Drinking Deeply

Thursday, February 09, 2006 at 1:34 PM

Defining Free (3)

One last thought that I included in a comment to my previous post, but I thought worthy of a seperate post.

As I think I now see it (and this will reverse what I said previously) the reason some people prefer the term "compatabilist free will" is because they are operating under the same assumption that the Arminian does: That responsibility (which is taught in Scripture) requires "free will."

To put this in probably the strongest form, imagine a scenario where I am walking down the street. All of a sudden a masked man jumps out of the alleyway and points a gun at me, telling me that I would have to drive him and his friend to a bank and then drive them away after the robbed it. The sad deed is done, and they ditch me somewhere, where the police catches up to me. Under the law, since I drove the getaway car, I am supposed to be charged with some crime, lets call it "cooperating with bad people in bad ways" crime. (since I don't know any legal terms)

Now, I would say "I didn't choose to do this. I didn't have free will. He forced me to do it with a gun. It would be injust for you to charge me with this crime since I did not do it on my own choice."

Great right? Perfect analogy with how God works right? If we don't have "free will," then we cannot be held responsible.

Unfortunately not.

1) The control being ascribed to God by a Calvinist is much stronger than that of a masked gunman. With the gunman you still have your thoughts, you still can choose not to drive the car (though you may be shot), you can still rebel. With God, He created us, He sustains us, He controls our very thoughts. There is no idea of rebelling unless God places it there. There is no movement unless God does it. God is more than just a mere puppetmaster as well. He not only controls our movement, but He formed our past as well. He hand crafted us and knows us far better than we know ourselves. There are no surprises with God. Thus the analogy is tooweak.

2) This is in fact the question raised up in Romans 9: "19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?""

Why does God fault us? How can He hold us responsible? For who can resist His will?

The answer is simple: 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?

You, O man, cannot question God. He is our very definition of justice. He is our very definition of good. God holds us responsible because He holds us responsible and no one can stay His hand. This is a righteous act by definition and to ask any other is to question God.

Responsibility does not presuppose free will. God is sovereign, and man is not free (in the sense that he can do anything outside of God's sovereign will and decree).

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Blogger Doug E. said...

I like Augustine's discription of our will and abilities. He said we have a "reasonable self-determiniation." We are not the soverigns but we do have self-determination.

One of the main problems I see with Libertarian free will is that if we are that free, we have the ability to live a perfect life, even before we become Christians because we can always choose otherwise, and nothing can make us choose anything even our sinful nature. This seem contrary to scripture.

Great posts.

Doug  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm not sure compatibilist has the same assumption that some idea of free will has to exist before responsibilty can be meaningfully applied.

Compatibilist main thrust is that God controls everything (including the evil actions of men)yet men are still held responsible for their actions as taught in scripture (Gen. 50:20).

Maybe "responsiblity" is not the best word; because on some level God is still "responsible" for all that comes to pass. Rather, we are speaking of Moral Culpablity.

In this sense, scripture teaches there's only one Judge who condemns or justifies. For if God is morally culpable, who is His judge? Furthermore, on what basis can Christ act as our covenant head if God has no right to pour out wrath on His blameless lamb of God?  

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Blogger mxu said...

If it is the case that one is a compatibilist without the assumption that "responsibility presupposes free will," then what I have said does not apply. Let us move on to more important matters.

I myself would agree to all that compatabilism teaches, I just simply prefer to take the definition of free will put forth by Arminians and say "no, man is not free."

Annoymous, I think you're right that the terminology could be a little bit more exact, and Moral Culpability is an excellent term to use instead of "responsibility" (though one could say that God is not responsible because no one is holding God responsible, it depends on your definition of responsible)  

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