Myth: We don't have free will.

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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.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
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.

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I thought Calvinism says we don't have free will.
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.
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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.

Now as far as the term is concerned I still maintain what I declared in my Institutes, that I am not so excessively concerned about words as to want to start an argument for that cause, provided that a sound understanding of the reality is retained. If freedom is opposed to coercion, I both acknowledge and consistently maintain that choice is free, and I hold anyone who thinks otherwise to be a heretic. If, I say, it were called free in the sense of not being coerced nor forcibly moved by an external impulse, but moving of its own accord, I have no objection.
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).

The reason I find this epithet unsatisfactory is that people commonly think of something quite different when they hear or read it being applied to the human will. Since in fact they take it to imply ability and power, one cannot prevent from entering the minds of most people, as soon as the will is called free, the illusion that it therefore has both good and evil within its power, so that it can by its own strength choose either one or them.
Due to this, Calvin believed it was best not to use the term.

I am therefore not making an issue out of nothing or for the sake of a single phrase, but think that I have just cause to wish this phrase, against which almost the greater portion of humanity dashes itself at so great a risk, to be removed from common use.
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.
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