Monday, March 29, 2010

I hate watching my friends get everything their hearts desire.

Recently in Sunday school at Providence Church, I posed the following question about the nature of the human will: How can Martin Luther write a book entitled The Bondage of the Will and Jonathan Edwards write The Freedom of the Will and both essentially saying the same thing?

In other words, is the human will free or in bondage (i.e., not free)?

I summarize it like this: The will is free to do what it wants, but it is not free to do what it ought.

We might also talk about natural vs. moral ability, having the former, but lacking the latter.

Another way to say it is that human beings are free to do what they want, but they are also bound to do what they want. They must choose according to their strongest desire at the point of decision.

The question becomes, what motivates those decisions? Of what substance are those desires? One dead in sins (Eph 2:1), who loves the darkness (John 3:19-20), and cannot see the kingdom (John 3:3) must have a heart opened (Acts 16:14) and mercifully made alive (Eph 2:4-5) in order to desire Christ so as to choose Him.

Dr. D. James Kennedy: "Are Total Depravity and free will compatible? Yes and no. As we said to an earlier question, free will can mean one of two things. If we are talking about the sense in which free will exists in every human being, whether regenerate or unregenerate, then we can say “Yes”, obviously they are compatible because unregenerate people do make choices. That is the sense in which man is free to choose whatever he wants to choose. All men are free to do that. The unregenerate man makes choices every day: what tie he will wear, what he will eat for dinner; whatever it may be. But in the significant sense in which its used in the Bible, which is man is free to do what he ought to do, (which is repent of his sins, turn from his wickedness, surrender his life to Christ and follow Him in godliness), unregenerate man is not free to do that. The more he hears of it, the more he dislikes it. And his will and heart and mind must be changed for him to do that." (in DVD series "Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism")

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At 29 March, 2010 07:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since God works in the believer to "will and to do" (Phil 2:13), God generates within him a freedom from sinful bondage/slavery of his will. But he is nonetheless a slave, but in a good way. That is, a slave to the joyful, fulfilling existence of abiding in Christ, which he gladly submits to.

At 29 March, 2010 14:12, Blogger GUNNY said...

Exactly! The Spirit's work makes righteousness appealing in a way it never was before, so that we want it.

At 29 March, 2010 18:22, Blogger Rev. said...

You should take credit for that comment. It's a good one!

Gunny - good post, bro!

At 29 March, 2010 20:15, Blogger GUNNY said...

Gracias, Amigo!

Was that Kennedy quote money, or what?

At 01 April, 2010 16:33, Anonymous Glenn said...

First a question: Have you read what Gordon Clark and Vincent Cheung say about the notion of "free will"? When Edwards refers to the choice based on strongest desire, has he considered that a sovereign God has decreed even the thoughts and desires of the individual? For example see 2 Thess 2:11. Since there can only be one sovereign only God is free. Otherwise, how can irresistable grace or predestination be possible?

At 01 April, 2010 17:12, Blogger GUNNY said...

I've not read Clark or Cheung, but Edwards takes that into account.

Coming to mind is Phil 2:13 "... for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (ESV)

Ultimately, only God is free in the sense of being unencumbered by that which is external, but of course even God is only free to act within His holy character.

In other words, even God's actions are not arbitrary or free from influence, but they are influenced by Himself.

Every other creature's freedom is limited by external as well as internal influences. Thus, humans are free (or "able") to choose, but only among those choices available to them (ultimately at the good pleasure of a sovereign God).

Good thoughts, Glenn, and thanks for weighing in.

At 01 April, 2010 20:49, Blogger Rev. said...

Gunny - yep, that Kennedy quote is cash!

Of course, your reply to Glenn is money too! Spot on! You should be a rhetorician...with a PhD or some such. Ever think about it?


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