Libertarian Free Will is an Extra-Biblical Commitment

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Brian Bosse, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse
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    Hello BB Forum Members,

    It is my contention that the commitment to Libertarian Free Will (LFW) is an extra-Biblical philosophical commitment that is brought to the text of Scripture rather than something that Scripture has brought to us. As such, I challenge all of those who are committed to LFW either to demonstrate that the Bible teaches LFW or acknowledge that they bring this philosophical commitment to the text of Scripture. Now, I know there are those who like to simply post a bunch of verses along with different colors, fonts, sizes, emphasis, etc., thinking that what they are doing constitutes an actual argument. I will call this type of posting the Vacuous Verbosity Fallacy (VVF). In an effort to avoid VVF, I would ask that those who choose to accept the challenge would pick one passage that they say teaches LFW, and then demonstrate through argumentation that the passage actually does teach LFW.

    The gauntlet has been cast down. Will there be any takers? :eek:

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  2. Winman

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    Brian

    I am not sure exactly what you mean by LFW. But the Bible clearly shows man has a free will of his own.

    Lev 1:3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.

    You may not like scripture and colored fonts, but that is the only way I will respond. I am a simple Bible believer, I do not care to argue theology with intellectual elitists, nor am I very impressed with them. Sorry.

    Some more scripture with colored fonts.

    Lev 22:19 Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
    20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
    21 And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.

    You may not consider this an argument, but the scriptures clearly show a man possesses his own free and voluntary will.
     
  3. Brandon C. Jones

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    Hi Brian,

    I don't think I've seen you here before, so welcome to the BaptistBoard. I saw this come up in an awkward way recently when James White claimed "the Bible teaches absolute libertarianism--the free will of God." Perry Robinson responded to such a claim here, with a much more substantive post regarding the Reformed and Orthodox divide here. In between these posts are Steve Hays's defenses of James White here and here.

    I don't know if this barrage of links qualifies as a VVF post (what is it with people inventing abbreviations for things lately?). Personally, I think the biblical data underdetermines what free will is, and I see no shame in admitting this. Intuitions mixed with interpretations of various biblical texts have led people to libertarian, soft determinist, hard determinist, and probably other positions I've never heard of regarding the issue.

    If you look at the archives you'll see that I used to rail against libertarian freedom, but I've now come to think that compatibilism probably isn't free will at all. I've also come to think that the Reformed tradition doesn't embrace compatibilism anyways, but rather adopts a Scotistic account of synchronic contingency. I could be wrong on either or both counts, but I don't get worked up about it anymore.

    Blessings,
    Brandon
     
  4. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Winman and Brandon,

    My bad, Winman. Allow me to define LFW...

    Libertarian Free Will (def.) = Person A performs action X given circumstance C with libertarian free will if and only if C does not constitute a set of influences sufficient to cause A to perform X.

    You are right - I do not consider simply quoting a passage and highlighting a part that says "his own voluntary will" constitues a proof. You do say this clearly shows "man possesses his own free...will." This does not seem clear to me. Can you flesh out your argument for me?

    You are right. Once again, I do not consider what you presented to be an argument. Can you flesh any reasons why those passages teach that man possesses LFW?

    Brandon, thank you for the welcome. It is nice to meet you. I, too, do not get too worked up regarding these things. I am just hoping to sharpen my thinking a little.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  5. The Archangel

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    Hmmm. All of these references to "free will" have nothing to do with the premise in the OP. All of these nicely colored verses really are a non-sequitur argument. These verses refer to a free will offering as opposed to a required sacrifice.

    Perhaps you should not so quickly dismiss people who know and like theology as "Intellectual Elitists." You may learn something.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  6. FlyForFun

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    Wait -- this particular topic has never been discussed before...?

    Shocker...:smilewinkgrin:
     
  7. Darrenss1

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    Hi Brandon, you won't believe this but I actually do listen to Craig's defenders class on ipod and infact did just this week here that exact quote White referred to, on an episode on Craig's doctrine of salvation. I actually like listening to Dr White as well, so I can appreciate his response. I think the problem is each view takes regeneration into consideration from another perspective and that was amongst the lesson Craig was teaching on. Please note, I do not agree with some of Craig's teachings, in fact I was shocked to hear him teaching a saved person will be lost through unbelief from Rom 11 of all places. Anyway, thanks for bringing that up...

    Darren
     
  8. Allan

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    Hello Brian,

    For me, I think your defintion is still lacking since those who believe in libertarian free will agree that person 'A' can not perform action 'X' without given circumstance 'C'; In fact they also necessitate sufficient influence to cause or bring about 'A' to perform 'X' but this does not mandate that said 'A' person must respond always in the positive, only that person 'A' will or can now respond.

    It seems or at least appears what you are describing is at most a pelagain view that man comes to God and is saved apart from any influences or grace of God;

    or at least a semi-pelagain view in what again man comes to God but in doing so realizes that he can not do it alone, and God rewards him with grace so as to be saved.

    You must remember that the vast majority of Arminians, all Reformed Arminians and the Wesleyian version of Arminianism - all believe that God is the iniator of salvation by coming to man, revealing to man, and even enabling man and therefore there must be sufficient influence in order for man to believe. Also that God is the only one that saves man, as man does not barter his works nor does he trade his faith for salvation but instead believes what God says, and that He will do just that. IOW - they plea for His mercy in accordance with His word trusting not their works nor faith to save them but in His finished work and His word for their salvation.

    Therefore it would be more benificail to use 'their' defintion of it since it is 'their' beliefs. (at least IMO)


    Therefore, for 'me' please clarify a little more because you have a "Calivinists' rendition of what they believe is the defintion and then you have the definition(s) of those who use the term and what they actually believe it entails.

    For me, I simply state 'responsibilty of will' or 'limited will' as no man can do anything that God does not give him the option of doing.
     
    #8 Allan, Aug 20, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2009
  9. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Allan,

    I am not sure what you mean here. Since A, X and C are arbitrary, how do you know that C is necessary for A to perform X? Let's say that you are person A. Let's say that C is a set of circumstances such that you are in a Billy Graham crusade. Let's say that X is the LFW action of you believing the gospel. Why is your being at a Billy Graham crusade necessary for you to believe? Couldn't you exercise belief in a different circumstance?

    I think you may be confusing the technical use of the term 'sufficient' with 'necessary'. If X represents a sufficient influence to cause Y, then if you have X, you have Y. For example, if a sufficient influence is present to boil the water in the pan, then the water will boil. If X represents a necessary influence to cause Y, then if you do not have X, you do not have Y. For example, if gasoline is necessary for my engine to run, then if I do not have gas, then my engine will not run. By the same token, if you do have gas, then my engine may or may not run. Gasoline is necessary, but it is not sufficient. For example, I need spark plugs in addition to gasoline. Given this understanding, for A to be able to perform action X with LFW, then C cannot be a sufficient influence. If C were sufficient, then A *must* perform action X. This would violate LFW.

    No, that is not what my definition entails. My definition for LFW simply says that the influence of the grace of God is necessary but not sufficient. If it were sufficient, then you would believe.

    I think what you are meaning to say is that God provides some but not all of the influences needed for me to believe. In other words, God's influence is necessary, but not sufficient. If God provided all of the influences needed for me to believe (i.e., sufficient influences for me to believe), then I would believe because there would be nothing else needed for me to believe. If there is something else needed (this is what LFW say is the case - for example, I must personally decide in and of myself to believe), then what God provided was not sufficient for me to believe even though it was necessary.

    This is good advice. My definition is mine, but it has been agreed to in private coorespondence with two published Christian philosophers who subscribe to LFW and have written about LFW. As such, I stand by my definition. I think the misunderstanding was simply around my use of the technical terms 'sufficient' and 'necessary'. I should have provided my definition in the opening post, and I should have explained exactly what it meant. Hopefully, I have cleared up things in this post. Are you good with my definition now?

    Brian
     
  10. Darrenss1

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    Most non Calvinist don't believe in irresistible grace. Your presumptions here are very way off base and not accounting at all for the response of man to God. Its almost worse than regeneration because man would be hypnotized to believe if they were to "decide" to believe according to the way you are explaining, man would be nothing more than preprogrammed robots unable to think, reason or apply any capable decision making. It would not be a decision or a choice it would be the program executing according to its set of instructions. Everything thus is locked into the human brain and will and cannot deviate from the preset path.

    Darren
     
  11. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Darren,

    Not to be rude, but I am trying to understand the point of your post. It seems to have nothing to do with this thread. Now, it may be that I have misunderstood you. You say...

    I agree, but what does this have to do with this thread?

    This confuses me. What presumptions do you think I am making? Also, it sounds as if you completely misunderstood what I was saying. I was pointing out how my definition for LFW *does* account for the necessity of man's response to God. Here is the context: In an earlier thread I provided a definition for LFW. Allan, in his post, graciously asked questions about this definition - he thought my definition did not quite capture the nuances of LFW. The part you quoted of me in your post was simply part of my explanation to Allan why the definition accurately represents LFW. Now, if you feel the definition I provided for LFW is lacking, then please provide a better definition, or suggest a way to fix the definition. Just for convenience, here is the definition I proposed...

    Libertarian Free Will (def.) = Person A performs action X given Circumstance C with libertarian free will if and only if C does not constitute a set of influences sufficient to cause A to perform X.

    The bottom line is this, Darren. I have challenged all of those who are committed to LFW (believe man has LFW) to one of two things: (1) demonstrate that the Bible teaches LFW or (2) acknowledge that they bring this philosophical commitment to the text of Scripture. So, if your purpose is simply to comment critically about Calvinism, then you are off topic. This is *not* a thread about Calvinism. It is a thread about Libertarian Free Will.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
    #11 Brian Bosse, Aug 21, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2009
  12. Tom Butler

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    Brother Brian, this is an intriguing thread. It's causing my brain to hurt.

    Are you implying in your definition of LFW that Circumstance C will always have sufficient influence to cause Person A to perform Action X?

    Or, Are there degrees of influence Circumstance C may bring to bear, some of which may not be strong enough to influence Person A?

    Or, Are there any events in which Circumstance C may have no influence whatsoever on Person A's performing Action X?

    Does your definition, then, suggest that to the extent Circumstance C influences Person A, his LFW is diminished accordingly? Or, that Person A may simply perform Action A independently of Circumstance C, or contrary to it?

    Would you flesh our your definition by posing a hypothetical (or real) situation to illustrate it?

    These are not rhetorical questions, but questions designed to help my brain stop hurting?
     
  13. Benjamin

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    This definition is a mere attempt to “poison the well” with a play on the word “sufficient”.

    Example:

    After the OP opens with a definition (which in reality is a set up for a strawman) it is wisely rebuked by Allan, (thank you Allan)

    Allan said:

    “For me, I think your defintion is still lacking since those who believe in libertarian free will agree that person 'A' can not perform action 'X' without given circumstance 'C'; In fact they also necessitate sufficient influence to cause or bring about 'A' to perform 'X' but this does not mandate that said 'A' person must respond always in the positive, only that person 'A' will or can now respond”

    …and goes on to clarify that concerning “sufficient influence” the OP has given a Calvinist rendition of that belief and suggests to let them use their definition of it since it is their belief. (which would help avoid the OP’s strawman fallacy) In other words, not to ignore that the vast majority of holders of LFW believe God is the initiator, revealer, enabler and therefore sufficient.

    The OP responds to this using “circular reasoning fallacy” again stating his Calvinist rendition belief:

    “If God provided all of the influences needed for me to believe (i.e., sufficient influences for me to believe), then I would believe because there would be nothing else needed for me to believe.”

    The OP further states the definition is his, that he has used it before, (provides a “proof surrogate fallacy”) and therefore reiterates he will stand by his definition (IOW’s holds to circular reasoning fallacy to support his strawman and keep the well poisoned)…

    Brotha Brain…you miss the basic principle of logic which through philosophy is concerned with justification for accepting a claim by “reasons of truth”. You have offered little more than rhetorical devices meant to influences beliefs by means of fallacy.

    I, for one, do not have the time to engage in such a fallacious argument after the way it has been present meaning the way you have attempted here to lay the foundational premises, but nice try…really…and good luck wit dat.
     
  14. Winman

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    What do you want? I presented scripture which I believe (who knows what you believe) to be the very words of God. And God himself showed in these verses that a man possesses his own, free and voluntary will. If that makes a Calvinist unhappy, well, then I guess it stinks to be a Calvinist.

    1 Thess 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

    My advice is to lay off the fancy theological arguments and simply trust the word of God and you will get all your answers. But you must believe the scriptures before you will understand them as shown in the verse above. If you do not believe the scriptures, you would not believe if Christ himself appeared before you and told you the answer.

    Acts 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
    28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
    29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
    30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
    31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

    John 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
    47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

    I showed you verses written by Moses himself that in plain and clear language shows man has a free voluntary will, but it was not good enough for you. So I sincerely doubt anyone can do more than that to convince you. And you will never find the answer from pseudo-intellectuals.
     
    #14 Winman, Aug 21, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2009
  15. MB

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    Very well this passage requires a decision on the part of the one asking how to be saved. The answer is plain and simple. The answer given is how to be saved. Nothing else needed. What Calvinist claim is needed is not true.


    Act 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
    Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
    Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    Most likely you will not see the liberty in it because of your believe that man is unable to respond once he has been called with out regeneration.
    What you presently believe about inability to respond to the gospel is not true nor can it be proved from scripture. Most Calvinist at this point will quote one of the pastors from the past as proof but what they believed to be true is not a biblical fact.
    MB
     
  16. Johnv

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    If the issue is one of requiring something that scripture doesn't require, the question I have is the same which the tailor asked the nudist: So What?

    We Baptists have extrabiblical requirements. The most obvious one is baptism. We require baptism as a prerequisite for church membership. Scripture calls for a person to be baptised, but does not require baptism before joining a church.
     
  17. Darrenss1

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    Very simply put, the difference between irresistible grace and resistible grace. I don't think you have a case of man having no LFW so you are arguing a red herring from what I can see. What is your basis for man NOT having freewill??

    Darren
     
  18. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Gentlemen,

    I am sorry for your hurting brain, and thank you for asking for clarification. :) My definition actually does just the opposite. It says that C *cannot* be a set of sufficient influences for A to perform X if X is a libertarian free will action. If C were a set of sufficient influences, then A would necessarily perform action X. Liberterian Free Will assumes that given any circumstance C, A could do either X or ¬X (something else). If circumstances are ever such that A can only do X, then X is not an LFW action.

    Sure! Let’s say that the action in question is my believing the gospel message given in a Billy Graham crusade. For my act of believing to be a LFW act, then given the exact same circumstances it must be possible for me to not believe the gospel message. If the circumstances are such that I cannot not believe (sorry for the double negative), then my believing in the gospel message is not done with LFW.

    Benjamin, perhaps my definition is mistaken, but to attribute such a motive is uncharitable. :( For whatever it is worth, Shandon Guthrie and John D. Laing are published Christian philosophers committed to LFW. In private and separate correspondences with me, they both agreed that my definition is accurate. If you can improve upon it, then I would be very appreciative.

    Allan certainly was questioning my definition. As to whether or not he intended a rebuke, I am not sure. Allan was mistaken in his understanding of the use of the terms ‘sufficient’ and ‘necessary’. I unpacked the technical meaning of these terms in my response to Allan.

    Benjamin, I explained in some detail what the technical terms ‘sufficient’ and ‘necessary’ mean. It seems you did not understand my response, and you continue to accuse me of intentional sophistry. This is an unjust accusation, rude and uncharitable. :tear: I just did a simple internet search and found this quote from Wikipedia in an article titled Necessary and Sufficient Condition.

    As such, if C is a sufficient condition for me to believe, then if C obtains I necessarily must believe. This violates LFW, which says that given a set of circumstances C, I have the ability to either believe or not believe. In other words, my belief cannot be necessary. As such, C cannot be sufficient for me to believe even though it is necessary for me to believe. Hopefully, this will put to rest the concerns regarding my definition for LFW.

    I am simply asking you to lay out explicitly the argument you said God Himself made proving that man possesses LFW. Simply quoting a verse that says, “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD,” is not an argument with the conclusion that man has LFW. If you think there is such an argument contained in this verse, then please make it explicit.

    If verses like Lev. 1:3 demonstrate that man has LFW, then it should be easy for you to present an argument using Lev. 1:3 whose conclusion is that man has LFW.

    If you think that Acts 16:29-31 demonstrate that man has LFW, then please flesh out the argument for us. You do say this…

    I agree that the passage teaches us that if we believe, then we will be saved. I don’t get how this demonstrates that man has LFW.

    This thread has *nothing* to do with Calvinism. This thread is simply a challenge to those who are committed to LFW to pony up an argument from Scripture. So far, no one has been able to do so. All of those who have tried to present an argument have simply quoted a verse and cried, “Q.E.D.!” If the verse in question really does prove LFW, then all I am asking is for them to make the argument explicit.

    :laugh: Maybe, to some it is not important. For me, I think the
    extra-Biblical commitment being brought to the text by those who hold to LFW is significant. I am simply challenging those who think their commitment to LFW comes from Scripture to present their arguments.

    This thread is not about Calvinism, the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, or *even* whether or not man has LFW! This thread is simply a thread asking for those who think LFW is a commitment demonstrated from the Scriptures to present their arguments. So far, those who have presented arguments have done nothing more than quote a passage or two. Maybe, it is legitimate to throw the Bible on the table and declare our point proven?

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
    #18 Brian Bosse, Aug 21, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2009
  19. Darrenss1

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    You are yet to make a case of your own for your position. All you've done is said, such and such is true, prove otherwise. So don't complain about exegesis, you are in the same boat.

    Darren
     
  20. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Darren,

    I accept that I am guilty of merely asserting the claim that LFW is not a position derived from Scripture. Yet, it seems to me that my claim is easily refuted by someone simply providing one argument from Scripture demonstrating LFW. Darren, are you committed to LFW? If so, is your commitment extra-Biblical? If not, then can you provide an argument from Scripture demonstrating the truth of LFW? If you are unable to do so, then you cannot with integrity claim that your commitment to LFW is based on what the Scriptures teach. :rolleyes: The longer this thread goes with no one being able to present such an argument, the stronger my assertion seems to be. :smilewinkgrin:

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     

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