Earlier this year Braxton Hunter wrote a great article opposing Compatibilism published in The Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry and reposted in the SBC Today Blog.
That article was rebutted by the Founders Blog in a post titled: A Brief Response To Braxton Hunter’s Article on Libertarian Free Will. Below is one excerpt from that article that I would like to address today:
Proponents of libertarian freedom say that given all the causes and influences involved, including the man’s own character, personality, and preferences, his choice to turn left or right is not determined. The man is free to choose against all influences and causes such that there is no determining or governing reason for his particular choice.
This is an incomplete picture of the claims made by proponents of Libertarian Free Will. If one desires to understand and thus address this perspective it might better be defined in the following manner:
Proponents of libertarian freedom say that given all the influences involved, including the man’s own character, personality, and preferences, his choice to turn left or right is determined by his will alone. The man is free to choose for or against any or all influences such that there is no determining factor for his particular choice outside the own function of his will, which is mysterious and beyond full comprehension.
Too often those from the deterministic mindset beg the question of this debate by asking why a particular free moral choice is made. For example, Calvinists are notorious for asking the unsuspecting believer, “Why did you believe in Christ and someone else does not; are you smarter, or more praiseworthy in some way?” What the Calvinist and likely the target of his inquiry often do not understand is that the question itself is a fallacy known as “Question Begging.”
Begging the question is a debate tactic where your opponent presumes true the very point up for debate. For instance, if the issue being disputed was whether or not you cheat on your taxes and I began the discussion by asking you, “Have you stopped cheating on your taxes yet?” I would be begging the question.
Likewise, in the case of the Calvinist asking “Why did you made this choice instead of that one,” he is presuming a deterministic response is necessary thus beginning the discussion with a circular and often confounding game of question begging. The inquiry as to what determines the choice of a free will presumes something other than the free function of the agent’s will makes the determination, thus denying the very mystery of what makes the will free and not determined.
The Founder’s blog article made the same foundational error in their assessment of Libertarian Freedom by presuming a deterministic premise and neglecting to affirm that the mysterious function of the will itself is what determines the agent’s choice. The cause of a choice is the chooser. The cause of a determination is the determiner. It is not an undetermined determination, or an unchosen choice, as they attempt to frame it.
If someone has an issue with this simply apply the same principle to the question, “Why did God choose to create mankind?” He is obviously all self-sustaining and self-sufficient. He does need us to exist. Therefore, certainly no one would suggest God was not free to refrain from creating humanity. So, what determined God’s choice to create if not the mysterious function of His free will?
In short, whether one appeals to mystery regarding the function of man’s will or the function of the Divine will, we all eventually appeal to mystery. Why not appeal to mystery BEFORE drawing conclusions that could in any way impugn the holiness of God by suggesting He had something to do with determining the nature, desire and thus evil choices of His creatures?