Myth: We don't have free will.

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by chatwithstumac, Oct 23, 2018.

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  1. chatwithstumac

    chatwithstumac Puritan Board Freshman

    I thought Calvinism says we don't have free will. How I've understood it: either your will is a slave to Satan or to Christ. Being "free" from the bondage of sin is not "free will" it's a "freed will." That's different. We're freed from sin to do the will of the Father.


  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

  3. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Reformed theology affirms free will. An unfree will is an oxymoron. We just don’t teach a free will in the sense that it is unbound from human desire and affections, which would also be nonsense, as Edwards proved.
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    We have moral agency. When philosophers use the term "free will," they mean we aren't causally determined by prior events in the space-time universe. That's common sense, obviously. In other words, we hold to agent-causation, not event-causation.

    When theologians use free will, they usually mean altar-call.
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Better term for today: Free Moral Agency
  6. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    We have freedom without Liberty is how I understood it.
  7. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    If I understand him correctly, (and I think I do), Gordon Clark has pretty much said that man has no free will period. Here's a little tickler on his thinking from the good folks at

    EDIT: The last paragraph of Clark's Religion, Reason and Revelation, in the chapter, God and Evil: The Problem Solved, he says this:

    Another aspect of the human conditions presupposed by the laws God
    imposes on man is that they carry with them a penalty that cannot be
    inflicted on God. Man is responsible because God calls him to account; man
    is responsible because the supreme power can punish him for disobedience.
    God, on the contrary, cannot be responsible for the plain reason that there
    is no power superior to him; no greater being can hold him accountable; no
    one can punish him; there is no one to whom God is responsible; there are
    no laws which he could disobey. The sinner, therefore, and not God, is
    responsible; the sinner alone is the author of sin. Man has no free will, for
    salvation is purely of grace; and God is sovereign.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
  8. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

  9. mgkortus

    mgkortus Puritan Board Freshman

    In his book The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, Calvin explains that the term 'free will' can be understood in a proper sense.

    Thus, Calvin denies that we are coerced by some force outside of ourselves. However, Calvin goes on to explain that the term "free will" is loaded with baggage (namely Roman Catholic baggage).

    Due to this, Calvin believed it was best not to use the term.

    All three quotes are from Bondage and Liberation of the Will, page 68 (Baker Books, 1996).

    In the article you cite, Forster is writing about Calvinism. In light of Calvin's own writings, I believe asserting that we have a free will is unwise.

    EDIT: Because even today, I believe the term "free will" refers to more than moral responsibility. I believe it includes the idea that man has the power to choose good or evil.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
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