Voluntarism or Essentialism?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Humblesmith, Sep 15, 2005.

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Voluntarism or Essentialism?

  1. Voluntarism is correct.

    27.3%
  2. Essentialism is correct.

    72.7%
  3. I don't know what these are.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. I know what they are, but don't think they're very relevant. to the discussion.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Humblesmith

    Humblesmith
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    At the root of what in modern times has become the Calvinism / Arminianism discussion is the issue of Voluntarism and Essentialism. Some think it to be extremely relevant to the discussion, but it seems to be rarely mentioned today. So I'm proposing the following poll.

    Please, let's wait a few days and get a few responses before everyone starts arguing about it -- you'll bias the poll.

    Thanks
     
  2. Humblesmith

    Humblesmith
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    Voluntarism says that things are the way they are because God chooses them to be that way. A voluntarist would say "it's right because God says it's right." This would mean that if God had decided that stealing is OK, then the 10 Commandments could say "Thou shalt steal." Voluntarism extends to not just moral situations, but anything that God would act upon.

    Essentialism says that things are the way they are because they are consistent with God's nature. God may willingly decide stealing is wrong, but it's because his nature is a righteous nature, and He could never decide to say "thou shalt steal." Again, essentialism extends to everything impacted by God's nature.

    of course, there is application to the favorite topic on this part of the board. Voluntarism & essentialism deals with election, God's love, and God's will. Does God choose to have salvific love based solely on his will (voluntarism)? If so, he could decide not to have salvific love.

    Or is God's salvific love consistent with his nature (essentialism)? In which case God's salvific love is always applied to all people consistently, and God wills in accordance with his righteous nature.

    Before you dig in to your position, consider a couple of things. If you have the view of voluntarism, then yes, God could choose to have salvific love for some people and not others, and do it based solely on his will. But then again, he could also choose any other attribute of his nature. He could choose to limit his own knowledge (as the Open Theists claim), or choose to limit his own soveriegnty, etc. You can't pick one attribute, such as love, for voluntarism and not the others, since all of God's attributes are part of his nature.

    This discussion goes back many centuries, well before Calvin and Arminius, but I have not seen it discussed hardly at all by modern theologians. While I admit its possible I've missed modern writers who may have discussed it, my personal opinion is that most of us have fallen into our theological worldviews and cannot see the world outside of our rose-colored Calvinistic or Arminian glasses.

    To support my view, I submit the results of this poll. There are several discussion threads dealing with God's love and God's choosing. Some of them extend to several hundred responses. But this poll has been up for about a week, and it has been ignored. No one else even knew the terms, let alone start debating them.

    I don't claim that I'm any kind of expert, nor am I above being corrected. But I respectfully submit that many people need to take off their calvinistic or arminian glasses, and read some original writings of other theologians that don't have the same modern theological reference points.

    (Thomas Aquinas would be a good start.)
     
  3. Andy T.

    Andy T.
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    Says who? The Bible? No. Scriptures tell us that He has not limited his foreknowledge nor his power, so we know that is not even a possibility with God. I don't go by philosophical probabilities, I go by what the Word tells us about God.

    As for Essentialism, in order to be consistent in regards to election, you would have to claim that God gives everyone the exact same chance at all times and at all places. It is evident that is not the case. Some are born in Christian homes, some are not. Some are born in pagan countries, some are not. Etc. Thus, God is unfair according to Essentialist type thinking in this regard.
     
  4. billwald

    billwald
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    "The world is a stage and we are actors upon it."
     
  5. Humblesmith

    Humblesmith
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    Sometimes the world is a circus and we are but clowns in it.
     

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