Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Tidbit on the Nature of the Will

Posted at Reformation Theology

"For clarity, when the majority of Synergists say that man has free will, what he really means is that causal determinism is false – not that the natural man has the moral ability to chose Christ. Secondly, when a Calvinist says that man does not have free will, what he means is the natural man is spiritually impotent (his affections are in bondage to a corruption of nature) and thus does not have the moral ability to chose Christ.

In this both both sides agree: the desires of the natural man (who do not have the Holy Spirit) are naturally inclined toward evil, thus all he does does not spring from a heart that loves God, even his so-called "good works" since they are not done in faith. And if your "good works" are not done from faith, that is, to please and glorify God, then they have no redemptive element. This inclination is the result of being born in Adam ... fallen, that is, born into a broken relationship with God, and a person (by nature) can be no other way unless he is set free by Christ so that the relationship is mended.

Unbeknownst to many, these are truths that every true follower of Christ knows, even if we do not mean the same thing when we use the phrase, “free will.” Thus, these truths form part of the common ground shared by all true followers of Christ. The question is whether the freedom granted to us in Christ is effectual or ineffectual? Whether we are quickened (regenerated) while we are still dead in transgressions or whether those without the Spirit can understand and love Christ apart from regeneration. The Scriptures answer: "Even, when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ..." (Eph 2:5). So, according to Scripture, while we were still unregenerate, Christ, through the Holy Spirit, quickened us by grace, making us alive in Him. Since a natural man cannot understand spiritual things unless God grants his Holy Spirit to renew our hearts, he will not come unless first quickened. Those dead spiritually (without the Holy Spirit), by definition, do not have faith. Faith is the result of a renewed heart, not the cause of it.

But with regards to the ideas of “free will” and determinism: the central issue has to do with whether things happen contingently or by necessity. Do our natures drive us to make choices by necessity or may we choose against what we are. "You do not believe because you are not of God," Jesus said to those Jews he was debating with. When set free when united to Christ, He gives us a new heart that willingly and voluntarily chooses Christ of necessity.

Libertarian free will and molinism simply do not square with what we believe to be true about God as plainly revealed in Scripture. Therein lies the main issue. (see John chapters 8 and 10)."


Reproduced here by Alan Kurschner

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