Sovereignty, Free Will, & Romans 9

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Humblesmith, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Humblesmith

    Humblesmith
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    Thomas Aquinas died in 1274, writing his major works about 300 years before Calvin. Aquinas' theology about God moving man is generally in line with what most Calvinists would agree. In his several theological works, and specifically in his commentary on Romans, he provides a lengthy description of God being the mover of man to salvation, a description that most strict Calvinists would love. For the sake of keeping this post short(er) and readable, we'll not give a lengthy quote of this. But trust me, Aquinas writes strong, clear, and lengthy, that God must move man to Himself.

    However, Aquinas teaching does not quite fit into all the modern pidgeon holes. In his commentary on Romans 9, when he gets to explaining v.16 ("So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy"), Aquinas shows some additional ideas that do not fit so neatly into modern theology.

    Before you read the quote below, first be aware that Aquinas repeatedly uses the phrase "it seems that" to introduce an idea that he is about to refute. Almost every point of his writings is preceded by the phrase "it seems that," then Aquinas explains why this is not so. So part of his explanation for Romans 9:16 is as follows:


    Then again, in a separate work called De Rationes Fidei (Reasons for Faith), Aquinas says this:



    Now, considering the lengthy support of God being the first mover of man (again, not quoted here), all this seems interesting. Aquinas says that man cannot move to God without God being the mover, yet holds that free will is in the nature of man, therefore God moves man by man's free choice. Thus Aquinas can hold that man is master of his own action when he moves toward God, yet God being the primary mover when man moves to God. God moves man "in a manner befitting his nature" which is that of free will. Aquinas holds that man cannot move to God without God moving him first, but "God orders human actions in a way that these actions are not subject to necessity, but come from free will." Aquinas gives a lengthy explanation for why this is so, one that involves time, eternity, immutability, and the nature of man.

    I post this partly because those modern theologians who have followed in this moderate teaching have been lambasted by the severe 5-pointers, often to the point of ridicule, sometimes even being accused of inventing such a moderate position in modern times.

    Comments on the points above?
     
    #1 Humblesmith, Jan 6, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2011
  2. freeatlast

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    I think that sometimes the brilliant minds of men confuses their own thinking. While I do not agree that God ordains every aspect of history I also do not agree with this circular thinking to justify the sovereignty of God. God has clearly given man some leeway in how he lives and the choices he makes. To what extent I am not sure, but certainly some. In fact God does not even always get His will according to scripture. One can debate perfect will and permissible will until the cows come home but in the end He still does not always get His will.
    2Peter 3:9, 1Thess 4:3, 1Thess 5:18
     
  3. Iconoclast

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    God's will is always done.....always.Mis-quoting some verses does not change who God is or what he does.
     
  4. J.D.

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    I've heard RC Sproul say that Aquinas was on the Reformed side of theology, but he readily admits that most of his Reformed friends do not agree (and niether do I).

    It seems that Aquinas comes closer to the Lutheran or Arminian position that 1) indeed, nothing happens unless God first acts to cause it, 2) however there is somehow things that are "contingent". Aquinas and his posterity are forced to rely on some notion of Paradox.

    As for "moderate" and "severe", these are terms of degree. I personally do not consider a self-contradictory theory that relies on paradox to be "moderate". I consider it an agreggious error in logic. God's knowledge is not contigent upon events in time; rather, the events of time are contingent upon God's knowledge (decrees).

    Edit: I should say that yes, Aquinas' views are not far from the later Calvinist views such as the Westminster in certain ways. While the Westminster does not admit to "some things...contingent", it does specify that "God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil". Since Aquinas uses the word "contingent" in contrast to "necessity", perhaps he intends it as a type of secondary cause, and is therefore closer to the Reformed position than I first thought. Maybe Sproul is right after all!
     
    #4 J.D., Jan 7, 2011
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  5. Logos1

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    Most of the Time God's Will is NOT Done


    You could say that God's purposes are always achieved in the end; however, most of the time his will is NOT done.

    He doesn't force his will on us--he gives us free choice.

    Sin is never his will. It is not his will that men should rob, lie, cheat, steal, murder, or commit any other sins, but he doesn't force his will on us he lets us follow our will if we want.

    The bible is full of examples from Adam and Eve onward where man disobeyed God's instructions and followed his own will and not God's. God permits us to not follow his will if we so choose not to.

    Even when man doesn't follow his will his purposes are still achieved. For example, when the Hebrews failed to follow his will and instructions and enter the Promised Land that generation died off, but the following generation did enter the Promised Land.

    At other times the Hebrews didn't follow his will--they worshiped other gods and were punished for it, but they still had the choice and just decided on a different path than God's will. Eventually he restored a remnant and through them brought Christ into the world fulfilling his purposes in spite of the fact that the majority of Hebrews didn't follow his will.

    “Your understanding of the inspiration of Scripture is utterly astounding!” Mel

    Why thank you Mel!
     
  6. convicted1

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    Here are some OT scriptures that support free will even back then:

    Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

    2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

    3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

    4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

    Ezra 3:4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;

    5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

    6From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

    www.christiananswers.net
    Free-will offering
    a spontaneous gift (Ex. 35:29)

    a voluntary sacrifice (Lev. 22:23; Ezra 3:5), as opposed to one in consequence of a vow, or in expiation of some offense

    I found this on http://thelatterdays.blogspot.com/2010/02/free-will-offering.html

    i am I am's!!

    Willis
     
    #6 convicted1, Jan 8, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2011
  7. Luke2427

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    God's will is ALWAYS done.

    This is the message of the entire Bible.
     
  8. Logos1

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    That would make the bible a failure

    God's will is ALWAYS done.
    This is the message of the entire Bible.

    You confuse will with purpose, sovereignty, providence, etc.

    God doesn't will any one to sin, to break his commandments, to do things against his nature--it is the free will he provides us that allows us to follow his will or our own.

    God's plans aren't always even accomplished. He planned for and provided the Promised Land for the Hebrew's first generation, but they followed their own will and plans--not God's. In the end they died off without realizing God's plan for them. Yet God's purposes was accomplished in the end when the next generation occupied the land.

    God is not so small that he has to impose his will to accomplish his purposes. He is sovereign enough to allow us to disobey his will and still accomplish his purposes in the end.

    “Your understanding of the inspiration of Scripture is utterly astounding!” Mel

    Why thank you Mel!
     
  9. Jarthur001

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    Please define...

    1) Will
    2) Purpose
    3) Soverignty

    Last, tell me how you remove "will" from purpose.
    ...remove "will" from sovereign condition


    HUMAN WILL: I would say it is human will that keeps us from God. You place more glory in mans power than actuality.

    GOD"S WILL: Beyond this, is God's will. If you have a child that desires to play in the street, is it greater love to allow your child to play in the street, even if you know 10 children had been killed on your street last month from wild and crazy drivers? Is love really allowing him to have a death wish, when you have the POWER to not allow him?

    If Gods will is to save all mankind....
    and...If this will is driven by LOVE.....
    and....God has the POWER to save all mankind.....
    why is it that all mankind will not be saved?


    But Dan 4 says..

    Dan 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
    You have not studied the Abrahamic Covenant. It is both blessings and curses where in the end God has his will. More also, it must be understood in light of the New Covenant where the circumcise of the heart is what matters, and the Promised Land has fuller revelation.



    He "imposes" on the ones he Loves and saves them from their sin.


    I'm not so sure Mel. But don't let it go to your head or anything. :)
     
  10. Robert Snow

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    Very well put!

    It is sad that you will encounter some here who actually believe it was God's will that man sin, or that murder and rape occur. They are under the delusion that somehow God causing this to happen, gives Him more glory. I cannot think of anything that goes against scripture as much as this does. It makes God a sinner himself, so to speak, so that He can then get more glory. It goes against the plain teaching of the Word of God:

    Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

    It makes about as much sense as me throwing my child who cannot swim into the deep end of the pool to show them how good of a life guard I am.
     
  11. quantumfaith

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    Thanks for sharing Willis!!!!!
     
  12. quantumfaith

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    Excellent analysis Logos. How great, sovereign and perfect God is that He can accomplish His purposes through the free moral agency of His creation. Making God even more sovereign and powerful than a deterministic God. Kudos to your clear thinking. :)
     
  13. SimpleMan

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    See, when people say they have no "free will", then they have no responsibility for their actions. I guess when someone is "chosen, elected, or regenerated", then saved, then sin, it's not their fault because God made them sin. So nothing is ever their fault. Or maybe, the "elect" can't sin. I know I'm saved and I also know that I still sin everyday. I own that and accept that fact and I make the "choice" to repent of those sins. Why do the "elect" repent because if they're under God's will, then God is the one doing the sinning not them. How crazy is that...
     
  14. Jarthur001

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    hummm.

    Just how "crazy" is your understanding of Calvinism?
     
  15. Jarthur001

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    Maybe you would like to define the following...



    1) Will
    2) Purpose
    3) Soverignty

    Last, tell me how you remove "will" from purpose.
    ...remove "will" from sovereign condition



    Thanks.
     
  16. Jarthur001

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    Excellent was it?

    I will ask you the same...

    define the following...

    1) Will
    2) Purpose
    3) Soverignty

    Last, tell me how you remove "will" from purpose.
    ...remove "will" from sovereign condition
     
  17. Robert Snow

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    I asked first! I will ask you this again and see if you continue to dodge it.

    Is God responsible for every action of every person that has ever lived? This looks like a yes or no question, so which is it?
     
  18. Logos1

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    Calvinism always reminds me of Flip Wilson

    Thanks for your comments Simpleman, Quantumfaith, Robertsnow.

    I want to say I recognize Calvin as being a Man of God, a man worthy of study and respect, but I do find Calvinism to be intellectually lazy as a theology.

    I don’t usually bother with the Calvinism arguments. And, I don’t see me spending much time here. My trouble with it is that it is just putting lip stick on a Flip Wilson theology. Instead of saying the Devil made me do it you just substitute God and say God made me do it. It is intellectually lazy to just lay all the blame on God and not man up to your own responsibility. Substituting blame for thinking is intellectually bankrupt.

    He gave man a free will to choose to spend the afternoon doing something that would honor him like visiting the sick and shut-ins as opposed to make a conscious decision to go mug someone. If God predestined your choice of the afternoon’s activity there would be no more honor or virtue in visiting shut-ins than in mugging someone since you didn’t really have a choice.

    A little logical thinking invalidates Calvinism. How could God judge you at the end of a life if he didn’t give you a free will to make choices? It doesn’t make sense for him to predestine your choices and then judge you on them. Just because God can look into the future and know what you will do ahead of time doesn’t mean he didn’t allow you free will to do as you choose. Knowing something will happen is not the same as causing it to happen.

    The bible gives us a great example of the intersection of man’s free will and God’s sovereignty in one verse. Ester 4:14. ESV

    For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

    Ester has a choice. She can either strive to save the Jews as God has laid on her heart to do or ignore the call of God’s will on her life and do her own thing. If she chooses to ignore God he will work through the free will of another person or persons who choose to respond to the urgings of God to accomplish his will. God’s providence is bigger than Ester. To assume God has to work through her belittles God and His vast sovereignty over the universe. The God I worship is a lot bigger than a one trick pony.

    We would bring no honor at all to His image if he forced us to live by His will. Straw men don’t choose. They reflect the image of Calvinism—a puppeteer manipulating a straw for brains puppet merely playing out the manipulations of their creator.

    Man is God’s highest creation—made in his image. To make a conscious decision to stand for God, to base decisions on his admonishments, and live life according to His will as taught in His Word (bible) and the urgings of the Holy Spirit brings virtue to man and honor to God in that we choose to reflect his pure, just, and holy image. Submission of our will to His has no value if it is forced—it only begets virtue when it is a choice.

    Calvinism relieves us of the responsibility of choice. It robs us of the opportunity to earn virtue and it belittles God by reducing His greatest creation to mindless straw men.

    (I was gonna leave it off this time, but dadgummit my post just feels naked some how if I don't have the cover of Mel's sarcasm at the end of it all.)

    “Your understanding of the inspiration of Scripture is utterly astounding!” Mel

    Why thank you Mel!

    (There that feels better)
     
  19. Jarthur001

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    If you mean by responsible, that God is the 1st cause of all things yes. He starts the process.

    If you mean by asking, that God is the cause of sin, (which seems to be the hang up) than yes and no.

    Yes...he knows the process will end in sin.
    No....he does not force sin.

    There you go...

    I kept my end of the deal.....now

    define the following...
    Thanks.
     
  20. Jarthur001

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    Makes you feel good...right?

    You are either trying to divide Calvin words from Calvinism or you are telling people it is a worthy to study a lazy theology. Now Calvinism in part can indeed be apart from John Calvin, because the docrines did not start with him. Nor did they stop after he died.

    Most of the time when people say such things they go on to try and paint words by Calvin that do not support Calvinism. That is foolish cherry picking.

    It's starting to show.


    But as long as you have people giving you praise, you may as well stick around.


    Which shows why you don't bother talking about Calvinism. Maybe read the Guy you see worthy to read.

    Humm. Now I have to say this is the 1st time I have heard this.

    1) Calvinism teaches mans responsibility. I myself have written on this.
    LINK to 7 parter plus 2 Q&A

    2) Everyone (or now I should say every else) agrees that no one is born a Calvinist, but comes to the truth through STUDY.

    So...why would anyone say such things??


    Indeed it is. Which begs the question.....Why would you make such a statement found above? Have you not studied this?

    So that we could tell others in heaven how much good we had done, and that we BELONG in Heaven because of all that good. That sounds a lot like pride to me.


    What do you mean if? Even freewillers believe in predestination. Its just a matter of when it is applied. Are you saying that God DOES NOT direct of man? When is the last time you read Dan 4?

    Please share with us some of this logic. To date I have not read it.


    Paul knew you would ask this...

    [​IMG]Rom 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

    And then Paul gave us the answer..

    Rom 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
    Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?
    Rom 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
    Rom 9:22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
    Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

    Pretty clear

    This is what Pelagius said too. The way he worded it...

    If I ought, I can.


    When did God know what he knows? Did He Learn by looking on man? Just how little does this make God? Are there other things God learned from man?

    Well....if you are speaking about me, than yes. But I'm not God. If you are speaking of the Potter who holds the clay in his hands, Knowing is indeed the same.


    I'll deal with this passage tonight. I must get ready for church. mean time please reread your logic here.

    poor understanding



    :laugh:


    Your pride just would not allow you to admit it...would it?
    :)

    I have pride myself that I battle each day.
     
    #20 Jarthur001, Jan 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2011

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