"Thoughts on the will"

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by UMP, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. UMP

    UMP
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    The will is not "self-determining." If the will be determined, it is absurd to say it determined itself, for this would be like saying anything is the cause of itself, and for anything to be the cause of itself, would involve the absurdity of a thing existing before it existed.

    Whatever exists, be it matter or mind, physical or moral acts, it is certain there was and is a cause for it.

    So for every choice of the mind, or volition, there must be a cause. Whatever a man’s choice may be, there is a cause for it. The power to act either in body or mind, is of the Lord, as men could not move the body only as their lives are sustained by the Lord. So neither can they will anything, or reject anything but as they are upheld by the Lord.

    But we must distinguish between the power by which men will, and the reason why they will any particular thing, why the choice embraces one thing in preference to another.

    The cause of a body’s moving may be one thing, and that which determines its motion in one direction rather than another, may be a different thing. Edwards says: "It is that motive which as it stands in the view of the mind, is the strongest, that determines the will." I think this is correct. In our inquiry as to why any man’s choice is what it is, we must consider, first, the state or nature of that man; and second, his environment. A place of sin would look pleasing to one man and repulsive to another, and so it would please a man at one time, and displease him at another time. Affinity is an important element in every act of choosing.

    If the carnal mind of man be "enmity against God," then the element of affinity would be lacking, and there could be no choice. Let me explain a little on the last words, "There could be no choice." Ordinarily when we say a man "cannot" do a thing we suppose he may try to do so, or make an effort to do so, or desire to do so, and is hindered, but in this case he is not supposed to desire to love God, for the desire to love Him would be to love Him. We cannot conceive of an effort to love Him, for there would be nothing in him to create the effort to love Him.

    The clear rays of the sun are hurtful to the eye, and nothing would cause the sun’s rays to be agreeable to the eye, but the change of the nature of the eye, and so the doctrine of regeneration is the basis upon which men choose the Lord. Without being born again, God and his service is not agreeable to men, and so we may say they can not choose the Lord and his service, and we do not use the words "can not" to intimate that men may desire to do so, and are hindered.

    It is safe to say that men will choose that which is most agreeable to them. Men are ever choosing that which is worthless instead of that which is good. Some men, and most men, prefer the house of sin to the house of prayer, but this is because it is to them most pleasing, and agreeable.

    Put before a man a penny and twenty dollar gold piece, and let him understand the value of each, and he could not prefer the penny, because there is more in the gold to please than in the penny. Men do ever choose that which to them, at the time of the choice, is most agreeable to them. To say otherwise is to say a man can choose what he does not prefer.

    Ordinarily, when we say a man "can do anything," we mean he can, notwithstanding all opposition, and in spite of all difficulties, but when we say a man can choose that which is pleasing to him we do not use the word "can" in that sense, because there is nothing to hinder a man from choosing or wishing. Such a thing as a forced choice cannot be imagined. The body can be forced in this way or that, but not so the desires. It was from this consideration that Gill said, "The will can not but be free." W e know no way to hinder one’s will or desires. Men may be slaves in body and serfs. The body may be laid in chains, but not so the will or desires. No chain or prison can interfere with the voluntary motions of the will.

    In the way of argument, &c., we may seek to change the will or choice of men, but if we be successful in our arguments or persuasions, we do not in this interfere with the voluntariness of the will, but where the choice is transferred from one thing to another it is still the choice embracing that which at the time of choice is most desirable. Such a thing as a forced choice is absolutely inconceivable. We can understand how the body may be forced but not the desires. The choice forever embraces that which is most pleasing at the time of the choice.

    The choice or will cannot deal with matters not perceived by the mind. Perception is essential to choice. If men in nature cannot perceive divine or spiritual things, there could be no choice of them nor desires after them.

    As the fish in the water could not choose the life and liberty of the bird, for the reason: first, it knows nothing of it; and second, it is content with its own home, it has all the liberty it desires. So in order that we choose divine things we must perceive them and have some knowledge of their value, and also we must be so changed as to have affinity for them. But still when thus changed and enlightened, we still choose that which is most desirable and pleasing.

    The notion that the will, or choice, is capable of embracing that which, at the time, is hateful, and rejecting that which is pleasing, has no foundation in sound reason. One may choose to have a tooth pulled, or to take a bitter medicine, or to submit to a painful surgical operation, and he may do so most voluntarily, but in these cases ease and health are laid in the scale with the suffering, and the disease and cause of trouble is put in the other end, and so the mind is not simply choosing between the painful operation and the refraining from it, but from the painful operation and life on one side, and the refraining from the painful operation, and death, on the other side.

    I am satisfied that no one can conceive or imagine a circumstance in which the choice is forced or compelled.

    We sometimes speak of arguments being such as to compel assent and approval, but the word "compel" is not used here as it is used when we speak of an army being compelled to submit. Our brethren who are printing books and papers expect to determine the wills of those who read them, if they do not it is hard to tell why they print them; but they do not expect to compel them any other way than by putting truth before the mind so as the mind will see more to please and benefit in their views than elsewhere, and thus choose their views and ways because they are most agreeable to them.

    It is plain to me that the will or choice is not "self-determining," and also it is plain that the will follows the strongest motive. I will conclude by a quotation from Buck’s dictionary. While Buck was not sound in practice he has ever been regarded as sound in doctrine. "Free agency" is the power of following one’s inclination; or whatever the soul does with full bent of preference and desire.

    "Many * * * have been the disputes on this subject; not that man has been denied to be a ‘free agent,’ but the dispute has been in what it consists. A distinction is made by writers between free agency and what is called the Arminian notion of free agency."

    The Arminian notion referred to was that the will is "self determining." Buck continues,

    and correctly, too, "The one consists in the power of following our prevailing inclination, the other in a supposed power of acting contrary to it, or at least of changing it." Buck and Gill and Calvin and all sound thinkers held that the choice or will follows the strongest motive, while Arminians held then, as they do now, and as they must hold, to sustain their doctrine, that the will may change itself, or that it may leave a stronger motive, and embrace a weaker one. Buck goes on, "The one predicates freedom of the man, the other of a faculty in man."

    Gill held that man is capable of choosing that which is agreeable to him, and all Calvinists, so far as I know; and So held that man is a free agent in this sense, while Arminians held that the will is free in the sense that the will can act independently of motives, that the will may choose what it pleases. But there is no sense in saying the will may choose what it pleases, as Edwards and Locke have shown, and I will mention this in a future chapter. Buck continues, "The one goes merely to render us accountable beings, the other arrogantly claims a part, yea the very turning point of salvation; according to the latter we need only certain helps * * * to enable us to choose the path of life, but according to the former * * * we need an almighty and invincible power to renew us."

    According to this Buck and other clear thinkers contended for such a freedom of will as would render men accountable, and so make a distinction between men and animals; while the Arminians contended for such a freedom of will as would make the will, or choice, independent of all motives, and as would give to the will the "turning point" in the matter of salvation.

    On p. 646 Hassell’s history: "If there be not free grace in God how can he save the world, and if there be not free will in men, how can the world by God be judged?"

    This last question is worthy of a serious consideration. Hassell then quotes Bernard: "Abolish free will, and there is nothing to be saved. Abolish free grace and there is nothing wherewithal to save." We must take such a view of "free will" as will make man an accountable being, and Buck clearly shows that all sound thinkers of his times contended for such liberty of will as was agreeable to the accountableness of man, and the final punishment of the wicked, and not for such a liberty of will as would make the will independent of all motives and capable of deciding the turning point in the matter of salvation.

    Elder James H Oliphant (1874?)
     
  2. npetreley

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    Very interesting reading. Thanks, UMP.
     
  3. UMP

    UMP
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    Cals say you don't choose, well really they do but only after God has chosen them first.
    AND, cals don't take ANY credit for their choice. The only reason they are INCLINED toward God at all is because of God and what God did for them. Therefore, the "choice" is not really a "choice" after all. It's more like an inevitable conclusion that we are OVERJOYED with.
     
  4. BobRyan

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    So then you claim that every thought of Satan is NOT HIS thought it is God thinking through him.

    Every act of evil is not man's act it is God acting through man.

    Every false hope, every lie every evil thought on this planet -- you claim is in fact "God's alone" and we are but the transparent medium through which God merely expresses HIS own thoughts and reveals who He "really is".

    And then those silly Arminians come back claiming that the Calvinist picture of God is "less than good".

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  5. Skandelon

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    Bob,

    Here the Calvinists go again bringing their presuppostions to the text.

    Men, even lost fallen men, have the ability to think, reason and choose. They know good from evil by the conscience God has given them, which is evident in the story of the Fall when the men "became like God, knowing both good and evil."

    Why is it that Calvinists think that a choice of the will must be caused by something outside the person who is doing the choosing? They don't have a problem with God making choices for no apparent reason or influence but they just can't accept the fact that maybe God made others who also have the ability to make an independant choice. That is what volition is. That is what seperates us from animals. Animals have instincts and only can respond to environmental influences, but we are human, we have souls and wills. We can reason and think and make choices. Why? Just because we can.

    Calvinists, you tell me why God chose you and I'll tell you why you chose God.
     
  6. UMP

    UMP
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    Bob Ryan writes:
    "So then you claim that every thought of Satan is NOT HIS thought it is God thinking through him.
    Every act of evil is not man's act it is God acting through man. Every false hope, every lie every evil thought on this planet -- you claim is in fact "God's alone" and we are but the transparent medium through which God merely expresses HIS own thoughts and reveals who He "really is".
    And then those silly Arminians come back claiming that the Calvinist picture of God is "less than good"."

    UMP writes:
    This is an easy answer...wrong.
     
  7. dianetavegia

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    An online friend waited until after college to marry her 'godfearing' husband. They were unable to have children so, while seeking fertility treatment, they became foster parents to 'crack babies'. They fell in love with the two little black children and adopted them. Both children have problems with fire starting, acting out sexually, stealing, etc. and some learning problems.

    This friends husband had his own limo company and was soon into cocaine and stealing from his own company for his habit. Then came the VERY young girls. He's now deserted his family (a couple of years now) and has disappeared so my friend gets no support. She won't file for divorce because of her belief about marriage being forever.

    Another online friend, a Calvinist, says God pre-ordained the cocaine, money stealing and sex with teenagers and so it's not to be complained about. I say that makes God the author of evil.

    Now this poor friend has withdrawn from her online friends and is working numerous jobs to try and save her home while still raising the children with so many concerns. Last I heard the daughter had damaged the one day old sports car of the neighbor with an umbrella.

    Diane
    (I am NOT C/A or U. Free-will)
     
  8. UMP

    UMP
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    God is NOT the author of sin. Even in the crucifiction of Jesus Christ. Those who crucified Him ARE accountable for their actions even though God determined this event before the foundation of the world. They crucified Him by "WICKED HANDS". Acts 2:23 "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    And that reason is darkened, hardened, deceitful, deadened, and a host of other things, as Scripture tells us. AT this point, it is the Calvinists who are rigidly biblical, because we believe about the mind what the Bible teaches about the mind. Fallen man can reason, think, and choose ... and that choice will always be in accordance with that reasoning, which is sinful to its core.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Your own verse contradicts your thesis. Quite clearly, the sin of the crucifixion of Christ was the "determinate counsel" of God. That does not absolve thje guilty parties of their responsibility for that sin.
     
  11. UMP

    UMP
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    Pastor Larry writes:
    "Your own verse contradicts your thesis. Quite clearly, the sin of the crucifixion of Christ was the "determinate counsel" of God. That does not absolve thje guilty parties of their responsibility for that sin."

    UMP writes:
    That IS EXCTLY my point. God did not make them sin, they crucified Him by their OWN wicked hands, therefore are accountable.
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    Diane Tevagia said:

    And only Calvinists have these kinds of extremes ? And you judge the Calvinist God and the Calvinist doctrines with one daft Calvinist ?


    My sister was full gospel, Arminian to the core, and she says unless you were in the ministry, you were not serving God, and worse, you were not saved. So, early in the morning she would cook all the food her children needed, leave their allowances on the table, and off to Bible study, visitations, counsellings, etc., she goes, and guess what time she comes back ? 1 a.m, 2 a.m. and that is everyday.

    Her children lost weight, their house was filthy and in shambles, and one day her husband working in Saudi Arabia comes home, and I witness to him, I was still Arminian, and he refuses to accept Christ as his Savior, he says, if the consequence is to do the same thing his wife, my sister is doing !

    Here's another. A Bible Baptist pastor I know will not organize churches as independent churches and will only organize them as satellite churches ! Why ? So he can keep close control on them, because he says, the tithes must go to the mother church (him) and he apportions it to other churches. Is that Scriptural ? Or is it as looney as saying God is the author of evil.
     
  13. LaymansTermsPlease

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    Hmmm, Calvinism sometimes sounds like it's just some new-fangled form of Gnosticism.

    Not trying to be too flippant. It's just that statements like this sound Gnosticn when added to some Calvinist attitudes I've experienced in the past (NOT from THIS board) where they think anyone not a Calvinist cannot be saved because they believe a "false gospel".

    Again, my comment is not entirely because of UMP's post, my personal experiences I mentioned were the main thing. UMP's comment just reminded me of them.

    I think I'm going to go do some web searches on Calvinism and Gnosticism and see what I come up with.

    Any thoughts, comments on the connection?

    Is the Gnostic slant only a characteristic of what I've heard alluded to as Hyper-Calvinism, rather than Calvinism as a whole?

    Again, please remember my frame of reference here (layperson, no formal theological education, trying to learn more).


    Thanks
     
  14. billwald

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    Doesn't need to be that complicated. If there is such a thing as "will," then "free will" must entail acting against one's basic nature. Basic nature is self preservation and self advancement.

    An example of free will, then, would be an athiest who goes in harm's way to save a stranger.
     

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