The Two Pillars of Calvinism Examined | Part Two

February 27, 2015

Dr. Malcolm Hester | Pastor and Adjunct Professor
Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville, KY

For Part One click HERE.

Human Inability
It is a basic position of Calvinism that the lost person cannot respond to the call to repent and therefore God must choose the sinner in election. Erickson says, “The concept of total depravity means that every individual is so sinful as to be unable to respond to any offer of grace.”[1] The salvation of the sinner then must be accomplished before the lost person even repents. Calvinism teaches that Adam and Eve had the freedom to choose to accept God’s plan, but that ability was lost in the fall. This section will deal with that position with the purpose of proving from scripture that mankind’s freedom has not been lost.

Did Man Lost the Freedom to Obey God? Again we turn to Erickson to establish the basic Calvinistic Baptist position. This position is stated clearly. “Because all humans are lost in sin, spiritually blind, and unable to believe, however, some action by God must intervene between his eternal decision and the conversion of the individual within time.”[2] He goes on to say that the action by God is known as special or effectual calling and defines that action as “…God works in a particularly effective way with the elect, enabling them to respond in repentance and faith, and rendering it certain that they will.”[3] While this may be presented as a wooing of the elect which results in the sinner accepting the gospel of his own free will, the bottom line is that not every sinner will be drawn and therefore every sinner cannot be saved. In the Calvinist doctrine, the offer of salvation is not available to everyone and not everyone can be saved. The issue in this part of the paper is whether the Bible teaches that mankind has lost the freedom to choose salvation.

It is readily agreed that Adam and Eve had the freedom to choose to follow God’s command or to reject that command. We understand that they made the wrong choice and sin entered the human experience (Romans 5:12). That sin and the death that resulted from it passed from Adam to his posterity. Here a major difference between the Calvinist and non-Calvinist Southern Baptists is evident. Calvinism teaches that the guilt of sin passes to the children of Adam and non-Calvinist Southern Baptists say that it is the inclination to sin and a sinful environment that is passed on.[4] Calvinism also teaches that the descendants of Adam also lost the ability to decide for God while non-Calvinist Southern Baptists maintain that the lost sinner can and must freely decide to accept Jesus. This difference in doctrine is the reason those who are under the influence of Calvinism often do not give an invitation or diminish its importance in the worship service. Why plead with lost sinners to accept Jesus if they cannot respond? In Calvinist thought sinners must wait to see if they are elect and even after they are confessing Christians they continue to have doubts and fears that they are only fooling themselves and are not truly elect.[5]

The important question is whether the Bible teaches that lost mankind cannot choose to obey God and therefore cannot choose to accept Jesus and be saved. What scriptures do the Calvinists use to attempt to make the case for that position? Erickson offers Ephesians 2:1-3 as a “key passage” in defense of the doctrine of total inability. Verse 1 states: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Supporting passages offered by Erickson are John 6:44; Rom. 3:1-23 and 2 Cor. 4:3-4. Dr. Erickson does not offer any comment on these passages but those familiar with the Calvinist controversy have seen these verses used to define this position. They are passages that affirm the completely lost situation of the sinner. To affirm that the lost person is completely and totally lost and can do nothing to help himself get saved or even get ready to be saved does not address the issue for most Southern Baptists. I have been a Southern Baptist for almost fifty years and heard many lectures and sermons by a great variety of Southern Baptists preachers and teachers over those years and I have never heard one teach that the lost sinner can do anything but throw himself completely on God’s mercy. I have never heard a sermon promoting good works as a means of salvation, and I have never heard one preacher or professor say that grace can be earned in any way. I have always preached and heard that grace is completely undeserved and that no merit of the sinner is taken into consideration. Yet, we do not believe what the Calvinists teach because we believe the lost sinner can and indeed must accept God’s offer of salvation. I will address this issue in two parts. First I will deal with the issue raised by the Calvinist understanding that those dead in trespasses and sins cannot hear and respond to the call of Christ. Next, I will show from scripture that lost sinners are required to respond to God’s call.

Can the Spiritually Dead Hear and Respond to Christ? In discussing this issue, Calvinists do something that is illegitimate in argument. They misrepresent the non-Calvinist view in order to more easily make their case. Erickson quotes New Testament scholar George Ladd to make his point on this issue in his presentation of the Calvinist doctrine of effectual calling. Ladd says, “Only by the illumination of the Spirit can men understand the meaning of the cross; only by the Spirit can men therefore confess that Jesus who was executed is also the Lord.”[6] This defense of effectual calling assumes that an in-depth knowledge of spiritual matters is needed in order to respond to the call of Jesus to repent. Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists do not argue that lost sinners can understand spiritual matters while they are lost. We know 1 Cor. 2:14 which says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The only response of the lost sinner is a cry for mercy. Spiritual knowledge and understanding are not expected or required at that level of interaction. It is a false argument posed by the Calvinists that requires the lost sinner to have spiritual understanding before they can be saved. The only thing the Bible requires is recognition of the lost condition which the Holy Spirit provides in conviction (John 16:8). The lost sinner must respond to that conviction with a plea for mercy. Spiritual understanding comes later under the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

The Calvinist doctrine ignores the teaching of our Lord in John 5:25 which says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” Please notice that Jesus said the time has come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Some will want to argue that this verse is speaking only of the physical resurrection but the context will not allow, for that means avoiding the clear teaching of scripture. The physical resurrection is addressed in verses 28-29. No, verse 25 is referring to the spiritually dead and Jesus said they can hear and gain life. It is clear from the context that this is eternal life. To deny that the lost (dead in trespasses and sins) sinner can hear the call of Jesus is to deny the teaching of the Bible and reject the power of Jesus. They can hear. Jesus said they could.

The Calvinist may respond that the dead can only respond because they have been granted the “effectual call.” It is a common tactic for the Calvinists to attempt to read into the Bible their doctrine. My response is, “Where does the Bible speak of the effectual call?” That idea is a theological concept built on the reasoning of the Calvinist system and not a doctrine taught in the Bible.

Part Three coming soon!!

 

[1] Erickson, 928.
[2] Erickson, 942.
[3] Ibid., 943.
[4] The Calvinist Baptist position is clearly seen in the Second London Confession which states in chapter VI “Our first Parents by this Sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them, whereby death came upon all; all becoming dead in Sin and wholly defiled…” In the same chapter it is stated, “…the guilt of the Sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity…” while the Southern Baptist position in The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says, “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.”
[5] It was while reading Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life that this truth became clear to me. Edwards, the epitome of the Calvinist pastor and theologian, struggled with the issue of assurance of salvation for many years. And well he or any Calvinist should since they do not believe the sinner can “make a decision” as Southern Baptists do, they must always fear that they are not really called but are only engaged in a vain attempt to be saved. Marsden, George, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (London: Yale University Press, 2003), 104.
[6] Ladd, George, A Theology of the New Testament in Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992) 295.

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available

joshbwamble

You say, “My response is, “Where does the Bible speak of the effectual call?” That idea is a theological concept built on the reasoning of the Calvinist system and not a doctrine taught in the Bible.”

The answer to this question is found in the second half of the verse that you quoted (John 5:25). Interestingly, you speak a lot about the first half of this verse, ““Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God” but say nothing about the second half, “and they that hear shall live.”

It seems to me that the same ones who hear are the ones who are living. So, if you are saying that all those who are spiritually dead are hearing, I do not see how you can escape saying that all those who are spiritually dead will live which leads to universalism.

On the other hand, if not all of those who are dead hear, but only the ones who “have ears to hear,” This is what is called effectual calling. Those who are called hear and those who hear live.

A second problem is in your explanation of inability. I understand that you are taking Erickson’s explanation which is fine. However, many (if not most) understand inability as unwillingness. The reason that those who are dead in their sins cannot believe is becase they refuse to. They (we) do not stop refusing until God changes us so that we begin to want things that we never did before.

rhutchin

Dr. Hester writes, “The Calvinist may respond that the dead can only respond because they have been granted the ‘effectual call.'”

Earlier, Dr. Hester writes, “The only thing the Bible requires is recognition of the lost condition which the Holy Spirit provides in conviction (John 16:8).’

The Calvinist effectual call is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the lost sinner of his sin. The issue is whether the Holy Spirit convicts each and every sinner. We know that the Holy Spirit convicts God’s elect because, by that conviction, they come to salvation. Does the Holy Spirit convict the reprobate? To say that He does is speculative. The reprobate never change so it is impossible to say that they were ever placed under conviction. As John Owen argues, Why would the Holy Spirit convict a sinner insufficiently to bring the person to salvation? Does the Holy Spirit discriminate in convicting lost sinners such that it is only God’s elect come to salvation while the reprobate do not?

    Gary Snowden

    The same verse cited (John 16:8) says that when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. The only way to avoid the clear teaching of the Spirit’s convicting work in the life of every man is to play some word gymnastics with the term world as Calvinists are inclined to do in multiple places in order to achieve a more restrictive sense in contradistinction to the plain reading of the text.

      volfan007

      Gary,

      Amen….you are exactly correct.

      David

      rhutchin

      Calvinists agree that the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is required for salvation. Absent God’s work to convict of sin, none can be saved. Thus, salvation is directly traced back to Gods’ convicting work. Calvinists conclude that one person accepts Christ and another rejects Christ because God discriminates in His conviction of each; If God equally convicted all of their sin, all would accept salvation – that conviction being effectual in its working.

        Gary Snowden

        Here, rhutchin, you highlight a significant difference in Calvinists and non-Calvinists. The non-Calvinist reads the referenced verse (John 16:8) which affirms that the Holy Spirit will convict the world (no qualifiers) of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Calvinist has to import a theological system and framework whereby to make “world” mean something other than all mankind. Hence, the extra-biblical concept of effectual conviction for the elect and not the non-elect that is smuggled in to maintain the belief in irresistible grace or effectual calling if you prefer that term.

          volfan007

          Gary,

          Bingo!

          David

          rhutchin

          Gary Snowden writes, “The Calvinist has to import a theological system and framework whereby to make “world” mean something other than all mankind.”

          C’mon guys – Unfair!! Why do you intentionally distort Calvinism on this point?

          The Calvinist maintains that Paul’s use of “all” or “every” and Jesus use of “world” refer to distinctions among people – meaning not just the Jew but the gentile also. This is taken directly from Paul’s explanation in Ephesians 3 about the “mystery” revealed to him.

          Rather than Calvinists having to justify their conclusion, from Ephesians 3, that world refers to the gentile as well as the Jew, the non-Calvinist has the burden of explaining, from the Scriptures, why world should be taken to mean each and every person who ever lives.

            Gary Snowden

            Having just re-read Eph. 3, I’m not sure of how this supports the interpretation of “world” meaning distinctions among peoples. Yes, Paul does speak of God having chosen him as the apostle to the Gentiles in this chapter, but nowhere is the word “world” mentioned at all, so I fail to see how his discussion here of the mystery of the Gentiles being included in God’s plan of salvation has any bearing whatsoever on the multiple scriptures that declare God’s love for the whole world, His desire to see all men saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, Christ’s atoning death as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the passage in question (Jn. 16:8) that speaks of the Spirit’s convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

              rhutchin

              You focus on the term, “world,” and ignore “all.” Do you then agree that Paul’s mindset is that salvation is for the gentile as well as the Jew and that this mindset explains his use of “all” in his letters – i.e., that Paul writes of salvation for gentiles as well as Jews, Thus, in 1 Timothy 2, “God will have all men (not just the Jew but the gentile also) to be saved.”

              Paul received the gospel through revelation from Christ. So, when Christ reveals to Paul that salvation is for the gentiles as well as the Jew, does Christ deviate from what He previously taught his disciples when He told them the comforter would come to reprove the world of sin. At a minimum, Christ certainly had in mind that He was going to the cross for both Jews and gentiles and that the Holy Spirit would convict both Jews and gentiles of their sin. The issue is whether we should think that the Holy Spirit would go further and convict each and every person of their sin. If you can argue from the Scriptures that we should do this, have at it. Put forth that argument and let’s discuss it.

                Gary Snowden

                No, I do not concur that Paul’s use of “all” when he speaks of God’s love for all men and His desire for all men to be saved is a mere reference to the inclusion of the Gentiles along with the Jews in His plan of redemption. It certainly encompasses that, but in no way is limited to just that concept. I looked at Eph. 3 again and I fail to see what use of the word “all” or in what verse you’re reading it that somehow justifies an interpretation of the word “world” as indicating just certain classes of people rather than all mankind. The passage you allude to in 1 Tim 2:1-4 speaks of prayers being offered for all men, for kings and “all” in authority, before it goes on to declare that God desires “all men to be saved.” There’s no mention whatsoever in the context of a limiting factor and no previous discussion in this chapter or the preceding one about the Jew vs. Gentile issue. The plain reading and sense of the text is simply that God desires the salvation of all men, something that Peter affirms as well in 1 Pet. 2:9, and John teaches as well in 1 Jn. 2:2 where he writes that Jesus is “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” There’s no context in any of these passages that would even remotely suggest that the biblical writer is speaking of categories of believers or of Jews vs. Gentiles. It’s a straightforward declaration that God wills and desires the salvation of all men and that Jesus’ blood has purchased their redemption.

                  volfan007

                  Gary,

                  You are spot on, my Brother….spot on.

                  David

                  Andrew Barker

                  Gary: Also totally agreeing with you on this. The verses in 1 Tim 2:1-4 in particular demonstrate that at least in this passage, all means ALL, absolutely!

                    rhutchin

                    So, are you advocating that we use Webster’s dictionary to define the terms we encounter in the Scriptures as opposed to using those definitions established in the Scriptures themselves?

Les Prouty

“As John Owen argues, Why would the Holy Spirit convict a sinner insufficiently to bring the person to salvation? Does the Holy Spirit discriminate in convicting lost sinners such that it is only God’s elect come to salvation while the reprobate do not?”

Exactly. If, as the universal atonement group claims Christ dies for every person, the Holy Spirit operates exactly the same on the elect and the non elect (i.e. all persons), then what is the difference in responses? It can only be in the power of the individual’s free will in the non Calvinist scheme.

So, either the Holy Spirit operates differently on some persons (effectually calling some, the Calvinist position) and thus God is the One who is the Master of our destiny or He operates the same way on all persons (only generally calling all persons, the non Calvinist position) and this man is the one who is the master of his own destiny.

The Calvinist position is the biblically consistent position.

volfan007

The Holy Spirit does convict each sinner according to the light they have. And, since God has chosen that everyone must choose whether they’ll repent, or conitnue in their rebellion, then yes, man must make a real choice….not some theoretical, no-real-choice of the fatalistic Calvinism. So, if someone is saved, it’s only because God chose to save us…only because His Spirit is calling and convincing….but, if someone is lost, it’s only because they chose to not be saved. Therefore, salvation is truly of the Lord…..by grace thru faith…..and people are lost and go to Hell only because they reject the Lord’s salvation and they’re guilty of sin.

I totally and completely reject the fatalism of Calvinism.

David

    Les Prouty

    David,

    i know you’re absolutely, 100% wrong on the collards issue on that other site. But here, I just have a question.

    Is it fair to say that your view is that the Holy Spirit equally convicts all people the same and the final decision is based on people’s free will response?

      volfan007

      Les,

      Yes.

      David

      Les Prouty

      David,

      Thanks for the direct answer. You answer affirms, unwittingly maybe, that man’s final destiny is in his own hands. Most other non Calvinists are unwilling to affirm that. It reminds me of William Earnest Henley’s famous line, “I am the master of my fate: “I am the captain of my soul.”

volfan007

Les,

You couldn’t be more wrong. And, your Calvinist, Reformed bias just shows in this answer. Just because I believe what the Bible teaches about man having to choose whether he’ll follow Christ, or not, does not mean that I believe that man is the master of his own fate. God is sovereign.

David

    Les Prouty

    David,

    I don’t really think you believe that man is the captain of his own soul. I know that you believe that man is saved by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. I know that.

    But your dogged commitment to man’s free will being the deciding factor (you agreed above to ” the Holy Spirit equally convicts all people the same and the final decision is based on people’s free will response) says that man controls hie eternal destiny. It appears to me that non Calvinists’ problem is that you all are so opposed to God doing a special work in some people to bring about their conversion, that you end up saying (not meaning to I think) that man is the final arbtrar of his eternal destiny.

    Anyway thanks for the interaction brother and have a blessed Lord’s day as you preach God’s word.

    Andrew Barker

    David, you are absolutely correct. The Calvinist/Reformed way of thinking just cannot accept that to exercise faith is not in itself meritorious, neither does it make a person the master of their own fate. Jesus never reproached anybody for exercising their own faith, in fact he was delighted when they did. On more than one occasion he responded “your faith has made you whole”. Apparently the Godhead does not have an issue with sovereignty as far as us humans exercising this God given ability. I’ve seen people using a Tozer quote regarding sovereignty and then re-applying it to try and make it fit into a Reformed theological position. It’s quite absurd to do this, but then they twist the scriptures to do this so I guess it comes naturally to them.

    Les Prouty

    “The Calvinist/Reformed way of thinking just cannot accept that to exercise faith is not in itself meritorious, neither does it make a person the master of their own fate.”

    Not so fast. The Reformed/Calvinist absolutely CAN accept that to exercise faith is not in itself meritorious and can accept that doing so does NOT make a person the master of their own faith. What we cannot accept, and what you should not accept, is the notion that David agreed to above, “Is it fair to say that your view is that the Holy Spirit equally convicts all people the same and the final decision is based on people’s free will response?”

    There is no other way to read this that David agreed to, despite protestations, other than man is the ultimate decider of his eternal destiny. The point of point this out is to demonstrate that you all non Cals SHOULD be agreeing to the necessity of some sort of (whatever you want to call it) special work of the Spirit on SOME people that does not happen on ALL people. Otherwise, if you agree along with David in accepting the statement I put out there, then God equally works on each and every person the same and convicts each person that ever lives the same and the only difference in those who make it into heaven and those who do not is the exercise of each one’s free will. or, Andrew, is that your position too??

      volfan007

      Les,

      Man, in his sinful condition, would never come to God, unless the Holy Spirit draws him. Man, left to himself, would wonder around in the darkness of sin, and split Hell wide open in eternity, unless the Holy Spirit convinced him to be saved. Thus, man is not the one, who decides what happens to him. God is. God is sovereign. God is the Judge. And, it takes the working of God for man to be saved. Thus, salvation is all of God. Man must decide if he will respond to God’s working, or not. Man is just responding to what God is doing. But, yes, man must make that choice. That’s what the Bible teaches. And, man is responsible for the choices he makes.

      David

Bill Mac

Is it fair to say that your view is that the Holy Spirit equally convicts all people the same

Some non-Calvinists may believe this but I don’t think all do. Equally? A first century pagan living in North America has received equal conviction to a 20th century American sitting in a Billy Graham crusade? Just the prhase “according to the light they have” means all people are not convicted equally.

There are some verses that are difficult for Calvinism, no question. But let’s not pretend there aren’t verses that are difficult for non-Calvinists as well. No preacher, no gospel. No gospel, no salvation. Not everyone is treated equally with regard to salvation.

    Les Prouty

    Bill Mac, I hope no one else here agrees with the statement I proposed to David. My point in putting it out there is to point out that non Cals SHOULD be more precise on their language of the free will issue and need to admit that there must be a special work by the Spirit on some that does not take place on others. As you pointed out correctly, “Not everyone is treated equally with regard to salvation.”

      volfan007

      BUT, God is calling out to everyone in the world. The Holy Spirit is convicting the WORLD of sin, righteousness, and judgment. And, God desires that all be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth. And yes, not everyone has the same amount of light to be convicted of….and, God has told us to get that light to them, so that they can come under more conviction, so they can have more light.

      David

David (NAS) Rogers

A person can choose all day long to yield to God’s offer but that choice does not put his own destiny in his own hands. God chooses to give grace and decides to save those who yield and accept. No serious thinker believes that someone who receives a gift has done something meritorious. That is a ridiculous worn-out simplistic concept of some Calvinists.

Andy

Les, I think you are barking up the wrong tree on this one.

1. The words “master of his own fate, or master of his own destiny” are not scriptural phrases, so we must use them with care when making assertions about them.

2. If 10 people are drowning because of foolishly going out in a broken boat, and a sea captain comes by and finds them, and determines whether to offer help or leave them be…are they masters of their own destiny? If he throws out 10 life rings, but some refuse them…are they then “masters” of their own destiny? They make a choice, yes, but their situation is hardly one of being the “master” of their destiny. They are still helpless unless rescued by another.

3. IF God sovereignly chooses to give his creatures a real free choice to respond to conviction, or to reject it…then it is no diminishment of his sovereignty. It is a common calvinist argument that God would be less sovereign if man has free will…but that would only be the case if God did not GIVE that free will. It is one of the weaker arguments of calvinsits…there are much better ones.

This is basically a philosophical argument against free will, not a scriptural one.

    Les Prouty

    Andy,

    I think I’m at the right tree on this one considering what I’m trying to show. I realize that the words “master of his own fate, or master of his own destiny” are not biblical words. “Free will” are not biblical words as used commonly in phrases such as “God has given man a free will.” But as I point out in response to Andrew above,…see above…

    “IF God sovereignly chooses to give his creatures a real free choice to respond to conviction, or to reject it…then it is no diminishment of his sovereignty. It is a common calvinist argument that God would be less sovereign if man has free will…but that would only be the case if God did not GIVE that free will. It is one of the weaker arguments of calvinsits…there are much better ones.”

    The question I have really put out there is, does the Spirit work equally on each and every person the same in conviction wooing? David says yes. Andrew may say yes as he seemed to be defending David. If that is the case, then what is the difference in one responding positively to the conviction and another not? The human will? I am not here debating whether man has a free will or not. I’m pointing out that even if the non Cal position is that as you say, “God sovereignly chooses to give his creatures a real free choice to respond to conviction,” and if the non Cal position is equal Spirit work on each and every sinner of all time, then the ONLY difference in the ones who end up in heaven and the ones ho end up in hell is the human choice.

    If that is true, then the human deciding is the final arbtrar of his eternal destiny. And really what I’m pointing to is the necessity of something more by the Spirit working on those who end up in heaven.

      Andy

      LES: “If the non Cal position is equal Spirit work on each and every sinner of all time, then the ONLY difference in the ones who end up in heaven and the ones ho end up in hell is the human choice.”

      –Yes, of course, This is central to rejection of calvinism. I’m not sure why you are surprised by this. You seem to be surprised by the fact that those who reject calvinism believe that the difference of who goes to heaven or lies in the decision of man’s free will. What I’m saying is simply that the “MASTER OF HIS OWN FATE” language seems overly dramatic to press a point. IF God were to decide to offer rescue to a group of people who were helpless to help themselves…but then allowed some of them to refuse that rescue…it seems unfair to say such a view places man as the “master of his on fate.” Man is helpless, in need of rescue, but able to refuse it or accept that rescue. (now obviously, in some sense, we can say he IS master of his fate in that his decision will determine his fate…but in the larger scheme of things, had God not come along and offered rescue, the man would be hopeless, and not master of anything.)

      LES: “All non Cals SHOULD be agreeing to the necessity of some sort of (whatever you want to call it) special work of the Spirit on SOME people that does not happen on ALL people.”

      –If they agreed with this, it seems they would be rejecting a very basic premise of their rejection of calvinism…that is, that all have a fair and equal chance at salvation. I doubt you will get many ardant non-calvinists to agree to this. I mean, really; how many Traditionalists are going to say, “God does a special work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who are saved that he doesn’t do in those who are not saved.” If they did, they would be calvinists!

      (NOW…It does bring up the issue of “what about those who never hear the gospel.” Or even those who only hear it once, vs those who hear it repeatedly over their lives… Perhaps their answer would be that the Holy Spirit’s conviction is the same (perhaps described by Romans 1), but the amount of information people are exposed to differs. )

        Robert

        Andy wrote:

        “(NOW…It does bring up the issue of “what about those who never hear the gospel.” Or even those who only hear it once, vs those who hear it repeatedly over their lives… Perhaps their answer would be that the Holy Spirit’s conviction is the same (perhaps described by Romans 1), but the amount of information people are exposed to differs. )”

        I want to make a couple comments about this idea about how much grace people receive. Calvinists argue that only the elect receive effectual grace (i.e. God gives the grace to save a person only to the preselected elect, and those given this grace will always come to faith in Christ). Non-Calvinists believe that since God desires for all to be saved (explicit scriptures that I will not repeat here, assuming everyone knows them already) this means that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness, sin, judgment (i.e. the Spirit will convict a person at least once in their lifetime sufficiently for them to be saved).

        But just because God desires that all be saved does not mean that all receive the exact same treatment and life circumstances from God. Some receive more light and some receive less light, but all receive sufficient light to be saved.

        The best example that God does not treat everyone the same is the nation of Israel. Paul speaks of the “advantages” they received (like the law) that others did not receive. Paul also says that whether you are Jew or Gentile you are saved through faith alone in Christ. So this means that a Gentile may have received less grace than a Jewish person and yet this Gentile if they call upon the name of Jesus to be saved can be saved anyway. This was in fact happening in the first century to the consternation of some!

        The non-Calvinist also believes that the grace of God can be resisted. I have seen this myself when witnessing that after the same message or words, two different people understand what is said, but one is open and the other is closed or even hostile. They both received grace from God and yet one is open and one is resisting. If you do any witnessing you will see this over and over. So the non-Calvinist is perfectly justified in believing that God desires for all to be saved (as scripture declares), that all are given some opportunity in their lives to be saved, that not all are given the exact same amount of light nor treated exactly the same way (we observe this in both scripture and in our own experience), and that the grace of God can be resisted (again we observe this in both scripture and in our own experience, again Israel is the perfect example of this as they received the grace of God in many different situations and for the most part most of them resisted it).

        Robert

          Andy Williams

          Robert, this is not a bad answer. It acknowledges our observed differences in situation among people. I wonder if Volfan or Rick would agree with it or not. I hope they comment on it. I do want to comment and question one point you make:

          “But just because God desires that all be saved does not mean that all receive the exact same treatment and life circumstances from God. Some receive more light and some receive less light, but all receive sufficient light to be saved.”

          What do you mean when you say all receive sufficient light to be saved? Do you mean that a man who has never heard of Jesus already has sufficient knowledge to respond to God and be saved? Or do you mean that all have some innate knowledge of God’s existence, that, if responded to, God will send the gospel their way? And does this mean that the reason some people groups have no knowledge of Jesus is because no one in that people group has yet to respond rightly (in some undefined and pre-conversion way) to the light they have?

            Robert

            Hello Andy,

            In my post I simply wanted to acknowledge that both scripture and experience appear to present the reality that God does not treat everyone exactly the same when it comes to the amount of light they receive.

            “What do you mean when you say all receive sufficient light to be saved?”

            My presuppositions are that if God says he desires for all to be saved and if He provides an atonement through Christ that is sufficient to save all and provided for all, then He is going to give everyone some sort of opportunity in their given circumstances to become a believer. It is easy to see this with a person born into a Christian household, it is harder to see how this may work with those in other cultures. He is aware of everyone’s circumstances and if he wants to save them all then He is the one that has to come up with a way for each to be saved through faith.

            “Do you mean that a man who has never heard of Jesus already has sufficient knowledge to respond to God and be saved?”

            No, I believe that through nature and conscience (cf. Romans 1) all have a knowledge that God exists in their hearts. Nature and conscience establish that God exists and that we have sinned, but knowing that God exists is not enough for a person to be saved (as I sometimes remind people when they say: “Well I believe in God . . .” as if that is all that it takes: “the Devil believes in God too but he is not saved”).We also have that interesting scripture in the OT that He has put eternity in their hearts (Ecc. 3:11). We also know from Paul’s explicit scripture in Acts 17:24-28 that God has sovereignly set things up so that everyone is seeking after God at some point in their lives (it is interesting that while the scripture explicitly says this in Acts 17 some will speculate that the opposite is the case: that if a group does not seem to be seeking God or have much light that He must have wanted them not to know Him!).

            “Or do you mean that all have some innate knowledge of God’s existence, that, if responded to, God will send the gospel their way?”

            This is certainly true as there are statements in scripture that if people seek Him they will find him. We also know stories of groups that seemed to be set up to believe the gospel before a missionary came and then the missionary came and they believed (cf. Don Richardson’s book “Eternity in their Hearts”). According to Romans 1 all have some innate knowledge of God (the text says God himself showed himself to them), so we know this is true. We know from other scripture that God desires for all to be saved. If that is the case then it would seem He would respond positively to those who respond positively to the light they are given.

            “And does this mean that the reason some people groups have no knowledge of Jesus is because no one in that people group has yet to respond rightly (in some undefined and pre-conversion way) to the light they have?”

            I don’t believe anyone can answer that question: because we would need to have knowledge of every human heart to answer this question. We do not know the hearts of men but we do know that God knows the heart and if someone were seeking the creator based upon what they knew of the creation, then it seems he would reveal Himself to them and give them more light. With people groups we also do not know their histories: have they rejected the light they received? Have they engaged in idolatry? Etc. Etc.

            Robert

              Andy

              Thanks for your clarifications. Is it fair to say that on this question of those who have perhaps never heard of Jesus…we can only speculate, since there is no clear answer in scripture?

              Also, I have never heard your application of Acts 17 before, that every person will seek God at sometime in their life. I wonder how you fit it with Romans 3 in which no one seeks God?

      Les Prouty

      Andy,

      “Yes, of course, This is central to rejection of calvinism. I’m not sure why you are surprised by this. You seem to be surprised by the fact that those who reject calvinism believe that the difference of who goes to heaven or lies in the decision of man’s free will. What I’m saying is simply that the “MASTER OF HIS OWN FATE” language seems overly dramatic to press a point.”

      I’m fully aware Andy that it’s central to their rejection of Calvinism. And I’m not surprised at all. I’m simply pointing out the obvious in digital ink. The “MASTER OF HIS OWN FATE” language is actually quite accurate in describing what David agreed to and actually to the non C hardline position on free will. Man’s free will decision controls his own eternal fate. True?

      If in fact the Spirit operates exactly the same on each and every individual, those who end up in heaven and those who end up in hell, then the ONLY difference in why they end up where they do is man’s unaided choice. I realize that’s their plank, but that position leaves man as the FINAL decider of his eternal destiny. And that is true no matter the attempts to explain it away. And man in total control of his final destiny is not consistent with saying also “Jesus saves.” If God saves us then He actually does something more than just throwing an option out there for man to decide all on his own. I also know this is probably fruitless. But you never know.

        Rick Patrick

        “Man’s free will decision controls his own eternal fate.” Uh, no. Without the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for the sin’s of the world, and the subsequent offer of salvation to all, there would be no gift at all for man to accept or reject. The fate of a gift given and received is primarily in the hands of the one who has purchased it and offered it freely.

        A father has two sons. He offers each a set of car keys. One son accepts the keys with humble gratitude and says, “Thank you.” The other throws the keys at his father in anger and says, “You can keep your lousy keys, old man!” It hardly seems appropriate to say that the sons are indeed the “Masters of their own fate” in this story. They are not the heroes, the givers or the providers. Yes, the actual transaction is not complete without their consent and receipt of the gift, but the principal player is most certainly the one who has made the generous and amazing offer.

        “If God saves us then He actually does something more than just throwing an option out there for man to decide all on his own.” Amen, I agree, along with every Traditionalist I know. We believe that God’s Holy Spirit is active in drawing us through the gospel. He does not go so far as to accept Himself in some kind of irresistible way in and through us, but He does woo us and draw us and plead with us, stopping just short of determining the matter Himself. He has endowed us with genuine free will, or the power of making the contrary choice. To say that this makes us “master of our own fate” is akin to the claim that the drowning man thrown a lifesaver is “master of his own fate.” Hardly! He is desperate and lost and cold and dying. Yes, he can refuse to accept the offer of salvation, in which case he will drown. The weak, drowning, needy, dying man who simply accepts or rejects the Lifesaver is really master of nothing. In the entire life saving process, he has a minor decision to make, albeit an important one, but his is not nearly the major role.

          Sean

          You said “We believe that God’s Holy Spirit is active in drawing us through the gospel. He does not go so far as to accept Himself in some kind of irresistible way in and through us, but He does woo us and draw us and plead with us, stopping just short of determining the matter Himself. He has endowed us with genuine free will, or the power of making the contrary choice.”

          Do Traditionalists believe that man is dead in sin and spiritually unable to come to Christ on his own and therefore needs prevenient grace (Arminianism) that God gives to everyone to overcome the effects of the Fall and restore the ability to choose like Adam had in the Garden prior to the Fall? If not, what you said above is the semi-Pelagian view. I know you all disavow this label and try hard to remove yourselves from it, but that is clearly what the view above is. is man sick or dead? Calvinists and Arminians believe the same thing about man’s deadness, total depravity, and total inability. They just answer this issue differently in how God overcomes this deadness and inability. But when you guys use words like God has given us “power” to choose, it’s confusing. What is this power (if man is dead depraved and unable) and how does the Holy Spirit give it and when? Is this power innate in lost man? Is it restored through prevenient grace? How much power does a dead person have? Arminians believe a person is totally depraved and totally unable to come on his own. They deny innate power to choose until prevenient grace is given. is this the Traditionalist view. I’m pretty sure its Steve Lemke’s view from what I have read from him although you all disavow being called Arminian.I know you all claim your view is biblicist or baptist, but historically it looks semi-Pelagian. Could you please explain or clarify? Thanks.

            Rick Patrick

            Traditionalism, as defined in the Traditional Statement, is neither Calvinism nor Arminianism nor Semipelagian, but is quite easily distinguished from all three. Prevenient grace is *consistent* with the Traditional Statement–which does not use the term at all–but it is not *required* by the statement. The priority of grace is affirmed in the Traditional Statement. Man responds to the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit. We disaffirm that man’s freedom to respond is a meritorious work. I would point you to the essay below for a fully reasoned, scholarly treatment of this issue:

            http://baptistcenter.net/journals/JBTM_10-1_Spring_2013.pdf#page=50

            phillip

            Prevenient Grace (as defined on-line)….

            “Prevenient grace is a Christian theological concept rooted in Arminian theology, though it appeared earlier in Catholic theology. It is divine grace that precedes human decision. It exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. As humans are corrupted by the effects of sin, prevenient grace allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer. Prevenient grace is embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of Jacob Arminius or John Wesley. Whereas Augustine held that prevenient grace cannot be resisted, Wesleyan Arminians believe that it enables, but does not ensure, personal acceptance of the gift of salvation. Wesley typically referred to it in 18th-century language as prevenient grace. In modern English, the phrase preceding grace would have a similar meaning.”

            Prevenient grace, for both the Calvinist and the Arminian, is the grace that is necessary (even mandatory) to “overcome” man’s depravity (TD/TI). Prevenient grace is the “solution” for those who adhere to TD/TI. Brother Rick in the past has stated that fallen man never lost his “response-ability”, but does not have “initiate-ability”. I agree.

            However, it has come to my attention (lately) that some of the writers of the TS omitted the term or reference of PG, but that it lies at the core of the TS, though hidden. Basically, what we have here, is a statement composed of Calvinist Baptists, Arminian Baptists, and Traditional Baptists, which explains why the TS is so ambiguous. Perhaps, for clarity, Article 2 of the TS should be written as such…..

            “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will (Traditionalism), but with the aid of prevenient grace (Augustinianism), God overcomes man’s incapacitation caused by the fall thru either regeneration (Calvinism) or being released from the bondage of sin (Arminianism) thus enabling man to exercise his newly freed will which he never lost to begin with (Traditionalism).”

            That should make everybody happy.

          joshbwamble

          Rick Patrck,

          Does the Holy Spirit exercise this work of “wooing,” “drawing,” and “pleading with us” in the same measure for all people?

          Or, does he “woo,” “draw,” and “plead” with those who end up rejecting the gospel and remaining unbelievers as much as those who end up submitting themselves to the Lord Jesus and becoming believers?

            volfan007

            Josh,

            The Bible doesn’t teach that the Holy Spirit woo’s and draws and pleads with people differently. The Spirit convinces the WORLD of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Lord Jesus desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The Lord does not delight in the death of the wicked, but rather, He would rather that men turn from their evil ways and live. And, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, because He would have gathered them under His arms, but THEY WOULD NOT.

            So, to answer your question….yes….the Holy Spirit calls out to all men the same. He convicts them the same…according to the light they have.

            David

              joshbwamble

              VolFan,

              Interesting thoughts. I had already seen where you had posted most of the same thoughts before. Your earlier post was part of what prompted the question in my mind.

              I was really hoping to hear from Rick Patrick on this and get his understanding.

              PS, Although I am living in KY now, I grew up and spent most of my life in West TN and am becoming more of a vol fan the longer I am away.

                volfan007

                Josh,

                Glad to hear that you’re becoming more of a Vol fan. That’s always a good thing!!

                Also, where in W. TN did you live?

                David

                  joshbwamble

                  I am from a small town called Trenton not too far from Jackson (maybe 20 minutes). I went to school at Union in Jackson.

                    volfan007

                    Josh,

                    I don’t live very far from Trenton. I live in Greenfield. Also, I have a lot of connections to Union University.

                    DAvid

            Robert

            While Josh asked Rick these questions, nevertheless I want to take a stab at these questions:

            “Does the Holy Spirit exercise this work of “wooing,” “drawing,” and “pleading with us” in the same measure for all people?”

            My answer based on the example of Israel in scripture and in my own witnessing experiences is No. Not everyone is treated exactly the same way (Israel was certainly treated differently than other nations; I have seen some individuals who grew up in Christian homes and had all sorts of church experiences and I have seen some who never ever entered a church building, never opened a Bible, it is hard to see how these two people received the exact same amount of light from God). When you speak of the “same measure” what does this mean? If you are asking whether everyone gets the same amount of light, the answer seems to be No. If you are asking whether or not every person receives sufficient light or conviction to become a believer? The Calvinist would say No, while the non-Calvinist who believes that God desires for everyone to be saved would answer Yes. People may not all receive the same amount of revelation, light, conviction, but all people receive sufficient grace from God to be saved (if He truly wants to save them all).

            “Or, does he “woo,” “draw,” and “plead” with those who end up rejecting the gospel and remaining unbelievers as much as those who end up submitting themselves to the Lord Jesus and becoming believers?”

            I have witnessed to some folks who were saved within five minutes of our conversation. I have witnessed to some who at first were hostile and rejecting God and later (days, months, years down the line) became believers. I have witnessed to some who seem to fully understand Christianity (have had their own families, others, myself) witness to them and yet they continue to reject the Lord. I also know some who I and others (usually their spouses) witnessed to for years, they knew and understood they were a sinner, knew they needed to repent to be saved, etc. and yet never received the Lord by faith (I even did some of their funeral services). So I would say that you have to take it on a “case by case” basis. It seems clear not all receive the same amount of light from God. It also seems clear that some accept the Lord and some reject the grace given them.

            Josh is your own experience when witnessing different than what I am describing here?

            And for others who may read this, are your experiences witnessing to people similar or different from what I have described here?

            Robert

              joshbwamble

              Robert,

              Thanks for your thoughts.

              However, I am really not sure that they get to the heart of what I am asking. I understand that some people turn to Christ the first time they hear and understand the gospel and others reject it for longer periods of time. However, if the phrases that Rick Patrick used above (wooing, drawing, pleading) are synonymous with conviction (and it is my understanding that that is how Rick Patrick is using them), then the amount of time spent witnessing to someone is not necessarily co-extensive with the amount of time the Holy Spirit spends “wooing, drawing, and pleading.” The Holy Spirit certainly doesn’t convert people apart from the gospel, but surely that is not his only means of convicting people. To put it another way, at least many men experience conviction and know that they are wrong and in sin long before they hear and understand the gospel. (I would argue from the Bible that this is in fact true for all men.)

              So, in theory, the Holy Spirit could be convicting people of sin (wooing, drawing, and pleading with them) long before the first time they hear the gospel and (seemingly from a human vantage point) immediately turn to the gospel.

              In the end, though, I would really like to hear Rick Patrick’s thoughts about this since he is the one who made the argument to begin with using those words. I would like to hear what he uses or understands those words to mean and if he believes the Holy Spirit works the same with all individuals or discriminates.

          rhutchin

          Rick Patrick writes, “[God] has endowed us with genuine free will, or the power of making the contrary choice.”

          What does this really mean? I have written about this a couple times elsewhere, but will do so here again. What do you mean by “the power of making the contrary choice,” with regard to salvation. First, it must mean that a person knows the choices – eternal life and eternal death. Second, the person must have some sense of the benefits of eternal life and the costs of eternal death because he perceives the choices are contrary to each other. Finally, the person must have a will that is genuinely free and not corrupted in any way. This means that the person is able to make a rational decision that is consistent with the choices available to him and their contrariness to each other. A person with genuine free will always chooses salvation. To do otherwise is completely irrational and violates the quality of “genuine free will.” Thus, Paul writes, “…we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” and “…if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:”

        les Prouty

        Rick, thank you brother, Lots of words trying to splain this. Maybe we can get to the matter in fewer words.

        Do you agree that man is the final decider via his own free will of his eternal destiny?

          Rick Patrick

          Well, yes, I believe in what you probably call libertarian free will. “Final decider” goes down much more easily than “Master of His Own Fate.”

          Robert

          Les asks the following question:

          “Do you agree that man is the final decider via his own free will of his eternal destiny?”

          I have sometimes heard some people claim or argue that if a person freely chooses to trust Jesus to save them, then that person’s decision to trust in Jesus is what ultimately saves them.

          I have a difficulty with this way of thinking because of the way I view salvation and because of my beliefs concerning the final judgment.

          Salvation is a “package deal”. That means that it is not just one element, but several elements make up our salvation.
          Salvation is said in scripture to be totally “of the Lord” because he alone accomplishes and does these elements of salvation. Without getting into them all, a few examples should suffice. When a person trusts Jesus to save them: God forgives their sins (they cannot forgive their own sins only God can do so and He does so only through the atonement of Christ). When a person trusts Jesus to save them: God gives them the Holy Spirit to help them in their sanctification (they cannot give themselves the Spirit, only God can and he does so only with those who are believers). When a person trusts Jesus to save them: if they are a believer when Jesus returns he glorifies them/changes their body to be fit for the eternal state, or if they have died he raises them from death (they cannot glorify themselves nor can they raise themselves from the dead).

          In each of these elements of salvation, God does these things to those who trust Him, and in each of these elements, these are things people cannot do themselves. They are impossibilities for people to do.

          Lastly, not only does God do these things for those who trust Him, He also makes the decision at the final judgment of whether a person is one of his sheep or a goat (cf. Matt. 25:31 ff). So in light of the nature of salvation and the reality of the final judgment: I do not understand how our decision to trust him can be viewed as what **ultimately** saves us. Especially when the ultimate decision of a person’s eternal destiny is not made in this life when they choose to trust in Jesus: but is made at the final judgment by God alone. We do not make the decision of our eternal destiny, God does, and He does so at the final judgment. As far as I am aware this has been the teaching of the church for its entire existence.

          Is our decision to trust in Jesus to save us more **ultimate** than God’s decision of our eternal destiny at the final judgment???

          Robert

          Les Prouty

          Robert,

          Couple of things.

          You: “I have sometimes heard some people claim or argue that if a person freely chooses to trust Jesus to save them, then that person’s decision to trust in Jesus is what ultimately saves them.”

          Indeed you may have heard such, but not from me. No, I propose that beginning with David (Vol) and Rick now and perhaps you, that you all believe that Jesus saves. I said as such to Vol. I believe you all believe that.

          But, based on the statements that Vol and now Rick agreed with, though you rightly believe that Jesus saves, as do I, by agreeing with the statements I put up and they agreed to, they at least are agreeing that man’s ultimate decision determines if any particular man is indeed saved. i.e. if Jesus saves someone, man ultimately decided to allow himself to be saved.

          This part of your statement is puzzling, “…He also makes the decision at the final judgment of whether a person is one of his sheep or a goat .”

          I know from previous statements you’ve made that you believe in OSAS. This statement seems to say that one’s salvation is still up in the air in his life and God may or may not put one with the sheep though he/she has made a genuine profession of faith prior. If one is already saved in this life, is it possible to assign that person with the goats at the final judgment? I don’t think that’s what you’re saying.

          Thanks brother.

          Les

            Robert

            Les you quoted me as saying: [[You: “I have sometimes heard some people claim or argue that if a person freely chooses to trust Jesus to save them, then that person’s decision to trust in Jesus is what ultimately saves them.”]]

            And then responded:

            “Indeed you may have heard such, but not from me.”

            Your statements in the thread have confused me a bit then. Your statements speak about our initial decision to trust Jesus for salvation, as if it is the **ultimate** determining factor in whether or not we are saved. Here are some of your statements that seem to suggest that:

            [[“He operates the same way on all persons (only generally calling all persons, the non Calvinist position) and this man is the one who is the master of his own destiny.”
            “You answer affirms, unwittingly maybe, that man’s final destiny is in his own hands.”
            “But your dogged commitment to man’s free will being the deciding factor (you agreed above to ” the Holy Spirit equally convicts all people the same and the final decision is based on people’s free will response) says that man controls his eternal destiny”
            “There is no other way to read this that David agreed to, despite protestations, other than man is the ultimate decider of his eternal destiny.”
            “If that is true, then the human deciding is the final arbtrar of his eternal destiny.”
            “Man’s free will decision controls his own eternal fate. True?”
            “If in fact the Spirit operates exactly the same on each and every individual, those who end up in heaven and those who end up in hell, then the ONLY difference in why they end up where they do is man’s unaided choice. I realize that’s their plank, but that position leaves man as the FINAL decider of his eternal destiny”
            “Do you agree that man is the final decider via his own free will of his eternal destiny?”]]

            These statements suggest that if you believe that free will exists and that we freely choose to trust in the Lord for salvation (apart from effectual grace/irresistible grace): then our decision to trust is what ultimately saves us, that we supposedly control our own eternal destiny by this decision. And that is not accurate as I tried to point out in my post about salvation involving elements we cannot do, that only God does. And my point that God makes the **ultimate** decision regarding eternal destinies at the final judgment.

            We do not control our own eternal destinies: all we can do is trust the Lord and trust that what he says he will do with believers is what he will do with us. Put another way, the only way we could control our own eternal destinies by our own decision is if we were the judge at the final judgment (and we are not, so we cannot control our eternal destinies). God is the one who **ultimately decides** eternal destinies and He makes this declaration to individuals at the final judgment (cf. in Matt. 25 he tells the sheep they are His and blessed and will be in God’s kingdom; in contrast he tells the goats, unbelievers, they will go to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels).

            “I know from previous statements you’ve made that you believe in OSAS. This statement seems to say that one’s salvation is still up in the air in his life and God may or may not put one with the sheep though he/she has made a genuine profession of faith prior. If one is already saved in this life, is it possible to assign that person with the goats at the final judgment?”

            First as a Baptist, I affirm that a genuinely saved person cannot lose their salvation. Second, our salvation is “not up in the air in this life” if we are genuinely saved we will remain saved (cf. Phil 1:6 if he begins the saving work in a saved person he will finish it).

            Third, in answer to your question, if a person is saved in this life then they will be declared to be a sheep at the final judgment not a goat. So No it is not possible for a genuine believer, a sheep, to be assigned to be with the goats at the final judgment.

            Now Les as I answered your question: it is your turn to answer my question:

            “Is our decision to trust in Jesus to save us more **ultimate** than God’s decision of our eternal destiny at the final judgment???”

            Robert

              Les Prouty

              Robert, thanks for your reply. I apologize if I’ve been confusing in my writing.

              “These statements suggest that if you believe that free will exists and that we freely choose to trust in the Lord for salvation (apart from effectual grace/irresistible grace): then our decision to trust is what ultimately saves us, that we supposedly control our own eternal destiny by this decision.”

              I do not mean to say that our decision saves us. I stipulate that I’m operating under the assumption that all of us here believe that sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Having said that, I do think the libertarian free will position has problems as I’ve tried to show in my questions and statements to Vol and Rick.

              What I think I’ve established as an agreement with them is this. I stated to Vol, “Is it fair to say that your view is that the Holy Spirit equally convicts all people the same and the final decision is based on people’s free will response?” To which he responded “Yes.”

              Then to Rick, “Do you agree that man is the final decider via his own free will of his eternal destiny?” To which he replied, “Well, yes, I believe in what you probably call libertarian free will. “Final decider” goes down much more easily than “Master of His Own Fate.”

              So, based on those responses I have to conclude that the final destiny of any person who ends up in heaven is due to his decision. I cannot see any other way to state that position. Again, I do not believe that these men believe man saves himself. But I do think their stated answers in agreement to what I asked are problematic.

              I might state it this way…Jesus saves but man gives the final permission to save him.

              You yourself seem to state a more biblical view when you agree that God does not treat each sinner equally as Vol and Rick seem to deny. And the discrimination (I know that’s a loaded word these days) between sinners who end up in heaven and those who don’t is a Calvinist position. We believe that God does something more for some sinners than others. Common light of nature, as you agree, is not enough.

              Two people standing side by side hearing you preach the gospel to them. One is saved. The other refuses and walks away. He never repents. Why? Vol and Rick say the free will is the decider. Calvinists say there is more. God actually does something to the one He doesn’t do to the other. Else, the free will is the final controlling factor. The ultimate decider.

              Now to your question: “Is our decision to trust in Jesus to save us more **ultimate** than God’s decision of our eternal destiny at the final judgment???”

              As a Calvinist, absolutely not. God is the ultimate decider.

              Blessings brother.

                Robert

                “Robert, thanks for your reply. I apologize if I’ve been confusing in my writing.”

                In my opinion your statements continue to be confusing. In your latest post at the beginning you write: “I do not mean to say that our decision saves us”. But then later after quoting the answers to questions that you asked of Vol and Rick you write:

                ““So, based on those responses I have to conclude that the final destiny of any person who ends up in heaven is due to his decision.”

                This is all confusing to me because as far as I can tell, I hold the same position that Vol and Rick hold (i.e. that a person freely chooses to trust the Lord for salvation, this choice is not necessitated by irresistible grace nor does this choice in itself save a person).

                Les your analogy that you present again makes it seem as if a person choosing to have faith is what ultimately determines their salvation:

                “Two people standing side by side hearing you preach the gospel to them. One is saved. The other refuses and walks away. He never repents. Why? Vol and Rick say the free will is the decider. Calvinists say there is more. God actually does something to the one He doesn’t do to the other. Else, the free will is the final controlling factor. The ultimate decider.”

                Note those last words: “Else, the free will is the final controlling factor. The ultimate decider.”

                Again, our freely made choice to trust is not “the final controlling factor”.

                Faith controls nothing, faith is simply trusting God at His word and believing His promises. Our faith is also not the “ultimate decider”, God is the ultimate decider of eternal destinies.

                Robert

                Andy

                Les,

                You have stated your main point, and clarified it, that you believe that for even someone who rejects Calvinism to say that the final determiner of eternal fate is a mans choice to accept Jesus or not…is “problematic.”

                Here is my main point, which perhaps I have not been able to verbalize until now:

                What is your proposed solution to these men, short of simply accepting Unconditional Election and Irresistable grace? Are you simply trying to get them to admit that God choose who he will convict enough to be saved? Or is there something else that would allow someone to reject UE & IG?

                  Les Prouty

                  Andy,

                  Yes I’ve stated my point and tried to clarify it several times. Why am I doing this? Not really expecting to convert anyone here over to being a Calvinist. I suppose I’m just trying to make clear and get clarity that the Trad view is one where man is indeed in final control of his eternal destiny. No matter the protestations, man controls his fate. And I think saying that man is the ultimate decider of his eternal destiny is a very problematic position. It makes the statement “God saves” only partially true. The better way to state the Trad view is “Man gives God permission to save.” Trade should just embrace that sort of language. Maybe they do and I’ve just missed it.

                  Blessings brother,

                  Les

                    Rick Patrick

                    As I understand you, Les, you wish for us to state our position as, “Man gives God permission to save.” The problem is, that’s not what we really believe. It’s simply not. Our position is more accurately stated, “God gives man permission to accept or to reject the salvation He offers to all and desires for all to receive.”

                    If any sort of permission is being granted here, it is God granting it to man and not vice versa.

                    andy

                    Rick brings up the part of the puzzle that I think you are leaving out. If Man has the capability to reject God’s gift BECAUSE God planned it that way…then how is it “problematic,” if even in their rejection, they are taking one of the two options God allowed…

                    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, “In the Traditional view, God has soveriegnly given man the permission to decide whether or not to give God permission to save him. ????

                les Prouty

                Robert,

                I again apologize that I’m still confusing to you. I’ll say one more time something, much shorter and maybe a little different.

                What Vol, Rick and now you agree with is that man’s feee will decision is the very final event/thing that happens for a person to be saved. In your all’s view as I have been trying to understand what you all agree to, God does everything else prior…wipes away all man’s sin (every human who ever lived), the Spirit convicts every man, woos every man, calls every man and so on. The last event, thing to happen is man’s free will choice. Not until that happens will a man be saved by Jesus.

                God has done all he can or intends to do. Now it is up to man to accept or reject. That my friend is THE deciding factor in man’s eternal destiny. Yes in your scheme Jesus saves. But He does so only with man’s final permission.

                Now you all can try to do a lot of word smithing to try to get around it. But you all will be doing what many of you accuse Calvinists of doing–playing word games.

                Thanks again brother.

                  volfan007

                  Les,

                  You are completely wrong. And, your debating and arguing is flawed…badly. And, no matter how you try to twist what I really believe….which is nothing more than just taking the Bible at it’s word….without trying to impose a philosophical system on it….you can’t make make it twisted into the things that you’re saying. I will just keep on believing the Bible rather than adhering to the philosophies of Augustine, Calvin, Beza, and Arminius.

                  David

                    Robert

                    David you wrote:

                    “You are completely wrong. And, your debating and arguing is flawed…badly. And, no matter how you try to twist what I really believe….”

                    I was confused by what Les kept asserting because he was both contradicting himself and also trying to attribute a view to us that we do not hold. Nice to see that others such as yourself, saw that his “debating” and arguments were “flawed”. David you also saw the same thing I was seeing, that Les was trying to twist what we believe (i.e. that a person when choosing to trust Jesus for salvation does so freely, with libertarian free will) into something else that we do not believe (that we control our eternal destinies, that our choice to trust is what ultimately saves us).

                    “which is nothing more than just taking the Bible at it’s word….without trying to impose a philosophical system on it….”

                    I always respect those who are trying to be Biblicists (i.e. whatever the Bible says is what they seek to believe and practice) this ought to be everyone’s aim. A problem with Calvinism and other “isms” is that they depart from being Biblicists and end up arguing for and promoting philosophical or theological systems that are not Biblical. What then results is that those who are truly Biblicists end up having to engage these false philosophical and theological systems.

                    “you can’t make make it twisted into the things that you’re saying.”

                    Les kept trying to put something on us that we do not believe, and his attempts were neither persuasive nor compelling.

                    What it came down to is that as a theological determinist/Calvinist he cannot allow for the existence of libertarian free will (because it does not fit his system), so he presented his arguments that if our choice to trust is made freely (i.e. involves libertarian free will), then he claimed that we control our eternal destinies, then our freely made choice to trust is what ultimately saves us.

                    But this is wrong because God alone assigns eternal destinies and he does so at the final judgment.

                    It is also wrong because Les presents a truncated view of salvation (i.e. as if all that it is, is the decision to trust Jesus for salvation) when it is much more (including receiving the Holy Spirit, being placed in the body of Christ, sanctification and discipleship, being raised from the dead/glorified, etc.). If we are going to be Biblicists then we must recognize that salvation is more than just justification through faith. Jesus did not command us merely to seek to have people make a single decision to believe and then we were done. No, we are commanded to make disciples (which includes the initial freely made choice to believe, but also a life of holiness and obedience and fruit bearing).

                    “I will just keep on believing the Bible rather than adhering to the philosophies of Augustine, Calvin, Beza, and Arminius.”

                    If you do that you will be just fine. And I greatly respect such an attitude.

                    Robert

                    volfan007

                    Robert,

                    Thanks, Bro.

                    David

                  Les Prouty

                  Rick and Vol,

                  I’ve said enough for the three of us to be heard . So unless there is some pressing need for me to reiterate and/or respond, you brothers have the last word between us.

                  Blessings brothers.

rhutchin

Andy writes, “3. IF God sovereignly chooses to give his creatures a real free choice to respond to conviction, or to reject it…”

“Real free will” involves three things. They are: (1) the person is aware of the choice before him – eternal life and eternal death; (2) the person has a sense of the benefits of eternal life and the costs of eternal death; and (3) the person is able to make a rational decision that accurately reflects (1) and (2). The person who is regenerated by God and has a free will always chooses salvation – it is a no-brainer. Other Southern Baptists refer to this as “true” or “genuine” free will and describe it as contra-causal freedom or the freedom to choose otherwise. People who reject salvation show their wills to be enslaved to sin, and they lack “real,” “true” or “genuine” free will.

It is those to who God chooses to give real free choice to respond to His conviction of sin who then come to salvation – the Calvinist conclusion.

    Andy

    Interesting take on things…It seems to fit well with the ideas of Luthers’ “Bondage of the Will.”:

    I wonder how it fits with the state of Adam & Eve before the fall…if one with a truly free will will always choose salvation (a “no-brainer”)…Did God create Adam and Eve with some already bondaged will? Or perhaps with no brains? :-)

    Jim Poulos

    For some dialog on your post rhutchin. In all that is said whether you, myself or others, definition of words is foundational to what follows. Which is at most times hard to surmount.

    Let’s say ‘regeneration’ as you posted ‘by God’ is synonymous with ‘born again’ of the Spirit as explained by Christ in John chapter 3. Then the crowd in Acts 2, having listened to Peter’s sermon, crying ‘what shall we do brethren?’ did so without the Spirit, that is being regenerated. This is so since Peter directed them to be repent and baptized in order to recieve the Spirit.

    If in fact regeneration is saying you have the Spirit, without which you are not free to make choices for God, then there is a ‘freedom of will’ taking place in this passage without regeneration having taken place.

    A little puzzling according to your paradigm rhutchin.

    Thank you, Jim Poulos

      rhutchin

      Jim Poulos writes, “Let’s say ‘regeneration’ as you posted ‘by God’ is synonymous with ‘born again’ of the Spirit as explained by Christ in John chapter 3.”

      I don’t think that regeneration is necessarily synonymous with being “born again.” We know that salvation comes through the preaching of the word and the preaching of the word accompanied by the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit elicits a faith response from God’s elect. If being “born again” is that which describes a person who has repented and believed the gospel, then regeneration would not be equivalent to being “born again” but would be necessary to being “born again.”

      The statement by Peter is interesting in that it presents a problem for everyone (in the way you frame it). We all seem to agree that the Holy Spirit must convict those to whom Peter preaches of their sin else they cannot respond to Peter’s preaching. So, it appears that the Holy Spirit has done its work since “they were pricked in their heart.” Does that phrase identify the work of the Holy Spirit to convict them? So then, how does Peter say they must repent and be baptized to receive the Holy Spirit? It appears that two different actions of the Holy Spirit are on display. There is the external working of the Holy Spirit on God’s elect to convict them of sin thereby facilitating a positive response to the gospel. Then following repentance and baptism, there is the internal residence of the Holy Spirit to preserve God’s elect to the end – the sealing described in Ephesians 1.

      Calvinists say that sinful people cannot respond to the preaching of the gospel (considering it foolishness per 1 Corinth 1) unless both regenerated and convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin. Either the conviction of the Holy Spirit is regeneration of a separate regeneration is required. Somewhere along the line, the slavery of the lost sinner to sin must be broken.

Joshbwamble

Volfan,

Just curious. I’m not sure how most “traditionalists” feel about this. Could/would you work with a Calvinist at your church on your pastoral staff?

I know for most Calvinists, working with nonCalvinists is not an automatic no. I am wondering how “traditionalists” feel.

    lydia

    “ut, for clarity, so would you or most “traditionalists” in your experience be ok with having a Calvinist on your pastoral staff?”

    Why not ask the SBC leaders who used our money to help fund Acts 29 plants? Ask them if Acts 29 allowed any non Calvinist to plant churches. .

      Joshbwamble

      I don’t ask that question (a) because this is not the right forum for asking it and (b) because I already know the answer. Since I already know the answer, There is no reason for me to ask that question.

        Lydia

        “I don’t ask that question (a) because this is not the right forum for asking it and (b) because I already know the answer. Since I already know the answer, There is no reason for me to ask that question.”

        How is it not the right forum concerning Acts 29, Calvinism and the SBC? How strange since you made this statement in a comment earlier:

        Joshbwamble 04-03-2015, 14:44

        Volfan,

        Just curious. I’m not sure how most “traditionalists” feel about this. Could/would you work with a Calvinist at your church on your pastoral staff?

        “I know for most Calvinists, working with nonCalvinists is not an automatic no. I am wondering how “traditionalists” feel.”

          Joshbwamble

          Lydia,

          You ask, “Why is this not the right forum?”

          Pretty simple. You asked why I don’t ask SBC leaders the same question with reference to Acts29. The reason this is not the right forum for that is because, as far as I know and can tell, there are no SBC leaders who made decisions regarding the SBC’s relationship with Acts 29 here to answer that question.

          I asked the question that I did because (a) I honestly had no idea how any Traditionalists think about this issue and (b) there are some traditionalists here that I have already been in conversation with who would be in a position to answer the question for themselves and possibly even for traditionalists is general.

          Thanks for the question. It seems pretty obvious to me, but if not, then I hope this explanation clarifies it for you. If it doesn’t, please feel free to ask any follow up questions that might help clarify any further confusion you may have. I will do my best to answer them.

volfan007

Josh,

I would have to disagree with you. Most Calvinists that I know…strong 5 pointers…would NOT have a Non Calvinist on their staff. And, it’s been my experience that strong, 5 pointers have actually blocked men from being DOM’s, just because they were not Calvinists.

Also, Josh, I do have Calvinists in my Church. They love me, and I love them. We get along fine. Because, they’re not trying to convert everyone to Calvinism. Their Calvinism is not worn on their sleeves. And, I don’t really ever mention it, or talk much about it, outside of some blogs, or with Pastor friends, who are concerned about the Calvinist takeover of the SBC. So, it’s just not something that we dwell on, in my Church, at all. We’re more focused on worshiping the Lord, and teaching the Bible, and trying to win souls.

David

    joshbwamble

    Volfan,

    It seems that your experiences have been different (maybe worse) than mine.

    But, for clarity, so would you or most “traditionalists” in your experience be ok with having a Calvinist on your pastoral staff?

      volfan007

      Josh,

      I can’t speak for all Traditional, Southern Baptists.

      Why do you want to know this?

      David

        Joshbwamble

        Just purely out of curiosity.

        I was teaching a class yesterday and this issue came up. I know what my answer would be and what that of most Calvinists would be (although it sounds like maybe you have had a different experience with Calvinists where you are).

        I honestly have no idea of how someone who identifies as a “Traditionalist” would think about this issue.

        If you can’t offer anecdotal evidence from your experience as to how traditionalists think about this issue, perhaps you could explain how you (as one traditionalist) thinks about it.

        Or, if for whatever reason, you would prefer not to answer, that is fine too.

          Rick Patrick

          Josh,

          I don’t mind jumping in here. As for generally working with Calvinists, it has never been an issue for me–funerals, home visits, preaching in my pulpit, etc. I work well with them and vice versa. Frankly, the issue rarely comes up and we play in the sandbox just fine during these occasional ministry settings.

          However, when it comes to *working on staff* with a Calvinist, it is a different matter entirely. My last two churches have experienced significant conflict due to youth groups whose parents did not want their children being indoctrinated with Calvinism. It was extremely divisive, resulting in people leaving the church and/or denomination. In one case, most of the Baptist youth group given Calvinist devotional books for years actually became Presbyterians when they grew to adulthood. Our church had “discipled” them right of the Southern Baptist Convention.

          Thus, in order to preserve unity within our local body of Christ, we screen for Calvinism among all ministry staff members. Also, I might add, it is a concern to me, denominationally, that the SBC appears to be giving the minority view the majority of the emphasis. I think this is both unfair and will eventually prove unstable.

          To summarize, while occasional cooperation in ministry settings with Calvinists has not proven to be problematic in the least, the same cannot be said about ongoing partnerships within the church. Because we would not be on the same page theologically, and quite often by extension methodologically, the result is unnecessary confusion and division. It is much better to make sure we are theologically compatible in the first place.

            Joshbwamble

            Thanks for your thoughts.

Robert

Andy makes a very good observation when he writes:

“Rick brings up the part of the puzzle that I think you are leaving out. If Man has the capability to reject God’s gift BECAUSE God planned it that way…then how is it “problematic,” if even in their rejection, they are taking one of the two options God allowed…”

The point is that: God alone decides the nature of salvation and how we will be saved, and what will be involved.

If he decided that salvation would be through faith, and that that faith would involve a freely made choice (i.e. libertarian free will: not a necessitated choice, not involving irresistible grace, not involving a person forced to believe against their will, not involving any form of determinism, etc. etc. etc.). Then that is the way it is despite the protestations of Calvinists who attack libertarian free will, reject libertarian free will, mock libertarian free will and argue against the reality of LFW.

It also means that all the arguments that Calvinists devise attempting to refute libertarian free will in the process of salvation (e.g. that a freely made choice means the person controls their eternal destiny, etc. etc. etc.) will all fail as they are a denial of reality.

Reality is what God decided it would be.

If he decides that he will provide an atonement through Christ for the whole world. If he decides people must freely choose to trust Him alone in order to be saved, if He decided the world would include some libertarian free will choices, then that is the way it is going to be.

And think about it, theological determinists do not deny libertarian free will because they’ve never experienced the reality of LFW (No, they experience it every day, every time they freely make a choice): they deny it because it does not fit their philosophy/theology. So in order to justify and protect and promote their mistaken philosophy/theology (which cannot and does not allow for LFW under any circumstances) they must argue against their own daily reality. As one of my mentors used to say: whenever you argue with reality, you lose.

It is ironic where the Calvinists find themselves to be. For example in freely choosing to argue against LFW, in freely choosing to post here at SBC today, the Calvinist freely chooses what arguments they will employ and what words they will or will not use, what Bible verses they will proof text from, as they express their arguments about the non-reality of LFW.

But none of this would be possible, unless they were engaging in libertarian free will choices the very reality that they so strongly deny!
? ?
Robert

    joshbwamble

    Robert,

    Assuming LFW, why do you decide the things that you do? WHy do you do one thing and not the other? How do you make those choices?

      Robert

      “Assuming LFW, why do you decide the things that you do? WHy do you do one thing and not the other? How do you make those choices?”

      I, like seemingly everybody else, make my choices for reasons based upon what is important to me.

      Say I am at a bookstore and there are two books I am interested in. One is normal price (say $20) the other is on sale for 50% off regular price which happens to also be $20( so it would be $10). One importance to me is price. One importance to me is buying books at discounts since I buy and receive tons of books. One importance is what is in my wallet (if I have only $8 then both books are a moot point, but what if I have $10, or $25)? One importance is do I have the book already. One importance is do I know a friend has it so I don’t have to buy it. One importance is do I know that someone is going to give me a copy or lend me a copy or ask me to review a copy, etc. etc. etc.

      I deliberate over the things that I know before making a choice. I don’t make choices for no reasons, or randomly, I don’t make choices without desires being involved. My choices are not random and like “psychological accidents”. I am more like a chess player who looks at the pieces considers their options, considers the placement of the pieces, considers the consequences of various moves: then makes a rational move which I believe is the best move at that time. Do I make mistakes? Sure. I also have regrets, which only make sense if I know that I made one choice but could have chosen otherwise and probably should have made the other choice.

      Do you choose in a similar way, or do you choose randomly and without reason?
      ?
      Robert

        joshbwamble

        Robert,

        Thanks for your thoughts.

        I do choose the same way, I would summarize it as choosing what I want based on multiple factors.

        I guess what I do not understand about the LFW position or explanation is that LFW says the chooser has, all things being the same, the power of contrary choice. However, if this is the case, it seems to me that the exact same set of factors could be givn to explain why you chose one way OR a different way.

        To give an example (that is not original to me, but I cannot remember where I heard it), let’s say that I chose to shoot someone. Afterwards, I am being interviewed by a detective. I give a set of factors that led me to choose to pull the trigger on the gun. If I have the power of contrary choice at all times, then (unless I misunderstand LFW) if I had chosen to not pull the trigger, I would list off the exact same factors as I was explaining my choice to not shoot the gun.

        Or, are you saying that in any given situation, the factors themselves determine which choice you will make? In the example you gave of a bookstore, what (of the given factors such as price, how much money you have, etc.) would have to be different in order for you to come to a different conclusion?

          Robert

          Josh,

          “I do choose the same way, I would summarize it as choosing what I want based on multiple factors.”

          We all choose the same way, we make our choices in light of what is important to us and for reasons.

          “I guess what I do not understand about the LFW position or explanation is that LFW says the chooser has, all things being the same, the power of contrary choice. However, if this is the case, it seems to me that the exact same set of factors could be givn to explain why you chose one way OR a different way.”

          That is not true.

          My friends and I call this the “Bruce Ware error” since he makes this same error all over his writings. Josh you say that “it seems to me that the exact same set of factors could be given to explain why you chose one way OR a different way.”

          This is not accurate at all because normally each choice has its own set of importances attached to them, and they are different not the same.

          We can even use your own example to show how this is false.

          “let’s say that I chose to shoot someone. Afterwards, I am being interviewed by a detective. I give a set of factors that led me to choose to pull the trigger on the gun. If I have the power of contrary choice at all times, then (unless I misunderstand LFW) if I had chosen to not pull the trigger, I would list off the exact same factors as I was explaining my choice to not shoot the gun.”

          You are claiming here that you would “list off the exact same factors” for both choosing to pull the trigger (let’s call that choice A) and not choosing to pull the trigger (let’s call that choice B). I have actually had discussions with people who have chosen both to pull the trigger and not pull the trigger. Let’s use “Jose” as an example. “Jose” pulled the trigger and killed a rival from another gang. In talking with “Jose” he will tell you that his importances associated with choice A included: eliminating a rival drug dealer from the same territory; gaining more honor in his own gang; this other guy had shot and killed someone from “Jose” own gang; Etc. His importances associated with choice B include: he did not want to hurt his mother, he had a young wife and child and did not want retaliation on them, he didn’t want to get caught and go to jail and be separated from his wife and child; killing the other guy at that time would escalate things; etc.

          It should be evident that for “Jose” pulling and not pulling the trigger did not involve the “the exact same factors”. In fact it would be irrational to have the exact same reasons and importances for doing two opposite choices! That is not how we choose at all.

          And just consider your own choices Josh, when you choose and are considering different alternatives, do you have the exact same reasons and importances for doing every one of these alternatives?

          Robert

        rhutchin

        Robert writes, “I, like seemingly everybody else, make my choices for reasons based upon what is important to me.”

        If your decisions reflect “what is important to you,” then you are exercising compatibilist free will (choosing consistent with your wants/desires) and not Libertarian Free Will (which is hard to define but is not determinism – choices not determined by “what is important to me.) Because you make choices “for reasons based upon what is important to me,” the issue becomes what is important to you and how did these things become important to you – do those things important to you arise from a selfish and prideful heart for example.

joshbwamble

“It should be evident that for ‘Jose” pulling and not pulling the trigger did not involve the “the exact same factors’. In fact it would be irrational to have the exact same reasons and importances for doing two opposite choices! That is not how we choose at all.”

I absolutely agree that this is not how we make choices. My difficulty, is with understanding how the LFW position accounts for this. What I am understanding you to say is that you do not actually have the power of contrary choice. In Jose’s situation above, either he pulls the trigger or he doesn’t. If he pulls the trigger it is because the factors or importances leading to that decision outweigh the factors or importances in favor of the other decision (not pulling the trigger). If that is the case, then he does not have the power of contrary choice ALL THINGS BEING THE SAME. In order for him to make the different choice, something has to be different.

In the case where Jose pulled the trigger, (given your explanation of LFW above) he could not have done otherwise. In order for him to do otherwise would have necessitated the case being different, a different set of factors/importances or an additional factor/importance causing set B to outweigh set A.

I am not saying that this is what I think to be true, by the way. I am only saying that this is what I understand your explanation of the LFW concept to say.

If I am missing something, I really hope you can explain it to me. I really want to understand this correctly.

Thanks,
Josh

    Robert

    “I absolutely agree that this is not how we make choices.”

    If you agree then you understand that at the point of time when you make a choice, you may be considering two or more different choices, you then (because you have this ability) choose which one is your choice. We have all done this innumerable times and know about this from firsthand experience.

    “What I am understanding you to say is that you do not actually have the power of contrary choice.”

    You apparently misunderstood.

    Jose had the ability to make either choice, to choose to pull the trigger or choose not to pull the trigger.

    “In Jose’s situation above, either he pulls the trigger or he doesn’t.”

    That fits with the nature of choice in this universe, we do not have the ability to actualize a contradiction (I cannot both stand up and sit down at the same time in the same circumstances).

    “If he pulls the trigger it is because the factors or importances leading to that decision outweigh the factors or importances in favor of the other decision (not pulling the trigger).”

    The “factors or importances” do not in themselves cause him to make his decision, he makes his decision in consideration of what is important to him. By the same token, if he chooses not to pull the trigger, the importances associated with the choice of not pulling the trigger do not cause him not to pull the trigger.

    “If that is the case, then he does not have the power of contrary choice ALL THINGS BEING THE SAME. In order for him to make the different choice, something has to be different.”

    This is not correct.

    Another example may help here. God freely chose to create this universe, he did not have to create this universe. God had reasons for creating the universe and he made the choice of creating the universe in light of what is important to Himself (e.g. as a means of displaying his glory). If God chose freely then he also had reasons for not creating the universe and importances associated with that choice as well. If we “played back the tape” so to speak to the moment before he made his choice, God could have chosen to create the world, He also could have chosen not to create the world. If we “played back the tape” and instead he chose not to create the world, he had the power of contrary choice, and nothing had to be different, for him to have chosen differently.

    Likewise with Jose, he chose to pull the trigger. But if we ‘played back the tape” and instead of choosing to pull the trigger he chose not to pull the trigger, he would also have the power of contrary choice, and nothing had to be different for him to make that choice. Whether he chose to pull the trigger or not pull the trigger the importances associated with each particular choice would have been the same. That is the nature of a genuine choice, the personal agent making the choice has the ability to choose which choice they want to actualize. God engages in these kinds of freely made choices and so do we.

    Robert

joshbwamble

If what you are saying is that Jose takes all of the factors and importances around him into consideration and then does whatever he most wants to do (knowing that he can have multiple and conflicting desires within him), how is that different from Compatibilism?

This is what is confusing to me. Everything you affirm fit exactly in with wwhat I know as compatibilism.

    Robert

    “If what you are saying is that Jose takes all of the factors and importances around him into consideration and then does whatever he most wants to do (knowing that he can have multiple and conflicting desires within him), how is that different from Compatibilism?
    This is what is confusing to me. Everything you affirm fit exactly in with what I know as compatibilism.”

    Wow you’ve given me an easy one! :-)

    If LFW is present, then the person could make either choice. The person would have a genuine choice.

    If LFW was present for God when he chose to create the world then he could have made either choice (to create the world or to not create the world). For Jose that means that he could choose to pull the trigger or choose not to pull the trigger: either choice was accessible and doable for him at the time of his decision.

    Compatibilism on the other hand presupposes determinism (that every event is necessitated by some necessitating factor). If the whole history of the world were predetermined by, say God for example (which is what theological determinists posit) then no one else would ever have a genuine choice.

    If God’s own choices were a result of compatibilism then God HAD TO CREATE the world or HAD TO NOT CREATE the world(he had no choice as either of his choices was necessitated). The fact God’s choice to create the universe was freely made shows us what LFW looks like.

    Returning to the example of Jose, if everything is determined and compatibilism is true, then Jose ******did not have a choice******* about whether or not to pull the trigger.

    If God had predetermined for him to pull the trigger then he would pull the trigger and it would be impossible for him to choose otherwise: if God had predetermined for him not to pull the trigger then he would not have pulled the trigger and it would be impossible for him to pull the trigger.

    In a compatibilist world everything is necessitated and no one ever has a genuine choice. They may think they could choose to do either thing. But in reality they could only do what they were determined to do.

    What I affirm does not fit compatibilism at all when it comes to what it means to say that we have and make our choices freely. LFW means our choices are not necessitated: determinism/compatibilism means our choices are necessitated, these are opposites and both cannot be true.

    Robert

Joshbwamble

“Compatibilism on the other hand presupposes determinism (that every event is necessitated by some necessitating factor). ”

So, if the “necessitating factor” is what the chooser most wants, how is that not consistent with compatibilism?

Compatibility says that in the situation described above where Jose pulled the trigger, he could not have done otherwise BECAUSE HE DID NOT WANT TO. That seems to be what you are saying as well. In order for Jose to make a different choice, he would have had to want something different than he wanted in the original choice. But, if this is the case, then he does not have the power of contrary choice. In order for his choice to be different, his desires or what he most wants must be different.

It seems to me that the way choices work in real life and the best philosophical or theological explanation is the same: a chooser can only do what he most wants to do in a given situation. He is unable to do otherwise. It doesn’t make sense to say that a person is able to do something that he doesn’t most want to do. Whatever he does is by definition what he most wants in that specific situation and he does not have the power to choose contrary to that.

So, Jose pulls the trigger if he most wants to. And, if he most wants to pull the trigger then he cannot refrain from pulling the trigger precisely because he wants to more than he wants to do anything else.

If you think it is possible to do something that you do not want to do, please provide a real world example.

Thanks

    Robert

    “Compatibility says that in the situation described above where Jose pulled the trigger, he could not have done otherwise BECAUSE HE DID NOT WANT TO. That seems to be what you are saying as well.”

    No, compatibilism says that Jose had to make the specific choice that he made because of some necessitating factor. That is why when faced with the supposed choice of choosing to pull the trigger or not pull the trigger, because of the necessitating factor present (according to compatibilism) he had to pull the trigger and it was impossible for him to have chosen otherwise. LFW in contrast maintains that at the point of decision, Jose as a personal agent with the capacity to make his own choices, could actualize either possibility (pull the trigger or not pull the trigger) because no necessitating factor is present when we choose freely.

    “In order for Jose to make a different choice, he would have had to want something different than he wanted in the original choice.”

    This is just standard compatibilism (which was invented by the atheist philosopher David Hume) and I reject Hume and his compatibilism.

    “It seems to me that the way choices work in real life and the best philosophical or theological explanation is the same: a chooser can only do what he most wants to do in a given situation. He is unable to do otherwise.”

    I disagree strongly here. In the real world, which is where our legal system operates. The judge prosecutor, jury, all believe that Jose could have chosen otherwise and should have chosen otherwise (instead of pulling the trigger he had the available choice of not pulling the trigger which he should have actualized, had he actualized that choice he would not have been convicted by the jury and sentenced by the judge and find himself in prison for life). You will never ever find a judge or jury that says: “Well, Jose since he was doing what he most wanted to do in the situation, he was unable to choose otherwise, he could not have not pulled the trigger, he had no choice”.

    You may find this kind of thinking among Calvinists and others who hold to compatibilism, but you won’t find it much in the real world. In the real world people talk about how “you should have done otherwise”, “you should not have done that you should have done this instead”. All these statements assume LFW to be true. Even in scripture we have instances where people are told you did this but you should have done that instead, which again presupposes LFW to be true.

    “It doesn’t make sense to say that a person is able to do something that he doesn’t most want to do.”

    The apostle Paul apparently was not a compatibilist and did not make sense because he spoke of “For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am dong the very thing I hate. . . For the good that I wish, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” (Romans7:15-19).

    Josh you also did not deal at all with the best example of LFW, God himself. Again, when God created the world he chose do so freely and he also could have chosen not to create the world either. Both of those possible choices were available to him, and there was no necessitating factor present that forced him to make one choice rather than another. Our experience of LFW is very much like God’s experience of it: we make our choices freely for reasons in light of what is important to us and when we are choosing freely there is no necessitating factor present forcing us to make one choice rather than another. For God when he freely chooses he can make one choice or also choose otherwise, and so can we at times when we experience LFW when having and making a choice. I think I am about done discussing this with you as you are strongly committed to compatibilism so I doubt I will convince you otherwise. :-) Thanks for the interaction.

    Robert

      Bill Mac

      Robert: Perhaps necessitate is not the right word, but in what situation do we not make a choice based on our greatest desire (which desire is shaped by nature, circumstance, and reason)? Our greatest desire at that moment.

      You say that my free will let me to choose A and not B, but I could have chosen B. But only if my greatest desire at the moment was different than when I chose A. That might well be the case, the next time I make a similar choice, but it wasn’t this time.

      In fact, to make a choice NOT based on our greatest desire sounds like coercion to me. Only if an entity literally took control of someone like a puppet could I envision that happening.

      Every day my free will keeps me from murdering someone. I do not have the nature or the desire. Only possession could make me do it. I am simply not free in that sense.

        lydia

        “Every day my free will keeps me from murdering someone. I do not have the nature or the desire. Only possession could make me do it. I am simply not free in that sense.’

        I am still not understanding what you mean by how free will fits in here. this sounds like a backwards argument to me. Mudering someone is not something you wrestle with or have to make a decision concerning. thankfully most people do not wrestle with this because it does not even enter their mind to consider it as an option.

        Are not most murders committed without much prior thinking as in animalistic responses to strong desire? Are murderers free NOT to murder? Our justice system thinks so, right?

        Robert

        “Robert: Perhaps necessitate is not the right word, but in what situation do we not make a choice based on our greatest desire (which desire is shaped by nature, circumstance, and reason)? Our greatest desire at that moment.”

        I use the word “necessitate” to convey that in all forms of determinism there is some sort of necessitating factor posited by the determinist (with this factor forcing the person to make one specific choice and limiting the person to that one specific choice).

        EG. I deal with nonbeliever materialists who posit our brains as the necessitating factor. So they claim that when a person makes a particular choice they have to make that choice and only that choice because their brain necessitates this one specific choice. For them the brain a physical entity necessitates our choices (there is no independent soul or person who has and makes choices). I like “necessitate” because it conveys that the person has no real choice, they are forced to do what they do by whatever necessitating factor the particular determinist is claiming necessitates our choices.

        We deliberate about say two possible choices we might actualize, then at the point of decision, when the choice is made, we have the ability to actualize one choice while not actualizing the other possible choice. Some may call that choice, “the choice that you most desired to make.” If you want to call it that, that is OK. What is left out of this description is whether or not a necessitating factor was present? That is what distinguishes LFW from compatibilism. In compatibilism (as it is a form of determinism), there **is** some necessitating factor present that limits your choice to one necessitated choice (making all other choices impossible). In LFW there IS NO NECESSITATING FACTOR, so at the moment of decision you could actualize either possible choice.

        “You say that my free will let me to choose A and not B, but I could have chosen B.”

        Yes, if no necessitating factor is present.

        “But only if my greatest desire at the moment was different than when I chose A.”

        So Bill Mac is this “greatest desire” you refer to here words a verbal description of a choice OR does that refer to some sort of necessitating factor that forces you to choose A or forces you to choose B?

        “In fact, to make a choice NOT based on our greatest desire sounds like coercion to me.”

        Are we acting based on desires that we have (and so the one we act upon could be called “our greatest desire at that moment”) or is this “greatest desire” an entity that has power to force us to make a specific choice?

        If “our greatest desire” is an actual entity, with causal powers that necessitates our choice (as it is for some determinists) then you would be coerced by this necessitating factor to make the choice that you make (and all other choices would be impossible).

        “Only if an entity literally took control of someone like a puppet could I envision that happening.”

        I had one Calvinist who runs a prominent blog claim that I was rejecting Calvinism because I was afraid of being controlled by God. I replied that in a way to be controlled like that would make things a lot easier as God would (you would think) control you to do the right thing, so you would never sin nor face temptations!

        “Every day my free will keeps me from murdering someone. I do not have the nature or the desire. Only possession could make me do it. I am simply not free in that sense.”

        That means that at this time murder is not **within your range of choices**. But it does not follow that since that choice is not within your range of choices that you never experience LFW in other contexts.

        Robert

          Bill Mac

          Robert: I honestly don’t know how to answer you. How would I be able to tell? I cannot envision a circumstance where a person would choose contrary to his nature, reason, and deepest desire unless he/she were being controlled by an external force. It would seem at this point any distinction between LFW and compatibilism is purely theoretical. Have there been hard decisions, that could have gone either way? Sure. But in the end, I made the decision that seemed best.

          It boils down to the word “force.” How would a person who is forced know they are forced? It is impossible to prove that the person was able to make the contrary choice. The only way to prove it, would be to duplicate the situation exactly, down to the very thoughts in the person”s mind at the moment of decision, and for them to then make the contrary choice. Can’t be done.

          Sodom had the choice to repent. They didn’t. But Jesus said if the circumstances were different, they would have made the contrary choice. But not under the circumstances that they did find themselves.

          It seems to me that LFWers and Compatibilists can both claim that the scenarios we’ve discussed fit their model.

            Robert

            You wrote, “Have there been hard decisions that could have gone either way? Sure.”

            THAT is a perfect description of having experienced LFW! If compatibilism were true then they could not have gone either way.
            Here is a question that may help you better understand what I am getting at when I say there is a difference between LFW and compatibilism.
            Do you understand the difference between these two claims:

            1. When we choose we make our choice with that desire in mind, when we make the choice that we end up making

            2. When we choose that desire controls our mind forcing us to make the choice that we end up making?

            Hint , in LFW we choose with desires in mind. In compatibilism one particular desire the so-called “greatest desire” forces us to make the choice we end up making. If compatibilism is true then when you had those hard decisions they could not have gone either way.
            We choose for reasons with desires in mind in light of what is important to us. We are not forced to make our choices by a particular desire that determinists like to call our “greatest desire”.

            Robert

              rhutchin

              You are splitting hairs here. You are saying that our desires influence the decisions we make (LFW) vs determining the decisions that we make (compatibilism). Will a person choose contrary to the strongest influence on them? If not, then you retreat into compatibilism. LFW advocates are trying to stake out a position where rational people can make rational decisions without doing so rationally. So far, it doesn’t seem to be working.

      joshbwamble

      “No, compatibilism says that Jose had to make the specific choice that he made because of some necessitating factor.”

      This ‘necessitating factor’ is Jose’s greatest desire or what he wants most. That is what necessitates our choices.

      Your American judicial system analogy doesn’t work. It seems to me that you have it exactly backwards.You say, “You will never ever find a judge or jury that says: ‘Well, Jose since he was doing what he most wanted to do in the situation, he was unable to choose otherwise, he could not have not pulled the trigger, he had no choice’.” Well of course not. Jose is guilty of pulling the trigger BECAUSE he wanted to. If he had done it without wanting to, our legal system sees this a insanity or coercion or some other explanation that shows Jose is not responsible and not treated as if he were guilty. The same goes with contract law. If it can be proven that someone signed a document under duress (meaning that he signed it against his will i.e. he did not want to) then he is not responsible for the requirements of that document.

      Your example from Romans 7 also seems not to work to me. In the end of that passage, Paul is not saying that he needs to just make a different choice. He needs to be rescued because he is unable to stop doing the thing that he hates. As far as Paul being an example of someone doing something that they do not want to do, people have conflicting desires all the time. The point is that people do or act on what they MOST want to do in any given situation. and, they are responsible for it precisely because it is what they wanted to do.

      Maybe it would be helpful if you gave an example from your own life where you made a choice that went against your greatest desire in that situation. I think that would at least help me to understand how what you are saying you do in practice differs from the compatibilism that you deny in theory.

      Thanks.

        rhutchin

        joshbwamble writes, “This ‘necessitating factor’ is Jose’s greatest desire or what he wants most. That is what necessitates our choices.”

        This is the same basis for making decisions as Robert expressed earlier – “I, like seemingly everybody else, make my choices for reasons based upon what is important to me.” These are examples of compatibilist free will.

        It is difficult to provide an example to Libertarian Free Will and I am not aware that anyone has ever done so. Most examples attributed to LFW end up being compatibilist once they are explained.

          Joshbwamble

          Rhutchin,

          I am a compatibilist.

          I am trying to understand the LFW position. So far, from Robert’s explanation, I can see no difference.

          Jim G.

          The difference between compatibilism and LFW is that the results of compatibilistic “choices” were decreed and rendered certain by God in eternity. LFW holds that it is possible for something to not be decreed by God. The factors that produce the result of choices from the human side are complex and quite honestly, beyond our comprehension most of the time. I am reminded of Heb 4:12, that it takes something as powerful as the Word of God to discern “the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In the end, LFW and compatibilism are not about human freedom; they are models about how God interacts with his creation. If one human act in all of created history was not decreed and rendered certain by God, then LFW exists and compatibilism is false. Only one free act, or only one possibility of making a contrary choice, is all that is needed to make compatibilism a false model for human freedom.

          In my own personal view, I believe LFW exists. I just don’t know how prevalent it is. Some of my own choices may be decreed or moved by God (directly or indirectly), but I still think I have some freedom, especially in my own love for God.

          Jim G.

            Bill Mac

            In my own personal view, I believe LFW exists. I just don’t know how prevalent it is. Some of my own choices may be decreed or moved by God (directly or indirectly), but I still think I have some freedom, especially in my own love for God.

            I think I agree. I think what it boils down to is that LFW may not be the contradictory phenomenon I thought it was, and compatibilism may not be the “God as puppetmaster” model that some say it is. God is able to grant free will and still get what he wants.

              Robert

              “I think I agree. I think what it boils down to is that LFW may not be the contradictory phenomenon I thought it was,”

              and

              “God is able to grant free will and still get what he wants.”

              Bingo!

              Eureka!

              Robert

            rhutchin

            “If one human act in all of created history was not decreed and rendered certain by God, then LFW exists and compatibilism is false.”

            I don’t think one renders the other false. Some choices are consistent with compatibilism (determined by one’s wants and desires or what is important to the person) while others (if they exist) are consistent with LFW (not determined by anything). I have not seen any choice that fits the LFW framework. People try to identify a LFW choice by splitting hairs between that which influences the decision and that which determines the decision. I would like to see a good example.

              Jim G.

              No, rhutchin, the existence of any instance of LFW is fully and completely inconsistent with compatibilism. Compatibilism is a form of determinism. But don’t just take my word for it, consult with leading Christian philosopher/theologians like Paul Helm and John Frame. Both of them have written extensively on it, as have many others. Compatibilists are determinists, believing EVERY occurrence in the created order to be decreed and rendered certain by God. Compatibilists attempt to define human freedom in a way that is fully “compatible” with determinism, hence the name. In a fully determined world, which every single compatibilist assumes is the case with ours, there cannot be one drop of LFW, ever. Everything that occurs (no matter how seemingly small or insignificant) is part of the plan of God, and human freedom is therefore defined to be compatible with that assumption of all acts pre-determined.

              LFW, on the other hand, rejects meticulous determinism and posits instead that some actions can be chosen without God’s eternal decree rendering them certain to conform with his “hidden” will.

              Jim G.

            Robert

            “The difference between compatibilism and LFW is that the results of compatibilistic “choices” were decreed and rendered certain by God in eternity. LFW holds that it is possible for something to not be decreed by God.”

            When I explain it to people my way is to contrast a view where you sometimes **have and make your own choices** (LFW) and a view where you MAKE choices but you never HAVE choices. I got this distinction from the compatibilist John Martin Fischer. He stated it like this to me:

            “I think there’s a distinction between “making a choice” and “having a choice”. I think that choosing involves committing to a course of action – – settling the issue. This does not in itself imply that one actually has a number of possibilities.”

            If everything is determined by decree, our brains, our genes, whatever, then we may make a choice but we never have a choice. We may believe that we can choose either the steak or spaghetti for dinner at the restaurant (but if our choice is determined we can choose one and it is impossible for us to the choose the other, or put more simply we make a choice but do not have a choice). In contrast if LFW is true then we could choose either the steak of the spaghetti, either option is available for us to choose, both are accessible choices.

            “If one human act in all of created history was not decreed and rendered certain by God, then LFW exists and compatibilism is false. Only one free act, or only one possibility of making a contrary choice, is all that is needed to make compatibilism a false model for human freedom.”

            This is an important observation; compatibilism involves a universal negative (i.e. there are no instances of LFW ever). The way to refute a universal negative is with a single counter example. In the case of LFW we have zillions of counter examples, both from our own daily experiences of having and making choices and also clear scriptural examples (e.g. 1 Cor.10:13 we are promised that with temptation God always provides a way of escape; that means for the believer when facing temptation you always have two choices available to you, to give into that temptation or to resist that temptation., if compatibilism were true, and say God had predestined you to give into that temptation and so it would be impossible for you to resist that temptation, then God would be invalidating His Own Word something he never does as He cannot deny Himself).

            “In my own personal view, I believe LFW exists. I just don’t know how prevalent it is”

            Agreed, we may not know to what extent it occurs, but most definitely that it sometimes occurs. Sometimes when I teach logic classes I make a big point with students that when considering things we think of it Always is the case that, it Never is the case that, or it Sometimes is the case that. Usually you are safest and most rational with “sometimes.” To claim that LFW never exists is the mistake of the determinist/compatibilist. To claim that LFW always exists is the mistake of some libertarians. To claim that LFW sometimes exists is the best and most rational explanation of the presence of LFW.

            Robert

              Jim G.

              Thanks for the reply, Robert. Moreover, if one believes determinism to be true, why not scrap the idea of God altogether and go the route of the atheist/naturalist? Why hold on to a God who is just a “God of the gaps?” If a person believes everything is determined, does it really matter, in the end, if that determinism is divine or naturalistic? Ockham’s razor would suggest naturalism to be a wiser choice in such matters. You would not have a problem of evil any more.

              Jim G.

Lydia

Does anyone here believe that Soul Liberty and LFW go together? Or are they exclusive?

I thought this was interesting:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/03/11/al-mohler-and-baptist-becoming-catholic-and-anglican/#disqus_thread

    Bill Mac

    If LFW ends up being a real thing, it would seem like they should go together.

andya

Given the difficulty we have been having agreeing what LFW even means, and the differing definitions and applications of soul liberty…it seems one could answer either way.

    Robert

    Andy I don’t think LFW is difficult to understand at all. Children understand when you say things like: “You can have the dolly or the candy land game. You pick one whichever you pick I will
    Buy for you.” Or if you say to your lovely wife: “Where do you want to have dinner tonight at X or Y or Z. It’s your choice tonight. Wherever you want to go.” Or when you get to that restaurant with your lovely wife that nice person comes to your table with a pad and pen in hand. You both know what it means, that nice person wants to record what choices you and your lovely wife have made after you both have considered all those possible
    Choices. And I seriously doubt that either you or your lovely wife say to the server: “I had no choice I had to choose X it is impossible for me to choose any of these other options.” I could multiply the examples endlessly! all LFW means is that at least sometimes you have and make your own choices and those choices are not necessitated by some necessitating factor that controls your making of choices.

    Robert

      joshbwamble

      The question is not “Do people make real choices between real options?” Everyone (compatibilist and LFW). The question is “HOW do people make choices?”.

      Giving examples of people who really make choices does not answer the question at all. It misses the question.

        Andy

        And more directly, it ignores the fact that about 10 people have been debating what LFW is on this site for a week, with no conclusions… :-)

        Lydia

        “The question is “HOW do people make choices?”.Giving examples of people who really make choices does not answer the question at all. It misses the question”

        These sort of questions are starting to remind me of Plato’s forms. The “how” question has been discussed but not to the determinists satisfaction. It never will be unless one concedes determinism. There has to be some mystery or entity outside of us controling our thoughts, desires, thinking, or whatever. In deterministic thinking there is a real need to separate man from himself. Yes we have boundaries like gravity, mortality, etc, etc. We also have an Advoctate Who rarely gets mentioned anymore.

        It reminds me of the old saw: How do you know if a chair is really a chair and not a shadow of a real chair in another realm?

          Robert

          Hello Lydia,

          “These sort of questions are starting to remind me of Plato’s forms. The “how” question has been discussed but not to the determinists satisfaction. It never will be unless one concedes determinism.”

          You have isolated a common but genuine problem with compatibilists/determinists. As intentional skeptics of LFW they will mock it, ridicule it, misrepresent it, attack it in every way imaginable. And as advocates of LFW no matter what we say we will never discuss it “to the determinist’s satisfaction”.

          They may start by making fun of it and claiming it is incoherent. You then bring up God himself as the best example of LFW and they respond by arguing well God may experience LFW but we do not (but that was not the point, you brought up God as an example to show it is not incoherent for a person to have and make their own choices).

          If you establish that we all at times have and make our own choices in our daily lives (e.g. children naming their pets, young men choosing whom they will or will not date, etc. etc. etc.). They will move the goal post to, well that is **just mundane things**, not “spiritual things”.

          If you bring up biblical instances of LFW they will merely reinterpret them in line with their compatibilism.

          They will sometimes argue there is no difference between LFW and compatibilism (but that is obfuscation, for those familiar with the issues they are not only different they are opposites).

          They will often intentionally misrepresent LFW. That it means the person can choose against their nature (No, we always choose in line with our nature). That it means you believe in causeless choices (No, the self, the person is the cause of their own choices). That it means as William Ernest Henley put it: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” (No, it is much more humble than that, we are not masters of our fate, it means that sometimes you have and make your own choices). Etc.

          They will cite opponents of LFW who **just happen to be determinists themselves** (with these “authorities” mocking and ridiculing LFW as well). But strangely these “authorities” are second class scholars, not the contemporary top level scholars dealing with the issues. These “authorities” never engage someone like Alvin Plantinga or William Lane Craig. Plantinga for example is on another level compared to these “authorities”. And Plantinga sees no incoherence to LFW, Plantinga himself uses God as the best example of LFW.

          What these critics of LFW will not tell you is that major opponents of Christianity today are compatibilists. Evolutionists like Daniel Dennett a compatibilist who argues that evolution is a “universal acid” that wipes out everything in its path. Atheistic neuroscientists who deny the existence of the soul and argue that we are completely physical and our brains necessitate our actions (e.g. Sam Harris is a neuroscientist who wrote a book attacking LFW). Richard Dawkins is a compatibilist arguing our genes ultimately determine our choices. Most advocates of evolutionary theory are materialists who argue for determinism/compatibilism. On college campuses today Christians are being attacked relentlessly by determinists arguing that we are merely physical beings with no souls who exist by chance as a result of natural selection.

          Robert

rhutchin

joshbwamble writes ” The question is “HOW do people make choices?” I suggest the following:

1. People identify, or are given, the options available to them.
2. People evaluate the benefits of one option against the costs of other options.
3. People make a rational decision consistent with (1) and (2).

If a person’s evaluation of the costs and benefits of options influences but does not determine the choice that is make, then we have LFW. If a person’s evaluation of the costs and benefits of decisions both influences and in the end, determines the choice that is made, then we have compatibilism.

Les Prouty

To any LFW proponent, I asked this the other day on the other post where LFW is being discussed and no one has even attempted to answer it.

It would be helpful to see a fuller explanation how man’s desires mentioned above play into how LFW works in man choosing by LFW to accept Christ. Not just everyday decisions like what to wear, etc, but in the conversion of a sinner.

This is from the LBC 1689 on free will. My question a moment ago relates to this.

“Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a natural man, he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin. He is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion.”

I’m assuming that the LFW proponents on this site would disagree with the above statement. So what would be helpful is a discussion on how LFW relates to man exercising his LRF regarding his salvation and spiritual things.

We have seen examples about kittens and brussel sprouts. Can a LFW proponent address LFW and conversion?

    Andy

    Les,

    1. Are there not some who would hold to LFW in certain areas of life, but who accept the Calvinistic arguments for Depravity and Unconditonal Election…and so would agree with the LBC on this point…ie, they hold to something of the effect that sinful man cannot choose God, but that upon his will being freed by grace, he will always freely choose Christ?

    2. I also beleive there are others, Classical Arminians for example, who would agree with the LBC on this point, but say that prevenient grace is applied to all, thus freeing their will to freely choose Christ, or reject him.

    3. I personally do know how I would describe how LFW could work, because as we have seen, it seems everyone can point to some desire or cause that led to their decisions, both minute, and eternal. On the one hand, we can look at people’s circumstances and see that in general, people perpetuate the destructive choices of their parents and environment…but you also see some people buck the trend and make much better choices to emerge to a better life (not always Christians, by the way). Sometimes you can point to a difference in circumstance, sometimes it seems it is a difference in response to those circumstances, (perhaps some difference of personality?). The question is where did that come from? Were they born with it? Did they create their different personality BY their responses? From an earthly perspective, it seems both of these can be true…but we cannot see the heavenly forces involved.

    HOWEVER, RELATED TO MY OTHER QUESTION BELOW…I do not believe it is impossible for God to have created creatures with free will, ie able to make decisions that he had not predetermined. Say that seems to place an unscriptural limitation on God’s ability. It seems that I cannot reject the possibility of LFW simply because I in my limited mind cannot imagine how a person’s choices could not have been primarily driven by forces outside their control…Certainly if God wanted to do that, he could figure it out.
    However I also don’t believe God is incapable of imposing his will on one of those creatures if he so chooses. So either is a possibility…the question is which one do we see revealed in scripture? The answer seems to be, “well, maybe both.” Which is why we’ve argued about it for 2000 years.

      Robert

      Andy some observations regarding your first two points:

      “1. Are there not some who would hold to LFW in certain areas of life, but who accept the Calvinistic arguments for Depravity and Unconditonal Election…and so would agree with the LBC on this point…ie, they hold to something of the effect that sinful man cannot choose God, but that upon his will being freed by grace, he will always freely choose Christ?”

      Andy an example of this is someone that I know personally who holds both LFW and the five points of TULIP. His name is Greg Koukl and he runs a prominent apologetics ministry called STAND TO REASON. He holds to LFW (that it exists in some contexts) but believes that sin so impacted people that they can no longer freely choose to trust in Christ. Only those preselected for salvation (i.e. the elect) receive the grace to become believers. While I don’t agree with Greg on the five points, and his view that includes both LFW and Calvinism, at least his position does not have all of the difficulties of other Calvinists who make the mistake of denying LFW entirely (e.g. he does not have the problem of God ordaining and preplanning all evil and sin, he can appeal to people freely choosing to sin rather than them being decreed to sin).

      “2. I also beleive there are others, Classical Arminians for example, who would agree with the LBC on this point, but say that prevenient grace is applied to all, thus freeing their will to freely choose Christ, or reject him. “

      Yes, a perfect example would be Arminius who held both total depravity:

      “In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.
      Free Will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without Grace. . . . I affirm, therefore, that this grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good: It is this grace which operates on the mind, the affections, and the will; which infuses good thoughts into the mind, inspires good desires into the affections, and bends the will to carry into execution good thoughts and good desires. This grace goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and cooperated lest we will in vain.”

      and LFW.

      Other Arminians also agree with Arminius and hold both total depravity and LFW. So the statement of the LBC is insufficient to establish that someone does not hold to LFW (one can agree with it and hold simultaneously to total depravity and LFW as many Arminians do and as Greg Koukl does).

      Robert

      Les Prouty

      Robert,

      With all respect due you brother, what’s up with the passive aggressive, elementary school comments below where you say you are going to ignore some comments and questions? If you are talking about me say so. Though I have not once mocked anyone or their beliefs. If not about me, then say so about whoever you’re talking about. We are all adults here with big boy pants on and childlike behavior is unbefitting.

      As to Andy, you and the Arminians and what they believe, what difference does that make? No one on here is an Arminian. I’m still waiting on one of the trade to explain ” how LFW relates to man exercising his LRF regarding his salvation and spiritual things.”

      That’s all. Should be fairly easy. Not the Arminian view or Greg Koukl’s view. The Trad view. Please explain man’s desires for or against Jesus in the conversion process.

      Thanks brother.

    Les Prouty

    Andy,

    1. I suppose there may be, though I have seen no one from say the Trad group agree with your #1. I think the last part of what you said (“upon his will being freed by grace, he will always freely choose Christ?”) is ruled out by Trads for instance. If Trads held to that it would be surprising.

    2. If the Arminians see it that way they are in effect not agreeing with the LBC.

    3. I don’t really have a response to #3.

    This, “I do not believe it is impossible for God to have created creatures with free will, ie able to make decisions that he had not predetermined.” I’m certainly not here to say what God could or could not do still consistent with His righteousness. But if one says that is true, one would also have to concede that it is **possible** for God to operate the compatible way related to His decree and man’s will. See LBC on His decree:

    “God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.
    – Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

    So the question I keep hoping someone of the Trad LFW group will answer is how man’s desires mentioned above (quote earlier from LBC on the will) play into how LFW works in man choosing by LFW to accept Christ. Not just everyday decisions like what to wear, etc, but in the conversion of a sinner.

    Les Prouty

    Andy,

    Since you are the only one so far to interact on this question, “It would be helpful to see a fuller explanation how man’s desires mentioned above play into how LFW works in man choosing by LFW to accept Christ. Not just everyday decisions like what to wear, etc, but in the conversion of a sinner,” let me make a further statement and see if you agree. I can’t tell which place you are on this issue either so I’m not trying to pigeon hole you.

    Compatible view: God has decreed all things. Yet does no violence to the will of the creature. The two are compatible. You can have both at the same time. So in a man’s conversion, he starts from a place of zero desire for God and concerning salvation will never on his own desire God. He is a God hater. That is is desire…to oppose the things of God.

    So the compatiblist says that God must act to change the man so that his will is set free from the sin bondage he is born in from which arises this hatred for and opposition for the things of God. When He does that, changes man, man then freely desires God. He no longer opposes God and no longer hates God. God does not have to force man “against his will” to love God. No, He graciously frees man from the bondage from which man could never free himself. Once that happens, man by his own freed will loves God.

    God neither forces man against his will to be a God hater and a God opposer not forces man against his will to be a God lover. No violence if offered to the will of man.

    What I would like to see a LFW proponent describe is how the conversion of man happens in the LFW idea, where, as many here have said, the desires of man are indeed involved. Maybe that person is you, though I don’t know where you stand.

    Thanks brother.

      Andy

      For the record, I believe that of the 3 views of Election (Unconditional Individual, Conditional individual, and corporate), I see Unconditional as the one that seems to fit the Election and predestination passages the best. Beyond that, I can’t explain how that works with man’s will. There seem to also be passages such as the one in which Jesus “willed” that Jerusalem would come to him, but the “willed” it not, so they didn’t. I would not call myself a proponent of LFW, unless the “L” stood for limited. :-)

      Anyway:

      “So in a man’s conversion, he starts from a place of zero desire for God and concerning salvation will never on his own desire God. He is a God hater. That is is desire…to oppose the things of God.”

      ANDY: This is completely compatible with classical arminianism and prevenient grace.

      “So the compatiblist says that God must act to change the man so that his will is set free from the sin bondage he is born in from which arises this hatred for and opposition for the things of God.”

      ANDY: Also completely compatible with Arminianism.

      “Compatible view: God has decreed all things. Yet does no violence to the will of the creature. The two are compatible. You can have both at the same time.”

      ANDY: This is the claim, but how can it be true if God (a) decreed the fall, (b) has decreed that sin be passed from generation to generation, apart from the person’s will, (c) decides who”s will gets freed. So for those who are saved, sure, God frees their will to truly choose that which they would want anyway, if they didn’t have a bonded will…but for the non-elect, how is their potential will not violated when God decrees that they be born with a bonded will?

      “When He does that, changes man, man then freely desires God. He no longer opposes God and no longer hates God. God does not have to force man “against his will” to love God. No, He graciously frees man from the bondage from which man could never free himself. Once that happens, man by his own freed will loves God.”

      ANDY: (a) here we have the difference with Arminianism, obviously, in that they would say it is here that man can freely choose God, or not. How they would explain why one chooses Christ, and one doesn’t according to LFW, I do not know. (b) If a person with a “freed” will will always choose God, how does that fit with the fact that Adam & Eve, who did not have inherited sin natures, still chose to disobey God? Perhaps they alone had LFW, but nobody else does?

      “What I would like to see a LFW proponent describe is how the conversion of man happens in the LFW idea, where, as many here have said, the desires of man are indeed involved. Maybe that person is you, though I don’t know where you stand.”

Andy Williams

To Piggy-Back on Les’s Topic of unanswered questions, here’s one for the other side:

Perhaps it would be helpful in this discussion for those opposing LFW if they do so on biblical grounds, or logical grounds. Lots of these arguments are based on logic, ie… “There is no such thing as and un-caused choice.” Or… “If God created beings with LFW, then it would mean he is no longer full sovereign.” or perhaps even, “God, being all-knowing and all-powerful, HAS TO BE ultimately the cause of why I chose to accept Christ, or to eat peanuts today, etc.

So my question is, if you oppose LFW, is it because you cannot imagine how it would work? Ie, it would be impossible for God to create creatures with LFW? Or is it simply that you don’t think he DID, even though he COULD HAVE?

    Les Prouty

    Andy, good question. I do not answer this way to be trite or to imply that proponents of LFW do not think their basis is biblical. I oppose LFW of the statement from the LBC above (said statement derived from a study of scripture):

    “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a natural man, he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin. He is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion.”

    Sometimes LFW proponents have said there are no internal or external influences on man’s LFW choices. Other times here they have said that man’s greatest desire is what leads him to his choices. So which is it? And if, as some have said here that desire is involved, then it seems to me that it comes back our differences over man’s fallen condition.

    I’m really not so much interested in all of the logical arguments and philosophical arguments over our kitten choices and whether we choose sprinkles on our donuts or not (though those can be helpful and I have engaged them before). I am interested in hearing from LFW proponents on how they believe man chooses Christ. The compatibilist position is pretty straightforward, even if one disagrees with it. So far, the LFW arguments are all over the place and very unclear.

      Andy

      Again, LFW is not incompatible with the LBC here, if one accepts that prevenient grace is applied to all, freeing the from that bondage of will to be able to choose either.

      Bill Mac

      If there was ever irrefutable proof of man’s total depravity, it would be the existence of sprinkles.

    rhutchin

    ” if you oppose LFW, is it because you cannot imagine how it would work? Ie, it would be impossible for God to create creatures with LFW? Or is it simply that you don’t think he DID, even though he COULD HAVE?”

    It’s not really what LFW is but rather how it is exercised. People make decisions based on wants and desires and decisions which reflect what people believe is important to them or benefits them, and this is usually seen as determinative.

    The issue with free will is the extent to which God influences a person to accept salvation and whether God’s influence is so great as to be determinative. Two major examples. Is a person so depraved that he cannot accept salvation unless God enables (i.e., determines) him to do so or is a person capable of accepting salvation through God’s influence and not enabling? If God must convict the person of sin before they can accept salvation, is that just an influence or is it determinative (the person convicted of sin always accepts salvation)?

    Under LFW, God influences a person to salvation; the person has the final LFW say in his salvation. Opposing salvation are those who say God has the final say in a person’s salvation and brings the person to salvation by various means and the compatibilist will submits to God.

    Robert

    Andy you seem to ask genuine questions, do not appear to be mocking anyone’s beliefs, and display a sense of humor three qualities which I appreciate. For those reasons I have no problem interacting with you. In contrast, if someone **starts** the interaction by mocking beliefs, ridiculing them and declaring them to be an illusion (and also citing others who unfairly mock and ridicule certain beliefs and completely misrepresent those beliefs) well, then my choice is to ignore them and their comments and their questions.

    Now Andy you asked some good questions.

    “So my question is, if you oppose LFW, is it because you cannot imagine how it would work?”

    It is difficult to see how people “cannot imagine how it would work” as (1) we experience LFW everyday (we have a choice between multiple options and we choose one rather than the others and our choice is not necessitated) and (2) God himself provides a coherent and easy to see example of LFW. Just consider the creation of the universe by God. Did he have to do it? Was there some necessitating factor that forced him to create versus choosing not to create? Or did he have a genuine choice in which he could freely have chosen to create the universe and also could have freely chosen not to create the universe? If you can understand this example and understand that God himself is the ****best example**** of what LFW looks like then there ought to be no problem imagining how it works.

    “‘Ie, it would be impossible for God to create creatures with LFW?”

    Not too many people claim it is impossible for God to create creatures with the capacity to have and make their own choices. And even before the fall the Genesis picture is that Adam and Eve experienced LFW. They were told they could eat any fruit of the garden except the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That means one choice was prohibited but other choices were available to them. They could choose from various options and not sin, only if they took the prohibited fruit would they sin. Secondly, God brought the animals before Adam and said that it was up to Adam what he would name them (that is multiple animals with multiple options for their names, that is clearly having and making your own choices). That by the way is why I bring up the example of a young girl being told by her father that she could name her new kitten any name she chooses. If that is LFW so is Adam being given the choice of what to name the animals.

    “Or is it simply that you don’t think he DID, even though he COULD HAVE?”

    That is the position of most compatibilists. They don’t want to claim he could not have created creatures with the capacity for LFW (then they look as if they deny God’s omnipotence).
    So most would claim that while he could have, he CHOSE not to.

    This is humorous because unwittingly they are acknowledging yet another example of LFW! God being omnipotent had the choice to EITHER create creatures with the capacity for LFW OR the choice not to create creatures with LFW! :-)

    Robert

Joshbwamble

Robert,

When you say unnecessitated, do you mean uncaused?

If not, what do you understand the difference between causedc and necessitated to be?

I still cankt understand how what you are calling LFW differs at all from compatibilism .

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available