What Are Those Chinese Characters?
More than a few times of late I have received phone calls and the occassional email asking me what is the meaning of the "gibberish" in the Monergism.com logo. I suppose this is quite useful to those who are wandering around with one of our T-Shirts on, especially when gawking bystanders ask for its meaning. And, to our shame, with a blank look most of our customers must confess they do not know.
Well, as a frequent visitor this is something your should indeed know. The CHINESE characters are a close translation of the meaning of the word "Monergism", and specifically reads "regeneration precedes faith": That the work of regeneration is the work of God the Holy Spirit alone and not a cooperative work of man and God.
Consider, can a person come to faith in Christ apart from the Holy Spirit changing his heart from one of stone to one of flesh? (Eze 36:26). Can a person believe in Christ apart from the Father granting it through regeneration? (see this exegesis of John 6:63-65).
What makes us to differ? Jesus Christ alone. The assistance of grace does not depend on the humility or obedience of man and it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble. As natural men, we may intellectually understand the Scriptures and the preaching of the gospel, but to love it, to see the beauty, truth and excellency of Christ in the gospel takes a renewed heart, according to my gospel. Salvation is by grace alone and we take hold of Christ through a Spirit wrought faith. God opens our hearts that we may take heed of His Word.
Further, it is only proper to understand the word "monergism" as it relates to the biblical doctrine of regeneration. Other aspects of salvation and the Christian life are certainly grace driven and grace led, but only regeneration is monergistic (the work of God alone). Why? Because it is the only point where we are completely passive. We do not do anything to become regenerate. Instead, we are regenerate and therefore we do. IN the Bible, the new birth (or regeneration) is always spoken of in the passive, not something we can do but what God does for us.
IN order to understand this, lets take some examples from every day life. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus can only be said to cooperate after the fact. He did not participate in the part where he was dead and made alive. Jesus alone had the powert to do that. Lazarus only got up afterward. A blind man cannot see, nor a deaf man hear. But when Jesus opens their eyes and ears they can then exercise their faculties. In fact, no time expires between the time the eyes are open and we see, but the opening itself is Jesus' work alone. When two billiard balls collide, they touch at the same time, but only one of them causes the other to move. Likewise, the new birth or regeneration is where God touches us, where union with Christ begins, where we subjectively partake of His spiritual benefits. We believe as a result of Christ opening our spiritually blind eyes and changes our stubborn heart. No natural man submits Himself to God's humbling terms. The unspiritual man is bereft of this moral ability (1 Cor 2:14). But "...now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." So the only way to understand the things from God such as Christ, the gospel etc, is to first be quickened by the Spirit.
That is what the Chinese characters in the logo are all about. We think it sufficiently important that this message of God's grace be made known all over the world. I figure with English and Chinese we just took out half the worlds population. :)
By the way free shipping offer at Monergism Books until August 15th, 2007. This even includes all large sets.