A Case for Human Autonomy (Free Will)

Over the years in discussing this topic I have been accused of things such as, “worshipping the idol of human autonomy” and “making free will into a god.” But, have those who bring this kind of harsh accusation really unpacked the meaning of these terms, or sought to understand my intentions? I suspect not.

Websters defines “autonomous” simply as “undertaken or carried on without outside control.” The term “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.” <link>

Some wrongly assume that my 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 good and 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 our 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) <link>

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. <link>”

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, in order that they may in turn give glory to God in all things.

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

27 thoughts on “A Case for Human Autonomy (Free Will)

  1. “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.”

    How do you reconcile this with the whole of the OT where God saves Israel not for their sake but for the sake of His name? (1 Samuel 12:22; Jeremiah 14:7; Ezekiel 36:22, 32; Psalm 23:3, Psalm 79:9, Ezekiel 20:44, Isaiah 48:9,11) and most notably under the New Covenant (Matthew 19:29; Romans 1:5; 1 John 2:12), as well as our command to do absolutely everything to the glory of God (1Corinthians 10:31)?

    I believe your thought would be better served to end as such, “He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices, in order that they may in turn give glory to God in all things.”

      1. One might ask in this case whether “glory” is defined differently between Tozer and Piper.

        When Jesus teaches “Be ye Holy as your heavenly Father is Holy” – in my mind that is a reflection of God’s design for mankind to glorify Himself. But how is that reflection manifested? Does God command man to throw newborn babies into the fire of Molech for His glory?

        What kind of “glory” is reflected by a THEOS who RENDERS-CERTAIN new-born babies are thrown into the fire belly of a false deity?

        Jonathan Edwards – provides the answer that Piper would also espouse:
        “Unless sin….had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

        Here we have a doctrine consistent with Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism
        The principle that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites.
        Co-equal in status and necessity.
        A derivative of it today it is called “Yin-Yang”

        That is why the ancient Gnostic/NeoPlatonist believers would call evil “beautiful”.

        And here Edwards clearly enunciates “evil” and “good” as both -quote “parts” of divine glory.

        This – i think – is the difference between “glory” as defined by Tozer vs Piper.
        In Tozer’s understanding of divine glory – there is a differentiating line between good and evil.

        In the Gnostic-NeoPlatonist-Augustinian-Calvinist system – good and evil are UNDIFFERENTIATED.
        They exist as co-equal – and co-necessary – parts of divine glory.

        That is a definition of “glory” which Tozer would absolutely reject.

  2. Wonderful article!!

    I find it totally ironic how Calvinists will point the finger at others and call them heretics – for affirming that the general narrative of scripture, is in fact IN-deterministic.

    What is so ironic:
    After railing and calling people pejorative names – they will then turn right around and do their very best to MASQUERADE the very attributes of IN-determinism they rail against.

    They instinctively need in their lives – those attributes which are obliterated – being mutually excluded by determinism.

    At some point, it should be obvious – Calvinists have a love-hate relationship with their own belief system.

    On the one hand – they love to proudly wear Theological Determinism as a wide phylactery.
    And then ironically – spend the rest of their time – in desperate attempts at trying to escape from its grip

    Over the centuries – they’ve built a highly crafted library of double-speak talking-points designed to MASQUERADE the very attributres of creaturely freedom Theological Determinism doesn’t allow them to have.

    As the famous philosopher Dr. William James puts it:
    “They make a PRETENSE of restoring the caged bird to liberty with one hand, while with the other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.”

    In Theological Determinism – the creature is *ONLY* free to be and do *ONLY* what the THEOS (at the foundation of the world) RENDERS-CERTAIN. Nothing more! Nothing less!

    Consequently Calvinists have absolutely nothing to boast about.
    Their language is to totally saturated with deceptive misleading double-speak – no discerning Christian would want to be in their shoes.

    Thank you so very much Dr. Flowers for your wonderful ministry!
    And thank you for your Christ-like character!!

  3. When my kids approached adulthood, I can say that I “wanted” to give them more and more autonomy. Sometimes they did things with that freedom that was not what I “wanted.”

    A policeman can scold you for “allowing” your son to go out and do unlawful things. But he cannot hold you responsible for them.

    Your son can say, “Dad, you allowed me to go out and even gave me the keys and money, so you “wanted” me to do this unlawful thing.” But that does not make it true. This is the Traditionalist idea…. to make man in His image, and to make man someone that can love God and commune with God, God has (sovereignly) chosen to allow man to do things He (God) does not want.

    On can force the nuance here by saying that because God allowed it, He “wanted” it, but that does not make it true.

    Even in Piper’s several posted sermons about evil being God’s will he says the word “allow” many times. He (non-Calvinistically, and inconsistently) is talking about the will of God in a non-deterministic, “allowing” sort of way. He is most definitely trying to have his cake and eat it too.

    Somehow he extrapolates from that: Since God “allowed” it, He “decreed” it while not really wanting it (therefore we have his 2, 3, 4 wills of God). I think he tries to soften this idea with the word “allow” but it does not work. It just makes him a fence-rider.

    Kind of like saying:

    “God didn’t really want the Holocaust, but He allowed it, so therefore He (immutably) wanted it.” or

    “God didn’t really command the Holocaust, but He allowed it, so therefore He (immutably) willed it.” or

    “It was not God’s will of command to have the Holocaust, but —-since it happened — it was His will of decree (before time, immutably).”

    But the Confessions say it more clearly!! They, and Calvin say that God specifically wanted/ decreed/ will/ desired ALL that happens to happen.

    No matter how you slice it, true Calvinism and Reformed confessional theology teaches that God did not “allow” the Holocaust… He immutably, before time, decreed (and “took His pleasure in”) the Holocaust “for His glory.”

    The same can be said for all heinous sins.

    Calvinists need to stop dancing around this with the 3 or 4 wills of God (found nowhere in the Bible) and the fence-riding “God allowed it” speech.

    Calvinists, this is what your theology teaches. Just own it!

  4. Thanks Leighton. The takeaway here for me was this:

    “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?”

    In what way is our Holy God “separate” from the awful sins of His creatures if He is in fact is the origin of these things?

    Christ “took these sins upon Himself” and that means something!!!

    But If God is indeed the origin of all actions, He was never separated to the point that Christ needed to take them.

  5. “What we maintain is, that when men act perversely, they do so (according to the testimony of the Scripture) by the ordaining purpose of God.”

    John Calvin, “A Defense of the Secret Providence of God” in Calvin’s Calvinism, tr. Henry Cole, pp 241-2

    I agree. OWN IT.

    1. Jeff Danleoni
      They do so ……by the ORDAINING PURPOSE of God.”

      This in fact is an excellent example of the deceptive, misleading, obfuscating nature of Calvinist language on this subject.

      Here the phrase ORDAINING PURPOSE is use equivocally.

      As a representation of Calvin’s doctrine – this phrase is designed to hide more than it reveals.

      There is a stark difference between an ORDAINING PURPOSE – which is a vague reference to divine oversight.
      And the act of RENDERING-CERTAIN in every part – every neurological impulse – every creature will ever have.

      The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – a Peer Reviewed Resource agrees:
      in its article on Theological Determinism it sights the same problem with the language of Calvinist Paul Helm.

      “Paul Helm, another staunch theological determinist of the Calvinist variety, simply says that God’s providence: “extended to all that He has created” (The Providence of God, p. 39).

      The problem with such characterizations is that they are subject to multiple interpretations, some of whom would be affirmed by theological indeterminists.

      For instance, a theological indeterminist might say that God’s providence extends to all events, or that even undetermined events are controlled or decreed by God in the sense that God foresees them and allows them to occur and realizes His purposes through them.”
      -end quote

      it is much more honest for a Calvinist to state “What we maintain is, that when men act perversely because Calvin’s god at the foundation of the world – FIRST CONCEIVES and then RENDERS-CERTAIN every perverse thought.”

      Then they would be left trying to explain how that is -quote (according to the testimony of the Scripture)

  6. Jeff,
    Just wondering….

    You agree and you own it (you agree with Calvin), or you agree that they should just man-up and own it (and stop trying to explain around it and have their cake and eat it too)?

    1. “Man-up and own it”. I am so tired of hearing Calvinists trying to speak out of both sides of their mouths like really bad ventriloquists, meanwhile the audience is supposed to be too polite not to clap. Calvinists will jump up and down screaming how God has decreed all things and reprobates are created just to be destroyed for God’s glory. Remember, there are no “stray molecules” or God just couldn’t be sovereign according to their God in a box theology. But then the subject invariably turns to sin and suddenly God only “permits” you to sin. God decrees ALL things, but somehow your desire to sin is now only “permitted” but not ordained. You cannot have serious rational conversations with people so indoctrinated into cognitive dissonance that they refuse to THINK about the utter absurdity of claiming God decrees whatsoever comes to pass but somehow sin is man’s responsibility. Or, let’s go preach the gospel to people who we think are totally depraved corpse-like dead people who are completely unable to respond or be persuaded by the message we preach. But Calvinists like speaking to walls expecting that the walls will speak back to them, I guess. Here, I’ll spend my time evangelizing people who could be non-elect and therefore impossible to be regenerated by God to believe the message of the gospel, or maybe they are unregenerated elect and God has to first make them regenerate in order to believe the message of the gospel. Either way, nothing I am preaching can have any effect upon them. Pure cognitive dissonance.

      1. So on another site someone commented about “the differences between reformed, old Calvinist, neoCalvinist, and new Calvinist as they are not all the same and do not all teach the same thing. Also there are some excellent sites that show the considerable differences between mild Calvinism, moderate Calvinism, Calvinism, and hyperCalvinism. It gets admittedly confusing.

        Also might want to pop over to the web site The Reformed Arminian.

        Reformed can be plain reformed, Calvinist, Lutheran, or yes, classic Reformed Arminian, which is different from Wesleyan Arminian.

        Today’s new Calvinist will argue they are the only Reformed, but they are not. One can hold all five solas (be Reformed) and think the TULIP is but a stinkweed by another name.”

        I have read a little Barth, Newbigin, Torrance, etc., and I realize that there are many ‘streams’ of so-called Reformed Theology. My question for those here is can these be considered legitimate? And if so, are the things discussed here simply the rejection of a small, extreme faction within Reformed Theology/Calvinism? It seems to me impossible to tear predestination away from Reformed Theology, which necessitates a limited atonement and meticulous divine determinism, and yet some claim to do so. Just wondering what others think.

      2. Wonderful post Jeff!
        I totally agree.

        Calvinism has created a “private interpretation” of the word “permit” as it relates to Calvin’s god.

        They know when making public facing statements – “permit” is going to be interpreted as the opposite of what they actually hold.
        They strategically craft such statements where recipients are guaranteed to to be deceived by them.

        Jesus without fail – speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
        This fact alone – differentiates Calvinism from Christianity.

  7. FOH
    It seems to me impossible to tear predestination away from Reformed Theology, which necessitates a limited atonement and meticulous divine determinism, and yet some claim to do so. Just wondering what others think.

    Its clear to me FOH that these phrases “doctrines of grace”, “limited atonement” and, “unconditional election” for example – are simply dishonest advertising language.

    In Calvinism *EVERYTHING* is “limited” – not just atonement.
    Everything is “limited” by virtue of the fact that at the foundation of the world – everything is RENDERED-CERTAIN.

    In Calvinism *EVERYTHING* is “unconditional” not just election.
    All sin – all evil – every neurological impulse – absolutely EVERYTHING that comes to pass – does so “unconditionally”.

    Personally I don’t think that belief-system falls under the rubric of “Reformed” as much as it does “Gnostic/NeoPlatonism”

    Martin Luther – was most certainly one of the primary leaders of the “Reformed” and he eventually wrote:
    “In the beginning I devoured Augustine, but when the door of Paul swung open, and I knew what justification by faith really was, then it was out with him.’

  8. Great post again, Leighton! The determinist needs to unlock their thinking about their “limited” God and wonder why they can’t bring themselves to believe that God was able to create a person who has and can exercise freewill, an exercise that is even contrary to God’s ultimate desire and sufficient provision that they don’t. This is how Scripture clearly reads that He has made the creation of man. And even if they can’t bring themselves to believe it’s possible… shouldn’t they recall that Jesus said that with God all things are possible? 😉

    1. I can think of two reasons, and there are doubtless others.
      1) The desire to believe in Eternal Security requires one to assert that once God ‘saves’ you, nothing can ever disqualify you. This only makes genuine sense if God is in complete control, as he alone can be trusted to not ‘mess up’.
      2) The desire for power and control. Those who built christendom were attempting to build the kingdom of God on earth, ruled by them. This is only possible if there is a built-in need for ecclesiastical rulers, such as granting access to God via the sacraments or interpreting The Law of God.

      The long array of sacramentalist dissenters, with the most well known being the Anabaptists, denied the need or authority of the so-called ruling, ecclesiastical hierarchy. They desired to follow their own consciences and to be led by the Spirit, rather than by men. They were willing to allow disagreement over the interpretation of scripture and to grant all the grace to grow in wisdom and maturity under the tutelage of the Spirit of God. This is the real root of the hierarchical Religion, which is often missed in the evangelical world that has mostly abandoned the authoritarian model of Religion based on dictated orthodoxy and controlling rules (threat of excommunication). Thus, they do not recognize it as it once again rears its ugly head under guise of restoring the sacraments and ‘discipline’, most often in the hands of modern Calvinists.

      1. I totally agree with your 2nd point. A better evaluation of Christian history is needed. I recommend to my students and to every pastor to read Verduin’s – The Reformers and Their Stepchildren.

      2. One of my favorite books. Offers a much needed perspective, not presented by modern Calvinists, on how we got where we are today.

      3. I strongly encourage any who are seeking an excellent, well-documented view of the Reformation – from a Reformed minister, btw, – to read this book. There is no need to simply take, unchecked, the opinion of biased moderns, when one has access to scholarly research like this by one with no axe to grind. I consider it a life changing book, which gave me the confidence that I was on the right track in my journey out of Calvinism.

  9. 1. God, the Creator of the universe is the only one who possess absolute autonomy of freedom.

    2. The will of man in the Bible is Limited, not absolute. (the concept here that I present is not compatible with the dictionary meaning. The antagonist will not call it freedom because it is not autonomous of it’s own.

    Others are saying that man possess absolute free will but how can this be true when God has the power to override it and also the fact that man’s will is the best friend of the sinful nature that is present in man that causes sin to overflow in this world.?

    Those claimants of LFW cannot explain why unbelievers with free will goes to hell besides the fact that their sins according to them has been paid already by the blood of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the same sinners respond to the call and are saved because they are God’s elect from the foundation of the world as I have explained. They are the legitimate beneficiaries of Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary.

  10. Can someone explain Peter’s sermon in Acts from the traditionalist point of view? Does he not clearly assign blame for the death of Christ to the Jewish authorities, the crowd and the Romans? Does he not also say that it all happened according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God? Any help in working through these questions is much appreciated!

    1. I reading “Bondage of the Will,” I have discovered a fatal flaw in Calvinism’s thinking about free will. When it comes to understanding contingency statements (“if you will,” “if you choose,” “if you turn”) Calvinism says that God is telling man to do something that He knows they can’t b/c they are slaves to sin.

      And specifically in Deut 30:11-19 where is says not only commands them to “choose you this day” but also “that you may do it,” Here’s what they can and cannot do. They can’t keep the law even though commanded to do so. Calvin even says that they can “endeavor” to obey the law. But we all know we can’t.

      And, of course, this passage is cross-referenced to Ro 10:8-13 where Paul says, “If you will confess… for with the heart man believes unto salvation.” He’s is telling them to freely choose salvation through confession + belief = repentance to God “calling on the name of the Lord.”

      What they can do (and we can do of our own free will) is change their attitude (their heart) against sin and towards God. This is called “repentance” and it is of the heart, not of the mind as Calvinists would have it (saying that repentance is a change of the mind or change of behavior).

      And do you know why they don’t know this? B/c they do not know the difference between heart and mind, soul and spirit, belief and faith, etc. In their nature of man theology, there is only spirit and body. So granted, if that were the case, man would be in bondage to sin until God did something to them heart to allow them to “see.”

      1. Interesting point Robert.

        God put that kind of statement in the Bible thousands of times (“if you will,” “if you choose,” “if you turn”). For Calvinism to just wave a wand and say these phrases “don’t mean anything” cuz God knows they can’t do it…. is just folly.

        Imagine for a second that all followers of God (Abel, Noah, Abraham and the Israelites, then believers) believed Calvinism. Imagine, everyone of them had the same “Yeah He says it but He doesn’t mean it” attitude that Calvin did.

        How will the next generation ever take God seriously? Why would we take Him at His word?

        Imagine, the people around Noah hear the story of Cain and say ….. “Yeah, God told Cain to obey, but He didn’t mean it….. so He must not mean it now.”

        And on and on. Each new generation has all of those “He doesn’t mean it” statements to build on.

        No wonder the world thinks God’s word is foolishness! Some believers tell them that God doesn’t even mean most of what He says!

    2. Mike, I know this is 6 months too late, but I (not speaking for other Traditionalists in general) would say that God didn’t cause the Jews and Romans, etc. to be who they were going to be. He didn’t cause them to despise Jesus and the message He brought. But He did know who they would be, what they would believe, and how they would react. And in His foreknowledge, He worked their character and their choices into His plans for Jesus to die for us.

      It’s like God using the Assyrians to punish Israel, but then turning around and punishing the Assyrians for being wicked. I used to think it sounded like God caused the Assyrians to be wicked and then He punished them for being wicked. (This is a Calvinist view of God.) But I now see it as God never caused them to be the kind of people they were (wicked), but He knew they were wicked people and He simply “let them loose” on Israel, to punish them and to cause them to repent. But then, since God never caused the Assyrians to be wicked, He could punish them for the wicked people they chose to be.

      It’s a bit like an undercover sting by police. They know that to get to the Big Bad Boss, they need to get the cooperation of the Crummy Little Toady who can lead them to him. And so they go undercover, and get the Toady to help lead them to the Boss. They cops didn’t cause the Toady to be a criminal or to do illegal things, they just used his nature/decisions for their plans. And then, in the end, the cops can arrest the Toady and the Boss. This helps me understand how God can use wicked people and work their wickedness into His plans, without causing them to be wicked.


    Determinism is the thesis that every action/event is caused by an antecedent action/event.
    Logic dictates, there must be some “Transmission” mechanism which transfers the force of the antecedent to the consequent.

    May 10, 2018 at 6:14 am

    “As Plantinga defines it [contra-causal] – ‘no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that one will perform the action, or that he won’t.’ Thus, there is nothing PUSHING a person to make a decision, so no decision will be made. Therefore, no POWER.”

    Here its clear, the Calvinist intuits PUSHING and POWER (i.e., a transference of force) as realities in determinism.

    Power is expressed as the outcome of force applied over time (work).
    So, the Calvinist – (intuitively) acknowledges that in the Calvinist model of determinism there must be some transference of force from the antecedent to the consequent.

    But since he finds the reality of this unpalatable – he simply chooses to MAKE-BELIEVE this work (transference of force) of the antecedent to the consequent – occurs without work – and therefore without force.

    So he ends up with:

    Which by the way – (as we see above) is what he believes is the case without determinism.


  12. Leighton, unfortunately, most people have overlooked the most crucial factor, namely that God created the angles and mankind (Adam & Eve) with sinful natures. Let me explain:

    Though God declared that everything was very good, at least initially, things were not perfect. Since they had the motivation to sin from the onset, it follows that they were somewhat evil, since they would not have had the desire to sin if they were completely good.

    Some Christians will argue that it was the snake that tempted the first humans, and that is what attracted them to sin, but that is simply not the case. They would have already had to have had the desire to sin in the first place, and all the snake could have accomplished was to manifest that desire even further.

    An example will further elaborate. Suppose a heterosexual man sees an attractive woman and therefore experiences sexual desires. Though it is correct that the woman triggered that desire, it is only because that man already had sexual desires for women (since he’s straight) and all the woman did was increase the desire.

    If he was 100% gay, he could have no feelings for the woman.
    In the same sense if God made the first couple completely good, the snake would have had no effect on them. They would had to have been somewhat evil from design in order to be tempted. We know no one completely good can be tempted, since it says in the Bible that God cannot be tempted.

    Though God and his initial creation all had free-will (the ability to make choices based upon one’s nature without being forced) God was 100% good while his creation wasn’t, though it is true that they were mostly good, since bondage to sin only occurred after the fall of mankind.

    My point is, God deliberately made his creation semi-evil (by primary cause) when he could have made them as good as him, and it still would have been a free choice since they would have been acting on their nature.

    Why didn’t he do this? As the Calvinists say, he needed sin to come into the world so he could send people to hell in order to manifest his attribute of anger.

    So either way, God is at least somewhat active in evil since he was the primary cause of mankind’s faulty nature, and allowed the serpent to tempt them without intervening and preventing sin from entering into the universe.

    1. Hello Edouard and welcome!

      Thank you for your post – you did a good job of thinking it through.

      Although the Calvinist as a Theological Determinist (if he were not double-minded) would say that God did not “allow” the serpent to tempt. But rather he CAUSED the serpent to temp.

      Or in William Lane Craig’s terminology – he “made” the serpent tempt – “made” Adam and Eve eat the fruit – and “made” all human thoughts and choices.

      But yes you are correct – it is a matter of false attribution to attribute to the creature that which Calvin’s god in fact actually does.

      But we see this is where the Calvinist is double-minded.

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