Calvinist's believe everyone has free will

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by dwmoeller1, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    What?!!! you say. How absurd! you are thinking. :)

    But I am totally serious. "But why," you ask, "do so many Calvinists (Cists from here on out) deny that men have free will?" Confusion in terms is the answer.

    First of all, for those who want to see if I am an eccentric who is off his rocker, I refer you to Jonathan's Edwards book "The Freedom of the Will." The arguments I will present in this thread are not derived from this book (or any other) but I have been told enough times that my arguments sound nearly identical to his that I will go ahead and reference his work up front.

    Second, let me try and define some key terms. There are two distinct senses in which the term "free will" can be meant. Generally when Cists deny that man has free will they only mean to deny one sense of the term. They deny "free will" because they have acceded to the non-Cist use of the term. Personally, I think thats a mistake on their part, but its understandable. Instead, I make clear the distinction between the two senses. Of course, some Cists will deny both senses of "free will", that is not an accurate representation of Cisms position though (much less Scriptures) and those who insist on it are usually better labelled "hyper-Cists".

    Sense 1 (referred to as free will or FW from here on): "Free will" is the ability to freely choose whatever one wishes. God does not compel men to choose contrary to how they wish to choose.

    Sense 2 (referred to as libertarian free will or LFW from here on): "Free will" is the ability to choose anything at all w/o reference to any determining agent, including one's own character or desires. One is self-determined in all aspects.

    When Cists reject free will they usually mean only to reject sense 2, but not sense 1.
     
  2. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    The Cist position is fully compatible with free will. In fact, it is my belief that the Cist should readily affirm free will as it supports their position and gives a consistent explanation of free will as found in Scripture. It also denies to the detractor the exclusive use of the term and provides a basis for common understanding.

    Is there any Cist here who would
    1. deny that men freely choose what they want to choose?
    2. assert that God compels men to choose contrary to what they desire?

    I certainly don't nor does any significant Cist theologian I am aware of. Instead, the Cist holds
    a. that man's nature is corrupt from the beginning of life
    b. that this corrupt nature means that natural man hates God and the truth
    c. that since they are born hating God and the truth, they freely choose with their wills to reject God and the truth. They instead freely choose to sin and will never seek God nor accept the truth of their own free will.
     
  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    A human being exercises free agency freely within his nature.
     
  4. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    Is "free agency" any different than the first sense of free will I give? If so, how? If not, then I will refuse to cede the term to libertarian free will and instead stick with the perfectly acceptable term of free will as defined in sense one.
     
  5. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    One thing to note is that free will of Cism is the same sort of free will that God has. God has free will in that He can freely choose whatever He wishes. He does not have LFW as He cannot choose just anything. For instance, He cannot lie. If God is restricted in His choices (presumably by His holy nature), then either He does not have free will, or else the proper understand of free will is the one the Cist holds.

    And if God has free will yet still cannot choose some things, then why would man be any different. As the Cist sees it, natural man and God are polar opposites in their nature - God is holy and just and cannot freely choose to do that which is contrary to holiness, man is corrupt and hates God and thus cannot freely choose to seek God or truth. God cannot deny the truth, natural man cannot accept it.
     
  6. canadyjd

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    I haven't found an explanation of "free will" in scripture. I believe the term "free will" to be inconsistent with scripture. Jesus says the one who sins is a "slave" to sin. Slaves have no freedom. Therefore, the term "free-will", itself, presents a barrier to understanding scripture. Why support the use of a phrase that you will immediately have to qualify as untrue? Better to be upfront with what you believe.

    People have a human will, enslaved to sin. As pointed out earlier, they are moral agents responsible for their actions. That is the best way to describe human will.
    It concedes the existence of "free-will", while attempting to change the meaning of the words. I don't believe this is a basis for common understanding. It seems it would be confusing, certainly to an unbeliever.

    "Human will" does provide the basis for understanding whether a man's will is "free" or not.

    BTW, your use of the term "Cists" (sounds/looks like "Cysts") to refer to "Calvinists" is insulting. I don't know if you are being purposely insulting, but you are being insulting.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  7. gb93433

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    Then why commands in scripture?

    Slaves do have choice. They can be slaves to sin or slaves of Jesus.
     
  8. dwmoeller1

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    I am being upfront with what I believe.
    1. My usage of the term is well accepted in philosophical circles. My usage is known as compatibilism
    2. My usage of the term is even accepted by Cists. See Jonathan Edwards.
    3. If "free will" is to be objected due to the fact that slaves are not free, then one must equally object to the term "free agency".

    So there is no reason to consider my use of the term in the way you do. It's well accepted (if disputed by those who disagree) and no more disagree with Scripture than the term "free agency".

    But forget all that for now. Would you agree with the concept? Does man freely choose to do as he wishes, or does God compel him to choose contrary to what he wishes?

    If I am being purposefully insulting then I am being purposefully insulting to myself since I am also a Cist. The simpler and more accurate explanation is that I don't want to type it out all the time.
     
  9. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    The underlying basis of calvinism is not man, but God; the absolute sovereignty of God. It is from this point we determine what man can or cannot do. I am not ignoring what scripture teaches, just not filling a page with a host of quotes.

    Under the absolute sovereignty of God, we have to deal with man, and we do this in a subdivision of absolute sovereignty that we call the Permissive Will of God; thus far and no further.

    The total depravity of man deals with the soul and not the ability to think and do things, including "good deeds" in the eyes of humanity.

    Man can freely choose, as God permitted in the case of Job and the devil. God, however, held the upper hand and could stop either Job or the devil at any point in this particular life experience. That relative freedom to do still falls under the absolute sovereignty of God.

    This is the point where most non-calvinists and sub-calvinists fail and begin to build their inconsistent theologies, including the false concept of foreknowledge as a factor in decisions, rather than foreknowledge as a natural attribute of God.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. TomVols

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    Well said Jim. Of course humans have free will. The Calvinist simply says man's will is sinfully tainted and that God has to intervene.
     
  11. canadyjd

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    To point to our need for God to intercede for us.
    The "choice" to be a slave to Jesus comes only after the "Son sets you free".

    peace to you:praying:
     
  12. dwmoeller1

    dwmoeller1
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    When speaking of the will, there are two senses in which "cannot" or "inability" can be meant. These senses should be recognized and kept distinct when considering this topic.

    First there is the sense which would be assumed in every day language. If one says they can't fly or breathe under water, the normal sense is that they lack the capacity to do so regardless of whether they wish to or not. That is, they lack the necessary feathers, wings, bone and muscle structure to make flying possible, or they lack gills to make breathing under water possible.

    The first sense might also refer to one being constrained against their will. If one is tied by their hands and feet and says they are unable to walk, they do not mean the first sense - they have the necessary muscles, and legs to be able to walk. What they refer to is the fact that they are being constrained by some outside force so that they cannot do what they normally could do. In this sense, they have the capacity but they are being constrained otherwise.

    However, when dealing with the philosophy of the will, there is also a second sense which can be meant. This sense refers only to the moral aspect of the will and can be called "moral inability" (vs. the first sense which can be called natural inability). This sense of inability means that one has no inclination, or lacks a sufficiently strong contrary inclination, to choose otherwise, and vice versa. If a person has no sufficiently strong motivation to choose X, and strong motivation to not choose X, then they unable (in the moral sense) to choose X. Conversely, if a person has every motivation to choose X, and no sufficiently strong motivation to not choose X, then they are unable (in the moral sense) to not choose X.

    This does not mean they are unable to choose or not choose in the first sense. This sense recognizes that a person is still perfectly able to choose otherwise if they wanted to choose otherwise.

    When the Cist theologian (maybe not every one, but I know Calvin, Spurgeon and Edwards are included in this) speaks of the inability of the will, they mean this last sense. Very few would deny the first sense when speaking of the inability of the will. So, when the Cist says that natural man is unable to choose God, the mean merely that, since man has no sufficiently strong motivation to choose God and have every motivation to not choose God (natural man hates God and the things of God), natural man is unable (in the moral sense) to choose God. Natural man does not lack the capacity to choose God, nor is natural man constrained by outside forces from choosing God, so the first sense of inability is not meant.
     
  13. canadyjd

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    I'm not interested in philosophical circles. I'm only interested in scripture.
    It is always good to point folks to Jonathan Edwards. Maybe I'll find my copy of "Freedom of the Will".
    I didn't use the term "free agency". I used the terms "human will" and "moral agents". We are responsible for our decisions. That doesn't mean the decisions were "free'.
    Or better yet, does man freely choose or does sin compel him to choose contrary to what he wishes? (see Romans 7:14-24)
    Then may I suggest an equally simple, yet not nearly as offensive, alternative..... "Cal" or "Cals"? Everyone will understand what you mean, just the same, and folks won't mistakenly believe you are being purposely offensive.

    peace to you:praying:
     
    #13 canadyjd, Sep 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2010
  14. dwmoeller1

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    Scripture doesn't define or use the term "free will", thus whatever is common usage should be acceptable.

    They were free in the sense that they were neither compelled or constrained by outside forces, and the person chooses whatever they wish to choose. They were not free in the sense that the will is self-determined. Agreed? If not, why?

    Sin is not an agent thus it cannot compel. The nature compels the will and the nature of natural man is corrupt - it loves darkness and hates God. Thus man is never compelled by sin (or God) to choose other than he wishes...he just always wishes to sin due to his natural hatred of God.
     
  15. gb93433

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    It does not use the word trinity. So does that means the trinity does not exist?
     
  16. dwmoeller1

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    No. What's your point though?
     
  17. gb93433

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    Just because the Bible does not use a word is a poor reason to say it does not exist.
     
  18. dwmoeller1

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    When did I say that?
     
  19. gb93433

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    Post number 14
     
  20. dwmoeller1

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    In post #14 I said this:
    "Scripture doesn't define or use the term "free will", thus whatever is common usage should be acceptable. "

    Given that I am arguing in this thread FOR the usage of the term "free will", I don't follow how you read the above as an argument against it. Follow the thread of thought backwards and you will find this basic stream of thought

    1. I define free will in a certain sense
    2. It is objected that I am defining the phrase improperly
    3. I give several reasons why its a perfectly acceptable definition, one of them being that its accepted in philosophical debates on the topic
    4. One person objects that they are interested in Scripture and not philosophy.
    5. I point out that, since the term is not used in Scripture (thus not subject to a particular "Scriptural definition") common usage of the term should be fine for determining an acceptable definition.

    The argument is not that the term doesn't exist (why would I be arguing for its use in this thread if I thought it was a bad term), but that the definition accepted in the larger debate over free will should be acceptable in the theological discussion as well.
     

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