasmus said, "Free Will is the Power of Applying Oneself to Grace". Synergism seeks to Reconcile Two (2) Paradoxical Truths:

The Sovereignty of God, and
Man's Moral Responsibility.

With regard to Resisting God, we read: "You Stiff-Necked People, Uncircumcised in Heart and Ears, you always Resist the Holy Spirit. As your Fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51).

There is a Motion of God's Grace which is Infallibly Fruitful in bringing about the Repentance and Salvation of a Sinner -- is a fine-enough Concept. Many Catholics, such as the Thomists (and also the Augustinians, who are not the same group) believe it too. However, in keeping with the Language of Scripture, Catholics do not refer to this as "Irresistible Grace", but, in the case of the Thomists, as "Intrinsically Efficacious Grace" -- that is, Grace which all by Itself brings about Its Full Effect.

Not all Grace is of this sort, as indicated by the fact that there are Motions of Grace which the Holy Spirit gives which can be Resisted. So in addition to Intrinsically Efficacious Grace, Thomists would say that there are also Extrinsically Efficacious Graces, Graces which must be Supplemented by something else in Order to Produce Their Target Effect. Of course, the Supplement will Itself be a Grace God has given, so in the End, all ends up being Attributed to God's Grace. However, this does not change the Point that not every Single Grace God gives is Intrinsically Efficacious. Some Single Graces He gives must be Paired with Other Graces He gives, in Order to bring-about the Goal.

Thus, for example, the Jews addressed above in Acts 7 received One (1) Grace -- the Motions of the Holy Spirit -- but not the Grace of Corresponding with those Motions. The fact is that there are People who are given Partial Graces but not Full Grace.

Related to this Issue of the Biblical Language of Cooperation with God, because obviously if one does not Resist God and His Grace, then one Cooperates with God and His Grace.

The Bible is a Synergist Book because it, in the most Literal Sense possible, uses Synergist Language. You can't Denounce the Language of Synergism without Denouncing the Language of the Bible.

For example, in Mark 16:20 we read:

"And they Went forth and Preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with (Sunergountos) them and Confirmed the Message by the Signs that attended it. Amen" (Mark 16:20).

Here we have a Declaration that God Synergized with the Apostles in their Ministry of Preaching. This of itself shows that the Language of Men Cooperating with God cannot be considered Unbiblical. Indeed! It goes beyond that and shows us that the Language of God Cooperating with Men is not Unbiblical.

What is more, we have here not just a Statement that God Cooperates with Men in Producing some Natural Thing, such as Crops or Money, but we have a Statement that God Cooperates with Men in Producing Salvation, since that is the Goal (and Result) of the Apostles' Preaching Mission.

And this is not the only time Scripture uses Sunergeo to refer to Human-Divine Cooperation. We also read:

"We know that in everything God Works for Good with (Sunergei eis agathon) those who Love Him, who are called according to His Purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Here we have another Declaration of God working with Men. As Protestant Theologian Dale Moody puts it:

"God Works with those who Love Him toward the Goal of the Good. Murray insists that this is all 'Divine Monergism', but the Greek Verb is Sunergei, from which the Idea of a Synergism between the Will of God and the Will of Man comes.

And he elsewhere writes:

"The Best Translation of Romans 8:28 that we have noted . . . says God 'Cooperates for Good with those who Love God and are called according to His Purpose'".

However, Paul goes beyond Romans 8:28:

"Working together with (Sunergountes) Him, then, we entreat you not to accept the Grace of God in Vain" (2Corinthians 6:1).

Here we have not only the Language of Men working with God (as opposed to God working with Men), but Paul adds to this the Exhortation not to accept the Grace of God in Vain, which means that the Grace of God can be Accepted in Vain.

In order to do a Full Explanation of this, we would have to show What Grace is being talked about, whether it is the Offer or the Reality of Salvation, but no matter what the answer to that question is, this Verse means it is either possible to accept the Grace of Salvation at One Time, and then have it to be Vain, or it means that it is Possible to Accept the Grace of the Offer of Salvation and have it be Vain because you Fail to Cooperate with the Offer, which means that this Grace is not Irresistible.

Also, whichever Grace it is -- God's Outer-Call, God's Inner-Call, or God's Gift of Salvation Itself -- it is a Salvation-related Grace, meaning again that Salvation-related Graces, and Specifically Graces which lead toward Salvation (in the case of either Calling) can be Resisted.

It also means that in Biblical Language, Men Cooperate with God in Bestowing Salvation-related Graces.

And as Paul indicates, the Cooperation in Bestowing the Grace must be met with a Cooperation on the part of the Person receiving the Grace. Otherwise (if no Action is taken) It will be Rendered Vain. Thus in Biblical Language there is a Human Cooperation needed both in the Giving and in the Receiving of this Grace.

Besides using the Verb "Synergize" (Sunergeo, the Verb used in different forms in the Three (3) preceding Verses) Paul even uses the more "Shocking" term "Synergist" (Sunergos) or "Co-laborer" with respect to himself and God, saying:

scaleslg.gif (10895 bytes) "For we are God's Fellow Workers (Sunergoi) you are God's Field, God's Building" (1Corinthians 3:9).

Here Paul again speaks of himself (and others) as "Synergists" or "Cooperators" with God in Salvific Matters, meaning that the Score is now Two (2) Verses speaking of God Cooperating and Two (2) Verses speaking of Men Cooperating, an even-balance.

Ultimately, only God can Save Man, but He expects Man to Cooperate. The fact that Man can Cooperate with God determines his Authentic Greatness. The Truth is that Man is called to Cooperate with God in all Things, with a View toward the Ultimate Purpose of his Life - his Salvation and Divinization. With God, Man "Creates" the World; with God, Man "Creates" his Personal Salvation. The Divinization of Man comes from God. But here, too, Man must Cooperate with God.