Freedom of the Will will enthrall and challenge serious readers of the Bible as well as students of theology's impact on American history. Although some have found it to be intolerably complex, it is actually quite simple and forthright once one grasps the meaning of several important terms he employs. For those who want help in tracing Edwards' full argument, Daniel P. Fuller has written section-by-section digest of Freedom of the Will. Showing the manifest inconsistence of the Arminian notion of Liberty of Will, consisting in the Will's self-determining Power. Whether any event whatsoever, and Volition in particular, can come to pass without a Cause of its existence.
Showing, that if the things asserted in these Evasions should be supposed to be true, they are altogether impertinent, and cannot help the cause ofArminian Liberty; and how, this being the state of the case, Arminian writers are obliged to talk inconsistently. Concerning the Will determining in things which are perfectly indifferent in the view of the mind.
Volition necessarily connected with the influence of Motives: with particular observations on the great inconsistence of Mr. Chubb's assertions and reasonings about the Freedomof the Will. God's certain foreknowledge of the future volitions of moral agents, inconsistent with such a contingence of those volitions as is without all necessity.
Whether we suppose the volitions of moral Agents to be connected with any thing antecedent, or not, yet they must be necessary in such a sense as to overthrow Arminian liberty. The Acts of the Will of the human soul of Jesus Christ, necessarily holy, yet truly virtuous, praise-worthy, rewardable. The case of such as are given up of God to sin, and of fallen man in general, proves moral Necessity and Inability to be consistent with Blameworthiness. That Sincerity of Desires and Endeavours, which is supposed to excuse in the non-performance of things in themselves good, particularly considered.
Liberty of indifference, not only not necessary to Virtue, but utterly inconsistent with it; and all, either virtuous or vicious habits or inclinations, inconsistent with Arminian notions of Liberty and moral Agency. Arminian notions of moral Agency inconsistent with all Influence of Motive and Inducement, in either virtuous or vicious actions. The essence of the virtue and vice of dispositions of the heart, and acts of the will, lies not in their cause, but their nature. Skip to main content. Search the Directory of Theology.
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By Author James E Adams. Jay E Adams. Eric Alexander. Archibald Alexander. Joseph Alleine. Thabiti Anyabwile. Bill Ascol. Tom Ascol. Aurelius Augustine. St Augustine. Greg Bahnsen. Robert Baillie. Nicholas T Batzig. Voddie Baucham. S M Baugh. Herman Bavinck. Richard Baxter. G K Beale. Greg Beale. Joel R Beeke. Alistair Begg. E Calvin Beisner. Richard Bennett. Louis Berkhof. Theodore Beza. Hugh Binning. John Blanchard. Loraine Boettner. James Montgomery Boice. Brian Borgman. As such, his purpose is also instructional, hoping also that in this way Erasmus himself might be brought to a correct understanding of the truth.
In concluding his Introduction, Luther writes,. Therefore we must pray to God that he may open my mouth and your heart, and the hearts of all men, and that he may himself be present in our midst as the master who informs both our speaking and hearing. We bring this out because often it is said that Luther is a man who is so agressive in his polemics that he forgets the welfare of his opponents. But here we see him defending the truth in love. His desire is that his opponent might come to a better understanding of the truth.
Luther begins his reply to Erasmus by calling attention to the importance of doctrine. Erasmus has made the statement that doctrinal assertions are not important. Erasmus' preference is a position of no position; that is, doctrinal neutrality and uncertainty. However, in the world of theology, there is no such thing as neutrality and uncertainty.
Either one admits that truth is absolute and stands for it or he is against it. Luther correctly points out that Erasmus, in rejecting the doctrinal assertions in the Scriptures, is really taking sides with the Sophists. This is a lesson that must be learned. Why is it that Luther, with the other Reformers, insisted on the importance of doctrine? This is because religion is not a mere matter of opinion. God has revealed His truth in the Scriptures. The Scriptures define for us what we must believe. Luther says,. The Holy Spirit is no Skeptic, and the things He has written in our hearts are not doubts or opinions, but assertions - surer and more certain than sense and life itself.
This of course boils down to the fact that Erasmus does not subscribe to the doctrine of the sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture. Erasmus stands in the Roman Catholic tradition of holding both Scripture and traditions as authoritative. But still, both are not enough for him. As a humanist scholar, he is compelled by his own system to include also human reason and philosophies. This precisely is Erasmus' problem. It is strange that the man who gives us the Greek New Testament should turn his mind and heart against the doctrines contained in it.
In writing in defense of free will, Erasmus refused to submit himself to Scripture. And it is this that Luther first takes issue with. Is it not enough to have submitted your judgment to Scripture? Do you submit it to the Church as well? Hence, Luther, when he takes the humanist to task, begins with a positive setting forth of the doctrine of Scripture. The reason why Luther does this should be obvious to all students of the Reformation.
One of the Reformation's mottos is Sola Scriptura, that is, Scripture alone. Luther had learned this in his debate with Eck at Leipzig and in his defense before the Roman court. Scripture must be our sole authority in matters of doctrine and life. As such, the issue between Luther and Erasmus is really between truth and error, reason and grace, and an issue of belief and unbelief. Secondly, Luther's approach is exegetical. He says several times that the issue is an issue in hermeneutics. He accuses Erasmus of twisting Scripture, and wresting the Word to his own destruction.
This however is not Erasmus' method. Erasmus is man-centered both in his theology and in his method. When appealing to the authority of the fathers, Erasmus shows that he is more interested in man's commentaries than in scriptural authority. Erasmus' man-centeredness can also be seen in his purpose in his work. For in his work he aims to arrive at moderation. He wants to please man, and this has led him to develop a theology that is utterly man-centered. Erasmus even remarked that Scripture has not dealt at length with the issue of free choice and seems to have left the issue open.
He admits that Scripture is obscure about the matter. Erasmus in fact makes a strange classification of matters between that which may be known and that which may not be known. The second are those things which God has willed that we should be completely ignorant of. An example of this is the hour of Judgment. The third are those things which God has willed that we should contemplate, such as the distinctions between the two natures of Christ. The fourth are those things which God has willed to be plainly evident.
Examples are the precepts for the good life. His purpose in such a classification is so that he may excuse himself from taking a stand in doctrinal issues. Since Scripture is obscure about the issue, therefore we should not be so dogmatic about it. He himself confesses that he detests doctrinal assertions, and admits that he prefers the opinions of the Skeptics and church councils to those who assert a strong opinion in doctrines.
Luther rejects Erasmus' moderation. He insists on definite doctrinal assertions. This is because Scripture is itself clear. Here again we are back to the issue of Scripture. This doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture is denied by Erasmus. Erasmus with his five classifications of scriptural knowledge really is making the Scriptures an unclear book. Luther is annoyed with this, and immediately counteracts it by giving a list of helps how one may elicit the true sense of Scripture.
The first rule he lays down is the most fundamental principle in hermeneutics, that is, Scripture interprets Scripture. Secondly, he insists that the way to know the Scriptures is to have our minds opened by Christ. Along with this, too, he asserts that the Spirit is required for the understanding of the Scriptures. Not only is the truth of the Word made clear in our hearts by the Spirit, but Luther also says that truths are made known in the preaching.
The former he calls internal clarity, the latter he calls external clarity. He fails to interpret Scripture from Scripture; he lacks a spiritual mind; and therefore both his approach and theology are really Christless. Luther's critique of Erasmus' message is this:. Christianity as you describe it includes this among other things: that we should strive with all our might These words of yours, devoid of Christ, devoid of the Spirit, are colder than ice, so that they ever tarnish the beauty of your eloquence. With regard to the issue of free choice, Luther insists p.
Since this is the case, then the doctrine of man's total depravity ought to be preached and taught. Consequently, if the dogma of free choice is obscure or ambiguous, it does not belong to Christians or the Scriptures, and it should be abandoned and reckoned among those fables which Paul condemns Christians for wrangling about. If, however, it does belong to Christians and the Scriptures, it ought to be clear, open, and evident, exactly like all the other clear and evident articles of faith.
As we have seen in the preceding paragraph, in contrast with Erasmus' method, Luther's method is biblical, exegetical, and also theological. Not only does he deal with the issue in connection with soteriology, but also he deals with it in relation to theology. He sees here that the glory and the honor of God are at stake.
What Luther really wants to do is to set forth the sovereignty of God over against the autonomy of man. As such it is Luther who really deals with the issue. Erasmus, owing to his humanism, evades altogether, perhaps only with some passing and slight remark, the sovereignty of God.
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He is not able to deal with such a high doctrine for he has no doctrine of Scripture and no idea of theology. So at the heart of the issue is more than just our salvation, but especially the honor of God. Luther's contention is that we must let God be God! Of the doctrine of sovereignty, there must be no compromise. In response to Erasmus' accommodating view, Luther says,.
What I am after is to me something serious, necessary, and indeed eternal, something of such a kind and such importance that it ought to be asserted and defended to the death, even if the whole world had not only to be thrown into strife and confusion, but actually to return to total chaos and be reduced to nothingness. If you do not understand this or are not concerned about it, then mind your own affairs and let those understand and be concerned about it on whom God has laid the charge.
Luther begins his refutation of Erasmus' arguments in support of free choice in part III of the book. He commences with a critique of the definition of free choice given by Erasmus. Luther calls his definition a "bare definition," a definition that is narrow and that does not truly set forth the idea that is represented by the term.
Thus Luther contends that at the outset there is a problem with the term that is used, for, as he says,. There is a conflict between the definition of the name and the definition of the object, because the term signifies one thing and the object is understood as another. That which can do and does, in relation to God, whatever it pleases, uninhibited by any law or any sovereign authority.
As such, free choice properly belongs to no one but God alone, for God alone is free to do what He desires to be done. Luther argues that because man is under subjection to God, he cannot be said to act freely on his own, just as a slave cannot be free because he is under the sovereign authority of his master. Luther suggests to Erasmus that perhaps he can consider the terms "veritable choice," or "mutable choice," but not "free choice," for this is a misrepresentation of what man truly is. As such, Luther insists that the term free choice ought to be dropped altogether in the study of man, since such a thing as free choice does not exist in him.
By free choice, Luther understands Erasmus to refer to man's ability to do that which is good toward salvation. Luther elaborates on Erasmus' phrase "power of human will by which man is able," and adds that what he means is,. A capacity or faculty or ability or aptitude for willing, unwilling, selecting, neglecting, approving, rejecting, and whatever other actions of the will there are. When Erasmus adds that this free choice of man is able to "apply itself" to things which are eternal, Luther sees in this an added emphasis by his foe to underline the fact that the will itself produces the willing and the unwilling, and itself acts as an independent power free from external forces.
This necessarily means that, for Erasmus, the preaching of the gospel is a mere presentation which itself does nothing to the hearer. It is up to the hearer himself to act independently of grace to accept or reject the gospel. Luther astutely observes that when Erasmus defines free choice as an independent faculty that is able to apply itself to salvation, he inevitably says that when a hearer wills salvation, then he is able to perform it.
This is logically the case, as Luther shows,. For if you can will or unwill anything, you must to some extent be able to perform something by that will, even if someone else prevents you from completing it. If Erasmus affirms this, which he must if he is to hold his position consistently, then he inevitably denies grace and the Holy Spirit, and even the cross.
But since Erasmus does not entirely attribute the whole of salvation to free will but also to grace, then he really is espousing a half-baked free-will theology. Luther himself, I am sure, finds this confusing, and ridicules such an idea of free will and says that in a way Erasmus is more confusing than Pelagius and even outdoes him, for he does not want to assert that salvation is wholly of man.
Erasmus' definition is therefore unacceptable. For couched in those words that free choice is able to apply itself to salvation is a doctrine of salvation apart from grace. Luther points out to his foe that,. You, however, make free choice equally potent in both directions, in that it is able by its own power, without grace, both to apply itself to the good and to turn away from the good.
You do not realize how much you attribute to it by this pronoun "itself" - its very own self! Your definition is to be condemned Since Erasmus appeals to certain texts to support his claim, Luther takes those texts cited by him and gives to them a correct interpretation. It is not possible for us to examine all the texts that Luther has dealt with. We shall take a close look only at those texts which Erasmus himself thinks strongly support his case. The first text that Erasmus took was Ecclesiastes We earlier made note that Erasmus relies heavily on this text.
Luther himself thinks so also, for this is the first text that he seeks to explain. He first makes the general remark that the text refers to the creation of man, and thus says nothing at all about free choice. This is clear not only from the explicit phrase, "God made man from the beginning," but also from the expression, "And left him in the hand of his own counsel. As such the text refers to man before the Fall. In that state of innocence, Luther points out, man was able to exercise a dominion and thus exercise a free choice.
For in that state, man was able to deal with things according to his own choice, in that they were subjected to him; and this is called man's counsel, as distinct from God's counsel. Secondly, Luther points out that, even in Paradise, God added commandments and precepts to his duty, thus limiting his dominion when he forbids him to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is at this point that Luther carefully explains what is implied in the precepts and commandments given to man. He takes his strides carefully here, for he tells us that,.
It is therefore at this point, "If thou wilt," that the question of free choice arises. It is such expressions containing "ifs" that Erasmus rashly and madly holds to in defense of his position. As we have already noted, Erasmus imagines that a command necessitates the ability to perform the duty, for God cannot command man to do something which he is not able to do. But Luther contends that there is nothing in such conditional expressions that implies free choice. Luther argues from grammar first of all.
He says that verbs in the subjunctive mood assert nothing. Secondly, Luther shows that such commandments are given not to show our ability, but rather to show precisely the opposite, that man is not able to keep the law. He explains with an illustration,. How often do parents have a game with their children by telling them to come to them, or to do this or that, simply for the sake of showing them how unable they are, and compelling them to call for the help of the parent's hands!
The reason for God giving the law, he says, is that human nature is so blind that it does not know its own powers, or rather diseases, and so proud as to imagine that it knows and can do everything; and for this pride and blindness God has no readier remedy than the propounding of his law Luther insists that man without grace and without the Spirit is not able to keep the law.
Following his clarification of this text in Ecclesiastes, Luther goes on to explain other Old Testament passages that contain the imperative mood. One such text also appealed to by Erasmus is Deuteronomy , 19 , "I have set before your face the way of life and of death. Choose what is good. The words quoted are imperatives, and only say what ought to be done; for Moses does not say, "Thou hast the strength or power to choose," but, "Choose, keep, do!
From these texts, Luther, thirdly, points out the basic fault in Erasmus' interpretation. In all such texts, Erasmus takes what is the imperative to be the indicative. He says to the Rotterdam scholar,. This distinction between what is expressed in the imperative and what is expressed by the indicative is important. Arminianism errs precisely also at this same point, asserting that God cannot require from man what he cannot do. Luther grieves at such an error, and complains that even "grammarians and street urchins" know the difference in what is expressed by these two moods.
Even grammarians and street urchins know, that by verbs of the imperative mood nothing else is signified but what ought to be done. What is done, or can be done, must be expressed by indicative verbs. Fourthly, Luther points out that Erasmus fails to distinguish between Law and Gospel. Taking the words from Jeremiah and Zechariah that say, "If you return, I will restore you," and "Return to me, and I will return to you," Luther shows the distinction between what is legal and what is evangelical. The word "return" in its legal use is an expression of a command in which God exacts from us our duty to repent and to return to him.
But the word "return" may also have an evangelical usage, and in this sense is an expression not of a command, but of an expression of a divine comfort and promise, "by which nothing is demanded from us, but the grace of God is offered us. Belonging to this second use is also the text in Ezekiel ,32 , "I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn and live.
In the light of the well-meant offer controversy that rages in Reformed circles these days, it is striking that Luther remarks, in his comments about the above text, that,. The word of grace does not come except to those who feel their sin and are troubled and tempted to despair Here for instance, "I desire not the death of a sinner" explicitly names death and the sinner, that is, the evil that is felt as well as the person who feels it.
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Far from being the case that this text in Ezekiel sets forth free choice, it shows rather that man who lies outside of God's grace, lies only in death, and that "free choice by itself can only go from bad to worse and fall down into hell. Only those who see their sins and feel the burden of death see the need for mercy.
This means that we must walk according to what the law tells us we must do. For it is only through the law that we recognize our transgressions, that is, our inability to perform our duty, so that we despair of ourselves and flee to God for grace. This then means that free will is hoax. The law tells us what we cannot do, not what we can do!
Freedom of the Will
In responding to Erasmus' use of Matthew , 21 , Luke , John , and such like verses that have the conditional particle "if" in them, Luther, fifthly, raises the whole question of merits in the Christian life. Here he highlights another fundamental flaw in Erasmus' hermeneutics, that is, he fails to distinguish what belongs to the Old Testament and what belongs to the New Testament.
Luther remarks that to the old dispensation belongs threats and punishments; but to the new dispensation belongs promises and exhortations. The point he is making is that the New Testament texts on conditions and exhortations are designed to. An example is that Erasmus, on the basis of Matthew "rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven" , sets forth the doctrine of free choice, ignoring the fact that the admonition was given to the early apostles, who were men who already were recipients of grace and were justified.
The problem, as Luther sees it, is that Erasmus has no doctrine of renewal and regeneration. In the words of Luther, he "discusses free choice precisely as it is without grace. Luther makes a fake distinction at first with regards to the idea of rewards, and speaks as if there are two kinds of rewards.
Since there are no such things as rewards of merit, because there is none worthy of any rewards, therefore when the Bible speaks about rewards in connection with a condition, it speaks of them as rewards of consequence. This is clear from such passages as II Chronicles , Romans , 7. Hell and judgment, life and favor are all rewards of consequence depending whether one is in grace or outside of grace. And this, Luther adds, depends on election.
Citing Matthew , Luther says. How can they merit that which is already theirs and is prepared for them before they are born? It is settled then that merit is not proved from reward, at any rate in the Scriptures; and also that free choice is not proved from merit. Besides refuting Erasmus' arguments from those texts that he used to defend free choice, Luther also replies to Erasmus' exegesis of those texts that his opponents used to argue against free choice. There are two texts that Erasmus especially brought out.
One is from Exodus , the other is from Malachi Both of these texts are used by Paul in Romans The issue here is not hard. Luther points out that the problem with Erasmus is that he has a God that is different from the God of the Bible. Erasmus' God is a non-decreeing God who is not sovereign over all affairs. After all, as Luther points out, Erasmus believes that men are. The idea of God's sovereignty in these texts leads Luther to discuss the question of God's sovereignty and evil.
Luther's answer to the apparent problem is very simple. He says that God uses wicked men as they already are. The picture he drew to help the reader to understand this is the picture he paints of a horse that is crippled. The rider who sits on and controls the direction of the horse does his riding in correspondence to the condition of the horse. When God, he says, works through evil men,. Evil things are done, but God can not be said to do evilly although he does evil through evil men, because one who is himself good cannot act evilly, yet he uses evil instruments that cannot escape the sway and motion of his omnipotence.
It is the fault, therefore, of the instruments, which God does not allow to be idle, that evil is done, with God himself setting them in motion. In Pharaoh's case, when God comes to him with His command to let His people go, Luther says that God is confronting him with an object that he naturally hates, so that Pharaoh in accordance with the wickedness of his own will hates and opposes what is commanded of him.
Thus, the command only fans the fire of hatred which already resides in him. Pharaoh, thus, instead of letting God's people go becomes more hardened in his heart. Luther then takes the word "I will harden Pharaoh's heart" to mean "I will act so that Pharaoh's heart may be hardened. Turning to the case of Jacob and Esau, Luther says that the sense in the text is very plain.
Paul, in quoting the words from Malachi, aims to set forth the truth that the rewards of the two brothers are decreed before they are born. Erasmus tries to get around this clear and certain text by saying that, in Malachi, the hatred that is spoken of against Esau is a mere temporal misfortune, and that the hatred is only directed at some people.
Luther, having answered these objections, eventually begs his opponent not to evade the question at hand, but to face the issue, that is, "by what merit or what work they attain to their faith by which they are grafted in or to unbelief by which they are cut off? This latter viewpoint came to be called Philosophical Necessity, or Determinism. The view that determinism is consistent with moral responsibility is called Compatibilism, that these things are compatible.
A deterministic compatibilism is the most prevalent view within Calvinism today. What God eternally decrees always comes to pass in the creature infallibly that is, without error; it never never misses the mark , but what God decrees does not come about by necessity. Rather, the decree falls out through the means of three types of secondary causes:.
Westminster Confession, 3. Acts , John Because events and choices inevitably come to pass as they do, and this was immutably known and ordained of God, it does not follow that they came about by necessity. About words we will not contend. We grant man, in the substance of all his actions, as much power, liberty, and freedom as a mere created nature is capable of. We grant him to be free in his choice, from all outward coaction [coercion] or inward natural necessity, to work according to election and deliberation, spontaneously embracing what seemeth good to him.
Now call this power free will or what you please, so you make it not supreme, independent, and boundless, we are not at all troubled. In confirmation of these things, Dr. Here is his summary of the original reformed view:. The biblical examples by the Reformed typically point to the bondage of human beings in sin, to their inability to choose salvation—not to a determination of human actions in general and, especially, not to a determination of human beings to commit individual transgressions. How Predestination is Consistent with Free Choice. Predestination, determination and determinism.
Something more may properly be said about these two orders just mentioned, though what will now be said goes a little beyond what Calvin explicitly states. Predestination is not the same as determination, and it is even more widely different from determinism. By determination is meant the influencing of the conduct of something in a greater or less degree by certain factors or conditions, one or more, external or internal. It has to do with factors, or more strictly with a factor, if the term be admissable at all, which is prior to antecedence of any kind, and it is therefore located not at an earliest point in time but rather pretemporally or supratemporally.
While the other terms operate within the temporal category and are thus definable, Predestination has a non-temporal character which constitutes it another order of being. Predestination is quite different from fate. It follows that while determination raises an cute problem with regard to human responsibility, Predestination does not necessarily do so. Indeed, so far from being incompatible with such independence as is required to establish responsibility, it is itself the concept under which this independence can to put it so carve out for itself a real place.
Philosophically, when we deal with the relation of a finite magnitude to a greater but also finite magnitude, the independence of the one is conserved only at the expense of the other; when we deal with a really infinite magnitude and its relation to a finite magnitude, this is no longer the case. Theologically, God is not simply the magnification of man, and His qualities are not simply the qualities of man increased to the power of n. If this were true of Him, then predetermination would be merely determination on a greater, grander scale, and there would be even less hope of securing the independence of the finite magnitude which man is.
But just because He is really infinite, the Predestination of which He is the author does not rob man of his independence and therefore of his responsibility. Now it is really Predestination for which Calvin argues, and he must be deemed to be quite right in maintaining that man, though predetermined by the decrees of God, is yet secure in that degree of independence which permits of responsibility being attributed to him.
The freedom of which the Bible speaks, whether we look at what is said in Genesis or in St. Paul, is not an indetermination of this kind [freedom of indeterminacy in the modern sense]. It is a positive freedom in doing the will of God. To put it in other words, it is equally a freedom for and a freedom from —a freedom for the service of God, resulting in a freedom from the things that would impede obedient service.
The contradictory of this freedom is not determination as such, but rather the choice of evil which results in bondage to the powers of evil. So too Augustine distinguishes between arbitrium as choice and voluntas as will, holding that man has voluntas, but only when turned by grace towards the good does he make choice arbitrium of the good. Richard Muller on the Reformers. Christ and the Decree, p p. Rather than philosophical determinism, we encounter in these thinkers, on the side of providence and the overarching divine causality, a Scotist [from John Duns Scotist] conception of panergism or a standard scholastic conception of the concurrence of divine and human willing, without any sense of a determinism or necessity inherent in the will itself or in the order of being of which man is a part.
Turretin, Institutio , I. This is indeed a deterministic system, but as with Calvin, the stress is upon hope in Christ and the utterly free grace of the transcendent God in making possible the salvation of believers; and the divine determination, lodged in another order of being, does not infringe upon the freedom or contingency of events in this, the order of finite being. His review is intricate and scholastic… ….
Martyr, however, prefers a distinction of his own for a solution. Richard A. This quote was compiled by Tony Byrne. Calvin is similarly defended on the issue of free choice by various others, including the St. Andrews and Aberdeen University metaphysician Robert Baron Baron pointed out, against Ballarmine, that the issue in debate was not the human power of free choice in natura sua considerato [considered in its nature], which all human beings can exercise, but rather the limitation of free choice in fallen humanity and the issue of free choice in the instant of conversion.
It is notable that Calvin has very little to say about human freedom. This must strike the reader as perplexing, for it is customary in modern discussion of the subject to link freedom with responsibility so closely that the terms become virtually synonymous. The freedom thought of here is a freedom of indeterminacy. But Calvin thinks of freedom quite differently.
Paul, is not an indetermination of this kind. It is in such theological terms that Calvin, too, conceives freedom. It is, moreover, a freedom which men in Adam have lost see Institutes , 2. With the freedom of indeterminacy with which ethics deals he is therefore not concerned. It is enough for his purpose if he can show that men are responsible; and this is at least his intention. Heinrich Heppe on the Reformed Scholastics. Reformed Dogmatics , ch. Bizer, trans. Richard Muller on Francis Turretin. Scott Clark, What are we actually discussing here. They do. We all agree, they do. We disagree with Rome and Arminians and the like on that point.
Historical Theology , vol. These, then, are the two points asserted in the statement of our [ Westminster ] Confession in regard to that natural liberty with which God has endued the will of man —viz. If it be true, as it certainly is, that fallen and unrenewed men do always in point of fact will or choose what is evil, and never what is good, the cause of this is not to be traced to any natural incapacity in their will or power of volition to will or choose good as well as evil , nor to any external force or compulsion brought to bear upon them from any quarter; for this would be inconsistent with that natural liberty with which God originally endued the will of man, and which it still retains and must retain.
It must be traced to something else. The Reformers admitted all this, and in this sense would not have objected to the doctrine of the freedom of the will , though, as the phrase was then commonly used in a different sense as implying much more than this—as implying a doctrine which they believed to be unscriptural and dangerous—they generally thought it preferable to abstain from the use of the expression altogether, or to deny the freedom of the will, and to assert its actual bondage or servitude because of depravity, or as a consequence of the fall. This necessity or bondage under which they held man fallen, as distinguished from man unfallen, to lie, resolved itself into the entire absence in fallen man of holy and good dispositions or tendencies, and the prevalence in his moral nature of what is ungodly and depraved; and thus stood entirely distinct from, and independent of, those wider and more general considerations, whether philosophical or theological, applicable to man as man, having a certain mental constitution, or as a dependent creature and subject of God, on the ground of which the controversy about liberty and necessity has been of late commonly conducted.
Quotes of Reformers, Puritans, Confessions, etc. The Augsburg Confession was an important Lutheran confession. For background info on it, see Wiki.
Related Freedom of the Will
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