Friday, December 3, 2010

Free will

The Calvinist asserts that man's will is not free, but must bow before a God who controls it.  Who turns it like a watercourse where He pleases, who hardens men, who appeared as a light to smite the opposition to His name and turn men to repentance.  Who must grant men repentance before they will have it.  Who gives faith as a gift, and the ability to accept the gift as another gift of grace.  A God who keeps even Pagans from sin.
In opposition to that is the Arminian (Church of Christ-er) who asserts that God is hands off, that He cannot touch peoples hearts, that men can repent whenever they want, that He has no ability to force men to do what they want, and cannot stop them from doing what they would like.

One of these is scriptural and has a corresponding verse for every thought. I'll leave you to guess which is which.


Derek Ashton said...

Well, if you put it that way . . . I guess the choice is obvious. Of course the non-Calvinist might reply that people must therefore be "robot-puppets," and his own mind would immediately tell him that this entirely eliminates human responsibility, choice, etc.

If I was sitting across from this individual, I would say this: "I believe God foreordained that I should be sitting here talking to you about predestination. However, you will notice that I came here uncoerced and of my own apparent free will, and was not in any way forced to be here. So you'll have to concede that what I believe about predestination does not eliminate an apparent exercise of free choice and responsibility for my own actions. I freely chose to be here, but God also foreordained it."

That might force him to face his apparently logical but overly simplistic conclusion about Calvinistic theology. It sort of turns the tables.

Derek Ashton

Phil said...

Yes, that's the kind of rejoinder they need.

I'm thinking about this and it seems to me the confluence view is good but missing something.
I have a hunch, and it's just a hunch that that divine sovereignty and human free will are the same thing. Once I've sorted it out I'll post about it and see what people make of it.

Derek Ashton said...

I will look forward to that!

By "confluence," do you mean compatibilism?

Westminster says God's sovereignty does not violate the freedom of the creatures, but rather establishes it. Perhaps the solution to the apparent conflict is "hidden in plain sight," with both parts working together in a perfect harmony . . .

So Westminster is essentially compatibilistic.

I like what Augustine said: both God's mercy and man's will are involved in salvation; but God's mercy moves man's will, and not the other way around.

So Augustine is compatibilistic.

I'm having a hard time finding the straw man Calvinist who allegedly says man has no real choice or will. Even Calvin used compatibilistic language.


Phil said...

R.C. Sproul uses the word 'confluence' to describe compatabilism, and it's a word I prefer because you can see that you are talking about a single concept, rather than a broken or disjointed one.
But yes, you have it right.