Depravity and Free Will

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by rufus, Mar 15, 2003.

  1. rufus

    rufus
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    Depravity and Free Will

    A sinful person's capacity of self-determination is fully free when he has both (1) an uncoerced ability to choose among available alternatives (apart from spiritual things) and (2) an ability to do what he desires. Sinners act freely when they choose and act according to their natures. Since the Fall human natures are both finite and depraved, both dependent on God for their life and disposed to rebellion against God's moral rule. The basic conflict is not between the soul and the body, but between the diverted nature of the sinner and his Sustainer.

    Both human ontological and depraved natures are logically prior to our existential choices.

    Since God sustains us as humans—not gods, angels, or animals—it is pointless to seriously claim free will to choose to be another kind of being. Our dependence on divine providence sets some limits to our meaningful choices and our God-given finite abilities some limits to realizing them. Similarly, our fallenness not only blinds our minds and diverts our desires, but also limits our abilities to perform. So we have some limits to our free choices morally. We have numerous alternatives within the range available to our depraved minds, emotions, and wills. But in regard to a whole range of higher spiritual values, motives, and ends we are blinded to them, disenchanted with them, and in rebellion against them.

    When choosing and acting according to our sinful natures (doing what comes naturally) we still have free choice among the alternatives available to persons unable to receive spiritual things and self-determination within the limits of a world curved in upon ourselves. The choices available to fallen "selves" are limited by their fallen inclinations. The unregenerate are "free" when not coerced by an outside force against their wills, but inwardly they are slaves to sin in general and may become addicted to specific unworthy cravings and acts. Alcoholics, for instance, may be unable to change drinking habits that have become compulsive, but as responsible agents they could have stopped before the habit that led to physical dependency. Humans are not the pawns or mere victims of alcohol or other kinds of substances in their environments. Personal agents are responsible also for their responses to the influences of their peers, subcultures, and cultures. "No matter how powerful the external forces," Bernard Ramm
    argues, "there is a strip of responsibility in every such psyche that cannot be
    negotiated away. "

    Freedom of choice and freedom of ability must be distinguished. Sinners may still have some unsuppressed knowledge of God's law by common grace and general illumination. So they may choose not to covet, bear false witness, or get drunk, but they lack the ability to achieve the chosen objective. Depravity does not mean that sinners never have morally worthy ideals that please God. Rather, it means that they lack the proper motivation (the love of God) and that they cannot sustain that conduct perfectly in the strength of the flesh.

    It is always important not to make generalizations about human freedom because of the difference that the Fall made, the difference regeneration makes, and the difference glorification will make. Consider now the range of alternative choices available in each situation, whether or not choices contrary to God's pleasure are possible. (1) Before the Fall Adam and Eve had the power of contrary choice to please or displease God in motive and act. (2) Since the Fall however, unregenerate humans' alternative choices are
    within a range in which they all come short of pleasing God. The unsaved do not have the contrary choice of loving and serving him above all else, and if they had they would not have the ability to do it. Their ability to achieve the worthy ends chosen is severely limited by their fleshly natures. (3) After regeneration believers in Christ have not only the old fallen nature but also a new spiritual nature, and thus they have both the full range of alternatives pleasing and displeasing to God in contrary choice, and the full range of contrary abilities as they walk either in the flesh or in the Holy Spirit. (4) In the glorified state, when they are finally made fully like Christ, believers will have only one nature. Finally, when they are glorified with Christ, believers will be confirmed in righteousness and will be like their Lord in being unable to sin. Then they will freely determine themselves according to their glorified natures.
    Thus human freedom always involves self-determination according to one's nature, but it does not always involve morally good or evil options. At present for the unregenerate, the options are all evil in some degree within the evil kingdom; in the future for the glorified, the options are all righteous in the righteous kingdom.

    rufus [​IMG]
     
  2. npetreley

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    Thanks. I really like this part, especially the part I emphasized...

     
  3. KenH

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    As the illustration goes, a buzzard would starve in a wheat field, not because of a lack of food, but because it is not in his nature to eat wheat but to eat meat.
     
  4. Ray Berrian

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    Come on now quit trying to fool your own mind. Free will would only be a will that is unfettered if all sinners had/have the option of either receiving spiritual truth or refusing it. We know from Scripture that sinners have this opportunity and choice once they have heard His words of Gospel truth. [John 1:9 and James 3:9] We are created as sinners after the likeness of God not after the likeness of the Devil. We do, however, have a proclivity toward sinning. It's not as bad as the Calvinists portray our bondage. People can receive Christ. [John 1:12]
     
  5. KenH

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    And all that the Holy Spirit regenerates come to Christ.

    By the way, we have free choice, not free will. Only Adam and Eve had free will before they fell in the Garden of Eden.
     
  6. Yelsew

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    Can you show us what God altered in his Created humans prefall vs postfall. After all it is the Calvinist stance that some dominant thing changed in humanity. Since humanity has no power to create or alter what God created, It must be God that altered mankind. So what is different between created man prefall vs post fall, and all of Adam's descendants?
     
  7. KenH

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    Genesis 2:16-17(NASB)
    16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
    17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

    Genesis 3:7(NASB)
    7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

    Romans 5:16,18(NASB)
    16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.
    18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
     
  8. Yelsew

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    That doesn't answer the question!

    The eye opening came from consuming the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. But that fruit did not alter the created man.
     
  9. KenH

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    Yelsew,

    I know that whatever I post you will say that I haven't answered your question, but here goes -

    Adam could have resisted temptation and not sinned. Period. His "playing field" was balanced. We can try as hard as we like but we sin. Period. Our "playing field" is unbalanced. If it wasn't, then surely someone among the tens of billions of people(not counting the Son of God) who have lived on this earth would have never sinned or at least have come close to not ever sinning.

    Just look around, Yelsew, and you will that this is true. You have much too high of an estimation of yourself and your fellow man.
     
  10. Ray Berrian

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    Ken H,

    I admire your clever ideas, but I don't expect at this late point in time to have Scriptural backing for your idea that 'we have free choice but not free will.'

    Could the Apostle Paul have sabotaged his ministry to the Gentiles? Of course, he had the free will or as you like, 'the free choice' to fall into perhaps a sexual sin, thereby weakening or even ending his ministry. If this had happened God would have elevated another person to take his place. Note that Paul said, 'But I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached unto others, I myself should be a castaway.' [I Cor. 9:27] The New International Version says, 'No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.' The New Century Version says, 'I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others.'

    A 'castaway' in the Greek (adokimos) can mean either {unapproved, rejected, worthless, or even reprobate. Select what you think is most fitting.

    In no way did the Apostle Paul want to lose in his race toward Heaven; he wanted to be a winner. Anyone can come in last. [Philippians 3:14]

    Paul had a free choice and/or a free will; he could have ended up in Heaven but not as the great Apostle Paul to the Gentiles.

    The apostle finished his life's course as a victory and winner of the race. He said, 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all those also who love His appearing.' [II Timothy 4:7-8]

    Paul had some remaining residue of depravity in his person or otherwise he would not have had the ability to fall into sin after his most wonderful conversion and faith in Christ.
     
  11. KenH

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    Ray,

    Other than some disagreements over terminology, I agree with your post. [​IMG]
     
  12. Yelsew

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    When I look around, I see sinners doing good things to other sinners. I see "saints" doing evil things to other siants. I see no great consistancy of "depravity" among men. I see people living lives using the faculties given them through the creation. I see Holy Men living unholy lives. I see down and outers doing good things for their fellow down and outers.

    This list could go on and on, but you get the message. All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. But I find only 8 or 9 really evil people...of course they get around a lot.

    The fact that ALL mankind are sinners is ample reason for God to give us His only Son to atone for the sins of ALL mankind. And that one time for all Atonement is not limited to only "the elect" but applies to all mankind.

    Salvation on the other hand, is not a once for all situation, but is totally dependent upon each man's response to God. No one can be saved for another, and no one can prevent another from being saved. Yes we can, by our faith or lack of faith cause others to not want what we say we have, but one cannot block another from responding to God.
     
  13. KenH

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    But you do see depravity on the part of everyone, to varying degrees. Man has no place to boast based on his "goodness".
     
  14. Yelsew

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    Yes, I agree that there are varying degrees of depravity among men and have so stated since my first post on this Calvin vs Armenius Forum. However, I have consistanty argued that mankind is not Totally depraved, and will stand by that!
     
  15. KenH

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    I think you misunderstand the term "total depravity". It is does not mean that anyone acts as badly as they can at all times, or that everyone acts as badly as anyone else acts. It simply means that man's entire being is permeated by the effects of The Fall - mentally and emotionally.
     
  16. Yelsew

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    That doesn't change anything, I still do not agree with "total depravity", regardless of what spin you put on it. I do not agree with "Total Holiness" except that God is Totally Holy!
     
  17. KenH

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    No spin involved, Yelsew, as you simply refuse to believe the truth, but would rather hold on to what is in essence Campbellite doctrine.
     
  18. Yelsew

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    OK, we have Calvin, Armenius, and now Campbell, another divisive tool of Satan. All ways to drive Christians into pigeonholes. That means there is no difference between Christianity and secularism.
     
  19. Frogman

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    OK, we have Calvin, Armenius, and now Campbell, another divisive tool of Satan. All ways to drive Christians into pigeonholes. That means there is no difference between Christianity and secularism. </font>[/QUOTE]This last statement is true when you fail to realize that the NT church only received believers. The essential problems facing the Reformers, down to Campbell, is the need to devise a human work, namely baptism, to bring folks into a position of salvation, rather than recognizing this for what it was.

    Original "Christianity" did not possess these problems because they understood the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas [​IMG]
     
  20. Yelsew

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