3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Posts Tagged ‘Free Will’
“if God actually stood powerless before the majesty of man’s lordly will, there would be but little use to pray for Him to convert any one. It would then be more reasonable for us to direct our petitions to the man himself.”
From Tyndale’s An Answer To Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue, pp. 191-192.
Why doth God open one man’s eyes and not another’s? Paul (Rom. ix.) forbiddeth to as why; for it is too deep for man’s capacity. God we see is honoured thereby, and his mercy set out and the more seen in the vessels of mercy. But the popish can suffer God to have no secret, hid to himself. They have searched to come ot the bottom of his bottomless wisdom: and because they cannot attain to that secret, and be too proud to let it alone, and to grant themselves ignorant, with the apostle, that knew no other than God’s glory in the elect; they go and set up free-will with the heathen philosophers, and say that a man’s free-will is the cause why God chooseth one and not another, contrary to all the scripture. Paul saith it cometh not of the will, nor of the deed, but of the mercy of God. And they say that every man hath, at the least way, power in his free-will, to deserve that power should be given him of God to keep the law. But the scripture testifieth that Christ hath deserved for the elect, even then when they hated God, that their eyes should be opened, to see the goodness of the law of God, and the way to fulfil it, and forgiveness of all that is past; whereby they be drawn to love it, and to hate sin.
Bradwardine lived circa 1290 to 1349. This quote is cited in The Works of Augustus Toplady (Volume 1, p. 354), Toplady being the writer of the classic hymn, Rock of Ages.
What multitudes, O Lord, at this day, join hands with Pelagius, in contending for free-will, and in fighting against thy absolutely free grace; and against that great spiritual champion for grace, the apostle Paul! By how many is thy unmerited grace looked upon with scornful abhorrence, while they proudly insist, that free-will alone is sufficient to salvation! or, if they make use of the word grace, and slightly pretend to believe that grace is necessary; to what purpose is this pretence, while they boast of its being in the power of free-will to lay thy grace under obligation? thus making grace itself no longer gratuitous, but representing thee as selling it, instead of giving it.
Some, more haughty than, even Lucifer, are not content with barely lifting themselves to an equality with thee; but are most daringly desirous to govern and control thee, who art the King of kings. Such are they, who dread not to affirm, that, even in a common action, their own will walks first, as an independent mistress ; and that thy will follows after, like an obsequious handmaid: that they themselves go foremost, like sονereign lords; while thou walkest behind them, like a hired servant: that they issue their orders, as kings; and that thou, like an implicit subject, actest according to the imperial nod of their determining will(s).”
In fact, the doctrines of predestination and unconditional election represent God as being more, not less, merciful than the doctrines of conditional election and free will. Calvinism maintains that the salvation of some is certain, guaranteed, and sure. Salvation as the Arminians describe it is uncertain, precarious, and doubtful. In their view salvation depends on the mutable, independent will of man. They even hold that a man once saved can be lost, saved again, and finally lost. The Calvinists maintain that the mercy of God is such that he holds his own in his hands and that no one, not even the man himself, can pluck them out of the Father’s hand.
The opponents of predestination use several Biblical commands as if they were inconsistent with the Calvinistic position. An example than can stand for other similar verses is Isaiah 1:16, 17: “Wash you, make you clean.” This command is supposed to imply that a man can wash himself clean, or not, as he chooses. The “or not” presumably supports free will, and the ability implied in the command opposes total depravity, and both together refute irresistible grace. The argument is, If conversion were wrought only by the irresistible grace of God, and man were purely passive therein, these commands to wicked men are useless and indeed hypocritical.
In answer to this Arminian argument, the first thing to insist upon is that men are filthy and need to be washed; but more than this, they are so filthy that they cannot clean themselves, either by Old Testament ceremonial ablutions or by any New Testament ordinance. Proverbs 20:9 asks the rhetorical question, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean?” The cleansing of the heart is God’s work, for it is God who creates a clean heart within and washes sinners thoroughly from their iniquities (Psalm 51:2, 10). Recall also Ezekiel 36:25, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.”
At this point the nonplussed Arminians reply, But if this is the work of God alone, and man does not help in it at all, then of what use are these commands? Since they must be of some use, man must be able at least to help in cleansing himself. This reply, however, fails because it is based on a logical fallacy. It supposes that since the command cannot have the use the Arminians want it to have, it can have no use at all. Since the Scripture very clearly says that man cannot cleanse himself at all, one must see what use the Scripture assigns to such commands. This is not hard to do. Romans 3:20 says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” Commands are given, not because any man can obey them, but in order to convince man that he is a sinner. Let him try to obey, and he will find he cannot. When a man discovers this, he will be more willing to see the need of divine grace. Proverbs 30:12 mentions “a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” The commands under discussion are intended to convince some sinners that they are not clean and that they cannot wash themselves. Hence the commands are not in vain, nor do they contradict the Gospel of grace.
If I [believe in libertarian freedom and] plead with God to remove my friend’s illness, that is not absurd, for God can answer that prayer without negating anyone’s freedom. But what about the request that God change the attitudes and actions of my friend’s tyrannical boss? What about petitions that ask God to move those processing applications for graduate school to accept my friend? Or what about prayers that ask God to keep my enemies at work from bothering me? And what about pleading with God to save a dear relative or friend? In all of these cases, what am I asking God to do, if libertarian free will obtains? I am either asking God to override others’ freedom, or I am asking him to move them to do something freely in spite of the fact that my belief in libertarian free will means that I believe Gold cannot get anybody to do anything freely. If I truly value libertarian free will as much as libertarians say they do, why would I ask God to override it just because of my petition? . . . Libertarians may be asking God to try to persuade their friends, but I repeat that God can only guarantee their persuasion by casual determinism, and that abridges libertarian free will.
On the other hand, if I am not asking God to override someone else’s freedom, then I’m asking him to do something which I believe he cannot do (make it the case that someone else does something freely). I may ask him to try to persuade the person, but I know that without God overriding their freedom, he cannot guarantee that they will change. In fact, since at the moment of free decision making nothing decisively inclines their will, regardless of what God or anyone else does or says, the matter may be hopeless. In light of such problems with interceding with God to change someone’s incompatibilistically free actions or attitudes, there is good reason for anyone committed to libertarian free will who understands the implications of the position to think twice before offering intercessory prayers of the kind mentioned. In fact, prayer to change either our or others’ actions seems problematic.
From the sermon, “A Jealous God,” based upon a portion of Exodus 34:14:
for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
Spurgeon said this:
Let me add, dear friends, I feel persuaded that false doctrine, inasmuch as it touches God’s sovereignty, is always an object of divine jealousy. Let me indicate especially the doctrines of free-will. I know there are some good men who hold and preach them, but I am persuaded that the Lord must be grieved with their doctrine though he forgives them their sin of ignorance. Free-will doctrine—what does it? It magnifies man into God; it declares God’s purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God’s will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent upon human action.
Thanks to Facebook friend AWS for the tip.
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as having faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ.
Posted in Bible Study, Books, Calvinism, Church History, doctrines of grace, Free Will, Indian River Baptist Church, tagged Baptist, Calvinism, Doctrine, Free Will, Indian River Baptist Church on August 31, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
They certainly do not refute the doctrine of Augustine – a doctrine confirmed by the common suffrages even of the Schoolmen, that after the fall, the free gifts on which salvation depends were withdrawn, and natural gifts corrupted and defiled, (supra, chap. 2 sec. 2.) Let it stand, therefore, as an indubitable truth, which no engines can shake, that the mind of man is so entirely alienated from the righteousness of God that he cannot conceive, desire, or design any thing but what is wicked, distorted, foul, impure, and iniquitous; that his heart is so thoroughly envenomed by sin that it can breathe out nothing but corruption and rottenness; that if some men occasionally make a show of goodness, their mind is ever interwoven with hypocrisy and deceit, their soul inwardly bound with the fetters of wickedness.
Posted in Books, Calvinism, Church History, Doctrine, doctrines of grace, Free Will, Indian River Baptist Church, reformed baptist, tagged Baptist, Calvinism, Doctrine, Free Will, Indian River Baptist Church, Sovereignty on August 17, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
it is more than evident that they babble and talk absurdly who, in the place of God’s providence, substitute bare permission — as if God sat in a watchtower awaiting chance events , and his judgments thus depended upon human will. (Institutes of The Christian Religion, Battles translation, Book 1, Chapter 18, Section 1)