Thursday, November 10, 2005free will or free agent?
I've touched on this matter in my series on Calvinism, but I thought it would be profitable for you, dear readers, to go a little deeper.
These quotes are taken from our Wednesday night studies on Biblical doctrine. Consider them carefully. For the most part, I believe they are "bang-on", but these matters are REAL DEEP, so take your time, and please let me know what you think.
(btw, all you non-Calvinists reading this, I am very interested in your take as well)
"Freedom in man does not imply exemption from the operation of influences, motives, heredity, environment. It means rather that man is not under compulsion. His actions are in the last resort determined from within. He is self-determined in what he does. Some hold that freedom in man means ability to transcend himself and act contrary to his character. (This is the erroneous sense of free will, as believed by all Pelagians and Arminians, and as opposed by Luther and many others.) The will is thus regarded, not as an expression of what the man is in his essential character. It is free in the sense of being capable of choices unrelated to past choices, acquired traits, and hereditary tendencies. This is an untenable view of freedom. It makes the will a mere external attachment to man’s nature rather than an expression thereof. Freedom excludes compulsion from without, it also excludes mere caprice and arbitrariness. Freedom is self-determinative" (E. Y. Mullins)
"God is self-determined. So is man, and at all times. God always acts according to His choice; He does as He pleases (Ps. 135:6; Isa. 46:10). So also does man. God cannot transcend Himself and act contrary to His character. Neither can man. God is ever determined to good. Natural man is ever determined to that which is spiritually evil. A regenerated man is determined, in the main, to that which is good. When he commits evil, he is, for the moment determined to evil. The will of God is never compelled or restrained by anything outside His own nature. The same is true of man. God never acts capriciously or arbitrarily, that is, without sufficient cause. Neither does man." (T.P. Simmons)
"The position of God’s will, and the nature and laws of its action, are the same as in the case of man’s will. Each is subject to the nature of its possessor. Both express the nature of their possessors in view of motives. Both man and God are free at all times to act out their most dominant desires and inclinations." (T.P. Simmons)
"Man cannot do otherwise than continue in sin so long as he is in his natural state (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 4:23; Job 14:4; Jer. 13:23; John 6:65; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 2:14). But his continuance in sin is not due to outside compulsion or restraint, but to his own character which causes him to choose darkness rather than light (John 3:19). He continues in sin for the same reason that a hog wallows in the mire. He continues in sin for the same reason that God continues in holiness. Thus he is fully a free agent." (T.P. Simmons)
"In the hardening and blinding of sinners, which is unmistakably attributed to God in the Scripture (Rom. 9:18; John 12:40), there is no outside force brought to bear upon the will of the sinner. While God is said to blind and to harden the sinner, the sinner is said to blind and harden himself. John 12:40 is a quotation from Isa. 6:10, where the prophet Isaiah is commanded to shut the eyes of the people. Then in Matt. 13:14,15 there is another free quotation from this same prophecy, and in Matthew the sinners are said to have closed their own eyes. Then, still again, in 2 Cor. 4:3,4, we have the blinding of sinners attributed to the devil. All of these passages refer to the same thing, and all of them are true because they are in the Word of God. We have the blinding of sinners attributed to God, to the devil, to the prophet, and to the sinners themselves. It is ours to find, if we can, the harmony between these statements. Here it is: The blinding is attributed to God because He decreed, whether permissively or efficiently, all the circumstances that render the sinner blind. The blinding is attributed to the devil because he is the author of sin by which the sinner is blinded. The same blinding is attributed to the prophet because his preaching of the Word brings out and makes the blindness of the sinner active in his rejection of the Word. Then, finally, the blinding is attributed to the sinner himself because he loves darkness rather than light, and manifests his choice of darkness by rejecting the Word. This leaves the natural man a free agent. If God, or the devil or the prophet, by a power outside of the nature of the sinner, could compel the sinner against his choice to reject the Word, the sinner would no longer be a free agent, and he would be no longer responsible for his unbelief. Responsibility and free agency go hand in hand. (T.P. Simmons)
Complicated, and definitely fits Peter's "things hard to be understood" (2 Peter 3:16), but in the end, if it's in Scripture, it's IMPORTANT.
Study hard, students of the Word.