Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Ben wrote:

“As far as sticking to exegesis you have apparently not read much from Triablogue as they are often all about philosophy.”

This is is funny considering the number of times I have asked Arminians who frequent our comboxes to provide an exegetical foundation for LFW and we've gotten so little in the way of replies.

Indeed, I discharged my own burden of proof here.

But let's play with this for a bit, shall we? Let's try to see what sort of answers we get when we look at the concept of "Free Will."


1. Second London Baptist Confession of 1689


Paragraph 1. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.1
1 Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19

Paragraph 2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God,2 but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.3
2 Eccles. 7:29
3 Gen. 3:6

Paragraph 3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation;4 so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin,5 is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.6
4 Rom. 5:6, 8:7
5 Eph. 2:1,5
6 Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44

Paragraph 4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin,7 and by His grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;8 yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he does not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.9
7 Col. 1:13; John 8:36
8 Phil. 2:13
9 Rom. 7:15,18,19,21,23

Paragraph 5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in
the state of glory only.10
10 Eph. 4:13


Treatise on the Faith and Practice of The Free Will Baptists (emphasis mine)


Divine Government and Providence

1. God exercises a providential care and superintendence over all His creatures, and governs the world in wisdom and mercy, according to the testimony of His Word.

2. God has endowed man with power of free choice, and governs him by moral laws and motives; and this power of free choice is the exact measure of man's responsibility.

3. All events are present with God from everlasting to everlasting; but His knowledge of them does not in any sense cause them, nor does He decree all events which He knows will occur.

Hmmm, let's see if representative theologians fare any better:

John Frame, speaking for Calvinism:

See also Chapter 4 of The Doctrine of God, pp. 47-79, and Responsibility and Ability and his critique of Libertarianism on pp. 126-145.

Also James Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, Chapter 13:

The Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees will appear from the following statements and references, gathered with slight modifications from Hodge's Outlines, pp, 205-213:

1. God's decrees are eternal. Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7.

2. They are immutable. Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46:9.

3. They comprehend all events.

(1.) The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees. Dan. 4:34, 35; Acts 17:26; Eph 1:11.

(2.) They affirm the same of fortuitous events. Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:29, 30.

(3.) Also of the free actions of men. Eph. 2:10, 11; Phil. 2:13.

(4.) Even the wicked actions of men. Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen. 37:28, with Gen. 45:7, 8, and Gen. 50:20. See also Ps. 17:13, 14; Isa. 10:5, 15.

4. The decrees of God are not conditional. Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 14:24, 27 ; 46:10; Rom. 9:11.

5. They are sovereign. Isa. 40:13, 14; Dan. 4:35; Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:11, 15-18; Eph. 1:5, 11.

6. They include the means. Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2.

7. They determine the free actions of men. Acts 4:27, 28 ; Eph. 2:10.

8. God himself works in his people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation. Eph. 2:8 ; Phil. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25.

9. The decree renders the event certain. Matt. 16:21; Luke 18:31-33; 24:46; Acts 2:23; 13:29; 1 Cor. 11:19.

10. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been none the less responsible. Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27, 28.

You can find the detailed exegesis in a standard Reformed commentary. (That's what the references presume the reader will do).

Walls and Dongell, speaking for Arminianism in Why I'm not a Calvinist:

1) “The essence of this view is that a free action is one that does not have a sufficient condition or cause prior to its occurrence…the common experience of deliberation assumes that our choices are undetermined.”

(2) “…It seems intuitively and immediately evident that many of our actions are up to us in the sense that when faced with a decision, both (or more) options are within our power to choose…Libertarians argue that our immediate sense of power to choose between alternative courses of action is more certain and trustworthy than any theory that denies we have power.

(3) “Libertarians take very seriously the widespread judgment that we are morally responsible for our actions and that moral responsibility requires freedom” That is, a person cannot be held morally responsible for an act unless he or she was free to perform that act and free to refrain from it. This is basic moral intuition.

William Lane Craig, Arminian, speaking for the Molinist perspective:

Since Scripture does not reflect upon this question, no amount of proof-texting can prove that
God’s counterfactual knowledge is possessed logically prior to his creative decree. This is a
matter for theological-philosophical reflection, not biblical exegesis. Thus, while it is clearly
unbiblical to deny that God has simple foreknowledge and even counterfactual knowledge, those
who deny middle knowledge cannot be accused of being unbiblical. (Craig, “Middle-Knowledge View,” 4 Vi Divine Foreknowledge Four Views, 125).
John Miley (Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, 275)
"freedom is fundamental in Arminianism," therefore, "the [Arminian] system holds accordingly the universality of the atonement and provisory nature of the atonement, and the conditionality of salvation.

These are just small samples. I am a Calvinist, because I believe the Bible. I don't come to the Bible with a set of "philosophical presuppositions" about Providence and Free Will that are my fundamentums. Arminianism's "exegetical arguments" aren't really exegetical at all. They are simply ethical and philosophical objections that masquerade as exegetical arguments. Please don't accuse Calvinists, particularly those on this blog, for not offering exegetical answers and arguments, when we've been doing it all along. Now, if you'd like to present an exegetical argument for LFW, then by all means do so, rather than gracing us with yet another emotional jeremiad.

1 comment:

  1. Sproul has his "Willing to Believe" message series up on his website audio archives. Might be good for folks on both sides of the debate to give it a listen!