Partial control/Partial free will

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Gina B, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. Gina B

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    One of the questions that comes to me concerning God's control over every aspect of our lives vs our free will is this: is there really a middle ground?

    Choosing that God has complete control while we have complete resposibility for what we do wrong doesn't seem completely logical.

    However, to say that we have control over everything seems to take away from the idea that God actively works in our lives.

    The middle ground doesn't seem like an option either.

    If God chooses to work in any way in our lives, that takes away from the free will of a number of people, or causes situation which we do not have control over. If He so much as chooses to stop a violent act against me, then he has acted against the free will of the person who intended to commit that sin. In turn, that person may not reap the punishment he may have reaped, and go on to harm others.
    Isn't that a very self-centered way of seeing things?
    However, if I choose to believe that a violent act didn't occur because of a number of free will incidences that happened (I was in the right place at the right time, the person tripped and missed me, whatever), then I am denying something good in my life that may have been God's protection.

    Yes, I'm taking this beyond the salvation issue. I know it may seem irrelevent to bring up "what if's", but there are so many things that happen in life that I could have put down a real life circumstance too. I just couldn't think of any I wanted to put down right away.

    This is mainly a question for those that are in the middle of the spectrum, which means you believe in partial free will/partial control. You do not hold to either a complete calvinistic view or a complete free will view on matters not pertaining other than salvation.
     
  2. Helen

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    God allows us to think what we want to think, want what we want to want. But how we express it is under His control. What He cannot use does not get expressed. Romans 8:28.

    I don't think it is a partial/partial thing any more than parenting is. You allow your girls choices within your range of control as a mother. We have the freedom to choose which road we want in life. We have the freedom to want to do this or that or strive for some goal. However God will frustrate what He cannot use and allow what He can.

    In other words, His Sovereignty is far, far beyond what mortals can imagine.
     
  3. Calvibaptist

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    My only problem with this illustration is that God's range of control is absolutely everything. This is what sovereignty means. So for Him to allow us choices within His range of control means that we don't have any choices.

    Although I am a strict Calvinist as far as I see it in the Bible, I don't think that God's sovereignty is what necessarily limits anyone's choices. I think our choices are limited by our nature.

    What may seem illogical to us might only seem that way because we are trying to describe God who is much greater than us. I think that is what you were trying to say, and as such, I agree with you.
     
  4. Gina B

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    Romans 8:28 doesn't seem to say that what God cannot use does not get expressed. Neither do the surrounding verses. I would imagine that if God can use the abuse of a child, or the vicious murder of someone (and he must if he allows the thoughts and wants of the perpetrator to be expressed), that he cannot use something else. Your point of view on that seems to argue AGAINST the concept of free will.

    What you have described with parenting is actually a perfect example of the partial control/partial freedom idea that I was attempting to express.
     
  5. Craigbythesea

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    No where in the Bible do we find God controlling anyone. The Holy Spirit can be quite persuasive at time, but the final choice is always ours to make.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Humblesmith

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    There is a middle ground. Yes, God is sovereign, and sovereign over every single thing. But He can still work sovereignly through human free choices. Many will try to say that God's will and human will are contradictory, but this is not necessarily the case. God is so sovereign that he can work through our free will. God is the primary cause of every effect in the universe, but this does not conflict with humans being the secondary cause of some effects in the universe.

    Of course, many will respond and say that this is not possible, but there are people who have taught this for many years.

    I, for one, get tired of the constant back and forth on this issue, and typically do not enter into these things.
     
  7. genesis12

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    I'm aware of a Christian soldier in Iraq who saw Humvees destroyed in front of his, and behind his. I'm aware of the fact that a sniper's bullet missed him by inches, while he was turning to fire on an approaching vehicle. He shared with his buddies the fact that numerous churches in the USA were praying for him. Over time, others in his platoon came to believe his testimony that they were being watched over, in spite of the deaths and injuries around them for an entire year, in other platoons. His platoon came out without a scratch, after being exposed to the same type hazardous duty. God is sovereign. Isn't He?
     
  8. Calvibaptist

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    I appreciate your restraint HS! My point has always been that the choices we make are not free. They are our choices, but they are not free. If they are within the context of God's sovereignty, as you say is the middle ground, they are not free. They are constrained by God's sovereignty. For them to be free, we would have to be able to completely ignore and go against the sovereignty of God. We cannot do that.
     
  9. Timtoolman

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    I remember that this has been stated by both Helen and I. More too the tune that "Man has free will but does not in anyway interfer with God's sovereirnty. Can I explain it, nope but it is clear in the bible." I remember the illustration I used which was Moses in the desert. However my calvi buddies did not read it.
     
  10. mima

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    Calvinistic theology is more right than wrong. As proof I offer to you Saul's conversion. It was dramatic beyond anything you and I can imagine. Saul certainly didn't exercise any free will in the matter.
    Does mankind have free will? Yes but a more or less (controled) free will. Another words mankinds free will does not influence are set aside God sovereignty. He is predestination a fact/ YES, from God's view point. But not from the human point of view consequently we are to tell people of God's love and salvation that is available to them.
     
  11. Craigbythesea

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    That is mere speculation on your part, speculation that contradicts passages in the Bible about Paul and things that Paul wrote about himself. There are, in the New Testament, three accounts of Saul’s conversion,

    Acts 9:1. Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
    2. and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
    3. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;
    4. and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
    5. And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
    6. but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do."
    7. The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
    8. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
    9. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
    10. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
    11. And the Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,
    12. and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."
    13. But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;
    14. and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
    15. But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
    16. for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."
    17. So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
    18. And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;
    19. and he took food and was strengthened.
    Saul Begins to Preach Christ Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
    20. and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."

    Acts 22:4. "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons,
    5. as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.
    6. "But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,
    7. and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
    8. "And I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.'
    9. "And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.
    10. "And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'
    11. "But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
    12. "A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
    13. came to me, and standing near said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very time I looked up at him.
    14. "And he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
    15. 'For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.
    16. 'Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'

    Acts 26:9. "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
    10. "And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.
    11. "And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.
    12. "While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests,
    13. at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.
    14. "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
    15. "And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
    16. 'But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;
    17. rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
    18. to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'
    19. "So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision,
    20. but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

    In Acts 26:19, Paul tells King Agrippa that he did not disobey the heavenly vision, implying that disobedience was a possibility.


    Compare:

    1 Cor. 9:17. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
    18. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
    19. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
    20. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
    21. to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
    22. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
    23. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
    24. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
    25. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self- control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
    26. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
    27. but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

    All Scriptures (NASB, 1995)


    [​IMG]
     
  12. StraightAndNarrow

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    Man has free will but God can intervene at any time He sees fit. He created the whole universe. He caused most of the people on earth to die in the flood. He prearranged a plan to send His son to die from our sins. Christ will return one of these days. There's nothing the free will of man could have done to change any of these events.

    God also intervenes based on sincere prayer if He deems it right to do so.
     
  13. Calvibaptist

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    Can we get something straight? If man has a "free" will, God cannot intervene. If God can, or does, intervene at any time He sees fit, man's will is not "free". It is at the mercy of His creator. Since the Bible shows time and again, both doctrinal teaching and illustrations of God intervening and overruling man's will, man's will is not free.

    That is a very basic understanding. Add to that the concept of the fall and depravity of man, and you see that man's will is also in bondage to sin. Man's will is definitely not free.
     
  14. StraightAndNarrow

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    You use your definitions and I'll use mine. I define man's free will as bei9ng subject to God's intervention. This m9ight be compared to my saying I have the free will to go 100 mph on the expressway but the police officer stopping me and taking me to jail.

    Did I have the free ability to chooose to go 100 mph? Yes. Did I have to yield to the police. Yes again. Of course I could have made a second free will choice to try to run away from the police but that's a seperate decision with probable consequences.
     
  15. Calvibaptist

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    One major difference. A police officer can in no way control your choices or actions. He can only punish you for the choices you make and the actions that you do. God can, and does at times, control human choices and actions.
     
  16. Helen

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    I think many people miss something about Saul's conversion. This man was striving to serve the God of Scripture. He was determined to fight for the truth as he was aware of it. He was not choosing the lie; he was choosing the truth. When he was shown that the truth was Christ, that was simply a culmination of his striving for the truth before. He was headed in the wrong direction, but from the right motives -- he did not want God mocked or maligned. When he was shown by Christ that Christ Himself was God, then Paul's course was corrected. And he was just as determined after his conversion to strive for the truth as he was before -- even more so since now he knew Who the truth was.
     
  17. Gina B

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    Mima and Craig...please don't make this into an argument.
    Who I was addressing is listed in the first post. Those who take a middle view.
    I want to know how they get to it, and what they use to support it.
    Thanks for understanding. [​IMG]
     
  18. Faith alone

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    Gina,

    The questions plaguing you are just the sort of questions you should be asking.

    Yes... there is a "middle ground." It's called (by Christian philosophers) "middle knowledge." You can search for William Lane Craig for articles on the Inet on it. (Incidently, Craig is recognized as the foremost Christian apologetist today.)

    And if you want to read a good book on it, try...

    Chosen But Free, A Balanced View of Divine Election by Norman Geisler. (Be sure to get the 2nd edition.)

    I had felt for years that since both divine election man's free will are clearly taught in scripture that both were true at the same time, though it obviously appears to be contradictory at first. When I read some of Craig's stuff, it opened up a whole new world for me. (Warning - Christian philosphy is not easy reading and is not for everyone. They use their own unique vocabulary and sorta exist in their own little world. [​IMG] )

    But election and free will can both be true at the same time, and I'm convinced that they are. I just bought Geisler's book 2 days ago and I'm devouring it - easy read.

    For those who want to see an unbiased book which considers 4 views on divine foreknowledge, get
    Divine Foreknowledge, Four Views - edited by James K. Beilby & Paul R. Eddy.

    It describes 4 viewpoints to foreknowledge and omniscience. The resident expert of that particular view gives a brief explanation of his view, and then the experts for the 3 other views explain the problem, from their perspective, with that particular viewpoint. Very handy, and fair treatment. The 4 viewpoints were:

    1 - Open Theism by Gregory Boyd
    2 - The Simple-Foreknowledge View by David Hunt
    3 - The Middle Knowledge by William Lane Craig
    4 - The Augustinian-Calvinist View by Paul Helm.

    Don't expect to solve this riddle over night... takes some digging... as for buried treasure, and there are no shortcuts, but it's worth it. :D I am now very much at peace in my present position on this issue.

    I can post some more specifics on this later, but the next few days I am really swamped!

    FA
     
  19. Humblesmith

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    I agree there is a type of "middle position" which I think Chosen But Free does a decent job of presenting. The calvinists tend to pretend Chapter 1 of that book isn't there, and claim Geisler is not a calvinist. Yet it is there, and he would hold to being a moderate calvinist.

    It is not exactly correct to speak of "partial free will/partial control" or "middle ground" because that is not what the moderate is saying. The position says that God chooses, and does not choose based on us, and that we also have a will that is free enough to accept God's free gift or not. Christians decide to accept it, non-christians decide not to. God can choose us, and he can also have a future free act accept him...a decision that could have gone the other way, had the person so chosen. And there is no contradiction here, since we're speaking of two aspects: Gods and humans. I think Chosen But Free does a pretty good job of explaining this. The strong calvinists don't like it because it doesn't define the terms the way they've set out the argument, and the strong arminians deny the calvinist positions in Chapter 1. I found the book to be very, very helpful.

    According to the moderate view presented in the book, the doctrinal answer is buried in the teaching that says God is all just AND all loving, and is this way all the time, in everything He does. He doesn't compromise either one.
    The theological/philosophical foundation is buried in a couple of doctrines that are called:
    --the simplicity of God
    --Essentialism, not voluntarism.

    You'll find explanations of all this in Geisler's book.

    Now Geisler will disagree with Craig on "middle knowledge." Geisler claims that middle knowledge is dependent on human will, which would make God dependent on how we act before He can act, making God a dependent being. Therefore Geisler denies middle knowledge as leading to a false view of God. Craig, however, in his book Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview denies that middle knowledge is dependent on humans (I'm working from memory on this one....I seem to remember Craig saying two different things about about this one).

    What is known as "open theism" is a VERY bad answer. It says God doesn't know what people will do till they do it. An open theist would say prophesies are just a good guess.

    Bottom line on the moderate viewpoint: God is not dependent on us....he doesn't have to learn what we're going to do before he chooses us. Further, a will that can only choose sin, or is made to choose God is not free. Verses like Isaiah 1:19-20 and Deut. 30:19 tell us we have a choice, yet verses like Ezek. 36:22-27 tell us God acts unilaterally, without regard for anything in humans. And they're both true at the same time. The reason we struggle with it is because we're finite, and God is infinite, and the finite cannot understand the infinite. Any attempt to squeeze God into our minds results in confusion.
     
  20. StraightAndNarrow

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    One major difference. A police officer can in no way control your choices or actions. He can only punish you for the choices you make and the actions that you do. God can, and does at times, control human choices and actions. </font>[/QUOTE]That's why I said this:

    "I define man's free will as being subject to God's intervention."
     

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