The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Calvinism & free will


#1

Apparently Arminians aren’t the only ones who believe in freewill. So do many atheists, agnostics, most of the world throughout history and Calvinists.

“Humanity possesses “free will”,[84] but it is in bondage to sin,[85] until it is “transformed”.[86]”

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism

“God’s predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices. God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we will do because he knows all things. He cannot not know all things. So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known.”

carm.org/if-predestination-true … -free-will

“The Error of Libertarian Free Will”:

calvinistcorner.com/error-o … e-will.htm

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_in_theology


#2

God’s predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices. God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we will do because he knows all things. He cannot not know all things. So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known."

Assuming the future is something to be known, that is not entirely clear despite common impressions that God is outside of time a phrase not found in the bible. Calvinism really came from Augustine who had followed Mani and brought that concept of predestination into the bible. Calvinism loves to emphasize that God is sovereign but God can be sovereign without predestining everything.


#3

Does the Calvinist view of “everything that happens is predestined” depend on the theory that “God is outside of time”? IME usually their focus is upon the Bible regardless of any logic or reasoning contrary to their interpretations of Scripture.

Recently i’ve been trying to wrap my head around the Calvinist saying there is “free will”, let alone God being timeless ; Evidently they mean something quite different than Arminian free will. In some forum discussions they’ve been claiming all men deserve to go to hell because of their free will choices to sin. Which sounds to me more like an Arminian than Calvinist argument.

christianforums.com/threads … s.8010429/


#4

Recently i’ve been trying to wrap my head around the Calvinist saying there is “free will”, let alone God being timeless ; Evidently they mean something quite different than Arminian free will. In some forum discussions they’ve been claiming all men deserve to go to hell because of their free will choices to sin. Which sounds to me more like an Arminian than Calvinist argument.

Usually i think Calvinists would say man is totally depraved and that’s why he deserves hell. Also i think Calvinism believes because man is totally depraved he does not have the ability on his own free will to choose to follow God because man will always follow his own self interest. So i think the free will in Calvinism is simply just a “will” not really a “free will.”


#5

"John Calvin ascribed “free will” to all people in the sense that they act “voluntarily, and not by compulsion.”[115] He elaborated his position by allowing "that man has choice and that it is self-determined” and that his actions stem from “his own voluntary choosing.”[116]
The free will that Calvin ascribed to all people is what Mortimer Adler calls the “natural freedom” of the will. This freedom to will what one desires is inherent in all people.[15]

"Calvin held this kind of inherent/natural[117] free will in disesteem because unless people acquire the freedom to live as they ought by being transformed, they will desire and voluntarily choose to sin. “Man is said to have free will,” wrote Calvin, “because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion. This is perfectly true: but why should so small a matter have been dignified with so proud a title?”[118] The glitch in this inherent/natural freedom of the will is that although all people have the “faculty of willing,” by nature they are unavoidably (and yet voluntarily without compulsion) under “the bondage of sin.”[119]

"The kind of free will that Calvin esteems is what Adler calls “acquired freedom” of the will, the freedom/ability[120] “to live as [one] ought.” To possess acquired free will requires a change by which a person acquires a desire to live a life marked by virtuous qualities.[19] As Calvin describes the change required for acquired freedom, the will “must be wholly transformed and renovated.”[121]

"Calvin depicts this transformation as “a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 18:31).” It sets one free from “bondage to sin” and enables “piety towards God, and love towards men, general holiness and purity of life.”[122]

"Calvinist Protestants embrace the idea of predestination, namely, that God chose who would be saved and who would be not saved prior to the creation. They quote Ephesians 1:4 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” and also 2:8 “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” One of the strongest defenders of this theological point of view was the American Puritan preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards.

"Edwards believed that indeterminism was incompatible with individual dependence on God and hence with his sovereignty. He reasoned that if individuals’ responses to God’s grace are contra-causally free, then their salvation depends partly on them and therefore God’s sovereignty is not “absolute and universal.” Edwards’ book Freedom of the Will defends theological determinism. In this book, Edwards attempts to show that libertarianism is incoherent. For example, he argues that by ‘self-determination’ the libertarian must mean either that one’s actions including one’s acts of willing are preceded by an act of free will or that one’s acts of will lack sufficient causes. The first leads to an infinite regress while the second implies that acts of will happen accidentally and hence can’t make someone “better or worse, any more than a tree is better than other trees because it oftener happens to be lit upon by a swan or nightingale; or a rock more vicious than other rocks, because rattlesnakes have happened oftener to crawl over it.”[123]

"It should not be thought that this view completely denies freedom of choice, however. It claims that man is free to act on his strongest moral impulse and volition, which is externally determined, but is not free to act contrary to them, or to alter them. Proponents, such as John L. Girardeau, have indicated their belief that moral neutrality is impossible; that even if it were possible, and one were equally inclined to contrary options, one could make no choice at all; that if one is inclined, however slightly, toward one option, then that person will necessarily choose that one over any others.

"Some non-Calvinist Christians attempt a reconciliation of the dual concepts of predestination and free will by pointing to the situation of God as Christ. In taking the form of a man, a necessary element of this process was that Jesus Christ lived the existence of a mortal. When Jesus was born he was not born with the omniscient power of God the Creator, but with the mind of a human child - yet he was still God in essence. The precedent this creates is that God is able to will the abandonment of His knowledge, or ignore knowledge, while remaining fully God. Thus it is not inconceivable that although omniscience demands that God knows what the future holds for individuals, it is within his power to deny this knowledge in order to preserve individual free will. Other theologians argue that the Calvinist-Edwardsean view suggests that if all human volitions are predetermined by God, then all actions dictated by fallen will of man necessarily satisfy His sovereign decree. Hence, it is impossible to act outside of God’s perfect will, a conclusion some non-Calvinists claim poses a serious problem for ethics and moral theology.

"An early proposal toward such a reconciliation states that God is, in fact, not aware of future events, but rather, being eternal, He is outside time, and sees the past, present, and future as one whole creation. Consequently, it is not as though God would know “in advance” that Jeffrey Dahmer would become guilty of homicide years prior to the event as an example, but that He was aware of it from all eternity, viewing all time as a single present. This was the view offered by Boethius in Book V of The Consolation of Philosophy.

“Calvinist theologian Loraine Boettner argued that the doctrine of divine foreknowledge does not escape the alleged problems of divine foreordination. He wrote that “what God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained; and if one is inconsistent with the free agency of man, the other is also. Foreordination renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain.”[6] Some Christian theologians, feeling the bite of this argument, have opted to limit the doctrine of foreknowledge if not do away with it altogether, thus forming a new school of thought, similar to Socinianism and process theology, called open theism.”

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will … #Calvinism


#6

Calvinist Protestants embrace the idea of predestination, namely, that God chose who would be saved and who would be not saved prior to the creation. They quote Ephesians 1:4 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” and also 2:8 “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” One of the strongest defenders of this theological point of view was the American Puritan preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards.

One difference between the Calvinist & Arminian is that the Calvinist sees words like “us” as referring to individual people and the Arminian would say “us” refers to a class of people God knew would choose to believe in Christ. Eph 2.8 , again is an inflection point as the Calvinist sees “faith” as the gift from God and the Arminian sees “saved” or “salvation” as the gift.
It’s interesting in the OT God chose a class of people “Israel” to be his people rather then individuals. He did use individuals for tasks but Israel was his chosen people to receive the law. From the OT no one ever dreamed of Calvinism as God’s method but it’s the same God in the NT.


#7

"Edwards believed that indeterminism was incompatible with individual dependence on God and hence with his sovereignty. He reasoned that if individuals’ responses to God’s grace are contra-causally free, then their salvation depends partly on them and therefore God’s sovereignty is not “absolute and universal.”

So incompatible that God in his sovereignty simply couldn’t choose to allow man to have the ability to make choices like follow Christ? Sovereignty means God can choose not to exercise meticulous control and allow man to make choices and learn from his mistakes.


#8

Calvinist theologian Loraine Boettner argued that the doctrine of divine foreknowledge does not escape the alleged problems of divine foreordination. He wrote that “what God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained; and if one is inconsistent with the free agency of man, the other is also. Foreordination renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain.”[6] Some Christian theologians, feeling the bite of this argument, have opted to limit the doctrine of foreknowledge if not do away with it altogether, thus forming a new school of thought, similar to Socinianism and process theology, called open theism."

I’m a fan of the NY Mets and i just watched a 60 min replay of them beating the Cubs last night and in so doing i had knowledge of the score in advance and some of the details about specific plays within the game. So for this event i had foreknowledge yet it had no impact on the free will of the participants because it was a passive connection between myself and the event. IMO it’s the same scenario when God has foreknowledge of the future if he does not intervene then it’s a passive connection which doesn’t impact the participants free will.


#9

There’s a related Calvinist answer, by CARM theologian Matt Slick:

If God knows our free will choices, do we still have free will?


#10

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur," (Acts 4:27-28).

With all due respect to Mr Slick this refers to a specific incident not necessarily to every event in human history and in fact Jesus prayed that God’s Will be done on earth as it is in heaven meaning it was a request for this to happen rather then an acknowledgment that it has already happened.


#11

If ANYTHING you do was known before you did it, then you did NOT act out of free will. For if it was known before you did it, you could not have done otherwise.


#12

Steve. How do you balance free will choices with God’s omniscience? Do you advocate, for example:

Middle Knowledge?
Some form of open theism, like Paidion and I embrace? But I add the Eastern Orthodox position of synergy (synergeia) (i.e. The Free Will of Man According to the Holy Orthodox Christian Church))
There is no free will, like some on this forum embrace?
Etc.

I’m sure if you brought up your objection to Matt Slick, he could answer it - from a Calvinist perspective. Same goes for Paidion’s objection. I just can’t guess, what his answer would be.

And I further balance open theism and synergy, against the premise - that thoughts and feelings can influence reality. A position that folks like Mary Baker Eddy, Joel Goldsmith and Emmet Fox, have demonstrated in their lives. I just don’t buy into their explanations.


#13

Steve. How do you balance free will choices with God’s omniscience? Do you advocate, for example:

Middle Knowledge?
Some form of open theism, like Paidion and I embrace?
There is no free will, like some on this forum embrace?

To me it seems clear we can make choices so if that’s how we define free will then i think we have it. Of course our will is not literally free as a million things influence it, but we can make choices.
If Open Theism is true how did Jesus predict Peter would deny him three times? But as i said before even if God has foreknowledge of the future , it’s a passive connection and does not impact our ability to make choices IMO.


#14

I’m sure if you brought up your objection to Matt Slick, he could answer it - from a Calvinist perspective. Same goes for Paidion’s objection. I just can’t guess, what his answer would be.

Slick would say examples of God intervening disclose his pattern of meticulous control for everything but i think these are specific instances of God intervening to steer the ship where he wants it to go, but the passengers can still make choices on the ship.


#15

I think you will find experts responding, to every theological objection…According to their unique, theological and philosophical perspective. Like Greg Boyd (a open theism “expert”) does, at How do you respond to Matthew 26:36?. As I said earlier, my position is a hybrid of the Protestant open theism and Eastern Orthodox synergy (synergeia) (i.e. The Free Will of Man According to the Holy Orthodox Christian Church)) positions.

It reminds me of a joke at math-fail.com/2013/06/mathematicians-vs-engineers.html

But you will be (and it’s my position, on theological and philosophical positions)

Then you can describe your position, in a logical and coherent manner. And respond to objections well. Whether your position is right or wrong - accord to God’s final revelation.


#16

The “gospels” were written long after Jesus’ death. Jesus may have said, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me.” Knowing Peter’s character, Jesus reasonably could have made this prediction. But because Peter did, in fact, deny Him three times, the gospel writers may have “remembered” it that way years later.

How many times did the rooster crow before Peter denied Him three times? Mark wrote that it was twice (Mark 14:72) and also wrote that Jesus predicted, “Before the rooster crows twice… etc.” (Mark 14:30). The other three writers have Jesus simply saying “Before the rooster crows…”
The same when the rooster actually crowed, according to their accounts. It was just once. Somebody had to have had it wrong!

It doesn’t matter who has the foreknowledge. If a future event is known before it happens, then that event MUST occur. If someone knows that you will eat porridge for breakfast tomorrow morning, then it will come to pass. When tomorrow morning comes, there is no way you can refrain from eating porridge. Therefore you have no free will.

If you COULD refrain from eating porridge tomorrow morning, then it was not true that someone knew that you would eat porridge tomorrow morning.


#17

If ANYTHING you do was known before you did it, then you did NOT act out of free will. For if it was known before you did it, you could not have done otherwise.

To me the point is whether God or anyone knows what you will do is unimportant, what matters is that the doer had the choice of choosing A,B or C and if he chose C on his own then he had free will according to the general definition. The foreknowledge God may have is a passive knowledge with no impact on the subject.


#18

How many times did the rooster crow before Peter denied Him three times? Mark wrote that it was twice (Mark 14:72) and also wrote that Jesus predicted, “Before the rooster crows twice… etc.” (Mark 14:30). The other three writers have Jesus simply saying “Before the rooster crows…”
The same when the rooster actually crowed, according to their accounts. It was just once. Somebody had to have had it wrong!

But the main point is that i think in all the accounts Peter denied Christ 3 times which Jesus predicted.


#19

The “gospels” were written long after Jesus’ death

BTW i think Mark was written very early because of little details about people that would have been hard to recall decades later.


#20

I’d like to see Paidon & Matt Slick discuss this topic.

While, on the one hand, Matt Slick affirms a belief in freewill, he takes it away with the other hand:

calvinistcorner.com/error-of … e-will.htm

In this discussion a Calvinist replies to the following comment saying it is not what Calvinism teaches:

“In Calvinism those not “given to the Son” have no chance of avoiding eternal hell, since that is what God predestined them to & God is fully responsible for. It is His fault & His alone that they spend eternity being punished. These people that the Calvinistic God forces to “go to hell” are just as undeserving of their fate in fatalistic Calvinism as the babies Calvin thought would end up there.”

christianforums.com/threads … 211/page-9

In this thread Calvinists agree that God did “foreordain (predestinate)” the events of Jer 7:31, 19:5, 32:35:

“Yes…God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, or He would not be God. However, His “ordination” does not mean that God “causes” anyone to sin, that we are all more than capable of doing w/o any help from Him.”

“…if God issued such commands and “caused” people to sin, then He would be the undoubted Author of sin/moral evil. Thankfully, we know that He would never do such a thing, rather, those who worship idols (and those who sin against Him in every other way) do so because they have been swept away by their own lusts and have chosen to do so.”

"… God ordains whatsoever comes to pass both actively (IOW, He causes things to happen*), and passively (IOW, He allows things to happen). In both cases He is absolutely sovereign.

*(Just to be clear, God never “causes” anyone to sin, but He does “allow” us to do so. If He did not, no one would be able to sin, nor would our wills be free!)"

“…God allows us to sin, but He does not cause us to sin. That’s what Calvinism teaches. There is the separate belief of a few that is referred to as “Hyper-Calvinism”, but it is neither Calvinism (nor did it spring out of Calvinism), nor is it Biblical or Christian.”

"…Did God know what our progenitors were going to do in the Garden? Of course.

“If He stopped them from disobeying Him, and if He continued to do so throughout their lives, what would that mean concerning their free will?”

christianforums.com/threads … s.8010429/