[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Does God possess the power to make contrary choices?


by Matthew

Some (but not all Calvinists) argue for a model of the human will known as Compatibilism. This holds that man has the power to choose to do what he is inclined to do, but will not choose contrary to this.

Bruce Ware explains this position:

But it stands to reason that if we choose to do what we want, then at the moment of that choice, we are not "free" to do otherwise. That is, if I want an apple not an orange, and if my freedom consists in choosing to do what I want, then I'm free to choose the apple, but I'm not free to choose the orange. Freedom, then, is not freedom of contrary choice but freedom to choose and act in accordance with what I want most. It is, as Jonathan Edwards called it, our "freedom of inclination," i.e., we are free when we act in accordance with what we are most stronly inclined to do.
God's Greater Glory, p.80


So because I like wearing flip flops, unless I am going to a wedding or there is an inch of snow outside, I will freely choose to wear flip flops. I do not have the power to make the contrary choice to wear sneakers, boots or loafers, because that is not what I am inclined to do. I have the freedom to follow my flip-flop-wearing nature.

To summarise this:

1. Matthew is inclined to wear flip flops.
2. A person will do what he is most inclined to do, circumstances permitting.
3. Therefore circumstances permitting, Matthew will wear flip flops.

However, we must ask whether this model of freedom should not be applied to God as well as to mankind.

If God's choices arise from His nature we may say that they result from inclinations that He posesses. Let us apply this to God's choices:

1. God was inclined to create the earth.
2. A person will do what he is most inclined to do, circumstances permitting.
3. Therefore God chose to create the earth.

Following this logic we can say that God would not have chosen to do anything other than create the earth. This would apply to all of God's choices, such as electing Abraham, choosing to redeem man through the cross and restoring the cosmos in the eschaton. God did not have the freedom of contrary choice.

Now one could object to premise 2 being applied to both man and God. The Reformed Compatiblist may argue that my choice to wear flip flops is in any completely different category to God's choices. No doubt, but the objector must explain how.

If God's will can be neutral yet be moved by the inclinations of His nature, why can the will of man not be neutral yet moved by the inclinations of his nature? To allow the one but not the other is to make a case of special pleading.

There are two other ways out. One is to argue that God's will is an absolute and utterly independent facet of His personality that posesses a supreme power to make choices indepently of His inclinations. The problem with this strategy is that it absolutizes the will of God in such a way that it sets His attributes in opposition to each other. This is a denial of the simplicity of God and also undermines His moral character.

Alternatively, the Reformed Compatibilist may opt to allow God only Compatibilist freedom. Thus, God would never have made alternative choices to those He has made. The Father would never have done anything but send the Son and the Son would never have done other than come into the world to save sinners.

At times, Reformed Christians can sometimes give the impression that this is the view they take when they talk about election and reprobation as being necessary outworkings of God's nature.

However, to allow God to only posess Compatiblist freedom would have two problems. First, it would undermine the whole project of Reformed theology, namely the upholding of God's sovereign will. Secondly, it would raise questions about the self-sufficency and immutability of God if it was necessary for Him to choose to create the universe and He could not have done otherwise.

Labels: ,

39 Comments:

  • At times, Reformed Christians can sometimes give the impression that this is the view they take when they talk about election and reprobation as being necessary outworkings of God's nature.

    Matthew, I am finding your argument hard to follow here, so perhaps I am missing something. I do however feel from the above sentence that you are introducing something that is less than solid here. Words like "At times...sometimes" and especially "give the impression" hardly inspire confidence in a discussion like this?

    I always took the contary choice issue to refer to the fact that God cannot do something that is contrary to Himself i.e. He cannot choose to deny Himself or to lie or to act the fool etc., I would not hold that God simply had to create the world, but that He freely chose to. He would have been none the less sovereign, holy, all powerful etc., had he chose to remain without a Universe to rule over.

    Man is in bondage to sin (John 8;34) and unless there is a divine intervention, then he will not go against the sinfully biased directions of his heart.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Monday, May 19, 2008 8:31:00 AM  

  • Colin, it may be that you have not fully embraced the Compatibilist model of the will.

    Compatibilism holds that people possess power to make choices in accordance with the inclinations of their will.

    So:

    1. Matthew is inclined to wear flip flops.
    2. A person always does what he is inclined to do, circumstances permitting.
    3. Matthew will therefore wear flip flops if circumstances permit.

    The will is thus not viewed as neutral (able to make contrary choices) but as moved solely by the direction of the persons inclinations.

    My argument in this post is that if the Compatibilist model of the will is applied to man, there is no reason why it should not be applied to God.

    1. God was inclined to elect Colin Maxwell.
    2. A person always does what he is inclined to do.
    3. Therefore God elected Colin Maxwell.

    Following this logic God did not have the power to do otherwise then elect Colin Maxwell because, following the logic of Compatibilism, a person will always follow the inclination of their nature.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 19, 2008 8:47:00 AM  

  • As regards your quoataion:

    "At times, Reformed Christians can sometimes give the impression that this is the view they take when they talk about election and reprobation as being necessary outworkings of God's nature."

    This was something of an aside. It does not affect the substance of my argument here.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 19, 2008 8:48:00 AM  

  • My argument in this post is that if the Compatibilist model of the will is applied to man, there is no reason why it should not be applied to God.

    I never like wading in places that I am not comfortabme with - particularly if it is leading me out of my depth. Anticipating your next question ("Can you think of a reason?") yet I do not think that it follows that something that is true of man is necessarily true of God. Hopefully some one else will take you up on this and that I might learn something here. Something to chew on though.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Monday, May 19, 2008 9:16:00 AM  

  • Colin, naturally man and God are different. It does not follow that because a thing applies to man it must apply to God.

    However, I do think the Reformed advocates of Compatibilism need to give some reason why God's will can be neautral yet moved by inclinations.

    Well done for being honest about not having an answer for this one.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 19, 2008 9:30:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I wouldn’t want to give the impression here that it must be ”a mystery” seeing that I cannot understand it, but there is a case to be made that we really are in deep waters. It is one thing to discuss what the Lord has done and actually revealed. It is another thing to go beyond what is written. The verse that is sticking in my mind at the moment is; “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?” etc., (Romans 11:33ff) I have the works of Edwards and therefore his treatise on the will, but I have no inclination (excuse the pun) to read it, especially in double columns in the BOT edition of his works.

    I think your opening words in the article show that this is hardly mainline or generic Calvinist belief? I know that John Owens took on Samuel Rutherford over similar things, but it really is flighty stuff – at least to a wannabe theologian like li’le ole me. :o)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Monday, May 19, 2008 11:33:00 AM  

  • Colin, yes, not all Calvinists are willing to jump on the Compatibilist bandwagon. Some Calvinists prefer to try to combine a philosophically Libertarian view of the will with a commitment to foreordination.

    However, it must be said that many Calvinists such as Bruce Ware, James White and our Jonathan Moorhead are making Compatibilism an important part of their polemic.

    You must understand that as a Non-Calvinist it is natural that I should want to respond to the argument for Compatibilism in a theological context.

    Some Reformed folks are arguing for Compatibilism. That is all well; there are some very good philosophical arguments in favour of that view. However, when they do so, they must be willing to consider the implications of that position.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 19, 2008 11:50:00 AM  

  • This bruce ware dude says:

    But it stands to reason that if we choose to do what we want, then at the moment of that choice, we are not "free" to do otherwise. That is, if I want an apple not an orange, and if my freedom consists in choosing to do what I want, then I'm free to choose the apple, but I'm not free to choose the orange. Freedom, then, is not freedom of contrary choice but freedom to choose and act in accordance with what I want most. It is, as Jonathan Edwards called it, our "freedom of inclination," i.e., we are free when we act in accordance with what we are most stronly inclined to do.
    God's Greater Glory, p.80


    This is absurdity. In the case of the illustration of the man with the inclination to have an apple, given the opportunity to both, he has the freedom to choose both. For in asmuch as he does have the greater inclination to choose the apple, it does not preclude him from choosing the orange instead for any number of reasons. One of these reasons being that possibly he has heard that the orange is healthier for him.

    I remember when my grandfather was still alive that whenever I would see him, invariably, he would be peeling 2 oranges. He told me (this was in the late 70's) that the doctor prescribed for him to eat 2 oranges a day. I tell you the truth, the man could peel an orange with a knife so that the peel was left in one piece.

    You, Matthew, could choose to wear shoes on a cut-and-dried opportunity to wear flip-flops due to considerations, even though you have that great inclination to wear flip-flops.

    Let us say that on a day that was prime to wear flip-flops that you were going out for a bite with a lass. You may consider that the flip-flops would be too informal for that occasion. You certainly are within your right and freedom to wear them. But you choose to wear loafers instead.

    Contrariliwise, you could decide against wearing loafers, to spite such a notion that the flip-flops are too casual.

    The argument provided by this guy does NOT "stand to reason".

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, May 19, 2008 5:14:00 PM  

  • Antonio, I suppose Bruce Ware would reply to the examples that you give that a person may have several minor inclinations. If I choose not to wear flip flops it would be because I had an inclination (in your example pleasing some girl) that overrode my preference for flip flops.

    However, I do not think that solves the problem because:

    1) It is not clear that a person must have one single most important inclination at any one time. Surely one could have two competing inclinations that have equal weight.

    2) Ware does not consider that perhaps the will may be involved in deciding the prioity of competing inclinations. When we make a decision, do we not engage in a process of deciding what is most important?

    3) How do we explain indecision? Often when I decide to have a take-away, I have a hard time deciding between fish and chips, battered sausage and Chinese food. Do I not have one single inclination or do I make a decision which inclination I will follow? Ware makes no attempt to explain indecision.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 12:35:00 AM  

  • Wouldn't equal inclinations create indecision?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 5:56:00 AM  

  • Missy, yes they would, until one found a way to decide which inclination to follow.

    The Compatibilist has a problem here. She seems to be unwilling to consider that the exercise of the will is a decision to prioritize one set of inclination or motivation over another.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 6:20:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Unless one's inclination is to be willful. {c;

    I think that indecision would reign until consideration or a change in circumstance (like someone ate the orange, so it's no longer available) weighted one inclination over another.

    However, my understanding of this concept did not regard inclinations toward specific choices - such as "I am hungry, shall I eat an apple or an orange?" - rather the inclination toward a narrowed set of choices - "I am hungry, shall I eat food or something that is not food? And of the food I have available to me, which shall I eat?"

    I had to admit, looking at it in this way, that when I make a choice my options do appear rather limited beyond my will - meaning I cannot always have what my will desires.

    This concept would seem to explain how God's sovereignty and Man's will or personal desire can coexist.

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 11:21:00 AM  

  • "I think that indecision would reign until consideration or a change in circumstance (like someone ate the orange, so it's no longer available) weighted one inclination over another."

    If a person has the desire to eat, she is going to have to choose whether to eat the apple or orange, or both if that is possible.

    If she has an equal preference for both apples and oranges, then she must decide which to eat. I would see the exercise of the will as occurring in this process.

    On the Compatibilist view, the will merely ratifies and follows the inclination that is strongest. On the Libertarian view, the will is an active process that chooses between inclinations.

    On the Compatibilist view in every possible world in which the same circumstances occur, our hypothetical person would choose to eat the same fruit.

    On the Libertarian view, in another possible world, in the same circumstances, the person could make a different choice and eat the other fruit.

    My argument in this post is that if we take the Compatibilist view, to be consistent, we should apply the same logic to God's will.

    Thus, God could do none other than create the world and elect Abraham.

    If a person always follows his strongest inclination, then the choices that God made are the only choices He could have made. It would have been impossible for God not to create the world or elect Abraham. I think this is a serious problem for those who advocate Compatiblist freedom.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 1:14:00 PM  

  • It seems that a Calvinist would not have a problem with this consistently applied model you describe as God has predestined and therefore cannot (willnot?) act contrary.

    I think scripture supports that God does not act contrary to His Will. Could we not say God has only one inclination - to always do what is best?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 7:24:00 PM  

  • Missy,
    "I think scripture supports that God does not act contrary to His Will."

    Obviously, though there may be disagreements about what is meant by 'God's will.'

    I am using the word here in the sense of God's choice; what He has chosen to do.

    What I am talking about here is whether God's will was able to make contrary choices to what He has made.

    "It seems that a Calvinist would not have a problem with this consistently applied model you describe as God has predestined and therefore cannot (willnot?) act contrary."

    I disagree. I think it would be a huge problem for the Calvinist.

    If Gpd possesses only Compatiblist freedom, then:

    -It would have been impossible for God not to elect Missy.

    - It would be impossible for God to send you to hell.

    - It would be impossible for God to have destroyed Satan.

    - It would have been impossible for God not to create the world.

    Do you not think these implications would be a problem for Calvinists?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 12:03:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I am enjoying this exchange - it's good to think. :)

    "What I am talking about here is whether God's will was able to make contrary choices to what He has made."

    If God's inclination is to always choose what is best - and all has been predetermined from the beginning, there would never be an instance that would require a contrary choice.

    Now, if you do not believe that all has been predetermined - then the best choices for God to make can change based on the willful choices of man.

    Those that believe in predetermination might say that:

    "-It would have been impossible for God not to elect Missy.

    - It would be impossible for God to send you to hell.

    - It would be impossible for God to have destroyed Satan.

    - It would have been impossible for God not to create the world."

    Am I developing a wrong conclusion that God's predetermination of an event makes it so (to those that adhere to PreD) - which means God will not "change His mind"? Maybe the difference is in the terms "will not" and "cannot" but if it's God, I think the difference is insignificant.

    Or maybe I am incorrect in assuming that Calvinists generally adhere to PreD?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 4:00:00 AM  

  • Missy,
    "Am I developing a wrong conclusion that God's predetermination of an event makes it so (to those that adhere to PreD) - which means God will not "change His mind"? Maybe the difference is in the terms "will not" and "cannot" but if it's God, I think the difference is insignificant."

    You are absolutely correct. But what is significant here is that it is God's choice that makes it so and this would be undermined if God could not have chosen to the contrary.

    If God had predetermined those outcomes that I list, they would be the ones that occur.

    However, that is not really the issue.

    I believe the Calvinist would want to say that God voluntarily chose to do the things He has done:

    - Elect Missy.

    - Save Missy from hell.

    - Permit Satan to continue to exist.

    - Create the universe.

    He did those things; but He could have done otherwise.

    In saying that they are predetermined outcomes, one is not claiming that they are the only possible outcomes.

    To get a good idea of Calvinist theology, it is always a good idea to look back at the Westminister Confession (bearing in mind they do not all follow it in every part).

    Chapter 2:

    "II. God has all life,[25] glory,[26] goodness,[27] blessedness,[28] in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made,[29] nor deriving any glory from them,[30] but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them."

    Note this teaches the self-sufficency of God.

    This means that God is not dependent upon anything outside Himself.

    If it was impossible for God not to create the universe, this would seem to compromise that doctrine. It would suggest that He actually needs the creation.

    Another section of that first chapter:

    "I. There is but one only,[1] living, and true God,[2] who is infinite in being and perfection,[3] a most pure spirit,[4] invisible,[5] without body, parts,[6] or passions;[7] immutable,[8] immense,[9] eternal,[10] incomprehensible,[11] almighty,[12] most wise,[13] most holy,[14] most free,[15] most absolute;[16] working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will,[17] for His own glory;[18] most loving,[19] gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin;[20] the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him;[21] and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments,[22] hating all sin,[23] and who will by no means clear the guilty.[24]"

    Note that it says that God is 'most free.' Is this compatible with applying Compatibilist freedom to God? Would not that leave God with no more freedom than the creature?

    Surely God has no meaningful freedom if:

    -It would have been impossible for God not to elect Missy.

    - It would be impossible for God to send Missy to hell.

    - It would be impossible for God to have destroyed Satan.

    - It would have been impossible for God not to create the world.

    The Westminister statement on God's eternal decrees makes much of God's freedom:

    "I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

    "VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto.[12] Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,[13] are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,[14] and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation.[15] Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.[16]"

    If God has only Compatibilist freedom then He had absolutely no choice but to make this decrees.

    I think this idea ought to give the Calvinist an heart attack.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 4:50:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    I'm continuing to follow your arguments and thoughts here with interest. (Or at least try and follow them.)

    I am more content to see what God has actually done than what he could or could not have done. I think the former is more profitable. But still...it is interesting on a cold, rainy, wintery, spring (Late May) day here in the Emerald Isle.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 5:35:00 AM  

  • Cold and rainy doesent sound much fun, Colin.

    But I would love an Irish stew and pint of Guinness or Murphys.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 5:42:00 AM  

  • Matthew,
    This is a really cool discussion. You think so analytically - it amazes me. I still love your other argument about this the best - you know - the "sum total of a person's charcteristics" one.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 11:19:00 AM  

  • Right. Thanks, Rose.

    I think this argument is more signifcant though.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, May 21, 2008 11:25:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I'm sorry it took some time to respond, but I had to take some time to think this through as i was not fully grasping your conclusion.

    I guess I am finding it difficult to apply a concept like this to God. I find it consistent theory for compatibilism to apply to the will of those created but not the Creator - in the same way space and time may not apply to God, and yet clearly applies to us.

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Thursday, May 22, 2008 3:22:00 PM  

  • "I tell you the truth, the man could peel an orange with a knife so that the peel was left in one piece."

    Ain't that that truth!!!!!!! Mine could do the same!!!!!!!

    Sorry to break in on something off topic, but man, Antonio, that brought back such a sweet memory!!!!! I am glad I read that!

    By Blogger Gojira, at Thursday, May 22, 2008 6:45:00 PM  

  • Missy, if we view God as being timeless (and I am inclined to do so) then we must engage with the logical difficulties involved with this. If we found them to be insurmoutnable, we would have to take a second look at the Scriptures and ask if they really taught such a doctrine.

    If we accept the idea of Compatabilism, we have to either apply it to God or give a good reason for not doing so.

    Or to look at it from another direction, if God can have libertarian freedom while still being influenced by His inclinations, why cannot humans have libertarian freedom while being influenced by their inclinations?

    Missy, you have not put your own cards on the table.

    Do you agree with Comaptiblism?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 23, 2008 12:35:00 AM  

  • Missy, let me re-state the argument:

    The Compatiblist holds:

    1. Matthew is inclined to wear flip flops.
    2. A person always follows his inclinations, circumstances permitting.
    3. Therefore circumstances permitting, Matthew will wear flip flops.

    Now I am applying this logic to God:

    1. God is inclined to elect Missy.
    2. A person always follows his inclinations, circumstances permitting.
    3. Therefore God will elect Missy.

    The Compatibilist who wants to avoid limiting God to Compatiblist freedom must find a way to avoid applying premise 2 to God.

    If the Compatiblist fails to find a way to avoid applying premise 2 to God.

    The danger in doing so is that one ends up denying that God is a person.

    I would suggest a better way to deal with premise 2 is to abandon it as unsatisfactory. Which would of course mean rejecting Compatiblism.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 23, 2008 12:42:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I am the type of person that finds ideas intriguing, and have a very open mind to the possibility without really committing it to a "belief" - and I am fairly comfortable with that. That being said, I find the theory of compatibilism ties up some loose ends of my own philosophies quite nicely. I still haven't thought it out entirely, carrying it through to it's ramifications - but it's worth an examination in my mind.

    "The danger in doing so is that one ends up denying that God is a person."

    I think this is where we disconnect in our logic. I guess I never considered God a "person" in my premise. Should I?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Friday, May 23, 2008 5:47:00 AM  

  • God is a person. I assume this is a truth you affirm.

    Supposing we affirm that God does posess libertarian freedom.

    I would put this to you:

    1. God posesses the power to make contrary choices despite being influenced by His inclinations.
    2. God is a person.
    3. Therefore a person is able to make contrary choices despite being influenced by his inclinations.

    If this is correct, then Compatibilism is funadmentally refuted.

    But maybe you can find a flaw in those premises.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 23, 2008 7:03:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    How do you define [person]?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Friday, May 23, 2008 9:04:00 AM  

  • Matthew, while I wait, let's assume we agree that God is a person (and I can if your definition is a "self-consious being" - but typically I go with "human being").

    Let's utilize an attribute of God we might find agreement in, keeping all else the same:

    1. God posesses the power to create life out of nothing.
    2. God is a person.
    3. Therefore a person is able to create life out of nothing.

    Do you believe that man has all the attributes of God?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Friday, May 23, 2008 9:19:00 AM  

  • Missy,
    'How do you define [person]?'

    I will broaden your definition to include intelligence and will as well as self-consciousness.

    1. God posesses the power to create life out of nothing.
    2. God is a person.
    3. Therefore a person is able to create life out of nothing.

    This logic is actually correct.

    Provided that by premise 3 we do not mean all persons.

    Your argument correctly proves that it is possible for a person to create life out of nothing.

    That it is possible for a particular kind of person (God) to posess this power does not prove that all persons posess it.

    So to clarify my earlier argumentL

    1. God posesses the power to make contrary choices despite being influenced by His inclinations.
    2. God is a person.
    3. Therefore itpossible for at least one kind of person to make contrary choices despite being influenced by his inclinations.

    If this is the case that God is able to make contrary choices, despite being influenced by His inclinations, it raises the question why humans are not able to do the same.

    I think Compatiblists who refuse to apply Compatiblism to God are being very incomsistent and illogical.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 23, 2008 12:09:00 PM  

  • "That it is possible for a particular kind of person (God) to posess this power does not prove that all persons posess it."

    Why do you accept this simple explanation to another attribute of God, but not this attribute?

    If I ask myself why man cannot create life out of nothing - or why man cannot make contrary choices - the answer would be the same. God does not allow it.

    This is the argument that ends consideration of compatibilism for me. I don't see this as consistent with what I believe to be God's character. Is that what you meant in the statement below?

    "The problem with this strategy is that it absolutizes the will of God in such a way that it sets His attributes in opposition to each other. This is a denial of the simplicity of God and also undermines His moral character."

    By Blogger Missy, at Friday, May 23, 2008 7:18:00 PM  

  • Missy, I just wrote you a long reply and blogger made an error posting it. What a waste of time.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 24, 2008 2:29:00 AM  

  • Missy,
    "Why do you accept this simple explanation to another attribute of God, but not this attribute?"

    There are some attributes that God posesses that we don't, such as the ability to create life out of nothing.

    However, there are other attributes that God posesses that we also posess.

    What we are talking about here is free-will. Both man and God posess a free-will.

    So when we define the nature of what a free-will is, we must consider the fact that both man and God posess this thing.

    My big question to Comapatibilists is how they can justify defining God's free-will in a way that is different to that of man's will.

    "If I ask myself why man cannot create life out of nothing - or why man cannot make contrary choices - the answer would be the same. God does not allow it."

    Missy, do you mind if I suggest that you have not really understood Compatiblism?

    I think you are confusing it with foreordination.

    Foreordination is the view that God has ordained man's choices.

    When you talk about God not allowing man to make contrary choices, you are talking about foreordination more than Compatibilism.

    Compatiblism is the theory that free-will is compatible with determinism.
    The Compatiblist argues that if we do what our nature inclines us to do, then it is impossible for us to make contrary choices.

    Nopw although this idea fits in nicely with foreordination, you could believe in foreordination without buying Compatiblism (though there would be difficulties). Our good friend Colin Maxwell has admitted he is not sure about Compatiblism, even though he believes in foreordination.

    Coming back to your point about God not allowing us to make contrary choices.

    Compatiblists do not so much argue that God forbids us to make contrary choices (though they will hold this if they believe in foreordination) but rather that contrary choices are impossible because men and women make choices based on the inclination of their natures.

    "This is the argument that ends consideration of compatibilism for me. I don't see this as consistent with what I believe to be God's character. Is that what you meant in the statement below?"

    I think I agree, but that is not really what I was saying in the statement below.

    "The problem with this strategy is that it absolutizes the will of God in such a way that it sets His attributes in opposition to each other. This is a denial of the simplicity of God and also undermines His moral character."

    My point here is to deal with a possible solution to the dilemma for the Compatiblist. This would be to make God's will independent of His nature. However, I think this would cause big theological problems and would be unacceptable.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 24, 2008 2:40:00 AM  

  • Matthew, You do know that Ware isn't a Compatibilist, and that the very book you quote from is his defense of a modified position of middle knowledge, don't you? I say that because you write, "However, it must be said that many Calvinists such as Bruce Ware, James White and our Jonathan Moorhead are making Compatibilism an important part of their polemic." You also, or perhaps it is because you are reading Ware, and it is his misunderstanding, appear to be confusing two concepts. Compatilism (which is how the will of man relates to sovereignity), is not to be confused with how inclinations of the sinful will act with it's earth bound surroundings and choices. But then again, you are reading Ware, who as I said concerning the book you are reading, is not making a case for Compatibilism, and who himself commits this error.

    By Blogger Gojira, at Saturday, May 24, 2008 3:17:00 PM  

  • Sorry, Matthew, I had to stop and think about what you said to me. My reaction was to foolishly defend my limited knowledge of this subject, when it is only recently been of interest.

    I am absolutely certain that I misunderstand much of compatibilism. :)

    I am afraid I did not explain my thoughts very well. I can understand how one might hold to foreordination, and not compatibilism. But it seems that one would have to hold to foreordination to hold to compatibilism. This was my meaning to the conclusion, "God does not allow it[contray choice]." If God does not allow contrary choice for man, then He has foreordained man's choice to inclination.

    "There are some attributes that God posesses that we don't, such as the ability to create life out of nothing.

    However, there are other attributes that God posesses that we also posess."


    Yes, I agree.

    "What we are talking about here is free-will. Both man and God posess a free-will."

    This is a premise I lean towards, but am not in agreement as yet. I am in agreement that God posesses free-will. I think I can agree that God created man with free-will, but not that man posesses it. This is why compatibilism caught my consideration.

    "My point here is to deal with a possible solution to the dilemma for the Compatiblist. This would be to make God's will independent of His nature. However, I think this would cause big theological problems and would be unacceptable."

    Yes, I understand what you mean now, and I agree.

    Thank you for your patience!

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Sunday, May 25, 2008 7:28:00 PM  

  • Gojirah, I am aware that Bruce Ware is a Middle Knwoledge advocate.

    However, I believe Middle Knowledge is simply a variation on Compatiblism. Like Ware, I am unable to see how Middle Knowledge advocates can avoid adopting Determinism.

    However, I have not yet read Craig's book on foreknowledge, so you never know- my mind can change.

    As far as I can see Ware's statements on free-will are an accurate description of Compatilism, but I am ready to be more specifically corrected.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 26, 2008 5:55:00 AM  

  • Missy,

    (before I say anything else, it may be that Gojirah would urge me to use the term Soft Determinism in place of the term I have been using here Compatiblism. For the purpose of discussion, I will continue to use the word Comaptiblism).

    "But it seems that one would have to hold to foreordination to hold to compatibilism."

    One could be an atheist who hold to the same notion of free-will that the Compatiblist holds. Obviously she would not believe that God determined choices, but she could take the view that we have the freedom to follow our inclinations, but not to make chocies contrary to them.

    A Compattiblist could, I suppose hold that God created the universe in such a way that man would make particular choices and none other without God having specifically ordained those choices according to His decretal will.

    In fact some opponents of Calvinism actually take a similar view to this called Middle Knowledge (including one blogger you will have read). Some of them would deny this is similar to Compatiblism, but as far as I can see it is.

    I am sure you will soon learn all about Middle Knowledge.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 26, 2008 6:08:00 AM  

  • Yes, Matthew, I see your point about atheists. I do find it difficult to see how someone with a belief in a Creator could hold to compatibilism without coming to the conclusion that the Creator is responsible for attributes in those it creates. If God has denied one's ability to make contrary choice, He has foreordained their choices.

    It seems this line of thinking may also end up making God responsible for man's sin.

    But I digress. Your timely discussion has led me away from this theory. Thank you.

    Blessings,
    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:37:00 AM  

  • There are two obvious flaws in the Edwardian theory of the will which is what most all Calvinists follow.

    The first is that it is anti-Scriptural. Paul says so in Rom. 7.

    Second, the entire thesis that one's choice is fixed by one's nature is false.

    Lucifer, Adam and Eve were all created with "good" natures, but all three freely chose against that nature.

    Their entire theory of the will is bankrupt.

    Gary

    By Blogger Biblicist, at Sunday, June 08, 2008 8:48:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home