This article was posted over at Arminian Perspectives by Kangeroodort. In the article he discusses the differences between Calvinists and Arminians on this issue. He asks a question that I have asked in the past. In fact, when I first started to study Reformed Theology this was one of my first objections.
Is a God who can only control His universe through cause and effect bigger or smaller than a God who can allow for true contingency in His creatures and still accomplish His will?
Likewise, Arminians consider that this view magnifies God’s power, in at least two interrelated ways.
1. God was able to create a being who was not merely “determined,” but an actor who also “determines” things, a being who is free and in His own image. He of the only true sovereign will was able to endow man with a will that really has the power of decision and choice.
2. God is able to govern the truly free exercise of men’s wills in such a way that all goes according to His plan. A God who created a complex universe inhabited by beings pre-programmed to act out His will for them would be great. But one who can make men with wills of their own and set them free to act in ways He has not determined for them, and still govern the whole in perfect accord with His purpose is greater.” [page 43, italics his]
This was my position. I can still understand the argument. After all, in what way is God more powerful…when He controls everything or when He allows his creatures to have free will and He is still able to have His will accomplished? The answer seemed obvious. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Well on the surface it does. But there is so much more to this. The biggest problem I now see with this position is that it does not accurately account for the depravity of man. The depravity is total meaning that it permeates our whole being to the point of enslaving our will. Click here to read a more thorough discussion of Total Depravity. When we understand the true condition that our will is in we can understand that we can not have free will.
A.W. Pink explains it this way in Ch. 7 of The Sovereignty of God. He said
To will is to choose, and to choose is to decide between two or more alternatives. But there is something which influences the choice; something which determines the decision. Hence the will cannot be Sovereign because it is the servant of that something. The will cannot be both Sovereign and servant. It cannot be both cause and effect. The will is not causative, because, as we have said, something causes it to choose, therefore that something must be the causative agent. Choice itself is affected by certain considerations, is determined by various influences brought to bear upon the individual himself, hence, volition is the effect of these considerations and influences, and if the effect, it must be their servant; and if the will is their servant then it is not Sovereign, and if the will is not Sovereign, we certainly cannot predicate absolute “freedom” of it.
All men have free will but they are only able to make choices within and in cooperation with their nature. For unregenerate people that nature is the sinful nature inherited from the Fall. For regenerate people that nature is the new nature given to them at the point they are made alive and freed from the bondage of the sinful nature. The new nature is one that seeks after God and can respond when the Gospel is proclaimed to them.
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