Does Love Require LFW?


#1

The following are just a few brief responses to some things Dr. Greg Boyd has said concerning love and freedom with which I disagree. Any responses (especially from those who agree with him on this!) would be much appreciated.

(I feel a need to add that, although I have some pretty significant disagreements with Dr. Boyd on certain theological matters, I’m nevertheless a fan of his, and have been for years now. I enjoy listening to his preaching, have found a number of his books very helpful, and share his conviction that followers of Christ must reject all forms of violence and resist the temptation to use “power over” others. I especially love his books The Myth of a Christian Nation, The Myth of a Christian Religion, and The Jesus Legend, and highly recommend them to every Christian. I should also add that, since joining this forum, I have become much more sympathetic to the idea of libertarian free will. While I’m not convinced we possess it or that it’s even coherent, I nevertheless appreciate and feel the force of some of the arguments made in its defense!)

On his “Christus Victor” website, Dr. Boyd explains the first thesis of his “warfare worldview” as follows:

gregboyd.org/qa/spiritual-wa … worldview/

So according to Dr. Boyd, love “by definition” must be “freely chosen.” By “freely” Dr. Boyd means free in the libertarian sense - i.e., the freedom to do otherwise. To have this kind of freedom when making a decision means that a different outcome could have been effected given the same exact circumstances, influences and desires. In other words, if my decision to propose to my wife was “free” in the sense of which Dr. Boyd speaks, then I could’ve chosen not to propose to her. But how might the possibility that I might not have chosen to propose to my wife be explained or accounted for? What would have made the difference in outcomes? If everything leading up to my choice (i.e., the various influences and factors involved in the circumstances) remained unchanged, then it would seem that the only possible, non-deterministic explanation for a different outcome is that a truly random event took place and changed the outcome. So if love requires LFW, then what I believe it actually requires is the possibility that an inexplicable, random event could change the outcome of a decision. (This, of course, does not mean we don’t have LFW, or that LFW could serve no possible purpose in our existence. But I do think it somewhat undermines the argument that love could not exist without it.)

So what about God? It would seem that, according to the first thesis of Dr. Boyd’s warfare worldview, God’s love wouldn’t be genuine if it wasn’t “freely chosen.” But we are told in Scripture that “God is love.” And as Boyd himself believes, it is God’s eternal nature to be perfect love; just as God cannot lie, so he cannot cease to love and to be love. But if God’s love is genuine, what makes Boyd’s thesis that “love requires freedom” true for us but not true for God?

In his book God of the Possible, Boyd argues (p. 137):

So according to Boyd, the characters of created persons must be “freely chosen” because, unlike God, what they become is not built into what they are as a matter of necessity. But how does this follow? Couldn’t a non-libertarian agree that what we as contingent beings “ultimately become is not built into what we are as a matter of necessity” without, at the same time, affirming that it is we who must decide what we will ultimately become?

Boyd goes on to say,

But as before, I think a non-libertarian could agree with all of the above without also affirming what Boyd goes on to say:

Boyd’s conclusion (that we must freely choose our eternal nature) does not, I don’t think, follow from the premise that our existence is contingent rather than necessary. The eternal natures of contingent beings do not have to be “freely chosen” simply because they are contingent. It may be that this is the case (assuming LFW is even possible, and a coherent alternative to determinism), but their being contingent does not at all require that this be the case. It could just as well be the case that the eternal natures of contingent beings are determined by God, (or even some created being to whom God has given the power and authority to do so). Being contingent rather than necessary simply does not entail or require that one be “self-determining.”

One could thus modify Boyd’s words to instead read:

“This constitutes one major difference between God and all created beings. Regarding his character, God is who he is from all eternity (he is “necessary”), while the eternal natures of the personal beings he chooses to create must be determined by him (we are “contingent”). To participate in God’s eternal triune love that he has by nature, God must make our nature like his so that we will desire what he desires and love what he loves.”

So it will not do to appeal to the contingent nature of our existence to explain why we (unlike God) must “freely choose” to love in order to acquire a loving character. God could choose to give every contingent personal being he creates the same desires that govern his own decisions to love so that love springs just as naturally from their hearts as it always has from his. Thus, there is no reason why the statement “love requires freedom” should be true for us but not for God. Since it’s not true for God, there’s no reason why it has to be true for the personal beings he creates, either - for there’s nothing inherent to our nature that requires that it be true for us. The fact that our existence is contingent rather than necessary is, I believe, irrelevant in regards to how our character is determined, and by whom it is determined.

In response to a question about whether or not humans will have “free will” in heaven, Dr. Boyd says on a Q&A blog series (whchurch.org/blog/3355/ask-greg- … -in-heaven):

Thus, according to Boyd, in heaven we will still be “free” (i.e., possessing the libertarian freedom that Boyd thinks is essential to love), but we will never sin because we will “never want to” sin. Remarkably, Boyd even says that our being “free” to sin in heaven while never wanting to sin means that we’ll be “more free in heaven than we are now,” and that being a person who is “by nature loving” is “the greatest freedom there is” (emphasis his). But if this is the case, how then is LFW in any way essential to, or required by, love? Boyd’s position is that a “genuinely loving character” can only be acquired by the repeated free exercise of one’s will. But as we’ve seen, Boyd admits that God himself is an exception to this “rule,” and that it only applies to the contingent beings that God creates. But if God can possess a genuinely loving character without his having had to acquire it by “repeatedly choosing love over all alternatives,” why can’t contingent beings be brought into existence (or introduced into a new state of existence) with the same kind of solidified, genuinely loving character that God has, by virtue of his necessary existence, always possessed? It can’t be because they are contingent rather than necessary, because there is no reason why the nature of a contingent being has to be determined by itself rather than by God. I think even the libertarian would have to admit that, with the exception of human beings, the nature of every created thing on earth (whether animate or inanimate) is determined by something outside itself. And it is equally the case that there is much about our own nature and personal identities which isn’t determined by us. And if there are some aspects of our nature and personal identity that have been determined by something outside ourselves, it’s possible that every aspect of our nature and personal identity has been - or at some point will be - determined by something outside ourselves.

Conclusion: Contra Dr. Boyd, I do not think love has ever required libertarian free will. If LFW is in fact possible and human beings possess it, it’s not because love requires it. Without violating any kind of metaphysical law governing the nature and requirements of love, God could, I think, choose to create in every person who has ever lived the same kind of genuinely loving character/disposition that God has always possessed - and their complete lack of desire to sin would not make them less free but more free.


Love, LFW and Human Suffering
Is experiencing sin Neccessary?
#2

To me, the weakest point of Arminianism is it’s belief in human autonomy, LFW, free-moral-agents. Simply put, we are not born free, nor are we moral. We are born under the dominion of Satan, slaves of unrighteousness, selfish to the core, to a greater or lesser extent; slaves none the less. And we are certainly not “moral”. LFW would require that we be born as Adam, except born with complete knowledge as to the full ramifications of good and evil. Only then could we make a “free” choice as to good or evil.

Also, in the scope of our existance, we actually choose very little, maybe 0.1%. I mean, think about it; we do not choose our talents, gifts, when to be born, what age to be born into, what family to be born into, what culture to be raised in, our IQ level, our emotional stability, our physical attributes, etc. etc. etc. I believe we have “LIMITED” free will, and that we will be held accountable for the choices that we make. If we make wise choices, we’ll benefit from them, likely in this life but surely in the life to come. And if we make foolish choices we’ll suffer from them, likely in this life but surely in the life to come - whether we’re believers or not. Or should I say, “especially” if we are believers for I believe that the revelation of God’s love is the greatest gift we can receive and thus the most important thing we are accoutable for living in, using wisely through loving others!


#3

Aaron: Without violating any kind of metaphysical law governing the nature and requirements of love, God could, I think, choose to create in every person who has ever lived the same kind of genuinely loving character/disposition that God has always possessed - and their complete lack of desire to sin would not make them less free but more free.

Tom: Wait a second there Aaron! :sunglasses:

You deny LFW (whether in the case of God or humans). I remember you previously pointing out to me that even God’s own choices are determined. What God has done (in creating us as he did) could not have been different than it was (given all who and what God is). Given your determinism and denial of all LFW, I’d argue that you’re committed to the belief that God cannot of metaphysical necessity (i.e., the metaphysics of the determinations of his own nature and choices) have chosen other than he did in fact choose with regard to what and how he created. To say he could have done otherwise would be to say what libertarians say. So in restrospect, given divine determinism (by whatever means internal to God’s own nature and essence), God’s own choices flowed inexoribly as they did and could not have otherwise flowed. And so it is for all God’s choices, given determinism (and given that God’s choices are not random).

So you can’t consistently maintain that God could have done other than he did in creating us.

BUT…you carefully word youself. You say “God could choose to create in every person who has ever lived the same kind of genuinely loving character/disposition that God has always possessed.” I’m not sure what you mean here. Do you mean “could have chosen” as in could have chosen other than he did in creating us? Or are you describing what God “may yet do” in the future? I don’t know. Given your denial of LFW, you can’t consistently maintain that God “could have done other” than create us as he did. And he didn’t create us unfailingly loving. So you can’t argue that creating US unfailingly loving was a metaphysical possibility. Quite the opposite.

But given God’s track record (i.e., the fact that God did not in fact create us unfailingly loving from the start), I’m wondering just how it is you know that God really can do this at all (i.e., create a race of people who are unfailingly loving and impeccable from the get-go)? He didn’t do it when he (supposedly) had the chance. What has God ever done that tells you that creating finite persons who love unfailingly lies within the deterministic scope of what is metaphysically possible for God?

Hope you’re well,
Tom


#4

Yes, at least if you don’t currently have enough money to provide for your spouse or loved one. If you love them, and they require your support, you should definitely look for work.

Sorry, just couldn’t resist. :wink: (I’m looking for a job right now and used “LFW” in a listing. :laughing:)


#5

Hi Tom! You wrote:

No, that’s correct; I was describing what God “may yet do” in the future. And I believe God will choose to do it (and that it’s always been true that he will). But that’s another discussion, I think. So I phrased it the way I did simply because those against whom I’m arguing most likely don’t believe God will choose to do this. I was trying to argue that, even presupposing that God and humans possess LFW (or at least that it’s a possibility), love doesn’t require it. That is, even if both God and human beings have LFW, it’s not because we couldn’t love otherwise.

To argue from God’s track record that it is unlikely or metaphysically impossible that God will, at some future time, introduce his human creatures into a state of existence in which we are unfailingly loving is, to me, like arguing that because God did not bring us into existence in a deathless state from the get-go (such that death would never have to be “destroyed” or “swallowed up in victory”), it is unlikely or metaphysically impossible that he will introduce us into a deathless state of existence at a future time. But of course, Scripture reveals that God is going to do just this.

Well as someone who denies that Scripture teaches the existence of rebel supernatural beings (e.g., “Satan” with a capital “S”), I believe God did this when he created the angels. And as a Unitarian, I believe God did this again when Jesus was begotten.

But even if I didn’t think there were any past examples of God creating finite persons who love unfailingly, it’s my view that Scripture teaches that he will do it in the future (i.e., when mankind is instantaneously introduced into a deathless state of existence).


#6

Thanks Aaron. Always a careful and clear thinker!

The rule focuses in on the question of the nature of the relationship between the kind of people we are (namely, able to sin; not unfailingly loving from the get-go) and the unfailingly loving people we shall be some day. That is, what does our being capable of sinning now have to do with our becoming unfailingly loving in the future? This is where we disagree I think. I would say the latter (i.e., the end of unfailingly loving being) requires the former (freedom to sin) in the case of getting created, finite beings such as ourselves into a state of moral perfection. The fact that self-existent divine being is necessarily unfailingly loving is not an argument against the claim that created finite being must ‘become’ unfailingly loving through self-determined participation in divine being. That difference in being (uncreated, self-existent, and necessary vs created, finite and contingent) accounts for why God can’t just give us a perfect character from the get-go. Unpacking THAT is another thread (and would be a fun one!).

And though God shall ultimately perfect us, our ultimate perfection will not be an instance of what Greg’s arguing God cannot do (i.e., his creating morally perfect beings from the get-go). Rather, it’ll be partly the effect of choices we made (to say no to sin, yes to God, to struggle and develop our characters as in fact our experience bears out). We shall become unfailingly loving, yes, but in precisely the manner in which Boyd argues is necessary in our case, viz., we will ‘become’ fully perfected over time as the consummation of a process in which we freely participate in determining/shaping our characters.

So the question comes down to what relationship we believe our being free to sin has to our ultimately being unfailingly loving. I think there’s a direct relationship; the end requires a metaphysically appropriate context, and that is the context in which Greg argues we in fact find ourselves (one in which we are able to sin). But it seems to me that you, Aaron, have to conclude that there is no such relationship between our capacity to sin and God’s purpose that we be unfailingly loving. You deny that our ultimate perfection requires our present capacity to sin (which is what ‘love requries freedom’ argues), and that begs two related questions I’d like to ask:

  1. Why do you think God created us as he did?

and

  1. How do you understand the relationship bewteen our telos (being perfectly loving in the end) and our God-given created natures that are obviously capable of sinning?

Can you speculate for me as to what it is about God that leaves open no option for perfecting US other than creating us able to sin and having us struggle toward our perfection to finally be glorified by God (as opposed to creating us from the get-go as we shall be)? What role does our historical process play in making our future consummation possible or in getting God what it is he wants from creating us at all? “Love requires freedom” says that there’s no getting us to that end apart from certain particulars of our journey, one of which is our capacity to sin (which is just the negative side of the requirement which viewed more positively says that the emergence of the personal, morally responsible partners whom God desires requires the free participation of those partners and cannot be determined unilaterally by God).

Tom


#7

Hi again Aaron,

I’d like to jump in with a few comments re: your response to Greg.

Aaron: Thus, according to Boyd, in heaven we will still be “free” (i.e., possessing the libertarian freedom that Boyd thinks is essential to love), but we will never sin because we will “never want to” sin.

Tom: I know Greg fairly well, have read all his stuff and have discussed these issues with him at length, so let me assure you that Greg does not think that in heaven we shall be libertarianly free with respect to evil. His position on the solidification of the will over time is that eventually we become compatibilistically free with respect to evil. We may remain libertarianly free with respect to the mode of loving expression (Do I mow your lawn or wash your car for you? Both are equally loving) that each of us uniquely takes, but not with respect to whether or not we are loving or evil. So LFW gives way to compatibilistic freedom over time. That’s Greg’s position. Glorification, I take it, involves the irrevocable confirmation of our characters.

Aaron: Remarkably, Boyd even says that our being “free” to sin in heaven while never wanting to sin means that we’ll be “more free in heaven than we are now,” and that being a person who is “by nature loving” is “the greatest freedom there is.”

Tom: What do you find remarkable about this? It makes good sense I think. A character which loves unfailingly (either by virtue of necessary existence or participation) seems greater than one which may be evil. In other words, the capacity to sin is not itself a great-making property, even if it is necessary to SOME outcomes.

Aaron: …why can’t contingent beings be brought into existence (or introduced into a new state of existence) with the same kind of solidified, genuinely loving character that God has, by virtue of his necessary existence, always possessed? It can’t be because they are contingent rather than necessary, because there is no reason why the nature of a contingent being has to be determined by itself rather than by God.

Tom: Some of us think there is good reason for thinking contingent finite beings must freely participate in the coming to be of their own loving character and personhood, for that participation is precisely what makes it theirs.It’s not that God can’t in any case determine what he creates. The question is what metaphysical constraints might limit the sort of outcomes God can enjoy when he’s all-determining. True, we can’t just say “Well, it’s because God is necessary and we’re contingent.” That has to be unpacked to have any real explanatory value.

Tom


#8

TGB,
Perhaps I misunderstand the force of Aaron’s argument or perhaps I’m not. But if one does not desire to sin (as much as we won’t) then how can that be called “freedom” when in this life free will has to include that a person be able to do otherwise?

It seems if it’s true that eventually we’ll become as Boyd states, then why is it necessary that God give us an ability to sin? The lack of desire to sin can ONLY mean that we do not have the option to do otherwise. It’s like me stating I can keep a computer from falling in love with me. If a computer lacks the desire to fall in love then how is it free to be in love or not? And if humans have no desire to sin then how can they be able to do otherwise then to do what is right rather than to do what is wrong?
We who favor determinism don’t have this dilemma because we don’t care if it’s called freedom or not. But for those who argue that the ability to sin (which is a necessary condition for free will) can only mean that people DON’T have freedom if they cannot desire otherwise.

Help me out here,

Aug


#9

Hi Auggy!

I’ll try to clarify where I stand on this, and I’m very confident that it represents Boyd’s view as well.

Aug: …if one does not desire to sin (as much as we won’t) then how can that be called “freedom” when in this life free will has to include that a person be able to do otherwise?

Tom: The short answer is that the word ‘freedom’ is the word philosophers use to describe the nature of choice, the will, and the nature of the alternatives we face. I don’t mind using another word. What we’re talking about is the ‘capacity’ for evil choice. I’m perfectly agreeable to the idea that we reserve the word ‘freedom’ for what we shall be when the full and unhindered exercise of our wills tends unfailingly to good. It’s a question of the ‘telos’ or goal/end of our ‘natures’. I believe that our ‘natures’ are perfectible in the sense that they can mature into a fixed orientation toward benevolence. I like the idea that we are more free when we are free to function exclusively in this benevolence unhindered by evil and without risk of failure. That is our truest freedom. But we use the word ‘freedom’ to describe competing theories of choice because, well, that’s the history of the debate and it’s easier to just adopt the vocabulary. But you’re right, in an important sense we are less than fully free when we are capable of (or free to) sin.

Aug: It seems if it’s true that eventually we’ll become as Boyd states, then why is it necessary that God give us an ability to sin?

Tom: Because as we see it there’s no way for created beings to begin at the end, i.e., to begin already finished products, perfectly loving by virtue of being given characters that function perfectly from the get-go. Boyd argues this is a ‘metaphysical’ impossibility. Not even God could just—plop—speak such beings into existence. It’s the personal/moral equivalent of a square circle, so to speak, though I wouldn’t claim it’s as obvious.

Aug: The lack of desire to sin can ONLY mean that we do not have the option to do otherwise.

Tom: I agree. If you can’t ‘want’ to do X, then your freely choosing X is as impossible as your wanting X.

Aug: And if humans have no desire to sin then how can they be able to do otherwise then to do what is right rather than to do what is wrong?

Tom: Right, but I think this might be drifting a bit from the issue Aaron and I are discussing. Aaron and I are disagreeing over whether or not it’s possible for God to create beings who love unfailingly (i.e., who love by the necessity of their natures) and so cannot sin, because the nature God gave them is hardwired to only want, and so choose, the good. It seems to me Aaron wants to say God can do this (or something very near it) although as a strict determinist Aaron can’t say God could have done otherwise with US as he in fact did. The closest he can come is to say God will perfect us in the future, at which time we’ll love unfailingly and without risk of evil. And he thinks this disproves Boyd’s formula: Love requires freedom. I’m saying it doesn’t disprove that formula (correctly understood).

Aug: We who favor determinism don’t have this dilemma because we don’t care if it’s called freedom or not.

Tom: I don’t care what we call it either. I could have this whole conversation by talking about the ‘capacity’ to choose evil and good. But I’m not sure what this has to do with the substance of what Aaron and I are disagreeing over.

Aug: But for those who argue that the ability to sin (which is a necessary condition for free will) can only mean that people DON’T have freedom if they cannot desire otherwise.

Tom: OK, we’re just tripping over definitions. If a person cannot sin, then they are obviously not free to sin. But that doesn’t mean they’re not free in OTHER respects. God is not free to sin, but he is free to be the God of love he is. And that, I take it, is the truest form of freedom—viz., the freedom or ability to be all your nature is designed by God to be. We’ll be as free as we possibly can be when we’re free from all threat of sin.

Again, if you want we can reserve the word ‘freedom’ to describe this eschatological fullness of human nature perfected in Christ and fixed in its orientation to loving God and others. It’s not the prevailing lingo in philosophical circles, but that’s cool. What word then would you like to use to describe our present capacity to choose for or against such love? Is ‘capacity’ okay?

Tom


#10

Tom,
Thanks for that response. I’ll try to limit my questions to keep orbit around the original post. My only remark would be that I agree that the shifting of definitions (namely freedom) is what makes this hard to put our fingers on. But it also makes it hard for us to accept the other view points. In this case, what you seem to endorse sounds more contradicting then reasonable. But I’ll assume it’s due to my rigid interpretation of the word “freedom” - and I think I am ridig because even I agree we can be slaves to righteousness.

Now I have to say at this point I agree with Aaron. One of my arguments against LFW has been against the notion that in order for us to “love” God as our father, God had to subject us to some drug addicted, child abusing, open theist believing (lol - kidding) drunk all the time father. It’s as if in order for us to really love God we had to have a bad father. This seems to be the heart of your argument - In order for us to love (perfectly) we must learn it. But it seems to me that determinism does not rule out eductation; a creature can learn as well in a determined system. God could cause someone to disobey (ala the Pharaoh) in order to teach him a lesson and his lack of freedom of choice is no barrier to him learning the value in the choices which were determined. If there is a contradiction in that, I’m all ears.

It seems to me that whether LFW or DET is true, the fact that we experience things (life) is what is necessary for love to exist (of course even I know this only begs the question - no need to point that out).

I’m open to being wrong about this as I certainly don’t have my fingers around this stuff. So thanks for bearing with guys like Aaron and myself.


#11

Auggy: One of my arguments against LFW has been against the notion that in order for us to love God as our father, God had to subject us to some drug addicted, child abusing, open theist believing (lol - kidding) drunk all the time father.

Tom: No, no! That’s YOUR view as a determinist. Remember? Hehe. :sunglasses:

I don’t think “love requires freedom” (properly understood in the limited terms I’ve described) means God “had” to subject us to a fallen and abusive context. You and Aaron as determinists believe God “had” (in the sense that God’s choice to create and all the evil that has followed has flowed inexorably by the law of necessity extending back to the divine essence itself) to subject us to a fallen and abusive world. All I think “love requires freedom” means is that God had to endow us with the capacity (understood libertarianly) to fall and abuse, not the necessity of falling and abusing as determinism entails.

Auggy: It’s as if in order for us to really love God we had to have a bad father.

Tom: Not sure why you think I’m suggesting that.

Auggy: This seems to be the heart of your argument - In order for us to love (perfectly) we must learn it.

Tom: Yes, but learning doesn’t imply that your teachers are wicked and abusive. It just means you have to choose your way into a virtuous character.

Auggy: But it seems to me that determinism does not rule out education; a creature can learn as well in a determined system.

Tom: The end result, however (say, a virtuous character), is understood deterministically. In my view, that undermines the whole deal.

But anyhow, Aaron and I aren’t debating whether or not the end for which we’re created (unfailingly loving personal existence) can be gotten to OVER THE COURSE OF TIME via God’s determining all our learning through hard-knocks, failures, repentance, obedience, up’s and down’s, until God finally determines us to be unfailingly what he wants. In other words, it’s not about whether God can determine that we learn to love bit-by-bit (via a process) or we never need to ‘learn’ it because we do so perfectly from the get-go (instantaneously) and that my problem is only with the latter option. I deny BOTH. That is, I deny that God can get created, loving partners through relating to those partners in exclusively deterministic fashion whether the determining of us is done over time or instantaneously. It’s only because we all believe that we SHALL BE perfect and unfailingly loving in the future that the question about whether or not God could have started us out as a race already functioning in perfect love even arises. For me it’s answered by the sheer impossibility of having whether or not I love determined exclusively by a will other than my own.

Auggy: God could cause someone to disobey (ala the Pharaoh) in order to teach him a lesson and his lack of freedom of choice is no barrier to him learning the value in the choices which were determined.

Tom: God could determine unilaterally that Pharaoh not release Israel if he so wished. God’s got the muscle to do that. But that God can equally determine that Pharaoh learn his lesson and humble himself and surrender himself to God? I don’t see it.

Auggy: I’m open to being wrong about this as I certainly don’t have my fingers around this stuff. So thanks for bearing with guys like Aaron and myself.

Tom: I assure you there’s nothing to bear! Are you kidding? You guys are doing fine. I’m the one who could use some help!

Tom


#12

Tom,

I’m a bit lost. I follow Aaron’s arguments just fine but as I read you, I don’t.

As I understand Aaron, here what I gather Aaron is not convinced of:

Love requires libertarian free will because in order for the virture of choice to exist, the person must be able to do otherwise. If the person cannot do other wise then the virture of choice is lost and there can be no love.

Why else would love require LFW?

That’s the argument I understand Aaron to be arguing against.

So when I say the things I’ve said it’s because that’s the natural line of reason:
In order for God to know if Adam would love him, he had to place a tree in the garden that would kill him. Thus Adam had to continually choose in order to remain “living”. I’ve asked people on Facebook, just how long does Adam require testing before the tree is taken away? If we say the tree is never taken away then Talbott is right, God made is inevitable that he would fall - if that’s the case then what’s the point in Adam choosing?

So I’ve altered the scenario of A&E and translated it to show the fact that libertarians believe that in order for the love to be true between Adam and God, God had to test him (allow him choice - or LFW). If there was no command for Adam to disobey then God how could Adam truly love God in his choice? It would be a loveless relationship. By altering it, I’ve argued that children do not require being subjected to brutal violent fathers in order to choose which one they prefer. Rather, goodness inlcines us to love.

All of this to say, I believe Aaron is correct, Love does not require LFW. Now as you argue but the process God placed into can’t be proven to be any other way does not mean it cannot. Aaron pointed this out already.

I think Aarons claim:
So if love requires LFW, then what I believe it actually requires is the possibility that an inexplicable, random event could change the outcome of a decision.
seems sound to me. What else could it be?


#13

Aug: I’m a bit lost. I follow Aaron’s arguments just fine but as I read you, I don’t.

Tom: That’s because you already agree with him. Haha.

Aug: As I understand Aaron, here what I gather Aaron is not convinced of: Love requires libertarian free will because in order for the virture of choice to exist, the person must be able to do otherwise. If the person cannot do otherwise then the virture of choice is lost and there can be no love.

Tom: Well, Aaron may think that; I’m not sure. But if I’m understanding you, it’s not exactly what we’re debating (or what about my claims he’s not convinced of).

I’m not arguing anything about the “virtue of choice” since I don’t think the choice per se is a virtue. I think choice (libertarian) is what’s needed for us to become virtuous. That’s different.

But if you just mean the capacity/ability to do other than one does, then yes.

Aug: So when I say the things I’ve said it’s because that’s the natural line of reason: In order for God to know if Adam would love him, he had to place a tree in the garden that would kill him.

Tom: That’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that in order for Adam to love God (not “in order for God to know if Adam would love him or not”—it’s not about God’s knowing anything, it’s about Adam’s loving), Adam had to be free to do otherwise. That is, Adam’s got to share in shaping and constituting the character God wishes him to have, particularly because that ‘share’ is what makes the love his love for God and not simply God loving himself by means of Adam. God already loves himself. Creation isn’t about that.

Aug: Thus Adam had to continually choose in order to remain “living”. I’ve asked people on Facebook, just how long does Adam require testing before the tree is taken away?

Tom: The tree just represents the context in which we face genuine alternatives with respect to obeying and loving God, right? My view is that glorification brings this to an end. When we’re glorified the orientation of our wills and characters will be irrevocably fixed in love. Until then we continue to perfect and develop ourselves in the love of God.

Aug: So I’ve altered the scenario of A&E and translated it to show the fact that libertarians believe that in order for the love to be true between Adam and God, God had to test him (allow him choice - or LFW). If there was no command for Adam to disobey then God how could Adam truly love God in his choice? It would be a loveless relationship. By altering it, I’ve argued that children do not require being subjected to brutal violent fathers in order to choose which one they prefer.

Tom: But you’re likening the “capacity to choose” (libertarianly) to “being subjected to brutal violent fathers.” You’re comparing the mere “capacity to choose freely” with respect to good/evil to “actual violence and brutality.” Why think that? Why think that the “capacity” or “possibility” of evil is evil? And why think that the “capacity” for evil in a person ITSELF entails evil’s eventuality in that person?

All this ‘rule’ (love requires freedom) asks is whether or not God could have created us from the start already perfect, completely loving persons (as in fact we shall be). We’re not saying God has to “subject” anybody to abuse and evil so that they can “learn” to love. That’s not it. We’re saying that God has to “allow” people room to become the loving people he wants them to be. That in itself does not REQUIRE evil or sin. It only requires its possibility.

Aug: I think Aarons claim So if love requires LFW, then what I believe it actually requires is the possibility that an inexplicable, random event could change the outcome of a decision seems sound to me. What else could it be?

Tom: I think Aaron said that even if LFW is perfectly meaningful, and even if we do in fact possess it, it is still not the case that our possessing it has anything to do with our becoming loving persons. God can just create a race of perfectly loving people who don’t even possess the capacity for sinning at all. God just determines it and it comes into being already done. Do you think God can do this?

Tom


#14

Ok, I think I’m now on track with you Tom. I see the difference now and thank you for helping me with that.

So here’s a question I would pose to you or Boyd.

Are infants incapable of love? And what is the difference between a perfectly loving adult and a perfectly loving child?


#15

I think the capacity for loving goes along with the capacity for responsible choice and self-ownership. So infants can’t love I don’t think, just as they can’t rationally choose with respect to good/evil. As the understanding of self and others matures in a child, along with a functioning conscience and moral sensitivity, so the capacity for love grows. Don’t you think so?

We’re all created to mature into the fullest possible use of our natural capacities (whether for rationality, emotional relatedness, choice, aesthetic enjoyment, etc.). I guess that’s perfected adulthood in Christ.

Tom


#16

I’m not sold on that Tom. I don’t know that infants can’t love as infants are far smarter than we give credit. For example, Children certainly don’t make choices in responsible ways that adults do but I would bet lots that children love every bit as much as adults do if not moreso. Perhaps it’s their lack of knoweldge that allows them to excel.

So no. I see that the more the conscience grows the more clouded things can become hindering the nature of love which is built into us. If that’s not true then children can hardly love. And I’m not sure children are “freely” choosing (I’m not saying they aren’t).

As I re-read this thread again, I don’t think I’m so far off from Aaron. Though you say, you’re not debating whether the virtue of love is grounded in one’s being able to choose, it’s hard for me to think it’s not. As you state here:

So I feel as though, when I push a few envelopes your way, which contain particular aspects regarding this issue (the virtue of choice) - you say it’s not the debate. Well I’m not so sure of that. It seems to me that it is. For without this virtue (choice) you seem to believe that love is not possible. How is that not the issue? Where Aaron seems to be stating that this virtue of choice is not required for love to exist, you seems to say it is.

Aaron’s argument (if I understand him correctly) is that if God does not require the ability to do otherwise and yet loves Adam, then it is true that LFW cannot be required for love to exist.

Aaron, if I’m not on the same page please help me here :slight_smile:

Lots of love,

Aug


#17

Tom: 00

Aaron: 01

Tom loses a convert to Aaron.

:frowning:


#18

lol! I’m not a convert, I just have difficulty with LFW.

But seriously Tom, how is the virtue of choice in regards to love being possible not relevant? I’m confused there.


#19

Am very happy to be listening in on this conversation Aaron, Tom, Auggy etc. After my weekend experience (men’s book club discussion of “Love Wins”: see Prayer section for details if interested) I realize I need to refine my thoughts/convictions on the nature of the relationship between love and free will. As I listen (and have listened) to Tom and others, I think I fall somewhere in the compatibalist camp on free will – though have serious sympathies with the LFW position as well.
A few thoughts/questions/comments which may not be entirely relevant to this particular discussion, but is surely related…

  1. One man stated – as if he had summarized the entire debate! –

(by which he must mean something like “determined” love.) And certainly I can appreciate that a fully determined love is fairly meaningless to God and therefore unacceptable. If this is true however, wouldn’t it be equally true that a determined rebellion (sin) against God is just as unacceptable?? Scripture certainly seems to suggest that might be our plight when it speaks of us as sold under sin, as being born “in Adam”, and as being “bound over into disobedience.”

So through Christ it seems God has leveled the playing field as it were and thus refuses to allow us to be determined in sin forever.

  1. Further, how could we posibly even know if our love was free or determined? I believe my wife’s love for me, and mine for her, is free (ie not determined) but we’re hardly objective observers! My point is that the idea that love must be free and undetermined is only measurable by, and meaningflu to God – not us. If He accepts it, we can be assured it is not the love of a robot He is accepting and therefore that it is free in meaningful ways.

  2. It seems to me that in this whole drama of salvation – creation, fall, Cross, redemption, recreation etc – God is insistent on at least this: He accepts as “final” only those choices that are grounded in reality. It will not do to suggest that God must allow us our false perceptions, delusions, and psychoses forever. For those ae the forces which lend to our bondage, not our freedom. This insistence by God that our choice be based on reality (not delusions or falseness) is not a violation of our freedom at all, but rather an insistence on it. For this reason, in part, it seems unwarranted to define a “free” choice as one in which an alternate option could have been picked if that option were not rooted in reality and truth.

TotalVictory
Bobx3


#20

Bob: And certainly I can appreciate that a fully determined love is fairly meaningless to God and therefore unacceptable.

Tom: 01

Aaron: 01

Bob evens the score! Yippeeee!

:sunglasses: