Can God be sovereign while men have free will?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. Skandelon

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    I've heard numerous "Calvinists" here argue that those of us who believe men do have a free choice in salvation undermine the sovereignty of God. However, many of these same people believe that Adam and Eve had a free choice while in the Garden.

    If mankind having a free choice in salvation undermines God's sovereignty, then why doesn't Adam and Eve's free choice likewise undermine his sovereignty?

    In fact, if we have the ability as believers to freely choose between one option or another, how does that not also undermine God's sovereignty?

    In other words, to acknowledge free choice of man in any circumstance while maintaining that God is Sovereign concedes the point that it IS possible for man to have a free choice in relation to his salvation while God maintains his sovereignty. So, why do some Calvinists insist we are undermining God's sovereignty in this way? Isn't that inconsistent?
     
  2. Mr. E

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    Does man have the free will to deny God's sovereignty? If one can deny it, then God's sovereignty becomes relative and rests in one's perspective. If that's the case, then one could make the claim that God is not sovereign at all, and is dependent upon His creation for acceptance. Isn't the notion that the "sovereign" creator of all things is dependent on His creation for acceptance inconsistent, as well?
     
  3. Allan

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    But according to Calvinism they DO believe that man has the freedom to choose (though the argument is framed -choosing according to once nature)
    In fact, they agree God can not and will not save any man without mans permission. Thus even according to Calvinism/Reformed theology salvation is dependant upon mans choice because no man will be saved apart from it. So no matter how one wishes to soften up man part in the process of salvation the fact remains - there is a cooporation between man and God in the process of salvation.
     
    #3 Allan, Jan 3, 2010
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  4. AresMan

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    The question is whether the "cooperation" of God and man is synergistic or monergistic. Yes, man "does something" in the "process" of salvation. Is man's "contribution" something that God Himself has to depend upon as an independent aspect and that He cannot get His way in saving someone without an autonomous aid from man in completing the pie, or is man's part something that boils down to a result of God's effectual working to guarantee that one whom God desires to be saved will respond appropriately?
     
  5. Allan

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    You own post shows exactly my point.

    If God can not save man without man choosing to believe, does this not constitute an independant aspect (action) to which God can not skip or bypass to save someone? Is not man's choice an autononous aide (choosing to believe) in order for God to 'complete the pie' since it can not be done without it?

    And yet it still remains the truth - that in order for God to save man, that person must first choose to believe that God might save him for without it nothing can be done. No matter how much you wish to sofen it up (as I said) the truth still still remains unchanged - man must choose to believe so that God might save him. This by all accounts is synergism because mans salvation is still dependant upon his personal choice to believe even with God doing everything else.
     
    #5 Allan, Jan 4, 2010
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  6. saturneptune

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    Wow, this is a record. The first two words of your title negate anything you might have said in the post. Did you really say "Can God" in the form of a question? Lets see. Wait, its coming to me. Yes, God can do anything He wants. He is God, the Creator. Now, whether He did or not is another question.

    Maybe you should compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges. Tell me, at the point Adam/and or Eve were being tempted, were they already in a fallen state? Was the free will they were exercising a matter of deciding about salvation? Were not they exercising free will in relation to the first sin? Do you not to this day have the free will to sin or not, every day?

    So tell us, what does the story of Adam and Eve have to do with man in a fallen state having the ability to choose salvation?
     
  7. Winman

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    I would say the choice Adam and Eve made was deciding salvation. They were choosing whether to spiritually live or die. What did God tell them would happen if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

    Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

    They knew if they ate of this tree that they would die. So of course they were choosing salvation here.

    Isn't that the same choice we make when we accept Christ or refuse him?
     
    #7 Winman, Jan 4, 2010
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  8. ReformedBaptist

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    Allan is on target in representing the Calvinist position.

    I know it may be frustrating to you skand, but the creeds do really aid in giving clarification on what "calvinists" believe on these things:

     
  9. ReformedBaptist

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    Let me add, that I think the 1689 statement on man being "unstable, that he might fall from it" is poor wording in my opinion. The Westminster treats it much better using the term mutable...or able to change.

    In other words, Adam was not created immutable in regards to his will, but mutable, having the ability to change, that the fall might occur.
     
  10. Thinkingstuff

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    ..................yes
     
  11. Johnv

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    Can God be sovereign while men have free will?

    Yes. Whether men have full free will, limited free will, or no free will, God is sovereign. God's sovereignty is not contingent upon how much or how little free will a person has.
     
  12. Skandelon

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    Yes, I'm a aware of this approach, but that is not "free will." (when I say free I mean "contra-causal freedom...the ability to do otherwise). "Free" in the sense of one merely acting according to ones nature/desire means nothing if the nature/desires are divinely ordained to be what they are and thus could not be otherwise. Mere animal instinct meets the the requirement of "choosing according to ones nature," and certainly that could not be considered "free."
    True.
    But for some reason Calvinists insists that their form of "cooperation" is necessary to maintain God's sovereignty.
     
  13. Skandelon

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    I know what Calvinists believe on these things RB, below is post of mine from back in 2004 addressing this very subject. Because I don't define every nuace of your dogma in every one of my posts doesn't mean I don't understand or represent it correctly. I made the mistake of assuming that you would understand what I mean when we say "free will." (contra-causal freedom):

    http://baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=970232&postcount=19
    Here is what I wrote on the subject in 2004:
     
  14. Skandelon

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    I see the point of your argument. Are you saying that regardless of whether or not God effectually causes someone to "freely choose" Him or not, there still must be the choice and thus their is synergism?

    I think that is a brilliant point. If a man chooses to follow Christ, even if done so according to the new nature that was rebirth within him (as Calvinism insists must be the case), how is that not synergistic?
     
  15. ReformedBaptist

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    It's too much theology for me skand. The Scriptures are just not that difficult when it comes to these matters. In other words, I tend to shy away from discussions like this, or the lapsarian type discussions, et. I am not saying that for some people they are not enjoyable conversations, I just have not found them profitable.
     
    #15 ReformedBaptist, Jan 4, 2010
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  16. webdog

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    God cannot sin...hence God cannot do "anything He wants".
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Everything in order and an order for everything. Trying to compare God's absolute sovereignty with man's freedom of choice is a relative matter. Consider man's so-called free will as a relative matter under God's absolute sovereignty, or what we term theologically as God's permissive will. Calvinists don't deny man's relative freedom of choice. We simply designate what God has permitted.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. Thinkingstuff

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    That assumes he wants to sin. Which is incompatable with the nature of God. He does indeed not want to sin therefore he does as he wills.
     
  19. webdog

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    Agreed. He doesn't want to go against His own nature...something He cannot do :)
     
  20. Thinkingstuff

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    Not really its called an intrinsic impossibility. Something that of and in of itself is an impossibility.
     

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