The Doctrine of Free Will

The Doctrine of Free Will

by Dr. Leighton Flowers

After defending the Traditionalist view of free will I was accused of “worshipping the idol of human autonomy” in a recent conversation with a Calvinistic believer. He went on to assert that there is absolutely no support for the concept of free will in the Bible. This particular Calvinist is an admirer of Matt Slick, of CARM ministries, who defines the point of our contention on his web site.  I will go through each of Matt’s points here:

Free will is the ability to make choices without external coersion.  There are debates as to what extent this free will is to be understood as it relates to people.  There are two main views:  compatibilism and libertarianism.

The compatibilist view is the position that a person’s freedom is restricted by his nature as is described in Scripture.  In other words, he can only choose what his nature (sinful or regenerate) will allow him to choose.  Therefore, such verses as 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20 are used to demonstrate that, for example, the unbeliever is incapable of choosing God of his own free will since they say that the unbeliever cannot receive spiritual things, does no good, and is a slave to sin. …

The biblical position is compatibilism.  Since the Bible clearly teaches us that the unbeliever is restricted to making sinful choices (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20), then we must conclude that anyone who believes in God (John 3:16; 3:36) does so because God has granted that he believe (Phil. 1:29), has caused him to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3), and chosen him for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13).

Let’s look at Matt’s errors point by point in light of the scriptures:

  • Matt wrote, “a person’s freedom is restricted by his nature as is described in Scripture.  In other words, he can only choose what his nature (sinful or regenerate) will allow him to choose.”

While we would agree that mankind’s freedom to choose is restricted to confines of his nature, we disagree as to what those confines are in relation to sinful humanity. For instance, a man is not free to flap his arms and fly around the world no matter how much he may will to do so. He is confined by his physical abilities. So too, there are moral confines on the abilities of sinful man’s will.

We would agree that mankind is born incapable of willingly keeping the demands of the law so as to merit salvation. And we would also agree that mankind is in bondage to sin. We would NOT AGREE that a man is born incapable of willingly admitting that he is in bondage and in need of help — especially in light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation — by means of the law (a tutor) and the gospel (a powerful appeal to be reconciled).

Suppose a man were born in a prison cell and never told that he was in a cell.  He was simply unaware of any thing outside the walls of his world.  We would all agree that the man is born in bondage and incapable of even recognizing his position. But, suppose someone came into his cell and told him of the world outside the walls.  Is the fact that he was born in bondage prove that he is incapable of hearing the messenger and believing his message? Of course not.  You can acknowledge the bondage of the man from birth without assuming he is also born incapable of believing the testimony of the messengers sent for the purpose of helping him to be set free.

Belief that a man is born in a prison cell is distinct from the belief that the man is incapable of acknowledging that he is in a prison cell and accepting help to escape when it is clearly offered. Calvinists have pointed to passages that prove mankind is born in the cell while assuming mankind is incapable of humbly admitting they are in a cell and trusting in Christ to set them free.

No passage in all of scripture ever suggests that fallen men are incapable of willingly responding to God’s own appeal to be reconciled from their fallen condition.

  • Matt wrote, “such verses as 1 Cor. 2:14; 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20 are used to demonstrate that, for example, the unbeliever is incapable of choosing God of his own free will since they say that the unbeliever cannot receive spiritual things, does no good, and is a slave to sin. … the Bible clearly teaches us that the unbeliever is restricted to making sinful choices (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20)

The passages cited simply do not say what Matt asserts. Let’s look at each one and see exactly what they teach:

1 Corinthians 2:14 — “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

So, the lost man needs someone to spiritually discern the “deep things of God” (vs. 10), right? What are the means God uses to discern spiritual truths to mankind?  Is not the very epistle that Paul is writing to the carnal believers in Corinth a means of “spiritual discernment?”  And since the “brethren” in the Corinthian church are “not able to receive” these same “deep things of God” (1 Cor. 3:1-3) one would be hard pressed to suggest that Paul was intending to teach that no one is able to understand the simple gospel appeal to be reconciled unless they are first reconciled.

Again, this text never suggests that mankind is born unable to respond to God’s clearly discerned gospel appeal.  It only affirms that the mystery of the gospel must be discerned for us, which it has been.  As Paul states, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Eph. 3:4

Neither side is suggesting that lost men can understand the deep spiritual truths of God apart from the means God has chosen to discern these mysteries. So, the question is whether God’s means of discernment through the apostles is a sufficient work of discernment that enables those who hear it to respond? More HERE.

Romans 3:10-18 — “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

No one is righteous according to the works of the law.  No one is able to attain righteousness by law through works.  But how does that prove no one is able to attain righteousness by grace through faith?  In verse 21 of this same chapter Paul introduces the means for man to attain righteousness, which is separate from the law.  Calvinists seem to think that proof of our inability to earn righteousness through our own works likewise proves our inability to trust in the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Proving that the lost cannot seek God does not prove that they are unable to respond to a God who is actively seeking to save the lost. Proving that I cannot call the President on the phone does not prove I cannot answer the phone if the President chose to call me.

Romans 6:14-20 – “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.”

While Paul certainly affirms that “you used to be slaves to sin,” he never remotely suggests that you used to be incapable of admitting that fact in light of God’s revelation through the law (a tutor sent to reveal our need) and the powerful gospel appeal (God’s offer to meet that need through faith). How does Paul describe the way in which one comes out of his enslavement in the passage above? He writes, “you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  He speaks of your obedience to the teaching that he and the other apostles had brought to you. Moreover, Paul speaks of your choice to “offer yourselves as slaves,” as if you are responsible for that choice.  Nothing is said about some effectual or irresistible internal working presupposed by the Calvinist.

Nothing in the three passages listed even come close to suggesting that mankind is incapable of admitting they need help when God Himself offers it. Matt goes on to describe libertarian free will (LFW) in this manner:

Libertarian free will says that the person’s will is not restricted by his sinful nature, and that he is still able to choose or accept God freely.  Verses used to support this view are John 3:16 and 3:36

This is an over-simplified and very shallow explanation of LFW.  LFW (or contra-causal freedom) is “the categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.” So, in relation to soteriology, LFW is mankind’s ability to accept or reject God’s appeal to be reconciled through faith in Christ. Given that mankind is held responsible for how they respond to Christ and His words (John 12:48), there is no biblical or theological reason to suggest that mankind is born unable to respond to His powerful, life-giving words (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:15-16; Rm. 10:17; John 6:63; 20:31*). It makes no practical sense to hold mankind responsible (response-able) to Christ’s words, if indeed they are unable-to-respond to those words, nor is it ever explicitly taught in Scripture.

*HERE is a great resource to support this interpretation of John 20:31 from the original language. (From Thomas “Willie” Adams, PhD)

In fact, many text suggest mankind is able to reason with God and freely respond to His revelation:

 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Is. 1:16-20)

Matt continues:

All the cults and false religious systems teach the libertarian view of free will…

This is factually inaccurate. Islam, naturalistic Atheism, and ancient Gnosticism, to name a few, all held to forms of determinism.

…that salvation and spiritual understanding are completely within the grasp of sinners (in spite of their enslavement to and deadness in sin).  For them, salvation would be totally up to the ability of the individual to make such a choice.

This is a common error made by Calvinistic believers. They wrongly assert that non-Calvinists believe salvation itself is “within the grasp of sinners” because we teach that mankind is responsible to believe and repent of sin.  Being capable of repenting in faith is not equal to saving oneself. Matt is conflating two separate choices as if they are one in the same.

  • Man’s responsibility to believe and repent.
  • God’s gracious choice to save whoever believes and repents.

By conflating these two very distinct actions, the Calvinist causes much unneeded confusion. It would be tantamount to suggesting that because the Prodigal son chose to return home that the father was obligated to accept and restore him BECAUSE of his choice to return. The son alone was responsible for his choice to return. Likewise, the father alone was responsible for his choice to accept and restore him. The only obligation on the father is one he puts on himself on the basis of his own goodness and grace.  Nothing is owed to the son on the basis of his choice to return. When the Calvinist conflates these two choices as if they are one in the same it confounds an otherwise very simple gospel message.

Below are the passages Matt listed in support of his perspective. Let’s go through each of them:

Man Apart from God

  • 13:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

Does proof that a leopard cannot change his own spots also prove that a leopard cannot recognize that his spots need changing by the help of another? Once again Calvinists have assumed that mankind’s inability to save himself is equal to his supposed inability to admit that fact in light of God’s clear revelation.

For instance, a doctor may clearly reveal your need for a heart transplant. Your ability to submit to his recommendation and allow him to perform the transplant is not equal to performing the transplant all by yourself, which is exactly what the Calvinist is presuming onto our perspective when they say things like, “you believe that you can save yourself”…or “change your own spots.”

  • 5:10, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Matt will have to spell out why he feels this passage specifically supports his position. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, Christ is making his appeal through us to be reconciled to God by faith. The Calvinist seems to think that one must be reconciled in order to willingly respond to Christ’s appeal to be reconciled, which clearly has the cart before the horse.

  • 8:7, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”

Does proof that mankind cannot fulfill the laws demands also prove that mankind cannot humbly admit this fact in light of God’s gracious appeals? Just because mankind cannot merit his own salvation by works of the law does not mean he cannot trust in the One who did fulfill the law.

Verses related to free will choices of sinners

  • John 1:13, “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Clearly John is referencing the natural born Israelites who wrongly believe that their Israelite lineage (blood), and works of the law (willing/running) are the means of their salvation. This is made clear by looking at the context of this passage. In verses 11-12, the apostle writes, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Who are “his own” who “did not receive him?” Clearly he is speaking of Israel. Which is contrasted with those who did receive him and believed in his name.  One is not even given the right to become a child until they “believe and receive” according to this passage. Yet, the Calvinist seem to suggest that one must be born as a child in order to believe and receive. Again, the Calvinists have the cart before the horse.

  • 9:16, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” — “the man” is singular
  • 9:18, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

For the sake of time and space, I’ll refer you to my own commentary over Romans 9 to respond to this point of contention.

  • 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

God does grant us the ability to believe and suffer for His sake. But “granting” or “enabling” faith is not the same as effectually causing it. Faith comes by hearing the powerful gospel appeal (Rom. 10:11-14), which is granted first to the Jew and then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). In other words, God is enabling faith through revelation, which is sent first to the Jew and then the Gentiles. During the time of Paul, the Jews had grown calloused to God’s revelation, otherwise they might have seen, heard, understood and turned to God, so the apostles took the message of repentance to the Gentiles, who listened (Acts 28:27-28).

Free Will as “Human Autonomy” (the “separateness” of God)

Websters defines “autonomous” simply as “undertaken or carried on without outside control.” Autonomous describes things that function separately or independently. For instance, once you move out of your parents’ house, and get your own job, you will be an autonomous member of the family. This adjective autonomous is often used of countries, regions, or groups that have the right to govern themselves. Autonomous is from Greek autonomos “independent,” from autos “self” plus nomos “law.”

Some wrongly assume that the Traditionalist’s use of this term is meant to suggest that mankind’s existence, sustenance and natural abilities are independent of God altogether. This is absurd, of course. Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, is given to us by a gracious God.

We can affirm that “God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him,” (Ps. 115:3) while still holding on to the equally valid truth that, “the highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16). This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.”  This is a biblical view of divine sovereignty and human autonomy.  As A.W. Tozer rightly explains:

“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

Some Calvinists have wrongly concluded that the Traditionalist seeks to downplay the sovereignty of God and highlight the autonomy of man, when in reality we seek to maintain the right biblical understanding of man’s autonomy so as to better highlight the Sovereignty, Love and Holiness of God.

I have already unpacked the attribute of God’s Sovereignty HERE and God’s Love HERE, so I would now like to turn our attention to the attribute of God’s Holiness. If you notice that the Tozer quote above is from his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”  Tozer’s intentions, like that of the Traditionalist, is in defense of God’s Holiness, not an attempt to undermine other equally important attributes of our good God.

I suspect that Tozer, like myself, would wholeheartedly agree with John Piper’s teaching on God’s Holiness here:

“Every effort to define the holiness of God ultimately winds up by saying: God is holy means God is God. Let me illustrate. The root meaning of holy is probably to cut or separate. A holy thing is cut off from and separated from common (we would say secular) use. Earthly things and persons are holy as they are distinct from the world and devoted to God. So the Bible speaks of holy ground (Exodus 3:5), holy assemblies (Exodus 12:16), holy sabbaths (Exodus 16:23), a holy nation (Exodus 19:6); holy garments (Exodus 28:2), a holy city (Nehemiah 11:1), holy promises (Psalm 105:42), holy men (2 Peter 1:21) and women (1 Peter 3:5), holy scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15), holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8), a holy kiss (Romans 16:16), and a holy faith (Jude 20). Almost anything can become holy if it is separated from the common and devoted to God.

But notice what happens when this definition is applied to God himself. From what can you separate God to make him holy? The very god-ness of God means that he is separate from all that is not God. There is an infinite qualitative difference between Creator and creature. God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy. But then you have said no more than that he is God.” – John Piper (emphasis added)

Notice the common term used to describe God’s Holiness and man’s autonomy? The word “separate” is referenced in both definitions. This is significant.

Some Calvinists fail to see that the Traditionalists defense of man’s separateness (autonomy) is actually in defense of God’s Holiness, or as Piper put it, God’s separateness “from all that is not God.” But, in a world of divine meticulous control of all things, what is left to be considered “separate” in any meaningful sense of the word?

One would think that sinful intentions would be included in “all that is not God,” yet many Calvinistic scholars affirm that man’s sinful intentions are unchangeably predetermined or brought about by God so as to glorify Himself (see HERE).

We must understand that John Piper, while holding to the same definition of Holiness as Tozer (or Traditionalists), comes to a very different conclusion about the nature of our thrice Holy God.

Continuing with the quote above, Piper concludes:

“If the holiness of a man derives from being separated from the world and devoted to God, to whom is God devoted so as to derive his holiness? To no one but himself.”

Piper fails to relate his understanding of God’s Holiness (separateness) to the nature of morally accountable creatures (as autonomously separate), but instead uses this attribute to emphasize his Calvinistic view of God’s self-seeking nature. Piper is arguing that God is all about Himself because there is no “higher reality than God to which He must conform in order to be holy.” In other words, God is all about God because there is nothing more Holy than God. But, what does this even mean unless you establish that which God has separated Himself from in the meticulously determined world of Piper’s Calvinism? How can one celebrate God being about God unless you separate that which is not about God from that which is about God? What exactly can be deemed as “separated” in a worldview where absolutely everything is brought about by God for God? Holiness loses its meaning in a deterministic worldview because nothing can be described in any significant way as being “separate” from God and His will.

It is senseless to speak of God’s Holiness (as separateness) unless there is something outside of God from which to separate. God cannot be separated from Himself or His own choices. And if you insist on the one hand that God is unchangeably determining all creature’s sinful inclinations so as to glorify Himself, then how can you on the other hand claim that God is wholly separate from those same sinful, yet self-glorifying means?  You might as well be claiming A is not A (God is separate but not separate).

Listen, either God is implicated in moral evil or He is not. He is either Holy or He is not. He is either separate (an affirmation of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy) or He is not (a denial of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy). Do not allow the Calvinists to have their cake and eat it too on this point.

John Piper takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that “God is all about Himself.” Whereas, Tozer takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that while God would be perfectly just to be all about Himself and His own glorification, He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices.

Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.

 

 

 

46 thoughts on “The Doctrine of Free Will

  1. I love this illustration: “a doctor may clearly reveal your need for a heart transplant. Your ability to submit to his recommendation and allow him to perform the transplant is not equal to performing the transplant all by yourself”. This struck a chord very close to my heart. My dad, an atheist, passed away a few years ago. I saw God reach out to him many times. He never carried health insurance, but two months before he died, he turned 65 and had access to Medicare. He had always had blood pressure problems, and had begun to have clear symptoms of heart attack. He did not have the ability to prescribe himself medication, or perform surgery to remove his own clots, but he had access to care… access that he foolishly refused, which resulted in him dropping dead from a major heart attack. His choice to refuse medical help was exactly like his choice to refuse salvation from a loving God. Calvinists would say my dad went to Hell because God wanted him to go there, and never gave him a genuine opportunity to receive forgiveness. I think that ideology is as ridiculous as claiming the doctors “wanted” my dad to die because they didn’t come to the house and drag him in for routine exams and surgery against his stubborn will.

      1. EK writes to DOT, “Dot, yes, God made the wicked for the day of evil, that doesn’t mean He determined who would be evil. ”

        Actually, God did as God is sovereign and could have intervened to prevent anyone from being evil. All were determined to be evil directly by Adam’s sin. God could have overridden the corruption of Adam’s sin and it’s impact on his progeny but God choose not to do so. As God is sovereign, God is also said to have determined who would be evil – in this case all people are evil some for the day of evil.

      2. Hutch

        “…could have intervened to prevent anyone from being evil. ”

        Also not the same thing as determining who would be evil.

        “All were determined to be evil directly by Adam’s sin.”

        Nice wordplay. Adam’s sin doesn’t determine who would choose to do which evil nor how much.

        “God could have overridden the corruption of Adam’s sin and it’s impact on his progeny but God choose not to do so.”

        Also has nothing to do with which human beings would live their lives for evil, die in their sins, and face God on judgment day to account for that evil.

      3. EK writes, “Adam’s sin doesn’t determine who would choose to do which evil nor how much.”

        We seem to agree that Adam’s sin determined that people would do evil. Your objection is that Adam’s sin does not determine precisely what particular evil a person will do nor how much. That’s fair, and I agree. At this point, the verse cited by DOT is valid, “God made the wicked for the day of evil,” so that God actually determined who would be wicked/evil and this because God did not intervene to counteract the effects of Adam’s sin. All people are born corrupt; they are wicked and will do evil – this is according to God’s plan so it is proper to conclude, as the proverb does, that “God made the wicked for the day of evil.”

        Then, “Also has nothing to do with which human beings would live their lives for evil, die in their sins, and face God on judgment day to account for that evil.”

        It has everything to do with this. It is because God does not override the corruption of Adam’s sin that each and every human being will live their lives for evil, die in their sins and face God on judgment day to account for their evil.” The exception to this is where God actually does intervene in a person’s life to override the corruption caused by Adam’s sin.

        Your objections here are petty and do not change the big picture – Adam’s sin and its effects on humanity. You seem to be operating with certain presuppositions that relate to the effect of Adam’s sin on his posterity. Are you?

      4. “Your objection is that Adam’s sin does not determine precisely what particular evil a person will do nor how much. That’s fair, and I agree.”

        No, you don’t you disingenuous charlatan. I wish I saw another way of engaging with you besides using harsh language to try to jar you out of your insincere, dishonest tactics. I have no doubt it will not, but I want to make it clear I use such language with a heavy heart. You are lying, Hutch, to yourself most of all, but lying none-the-less. You go all over this page and tell people you don’t believe free will exists and then you say you agree with me when I claim free will exists.

        “At this point, the verse cited by DOT is valid, “God made the wicked for the day of evil,” so that God actually determined who would be wicked/evil and this because God did not intervene to counteract the effects of Adam’s sin.”

        It has been explained to you countless times that allowing and ordaining are not the same thing. But you continue the error because you must. Carry on.

        “Your objections here are petty and do not change the big picture – Adam’s sin and its effects on humanity. You seem to be operating with certain presuppositions…”

        Of course, I am. My presupposition is that God can, in no way, be involved in the evil choices of man. That’s my starting assumption and everything flows from that. See, being honest about our presuppositions is not that hard. Now you should try it, it won’t hurt as much as you think it will.

      5. I wrote, ““Your objection is that Adam’s sin does not determine precisely what particular evil a person will do nor how much. That’s fair, and I agree.”
        EK responded, “No, you don’t…”

        Actually, I do. Adam’s sin determines that people are corrupted (i.e., depraved and in slavery to sin). Adam’s sin does not determine the particular evils that people will do nor how much. That is more related to God’s restraint of sin or hardening of a person (as with Pharaoh). You are over reacting here. Your extreme language deserves support – Can you support your claim against me???

  2. Pastor Flowers writes, “We would NOT AGREE that a man is born incapable of willingly admitting that he is in bondage and in need of help — especially in light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation — by means of the law (a tutor) and the gospel (a powerful appeal to be reconciled).”

    Note the condition — especially in light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation. Without that revelation, the lost are Totally Depraved encompassing inability – this because the lost have not faith and do not seek God. The ability to believe requires faith and faith is conveyed by the preaching of the gospel for faith comes by hearing. So, even Pastor Flowers seems to understand that a man is “born incapable of willingly admitting that he is in bondage and in need of help” and that this condition can only changed by the “light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation.”

    The real issue concerns those who do hear the Scriptures preached. Here, the question is, Why is it that, of those who hear the gospel preached, only some come to salvation and some do not? The Calvinists pondered this and came to the conclusion that God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden. Even Pastor Flowers has somewhat agreed by writing elsewhere that those who do not believe have been hardened by God. No matter how one slices the Scriptures, the unavoidable conclusion is that God is intimately involved in the salvation a one person and the perishing of another.

      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “Read my view more carefully please.”

        These words that you wrote stood out for me.

        “According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, Christ is making his appeal through us to be reconciled to God by faith….God does grant us the ability to believe…But “granting” or “enabling” faith is not the same as effectually causing it. Faith comes by hearing the powerful gospel appeal (Rom. 10:11-14), which is granted first to the Jew and then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). In other words, God is enabling faith through revelation,..Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, is given to us by a gracious God.”

      2. Hello Pastor Leighton.

        I’m not a calvinist, but this doctrine of calvinism has troubled me a lot. I have been seeking the Lord for my salvation and I feel very much what Spurgeon says is right as I’m able to relate with it:

        [

        “Oh!” saith the Arminian, “men may be saved if they will.” We reply, “My dear sir, we all believe that; but it is just the ‘if they will’ that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he be drawn; nay, we do not assert it, but Christ himself declares it–“Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;’ and as long as that “ye will not come’ stands on record in Holy Scripture, we shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will.” It is strange how people, when talking about free-will, talk of things which they do not at all understand. “Now,” says one, “I believe men can be saved if they will.” My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful. supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ. You reply, that men sometimes are willing, without the help of the Holy Spirit. I answer–Did you ever meet with any person who was? Scores and hundreds, nay, thousands of Christians have I conversed with, of different opinions, young and old, but it has never been my lot to meet with one who could affirm that he came to Christ of himself, without being drawn. The universal confession of all true believers is this–“I know that unless Jesus Christ had sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God, I would to this very hour have been wandering far from him, at a distance from him, and loving that distance well.” With common consent, all believers affirm the truth, that men will not come to Christ till the Father who hath sent Christ doth draw them.”

        ]

        I personally feel an inability / rebellion in my heart to submit to God and lack of faith. The Bible also says that the Holy Spirit opened the mind of people to Believe.

        what are your thoughts about it ?

      3. That is the problem, Arminians cling to their surf boards desperately. In fact, they road their boards against the breaking waves of God’s will with all their might and are proud of their work. But God, who is rich in mercy chooses to overcome some of the surfers, knock them off their boards, and plunge them to the bottom of the sea, helpless and dead. But, for some unknown reason, He grabs their lifeless bodies from the sea floor, lifts them onto the boards, breathes life into their lifeless bodies, and carries them safely back to shore on the same boards He gave them, with the very waves they fought so hard against.

      4. Greetings Mark. I hope you enjoy your involvement here. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Here is my response.

        Light then Faith then Life!

        Jhn 1:9, 12 NKJV – 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world…. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
        Jhn 12:36 NKJV – “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
        Jhn 20:31 NKJV – but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
        Gal 3:26 NKJV – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
        1Pe 1:23, 25 NKJV – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, … Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

        Reformed theology posits a fake “regeneration” that makes no-one immediately a child of God, nor does it immediately give everlasting life! What kind of birth does not make one a child or give life? Very silly… besides being a clear rejection and twisting of clear Scripture teaching.

        For the Calvinist regeneration is kinda like a drug that had been before willfully refused by the woman that a man offered it to, along with his proposal of marriage to her… but then he slips it into her drink without her knowing and she immediately accepts his next proposal of marriage.

        Now does that sound like true love? And you can call a drugged woman’s “yes” her “personal responsibility” even though she was unable to do other because of a change the “drug” made in her, when it was given during the time she was still firmly rejecting the one making the proposal who was slipping her the drug without her understanding.

        I see no personal willing acceptance of that woman… nor do I see love in the one who caused the change in her instantly using that drug.

      5. brianwagner writes, “Reformed theology posits a fake “regeneration” that makes no-one immediately a child of God, nor does it immediately give everlasting life!”

        Reformed theology posits a regeneration (being born again) that then provides the good soil for the word to grow leading to faith in Christ and everlasting life.

        Why would regeneration make one a child of God or convey everlasting life? “…you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

        Then, “For the Calvinist regeneration is kinda like …”

        Only in your imagination.

      6. Brian, I understand your fixation on the romance of God wooing but never forcing Himself on a rebellious sinner, but that assumes lots of ridiculous stuff. First, God is not sovereign, the sinner is sovereign in your construct. Second, you see good sinners wanting God to wisk them away if he’ll just woo them enough and respect their space, glorius free will, and give them all the time they need to come to the altar. Third, you are basically teaching sinners that they can born themselves again anytime they decide they are ready to do so. Fourth, If the wicked sinner is sovereign over his spiritual birth, why do Christians pray for the lost. If God helps those who help themselves to spiritual birth, we would need to pray to the sinner, pleading with them to make the decision to open the doors of their tender hearts, which will enable God to born them again. Think about your goofy teachings on this subject, please. Fifth, you assume Reformed folks like me are either stupid, evil, deluded or all three. At the same time, you assume you and your camp have tender hearts toward God and are protecting innocent people from false teaching and you constantly speak for us painting charactures of our actual beliefs. Sixth, you post Scriptures that do not prove your theory, and then pretend they do. Seventh, you have to explain away plain simple teaching in Scripture to make the Scripture fit your construct. Here is a simple example of point seven. Jesus answered Nicodemus, “you must be born again” If Jesus meant, you need to pray a prayer and ask me to come into your heart, I will come or even, Nicodemus, I’ve done my part, now it’s up to you and the decision you make? No, He said, you must be born again. You know how Nicodemus responded, he clearly didn’t get Jesus’ answer or couldn’t comprehend it or disagreed with Jesus’ answer. You tell me. Interestingly, Jesus went on to say John 3:8 esv The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Here we are again, Jesus teaches Nicodemus he has the ability to move the wind of his free will wherever he wants to so, he just needs to humble himself and make that important decision today right? Wrong. Jesus affirms the sovereignty of the the Wind of the Holy Spirit. Yet, you’ll wiggle around and imply the wind blows where and when we command it to. You know this is nonsense, but you’ll continue to teach this delusion. I’m asking you to stop. I’m asking the moderator to stop, and I’m asking Andy Stanley to stop.

      7. Thank you Mark for your thoughful reply. Your accusations are amazing about what I said and how you think I think. I would much rather discuss some of the specific Scriptures I listed.

        As for Nicodemus, you have the basic context problem of Jesus explaining to an unregenerate mind the importance of his responsibility to look to Jesus and believe.

        But let me comment on your underlying theme in many of your accusations that I think we save ourselves.

        “I saved myself” – Red Herring/Straw Man

        God doesn’t give the same grace to everyone… but He does give sufficient grace to enable each to freely seek and to trust His mercy. Therefore none have an excuse, and salvation is all of God, who paid for it, and offered it, and gave it to each one who trusted Him for it.

        It is a red herring that suggests the one who was saved after trusting their savior and after trusting the means of their salvation would then turn around and say or believe – “I saved myself.” The one grabbing the rope and letting the rescuer pull them to safety does not turn around and say – “Boy, didn’t I do a good job in saving myself.”

        It is a red herring/straw man argument in an attempt to legitimize determinism which has the bigger problem of denying that determinism logically makes God the author of sin and that it also makes Him the unjust and everlasting tormentor of those He supposedly decreed guilty and to be hardened by Him for someone else’s sin, before anyone was ever created by Him.

        The typical “so it all hinges on man” argument is silly. A “hinge” is no good if there is no door or someone to open that door. So also is the argument “so man is the ultimate decisive factor in his salvation.” I can decide to trust Jesus, but unless He decides to give me forgiveness and everlasting life, what good, how “decisive”, is my decision compared to His? If Christ had not died and rose again and offered me salvation and granted it to me… all my “decisions” in the world would make no difference.

        Mark… you do have the problem of defining sovereignty biblically. God is able to and has delegated aspects of His sovereignty so that covenant love from humble trust freely offered can exist.

        Now if you’d like to discuss a specific verse or passage, I’m game. 😊

      8. I thought this was interesting. It was written by a poster named Ron Miamon on Stackexchange.com:

        The idea of superdeterminism is not really about free will. Free will is a concept that is very hard to define in a logical-positivistic way. If you don’t believe me, try to define it! If you can’t say exactly what you mean by a notion, in terms of “If I do this and that, what happens?” then it is not clear that the notion is well-defined. There are many questions which are just your brain fooling you into seeing sense where there is none.

        First, I want to say that ‘t Hooft’s original ideas were profoundly nonlocal and would not resemble the local cellular automata ideas of, say, Wolfram. In recent years, ‘t Hooft has considered the idea that there is a deterministic theory that is local in space-time which reproduces quantum mechanics. This idea is clearly wrong, and ‘t Hooft is talking nonsense.

        ‘t Hooft’s old ideas of an underlying realistic theory were not so silly, since they came on the heels of the holographic principle. Once you realize that gravity is defined far away on a holographic screen, the idea of hidden variables becomes more plausible, because the physics of gravity is nonlocal in a way that suggests it might fix quantum mechanics. There is no real proposal for doing this, however, just vague speculations.

        Holographic hidden variables could conceivably even be holographically local, meaning that they are local on a holographic screen. There is very little that can be said without a precise proposal for what these variables are.

        But if you want hidden variables without holographic non-locality, then you are in trouble. You are trying to get out of the problem using “superdeterminism”, the idea that the polarization settings are determined in advance, and so that Bell’s inequality violations do not necessarily mean that local hidden variables are logically impossible.
        Superdeterminism is silly

        The proof of Bell’s theorem tells you that measurements of different polarizations of far-away particles have statistics that are not reproducible in advance by the electrons alone, making crib-sheets when they are close about what the answer is going to be for the different experiments.

        If you want to use the superdeterminism loophole, you need to assume that there are electron crib sheets which tell the electrons how to behave, and further, there is some mechanism which links the electron crib sheet to the choice of the experimental apparatus of which direction to measure, so that the direction one chooses to measure is somehow determined by these crib sheets.

        To understand how ridiculous this is—- I could program a computer to run a random number generator, and set the polarizers according to the outcome. Then whichever random number generator I choose to use, the result must be correlated in the exact same way with the crib sheets.

        If I use a thermal random number generator (a heated chip which reads out random 0s and 1s), the result will have to be correlated with the crib sheets. This correlation cannot change even if I change the temperature, altering all the Avogadro’s number of particle positions and velocities. It doesn’t change if I touch the chip to a hot liquid, introducing new atoms. The correlation doesn’t care if I flip a coin and switch out the random number generator for another one, or if I rewire the experiment to make different outcomes correspond to different polarization settings. The nature of the conspiracy is so implausible, that it requires an intelligent agency which knows exactly what I am doing, and rearranges all the crib sheets and correlations to make everything come out right.

        It is just plain impossible to imagine such a mechanism. It defies common sense that for any randomization procedure one can dream up, the results are correlated with the electron crib sheets. Further, if you have a beam of different correlated electron pairs, you might measure this electron pair or that. The mechanism has to be correlated with all the electron crib sheets. I think that this is sufficiently ridiculous that to call superdeterminism a loophole is just an abuse of language— it is a loophole in the same way that we could all be dreaming in the matrix and the aliens have set up the outcome to look like quantum mechanics is true. It’s no more plausible than this sort of nonsense.
        Free Will

        You brought up the issue of free will, and this is an old saw from philosophy. The actual history of the idea is important— it comes from a religious paradox:

        If God knows what is going to happen, and made it all happen outside of space and time, how can God punish people for doing evil by sending them to hell?

        This is the essential question that bothered people about Christian theology, and led to free will debates. The notions in this question are very hard to define in a logical-positivistic way, and when you do define them this way, the problem evaporates. There is no problem here, and there never was, independent of the fact that the notion of God has not been properly defined, nor its properties in any way deduced from a framework which is capable of persuading anyone in any way except by force of social convention.

        To make a logical-positivistic description, you have to define all properties in terms of sense experience. So one can take a definition of free will as follows:

        Free will (version 1): If I have a ham sandwich and a cheese sandwich, and I place them in front of me, and I am told to “take one and eat it”, then I end up holding one of the sandwiches and eating it.

        This is clearly no good. The idea we have of free will is not that we do things, but that we could have done something else. So try this:

        Free will (version 2): If I have a ham sandwich and a cheese sandwich, and I am told “If you disobey this prediction, you will get $1000. I predict that you will take the ham sandwich and eat it”, then I will take the cheese sandwich and eat it. Likewise, if I am told “you will eat the cheese”, I will eat the ham.

        This definition is not so great either. It is saying that I am capable of spiting any prediction about my behavior, if I am motivated to do so. This is independent of determinism: if the universe is deterministic, like a being in a computer simulation, you can still have this type of spiting behavior. All it says is that if you predict the outcome, and then tell the person the outcome you predicted, you change the outcome, so that it cannot be predicted anymore.

        But this is the closest I can see to making sense of the concept of free will. So free will for me means the following:

        Free will (version 3): Given access to the predictions any algorithm that purports to predict your behavior, and gives you incentives to spite the prediction, an agent has free will to the extent that the predictions will not come true.

        This is true of people: if you tell a heavy smoker “Do not smoke for a year, and you will get a million dollars”, then it is likely that the person will not smoke for a year. But this is clearly nothing to do with what people’s intuition about the thing is. The intuition is that the prediction can be spited even if it is behind a curtain, hidden from the agent.

        But if you don’t tell the agent the prediction, there is no sense in saying the agent is somehow behaving non-freely in doing what you predict. I predict that you will get out of bed tomorrow, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t get out of your own free will. It only means that if I tell you that I predict this, and give you a big incentive to stay in bed, like a million dollars, and you still get out of bed.

        The God business at the beginning is really resolved by defining God properly, but even supposing you believe that God is an external agent that knows the future and punishes sinners in the afterlife (something which I can’t make logical positive sense out of), the fact that God knows the future in this metaphysics does not mean that you didn’t choose it, since God didn’t tell you the prediction and ask you to spite it!

        In a certain sense, actually, in many religious traditions, God does tell you some predictions about human nature and ask you to spite them— the prediction that human beings will be cruel and capricious, for example. This type of thing is asking human beings to spite predictions about the general nasty character of human relations in a Darwinian world, and the insistent demand that one spite these predictions, despite there being no incentive to do so, is the major purpose of religious belief.

        Anyway, this is a major digression. The point of this is that the concept of free will is not well defined, and any way of defining it positivistically, it is either obviously true that human beings have free will, obviously false, or obviously meaningless to ask the question. The fact that free will has no definition, or at least, no consistent agreed-upon definition, should make one pause whenever someone discusses the concept, since this person can impose whatever definition he or she likes on it, and argue from this metaphysical position.

        The position that superdeterminism means we have no free will is only true in a sense that it is determinism. This is not conflicting with free will in the definition I gave above, since determinism doesn’t tell you what your choice is going to be and ask you to spite it, less does it give you incentive for doing so.

        One way to try to violate the definition of free will above is to send correlated electrons to distant experimentalists, Alice and Bob, and try to predict Alice’s polarization settings by capturing the electrons along the way and measuring their crib sheets (imperfectly, by measuring their spins). The issue of course is that in the superdeterministic view, the person capturing and measuring the electrons is not predicting anything about Alice and Bob, because the electron’s crib sheets are now correlated with this person’s polarization settings, and not Alice’s or Bob’s anymore. This sort of nonsense makes all experimental thinking and scientific hypothesis testing impossible, and it is really a form of magical-universe hypothesis. One must reject it a priori.

        So, unlike the concepts of even God and religion, I can’t see any way to make sense of the concept of superdeterminism in a logical-positivist framework. I personally consider the answer to the question as a resounding “no”. No, it is not true that there is a superdeterminism loophole, and local hidden variables are just plain ruled out by Bell’s inequality violations.

        I think he’s right, nobody seems to agree on the definition of “free will.”

      9. Hello Scott and welcome
        You wrote a book there!!!!

        Peter Van Inwagen agrees with you that the phrase “Free Will” is problematic because of every human mind is going to have their own unique conception of it.

        In the Christian worlds – the debate predominates around terms such as “Contra-Causal”, “Do Otherwise”, “PAP Principle of Alternative Possibilities”.

        The Determinist Christian (aka Calvinism) for the most part – adopts what philosophy calls “COMPATIBILISM”

        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
        -quote
        Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.

        Therefore it follows:
        1) You are FREE to be/do what was Determined (by infallible decree)
        2) You are NOT FREE to be/do what was NOT Determined (by infallible decree)

        The irony of the debate between the two positions can be found in the fact that every Determinist fully ASSUMES Libertarian human functionality for themselves – while claiming it doesn’t exist – or is irrational etc.

        So the Determinist believes in Determinism – but lives as an IN-Determinist.

        Professor Sean Carroll – American theoretical physicist – and devout Determinist for example will tell you that trying to live *AS-IF* Determinism is TRUE – is simply not practical.

        John Calvin came to the same conclusion – instructing his disciples to -quote “Go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”

        So whether or not we humans take a position one way or the other – we all live *AS-IF* one position is true.

        Blessings!
        br.d

      10. brdmod writes, “The irony of the debate between the two positions can be found in the fact that every Determinist fully ASSUMES Libertarian human functionality for themselves – while claiming it doesn’t exist – or is irrational etc.”

        Under Calvinism, a person without faith is Totally Depraved. Free will does not change this. A person with free will and without faith is still Totally Depraved. A person with faith is not Totally Depraved. A person with free will and with faith is not Totally Depraved.

        A person without faith is hostile to God and will always reject salvation. A person with faith is not hostile to God and will always accept salvation.

      11. rhutchin
        So who decides what’s for dinner? Who decides soup or salad?

        br.d
        Let’s hope Calvin’s god doesn’t decree you to eat something that will cause massive explosions and keep you up all night! 😀

      12. Good one Chap!
        I still think Calvinism was given to mankind as a form of entertainment! 😀

        The devil meant it to neutralize the church’s ability to war against principalities and powers.

        But the Lord meant it for our good!

      13. 10 easy steps in how to miss the point of a conversation by a mile! :-]

        Since in Calvinism – man has absolutely NO CHOICE in the matter of anything – whether that man is Totally Depraved or not is irrelevant.

      14. And additionally – no Calvinist during his life-time is ever granted CERTAINTY of whether or not he is TOTALLY DEPRAVED or not.

        So Total Depravity is about as relevant to the subject of humans NOT having the function of CHOICE in Calvinism – as NO square apples is to the subject of buying groceries. :-]

      15. rhutchin
        A person without faith is hostile to God

        br.d
        Only if hostility to Calvin’s god is what Calvin’s god specifically decrees come to pass.

        Otherwise you end up denying Calvin’s god divine omnipotence – by resolving him UNABLE to decree hostility and decree faith – both exist at the same time.

        This serves as a good example of why blindly reciting Calvinist talking points makes Calvinists appear like – the lights are on upstairs – but no one is home! :-]

  3. Pastor Flowers writes, “Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.”

    OK. So what does Tozer write – “God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil.” Everyone agrees with Tozer on this. What is the testimony of Scripture – There is none that does good (at least, that moral good to which Tozer refers). Don’t we all agree to this?

    What does Piper write – “God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy.” Don’t we all agree to that?

    The problem here is that the citations from Tozer and Piper have nothing to do with the argument that Pastor Flowers advances. They seem (to me) to be thrown in for window dressing.

      1. Mark wrote, “John 3:16 teaches nothing about man’s ability to believe the gospel Leighton.”
        Pastor Flowers responded, “The implication is there, of course,…”

        Only because the verse states the reality that there are those who will believe the gospel – the participle can be understood as, “the ones believing.” So, those who believe would seem to have some ability to believe. Of course, that is not the issue in debate.

      2. I would say the “implication of ability” is in John 3:16 because of Dr Flowers Tradition and not because of Biblical Exegesis,

        John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

        But respectfullly Dr Flowers, the is no implication of power of the so-called free will of man to repent and believe in John 3:16. You are pulling this out of the text because it says “Whosoever believes” If you will search deeper in the Interlinear Bible you will see it actually says “everyone believing or believing ones” already in a present state of believing. There is no implication of ability here, it is only stating what the the gift of God will be to “believing ones” We both know faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, so wicked sinner’s do not have faith until, yes the SPIRIT and the Word invade their heart and create that faith and repentance. Other scriptues tell us

        2 Thess, 3:2 -and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

        Without faith it is impossible to be pleasing to God
        Those in the flesh can do nothing (does not mean a little something) pleasing to God.
        It has been granted unto us to believe and suffer for Christ sake
        We have been saved by grace through faith, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, AND NOT OF OURSELVES.

      3. kEVIN kLOSSKI writes, “the is no implication of power of the so-called free will of man to repent and believe in John 3:16.”

        A rule of Biblical exegesis says that explicit statements take precedence over implicit statements. Even granting that a power of free will is implied in 3:16, we have explicit statements explaining how this comes to pass. John 6:65, ““For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” The ability to come to Christ (and believe as John 3) is conditional on God granting such ability. In addition, God must also draw the person to Christ (6:44). Thus, before a person can come to/believe in Christ, God must grant and draw. Presumably, one must also hear the gospel to receive that faith that can then manifest itself in the personal decision to believe. John 3:16 is a statement of fact. Those believing, and only those believing, gain eternal life. The verse does not tell the whole story nor does it try to.

  4. Good job distinguishing between our inability to fix ourselves and our ability to allow God to fix us.

    Grace provides the wave but our faith brings the surfboard.

    1. Dizerner writes, “Grace provides the wave but our faith brings the surfboard.”

      Don’t you mean that God provides the wave, the surfboard, and the ability to climb onto the board and then encourages the lost person to actually climb onto the board and those who resist God are lost. The non-Calvinist view is that God does all He can to save a person but it is just not enough – the lost person has to make the final critical effort that seals the deal.

  5. Dear RHUTCHIN, …Whaaaooo…i am impressed with your better & clearer LOGICAL ANSWERS! May God Bless your generation. More Grease to your elbow.

  6. Soteriological Traditionalism is nothing more than the pagan philosophy of pelagianism. When the Southern Baptist adopted this doctrine they ceased to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ

    1. Hello Laurence and welcome to SOT101

      Before you point the finger of accusation – perhaps you will take the time to watch the video presentation on this site – interview with Dr. Ken Wilson – on the evolution of Augustinian doctrine.

      Link here: https://soteriology101.com/2019/08/05/did-the-early-church-fathers-teach-calvinism/

      In specific – Augustine’s synchronization of Gnostic and NeoPlatonit concepts into Catholic doctrine – later carried forward by John Calvin in his un-checked adoration for all things Augustine.

      One might find himself straining at the gnat of Pelagianism – while swallowing a whole camel – of gnostic NeoPlatonism.

      Your choice. :-]

  7. ERIC KEMP, Deuteronomy 7:6
    King James Version
    6 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. what about 1 Peter 2:9
    King James Version
    9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

  8. John 6:70
    Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? John 15:16
    King James Version
    16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. John 15:19

    1. Hello dot.

      It should be understood that since Calvinism is founded on EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM (EDD) – Calvinists are going to read EDD into the text of scripture – whenever they can find a verse that can give them something that APPEARS to fit.

      The interesting phenomenon occurs when reading EDD into a verse of scripture backfires on them.

      Take fore example: “My ways are not your ways says the Lord”

      In Calvinism – per the doctrine of decrees – that statement is FALSE

      John Calvin explains:
      -quote
      The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that NOTHING HAPPENS but what he has knowingly and willingly
      decreed. (Institutes, 1, Chp 16, Par. 3)

      So in Calvinism – there is no such thing as man having his own way.
      Whatever “way” man goes – was actually Calvin’s god’s way – which he imposed upon man by infallible decree.

      In Calvinism – man cannot have an impulse in his brain that he can call his own – let alone have a “way” he can call is own.

      Blessings
      br.d

  9. Hi All

    I hope you all don’t mind a neophyte like me asking a few honest questions to help progress my general understanding of Free Will from a Provisionist perspective (which I find very reassuring and compelling). So, as I understand it, one has the unobstructed free will to positively respond to (or reject) God’s call (by Faith, through Grace) to accept the Gospel and be saved (thus gaining Jesus’ Elect status). Once genuinely and effectually saved (not speaking of an un-regenerate self-deceived individual), can this saved person exercise that same free will to subsequently reject Christ and walk away from their salvation? I understand the Bible is clear that no external power can separate one from God, but will God stand in the way of this individual from exercising their free will to now fully reject Christ and walk away? This is similar to the “once saved, always saved” question, with the addition of having the free will to become “unsaved”. If the answer is that one cannot ever become “unsaved”, then what happens if a person who is genuinely saved during the tribulation accepts the sign of the antichrist?

    Please know I am not trying to be cheeky with these questions, I just really want to understand. Also, I am trying to avoid a reply stating “well that person was never really saved” or ” a genuinely saved person would never do that”.

    Blessings,

    TR

    1. Welcome TR. That’s an important question. I believe when God gives regeneration through faith it changes that faith, and the will linked to it, into an everlasting faith. So though the will remains free for many future choices, it is now limited by its new nature.

    2. Hello TR and welcome.

      There are essentially 2 versions of creaturely freedom within Christian theologies.

      The foundational core of Calvinism is EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM – as enunciated within Calvinism’s doctrine of decrees.
      EVERYTHING without exception – is determined – at the foundation of the world – solely and exclusively by Calvin’s god.

      So we have a THEOS who determines 100% of WHATSOEVER comes to pass – leaving ZERO% left over for anyone else to determine.

      This is going to affect the Calvinist’s version of FREEDOM granted to the creature.

      1) You are FREE to be/do ONLY that what was decreed for you to infallibly be and infallibly do.
      2) You are NOT FREE to be/do OTHERWISE than that which was decreed for you to infallibly be and infallibly do.

      Therefore – with Adam in the garden:
      1) Adam was FREE to eat the fruit – because Adam eating the fruit was decreed to be what Adam would infallibly do
      2) Adam was NOT FREE to NOT eat the fruit – because NOT eating the fruit was NOT what was decreed Adam infallibly do.

      In the NON-Calvinist view of Creaturely Freedom
      1) The creature is granted multiple options – which are OPEN and thus available for the creature to select
      2) The creature is granted the function of CHOICE – such that he can selection one option vs another.
      3) That selection is UP TO (i.e. determined by) the creature.

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