Libertarian Free will vs. Compatibilism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by webdog, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. webdog

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    Monergism.com defines compatibilism as "Compatibilism (also known as soft determinism), is the belief that God's predetermination and meticulous providence is "compatible" with voluntary choice. In light of Scripture, human choices are believed to be exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). It should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism - be clear that neither soft nor hard determinism believes man has a free will. Our choices are only our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures. Compatibilism is directly contrary to libertarian free will. Therefore voluntary choice is not the freedom to choose otherwise, that is, without any influence, prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. Voluntary does mean, however, the ability to choose what we want or desire most. The former view is known as contrary choice, the latter free agency. (Note: compatibilism denies that the will is free to choose otherwise, that is, free from the bondage of the corruption nature,for the unregenerate, and denies that the will is free from God's eternal decreee.)"

    Theopedia.com defines LFW as "Libertarian free will means that our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God. All "free will theists" hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called a free choice. Libertarian freedom is, therefore, the freedom to act contrary to one's nature, predisposition and greatest desires. Responsibility, in this view, always means that one could have done otherwise."

    Can these be the only two views, or is the truth somewhere in the middle? I have many problems with compatibilism as a non calvinist, but I do see where choices can be made due to our natures, not "must" be made accordingly. I also have a problem with LFW's view that we must be free to act contrary to our nature. I am not free to come to God apart from Him acting first. I am also not free to flap my arms and become airborne :)

    Thoughts (let's keep terms like "self salvationists" and "robots" out of this discussion by both sides...I would like it to remain civil)
     
  2. Skandelon

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    WD,

    I prefer this definition with regard to LFW: "A choice to act is free if it is an expression of an agent's categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from the action (i.e., contra-causal freedom)."

    But, I agree that the Compatibilistic view in no way avoids the implications of hard determinism. Saying that one volunteers, or "chooses according to his desire," is meaningless if that desire is determined by the nature which is determined by the creator of that nature. Why bother with all the nuancing and just cut to the chase? God determined the choice, period.
     
  3. webdog

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    That definition is something I can live with, however, is that the real definition of LFW or could that be the 'other' in between definition I am alluding to? In all honesty, the definition I posted from Theopidia is what I have always heard in regards to LFW, and that differs to an extent from what you have stated above.
     
  4. Andy T.

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    The problem I have with LFW is that it presupposes that man is morally neutral and that every decision man makes is essentially 50/50. I don't see that supported by Biblical revelation or natural revelation.
     
  5. webdog

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    Curious where you get that from the definition. A choice contrary to nature does not mean such a nature is non existent which would be required to be morally neutral.
     
  6. Skandelon

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    You may be right, but terms on both sides of the debate have to be defined by each scholar because of these nuances. I do think the view of contra-causal freedom is a better middle ground. To imply that we can choose contrary to our nature presupposes that our nature is not created by God with the ability to freely make determinations through reason and deliberation.

    To put it more simply, "Stupid is as stupid does." In other words, my free choices reveal the content of my nature...they are not in 'contradiction' from my perspective.
     
  7. Cypress

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    Andy, the presupposition seems to be yours. LFW only requires the possibility, not the probability as far as I am concerned. The biblical revelation and the natural one certainly reveal tendencies, but exceptions to these tendencies appear. One is all that is needed. I certainly affirm that our environments, experiences, etc...influence our choices. This goes a long way towards explaining why certain populations have faith in God or false gods.:thumbs:
     
  8. Andy T.

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    (Webdog this can answer your reply too.) Then we probably define LFW differently. If someone is influenced by their nature and environment (as you, Webdog and Skan all seem to concede), then I would argue that such freedom is not truly "libertarian." We might just be dealing with semantics here.

    Then the question becomes, as Skan likes to ask, who determines that nature and influences? If in the A view our sin nature only makes sin "probable" and not "inevitable" then the A still has to answer Skan's question as to why God would determine that man would have such a nature that would make sin a likelihood at all? An outsider (e.g., agnostic) would see little difference between our two "gods" if they think things through. The only "god" the agnostic might accept (if their beef is the problem of evil) would be the open theist's version.
     
    #8 Andy T., Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2011
  9. Cypress

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    Andy, He might be right.
     
  10. glfredrick

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    Precisely... But that is at the core of the rebellious heart that entertains LFW as a viable pathway to God, so there has to be some loophole in God's sovereignty found to allow those to enter it that prefer to remain rebellious.

    Of course, there is that pesky little problem, that God doesn't allow rebellion, but I guess that'll be solved down the road someday.
     
  11. Andy T.

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    Who? My rhetorical agnostic? Oh please no - Cypress, I beg you not to embrace the heresy of open theism, if that is what you are implying. Seriously, I beg you.
     
  12. glfredrick

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    Open theism is something other than an apt descriptor of the God of the Bible who knows all things, including the beginning and the end. Heretical indeed!
     
  13. Cypress

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    C,A,O,.....not making a case here for any. All may be right, all may be wrong, or one may be right. Agreeing that your agnostic would easily come to that conclusion if presented with your scenario. I study the strengths of all sides arguments....the weaknesses are obvious.
     
  14. Andy T.

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    And I implore you not to fall into the error of relativism, either.
     
  15. Cypress

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    Thanks......
     
  16. Skandelon

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    I'm not trying to be argumentative in this response, I just honestly want to know why you believe it would be such a bad thing for a guy to believe that God is responsive and "open" in the way He comes across in conversations with Moses and others throughout scripture?

    Would it be such a heretical view to believe that God might change in someway in response to our prayer? I mean, as long as he has faith in Christ and is seeking to follow and love God, what makes this view so evil? Might his prayers be more fervent, persistent and intentional?

    What is the big deal for a believer to think God may not know every thing that will ultimately transpire but only all the possible options? Is that REALLY that big of deal? Especially, if what you believe IS true? Aren't all the same people going to heaven regardless of who is Open and who isn't? I honestly just wonder why it is that big of a deal for him to "fall into that?"
     
  17. glfredrick

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    Because God was clearly directing all those situations to a plan He alone knew, even though it appears that He was "open" in the conversation. That was for the benefit of the human involved, not because God was less than sovereign.

    If one "assumes" that prayer is a human-derived thing, then I guess not, but is prayer "human-derived" or Spirit-led? If we pray in the Spirit (and I'm not talking w00-w00 Pentecostal stuff here, but rather the Scriptural admonitions) then it is God who is leading our prayer life, so we are praying His will anyway. When we "adore" God, we are focused solely on Him. When we "confess" we are agreeing with Him about our condition. When we offer "thanksgiving," it is to Him for His hand of provision in our life, and when we come in "supplication," we do so realizing that He is the only true supply of our needs, wants, desires, and goals (ACTS acrostic for prayer). Our fervent effectual prayers are also claimed of a "righteous man" which, scripturally speaking would be one who is "in Christ" and who worships God in Spirit and in Truth. I see no real room, even in prayer, for a totally free and independent process that cuts God out of the equation until we ask. To say otherwise is to reduce God to a divine bell-hop -- and God help us if we do that. It would only further our rebellion and prove but once again that WE still wish to be in control, which IS our problem.

    Yes, it is a VERY big deal, and no, you have once again conflated election with salvation. The two are not one and the same -- they are not synonyms. Why educated persons do that all the time is beyond me, but they and you do often when pushed into corners with your theology that tends to place anthropology before divine sovereignty. Election is but one part of the total package called "salvation" as has been explained over and again, and that you can find in any decent systematic theology text, even if it is Arminian in scope (are there any?).

    Because God knows everything according to the Scriptures. If you can somehow disavow the texts that say that very plainly, in order to add a secondary, read-between-the-lines, view of other passages of Scripture with a plain conscience, then so be it. I cannot even imagine such a thing after reading through the Word of God multiple times and seeing how He elected persons to do this or that in keeping with His divine sovereign plan.

    Do you really believe that God will be surprised at anything that we humans dream up? Or worse, that somehow WE effect His divine plans? My goodness, what a small god you have... You seem to need to understand why or how your god arrives at every conclusion, and that it is somehow in keeping with your own desires. Good luck with that...
     
  18. Skandelon

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    So if a Calvinistic type person were around Moses at that time and told him the 'truth' then wouldn't the 'benefit' have been lost? See my point?

    Does it really hurt for people to believe in a simple view of real relationship with a God who chooses to interact imminently within his created order?

    Actually, I believe in an Arminian view, not an open theistic view, I was merely questioning the actual "harm" in someone taking that route.

    And to be objective when comparing the two views of God (open/cal); one could make a strong argument that your view seems much smaller.

    Your view has God playing both side of the chess board in order to guarantee victory. The Open view has God taking on a real opponent and beating him. Your view is like a kid playing with army men where he controls every acts of every participant in order to ensure a victory in the battle. The Open view pictures a Army General taking on a real enemy with their own evil intentions and plans, but God conquering and defeating them.

    I don't know. I think most objective observers would think the open view of God is bigger than yours...
     
  19. Cypress

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    precisely

    deleted by me
     
    #19 Cypress, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2011
  20. glfredrick

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    I saw your point before. I just don't agree with it in any sense. If you could be around to ask Moses about the utter sovereignty of God, what do you think that Moses' answer would be? Did Moses walk into the promised land? Weird, also, how Moses was preserved as an infant, yet his own mother was the one who nursed him (and likely taught him the tenets of God via his Hebrew heritage).

    In other words, Moses would BE that "Calvinistic type person" long before Calvin came to be on this earth, but not before God already decreed Calvin's work, which was based on God's work.

    Put that way, no, but that is not at all what you are aiming at. You are attempting a slippery slope with me, and if I acquiesce to this, I'll then be led to the next, and so on. Sorry, God DOES interact with His created order, but not in such a was as to violate His divine sovereignty.

    I keep hearing you say that, but when it comes down to the argumentative phase, you seem to slide a tad toward the open for the sake of argument, eh?

    I could not disagree more, and what you have just said is utterly blasphemous!

    Who can stand in the presence of Almighty God? Who is powerful enough to war against God? Only an utterly small god would have some other small god war against him (he, she, it, choose, for this is not the God of the Bible!).

    A chess board analogy is also fatally flawed. There is no "game" except in the minds of rebellious humans and demons. God has always been King, period, hence the scriptural picture of Him resting upon His throne. He does not wring His hands as would a human king. He has no cost to count. He has a divine plan in accordance with His divine will, and He is bringing that plan to perfect fruition, whether or not we like it, agree with it, recognize it, or participate with it. Praise God, He LETS US have a role, and praise God, He even lets us know HIM!
     

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