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Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by franklinmonroe, Jan 8, 2014.
Is God free? (you should define "free" in your answer)
Absolutely God is free to do as He pleases, and so to a degree He self limits Himself according to His attributes of mercy, love, justice, faithful, etc.
Another way to say it is God is able to do whatever He chooses, but He chooses according to His attributes. God is good, so He would not choose to be bad according to His lights, but we might think His actions are "bad" because they adversely affect us.
One of the absurdities that devolves from the man-made view that God always knew everything, even before He decided something, is the notion God is enslaved to His foreknowledge of the future. He cannot intervene and alter the future. But such a view is both absurd and unbiblical.
God is totally free, except where he has limited himself.
God will not lie. So God is not free to lie.
No, God does not have "free will" in the manner that humankind would desire.
I presented the following basic argument in another thread that was not refuted.
Perhaps, in this thread it will.
The basic form of the argument made these assumptions:
1) All "free will" must be aligned with and to the nature/character.
2) All decisions are conformed to the nature and character. That ultimately all decisions must be consistent with the parameters of that nature and character.
For instance: God does not lie for the Scriptures state: "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"
Therefore, these conclusions can then be extrapolated.
1) Unregenerate man does not have total free will. The unregenerate may choose from various selection(s) in which the satisfaction of base nature and character needs are the master. All decisions of the unregenerate must conform to that which will ultimately decay and be discarded. Though the unregenerate may even give "good" gifts, the gifts in no way lead to life, but resolve to that which is ultimately unholy.
2) Satanic forces and even the arch adversary of all that is Holy, has no free will. They only choose what is of and in the nature and character of the fallen. Though Satan be transformed into an "angel of light," he is still unreformed, and he can only perform and present that which is unholy, that which ultimately is a lie.
3) God does not have free will, for He cannot lie, nor repent. God can and does what is only consistent within His nature and character. God cannot select nor perform what is not consistent with that which is Holy, that which is ultimately is truth.
4) The believer, because they posses both the old nature and a new nature, have the capacity to choose from either nature. Therefore, they have the only true freedom of choice and will while remaining in this fleshly form. Only the believers have the ability to allow either nature to reign. Only the believer(s) is (are) presented with multiple choices - those that build everlasting precious stones, and those that are burned as stubble.
Just as Christ said, "free indeed."
To express what God does not do as self-limiting is misleading, at the very least. Certainly, there are many things that God could choose to do, but for reasons of His own He chooses not to do some of those things. It is within His power to do them, but He just doesn't use His power in that way. The term 'self-limiting' seems overplayed of when God is simply not freely exercising all the options at His disposal. God is 'free' to choose among those things which He can do.
More importantly, there are things that God does not do because He cannot do them. One example provided is that God cannot lie. It is not that God chooses not to lie; God is unable to lie. It is against His character (or put another way, it is not within His 'nature'). God cannot contradict Himself. Thus, God cannot make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it because this type of conjecture defies the laws of logic which God Himself has ordained. God is indeed limited, but I think it is inaccurate to say that this limit is self imposed. In this sense, God is not 'free'.
God is 'free' to do whatever He wants to do within the limits of what He can do. Because of who He is, He cannot do whatever could be conceivably done. For example again, He cannot do evil because He is holy; and evil cannot come forth from a source of pure holiness. Yes, we can genuinely affirm that God is 'free' to do as He pleases since His nature will not allow Him to be pleased by that which is contrary to His nature.
It would seem, then, that you agree with that which I posted about conformity to the nature and character.
Some would ascribe to a thinking that the unholy can choose that which is holy.
But the unclean never make the clean, cleaner, much less the unclean clean. One does not dry the dishes with mud and expect them to remain clean.
The same principle applies to that which is holy.
The very struggle (war) of the heavenly involves the satanic forces desire to pull the Holy into that which is unholy. Is that not presentation suggested in the very temptation of Eve - that she might be "like God" - pulling down that which is Holy to the human level by exalting humankind?
Often in the debate between the Cal and non-cal, the non-cal presents some thinking of freedom of choice and will that ranges from some birth right self volition inbreed of every human, to some empowerment by God suggested as "prevenient grace" that the unholy may by some free will expression, grab onto salvation. The problem being that none of those items are consistent with Scriptures.
Only the believer, while in this flesh, has the capacity and authority to freely choose from that which is unholy and that which is Holy.
Only the believer is free to worship as heirs to the throne of Holy, and also free to plunge into the deepest sin.
The only constraint on the believer's choice is the feeding process.
Starve the unholy and it becomes weaker; starve the Holy and it becomes weaker.
The above is exclusive of any consequences, nor takes into account the constraints consequences may oblige of behavior.
Hi Franklinmonroe, I stand by my understanding of scripture.
Several verses indicate God "cannot lie." But the idea is God keeps His word, is always faithful, and therefore he will not renege or otherwise fail to keep His word. This is God providing assurance we can trust in His promise of salvation and eternal life.
Thus God chose to make the promise, chose to take an oath on it, and chose to keep it for His purpose. Had He chosen another path, another attribute would be on display. To put God in a box, is to fail to understand nothing is impossible with our all powerful God who can overcome whatever obstacle the mind of man might put before Him.
Things God cannot do because of choice:
1) God cannot lie
2) God cannot disown or deny Himself.
To say there is something outside of God that God could not do if He chose to do is to say God is not all powerful or cannot do as He pleases.
I don't think I can distinguish a difference between #1 and #2. It seems to me that "free will" is essentially equivalent to "decisions" and "conformed" is parallel to "consistent" with both referring to "nature and character". Please elaborate the distinction you are trying to make here. Thanks
I realize that we have finite minds and we cannot be certain of what God can and cannot do, but we do the best we can with Scripture and reason that God gave to us.
You stick with what you believe, and for now I will stick with what I believe. I think that there are things so-called 'outside' of God that He simply cannot do or be.
Two examples quickly: Since God is all-knowing (He doesn't choose to be omniscient, He just is), there is nothing that He cannot know (God cannot be ignorant). God is omnipresent, therefore He cannot be isolated in one place (God cannot be bounded 'physically' in part because He is a spirit).
I don't really consider these inabilities 'outside' of God. But I don't see them as choices that God makes either.
Van, you are confusing "choice" with Holiness.
God cannot lie, not because he chooses not to lie, but His Holiness demands Him to be without even the "shadow of turning."
God cannot disown or deny Himself, not because of "choice" but because He is the Holy, "I Am" and He cannot deny who He is.
Number 1 points to out that "free will" does not stand alone. By will alone is nothing accomplished. That no "will" decision can be made outside of the imprinting of nature and character. Nature and character are distinct from the will, and can be only separated by God. (Recall that the Scriptures are what is able to divide soul (body) and spirit (will) - in the case of the believers the new creation/will from the old soul(body)).
For example: God did not "will" the creation, but spoke His will. God does not "will" salvation, but provided a Lamb. God is light, in Him is no darkness is not a statement of his "will" or freedom of choice made by His will, but a statement of who He is (His character and nature).
Number 2 points to the "free will" as being subservient to character/nature. The human character and nature being made of such elemental facets such as:Desire - manifested as that which the body needs for life, that which the mind places as a priority, and that which by strength can attain.
Motive - the basic elemental social facets of being needed, wanted, understood, included, helpful, desired, important...
"Free will" does always conform to desire and motive but is never outside of the influences. For instance: A person may desire what they cannot physically attain or have the motive to achieve, shackling the will as subservient.
By will alone is nothing.
As this applies to God, His desire and motives are often viewed in retrospect by Humankind - that is after the fact. For instance: God's will may take centuries to finally be accomplished, and even later more fully recognized in the area of God's desire and motives. Millennia passed from the promise of Eden to the scene of Calvary, and even then the completed journey's end is not yet realized.
So, what do the Scriptures state the OT and NT folks can rely - God's will or God's Holy character and nature?
Hope this helps you discern what I had poorly written.
Yes. God is absolutely and totally free. I would define free as not being under the control of another, not restrained by external forces/circumstances, and able to fully exercise the fullness of His nature. I think this is different from “free-will,” as the will is not independent of the nature (but that’d be another topic).
Hi Agedman, I agree on of us is confused.
Hi Franklinmonroe, continue to consider the issue, I have provided my take.
"Since God is all-knowing (He doesn't choose to be omniscient, He just is), there is nothing that He cannot know (God cannot be ignorant)." This view is the only view allowed to be presented on this forum. So no comment.
"God is omnipresent, therefore He cannot be isolated in one place (God cannot be bounded 'physically' in part because He is a spirit)." Jesus was "bound" to one location while incarnate. God's eyes are everywhere, so God in one or more of His persons, certainly is present "everywhere." But could God choose not be everywhere? Yes, as demonstrated by Jesus.
God does act according to His attributes, but is "free" to choose among His attributes. Thus He can treat us with the justice we deserve, or He can have mercy on whom He chooses.
Not Applicable, really
There are any number of concepts which are quite ordinary in the human experience, that simply do NOT apply to God. ("How old is God?" is a rather silly question to anyone acquainted with God, for example.) "Free" is one concept so not applicable.
On the one hand, God cannot violate His own nature. Nor, I am sure, does He wish to do so. God cannot lie, cannot renege on a deal, cannot be wrong, cannot misunderstand, and - in the words of a comic I cannot bring to mind - "Nothing 'occurs' to God". Some humans would find this limiting; lawyers and politicians, f'rinstance. (There are probably other things He cannot do; after all He is Infinite.)
On the other hand, no one nor no 'thing' tells God what to do. There is no set of binding rules which force God to do this or abstain from that.
I think all here will admit, God is a rather 'singular' being.
I like your answer. I deliberately did not use "will' with "free" in the OP.
That ain't gonna work. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were still not localized while God the Son was here. The Godhead that created time-space cannot be confined by His creation ever. God cannot chose to be subservient to His creation.
God is free to make earth or not, to send Christ or not, to save Noah or not, to allow Lucifer to tempt Adam or not, to allow Adam to fail or not, to send the flood and destroy the earth or not, to have the second coming or not.
He knows what He will do - he proclaims what He will do - and yet he still has free will being able to not choose that path and so - not make that claim.
However having chosen that path - He makes those claims with integrity, honesty, justice, righteousness fully demonstrated.
You are arguing whether or not "God CAN limit Himself" - which is interesting.
In Phil 2 God says that He DID limit Himself in the case of God the Son taking on the limitations of man.
Does the Bible ever say God the Father has limited Himself to not know the future?
If so - I have not found that Bible text.
Hi BobRyan, keep searching.
God is never "subservient" to anything, including His creation, but He can choose to limit Himself, otherwise He would not be all powerful, i.e. unable to limit Himself. As I said before, God can overcome whatever barrier the mind of man can put in His way.
So God is free to limit Himself, or not, free to do as He pleases whether that constitutes limiting Himself or not.
God is free to do ANYTHING that is consistent to abiding with his nature and divine attriubutes, so just as man is bound by our fallen natures, he is 'bound" by his nature to being able only to do what is always best, the good, right etc, NEVER able to choose and do evil acts, sins, as not even an option to him, as totally inconsist with His nature!