Do Calvinists believe in free will?

  • Christian Chat is a moderated online Christian community allowing Christians around the world to fellowship with each other in real time chat via webcam, voice, and text, with the Christian Chat app. You can also start or participate in a Bible-based discussion here in the Christian Chat Forums, where members can also share with each other their own videos, pictures, or favorite Christian music.

    If you are a Christian and need encouragement and fellowship, we're here for you! If you are not a Christian but interested in knowing more about Jesus our Lord, you're also welcome! Want to know what the Bible says, and how you can apply it to your life? Join us!

    To make new Christian friends now around the world, click here to join Christian Chat.

Desdichado

Senior Member
Feb 9, 2014
8,495
661
113
#42
Calvinism has a fatalist quality to it, but people often conflate it with the brand of materialist determinism we see today with folks like Sam Harris. Calvinists themselves are to partly blame for this confusion.

In Calvinist theology, God determines who is and isn't saved, but the extent to which choice exists in earthly affairs (ex. do I have ham or chicken today?) (ex. does Napoleon invade Austria or Prussia?) varies widely between different theologians in different times.
 

CS1

Well-known member
May 23, 2012
8,073
2,382
113
#43
I have never heard anyone, calvinist or not. Go teach the gospel by teaching election or being chosen. That is a message for those who have been saved in showing them their security.
amen, the very argument of saved and losing your salvation are made by those who are already saved. Therefore it is not essential to be saved because you would have to be saved, to begin with.

Thank you.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
15,050
7,269
113
#44
Put simply; if God has already chosen who will be saved and nothing we can do will change that choice, do we have free will?
Calvinists have a distorted Gospel, hence a distortion of free will. They claim that their version of the Gospel brings glory to God, when in fact it does the opposite. John Calvin knew exactly what was actually in the Bible regarding the Gospel. But in spite of that he created "another gospel". One simply has to compare his commentary on certain verses and passages with what is stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith. There is a big difference.
 

williamjordan

Senior Member
Feb 18, 2015
187
15
18
#45
No emotion, fact. and an opinion of my experience dealing with such for over 25 years in ministry. You can disagree but you cannot dismiss what was said on a false narrative of what was said only out of " emotion". IF you are not sure what the "hub-bub is about then we have no topic on
Do Calvinists believe in free will?


it is not true the greatest evangelist was Calvinist. John Calvin was not known for his evangelism lol. And the Message of Evangelism
is not Calvinism.
It's always fascinating when (quite clearly) emotions are at the forefront, but then are downplayed as if they are not. Hence, one can even see the emotions (which you are trying hard to conceal) in the comment, "no emotion, fact." When one uses every tool in the arsenal to put emphasis on some level detail -- using various font sizes (and colors), bold, underline, and italics -- this is usually representative of how they are feeling in the moment. You cannot say with a straight face that there was (and continues to be) "no emotion" concealed in your comments. I wasn't born yesterday, I was born the day before.

I did not dismiss what you said, I simply pointed out that Calvinists believe in free will and have played a pivitol role in fulfilling the Lord's Great Commission. Nor did I say the greatest "evangelist" (singular) was Calvinist. I said, "some of the greatest evangelists" (plural) were Calvinist, and that is a very true statement.

Do not get caught up on "John Calvin." John Calvin is not the Calvinist's final authority; nor do Calvinist's hold a picture of John Calvin over burning incense.

I think eternally-grateful hit it on the head with the comment:

I have never heard anyone, calvinist or not. Go teach the gospel by teaching election or being chosen. That is a message for those who have been saved in showing them their security.
 

phil36

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
7,557
1,519
113
48
#46
but the extent to which choice exists in earthly affairs (ex. do I have ham or chicken today?) (ex. does Napoleon invade Austria or Prussia?) varies widely between different theologians in different times

.

You've made a good point there Desdichao in relation to earthly (cosmic, and eternal) affairs.

This refers to God's providence and decrees and mans will. Many thinking Christians down through the centuries have mulled over this very issue and all have come away saying its a mystery. (I'm talking in an overall sense not in particular to one coming to faith, although hopefully it will make us all think).

I'll give you an example and if you read it careful it will make you brain hurt lol.

Read Isaiah 10:5ff. Who is doing what? Who's will, wills?

On the one hand God says he in His providence decreed that He is using the Assyrians as a rod of punishment against Isreal et al, on the other God is blaming the Assyrians for their wickedness in attacking Isreal et al. Read it an be amazed.. How does this work? No one knows but most likely one day we will find out.. Just not yet.

VV 6-6, Tells us Assyria is God's rod of anger and He will send them against Isreal et al.

vv 12 -13, tells us that the Assyrian king believes he has willed his military victory and gloats over his conquest and, even more, God is going to punish Assyria because it did attack and kill and gloat over their military victory!!

So did the Assyrian king use his will ? watch how you answer this question for God said He himself did it, he sent Assyria as his rod of anger? And yet the Assyrians are culpable and guilty of the very act?

It's interesting stuff. And can take a bit of thought, then your brain will probably start hurting lol, But it is well worth swimming in the deep. just stand back in amazement and in awe. God is indeed Awesome.

“Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? “They are high as the heavens, what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea (Job 11:7-9)


Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:33-34)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will ( Ephesians 1:11).

I know I veered of track there slightly. But it's worth thinking about. I think when I get to heaven that is going to be one of the first questions that I will ask... How? :unsure::whistle::)
 

Desdichado

Senior Member
Feb 9, 2014
8,495
661
113
#47
This is why I am a Calvinist.

The Word is sufficient truth, not exhaustive truth. It establishes Man's responsibility and God's sovereignty. The exact relationship between the two can be charted to a degree, but the precise nature is left to the mind of God alone. We may never be able to comprehend it even in our glorified, Heavenly state.

Even the Ancient Greek philosophers struggled with this. Aristotle believed in a deity being the "first cause" that is the force holding things together at the atomic level indefinitely.

Though he supposed that premise to be true, he did not go on to conclude that deity was moving things all the time. Our modern minds that either gravitates toward determinism or revolt against it struggle with his comfort.


You've made a good point there Desdichao in relation to earthly (cosmic, and eternal) affairs.

This refers to God's providence and decrees and mans will. Many thinking Christians down through the centuries have mulled over this very issue and all have come away saying its a mystery. (I'm talking in an overall sense not in particular to one coming to faith, although hopefully it will make us all think).

I'll give you an example and if you read it careful it will make you brain hurt lol.

Read Isaiah 10:5ff. Who is doing what? Who's will, wills?

On the one hand God says he in His providence decreed that He is using the Assyrians as a rod of punishment against Isreal et al, on the other God is blaming the Assyrians for their wickedness in attacking Isreal et al. Read it an be amazed.. How does this work? No one knows but most likely one day we will find out.. Just not yet.

VV 6-6, Tells us Assyria is God's rod of anger and He will send them against Isreal et al.

vv 12 -13, tells us that the Assyrian king believes he has willed his military victory and gloats over his conquest and, even more, God is going to punish Assyria because it did attack and kill and gloat over their military victory!!

So did the Assyrian king use his will ? watch how you answer this question for God said He himself did it, he sent Assyria as his rod of anger? And yet the Assyrians are culpable and guilty of the very act?

It's interesting stuff. And can take a bit of thought, then your brain will probably start hurting lol, But it is well worth swimming in the deep. just stand back in amazement and in awe. God is indeed Awesome.

“Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? “They are high as the heavens, what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea (Job 11:7-9)


Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:33-34)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will ( Ephesians 1:11).

I know I veered of track there slightly. But it's worth thinking about. I think when I get to heaven that is going to be one of the first questions that I will ask... How? :unsure::whistle::)
 

phil36

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
7,557
1,519
113
48
#48
This is why I am a Calvinist.

The Word is sufficient truth, not exhaustive truth. It establishes Man's responsibility and God's sovereignty. The exact relationship between the two can be charted to a degree, but the precise nature is left to the mind of God alone. We may never be able to comprehend it even in our glorified, Heavenly state.

Even the Ancient Greek philosophers struggled with this. Aristotle believed in a deity being the "first cause" that is the force holding things together at the atomic level indefinitely.

Though he supposed that premise to be true, he did not go on to conclude that deity was moving things all the time. Our modern minds that either gravitates toward determinism or revolt against it struggle with his comfort.
Good post. My using your post wasn't answering you directly but answering in general the idea (y), Yeah Aquines certainly built his argument from Aristotelian idea's, probably by reading Augustine. Anyhow that's away of the beaten track lol.

Here's what in my opinion is, a succinct explanation on free will. if anyone's interested.


Of Free Will.

I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.(a)

(a) Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19.

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good, and well pleasing to God;(b) but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.(c)

(b) Eccles. 7:29; Gen. 1:26.
(c) Gen. 2:16, 17; Gen. 3:6.

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:(d) so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,(e) and dead in sin,(f) is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.(g)

(d) Rom. 5:6; Rom 8:7; John 15:5.
(e) Rom. 3:10, 12.
(f) Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13.
(g) John 6:44, 65; Eph. 2:2, 3, 4, 5; I Cor. 2:14; Titus 3:3, 4, 5.

IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He freeth him from his natural bondage under sin;(h) and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;(i) yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.(k)

(h) Col. 1:13; John 8:34, 36.
(i) Phil. 2:13; Rom. 6:18, 22.
(k) Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23.

V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone, in the state of glory only.(l)

(l) Eph. 4:13; Heb. 12:23; I John 3:2; Jude ver. 24.
 

Desdichado

Senior Member
Feb 9, 2014
8,495
661
113
#49
Good post. My using your post wasn't answering you directly but answering in general the idea (y), Yeah Aquines certainly built his argument from Aristotelian idea's, probably by reading Augustine. Anyhow that's away of the beaten track lol.

Here's what in my opinion is, a succinct explanation on free will. if anyone's interested.


Of Free Will.

I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.(a)

(a) Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19.

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good, and well pleasing to God;(b) but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.(c)

(b) Eccles. 7:29; Gen. 1:26.
(c) Gen. 2:16, 17; Gen. 3:6.

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:(d) so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,(e) and dead in sin,(f) is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.(g)

(d) Rom. 5:6; Rom 8:7; John 15:5.
(e) Rom. 3:10, 12.
(f) Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13.
(g) John 6:44, 65; Eph. 2:2, 3, 4, 5; I Cor. 2:14; Titus 3:3, 4, 5.

IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He freeth him from his natural bondage under sin;(h) and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;(i) yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.(k)

(h) Col. 1:13; John 8:34, 36.
(i) Phil. 2:13; Rom. 6:18, 22.
(k) Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23.

V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone, in the state of glory only.(l)

(l) Eph. 4:13; Heb. 12:23; I John 3:2; Jude ver. 24.
 

Gideon300

Well-known member
Mar 18, 2021
725
479
63
#50
Basically that's it in a nutshell.. Although reformed prefer the term free agency. Basically because as humans we are not free from our ''will's (nature).

Free agency is probably more accurate (in my opinion) as it refers to human activity as being done freely from their nature - anything we freely do is an outworking of who we are (will).

In my opinion I would say that God commands all men/women everywhere to repent and come to faith, but none freely do.

It's an interesting topic.
The will follows the desire of the heart. If someone wants something badly enough, they will use all their abilities to get it. If the desires are wrong, then the will be activated to fulfill those wrong desires. People can override conscience, social mores, logic and reason, disobey the law and so on in order to fulfill that desire. It is the will that executes the desire of the heart.
 

CS1

Well-known member
May 23, 2012
8,073
2,382
113
#51
It's always fascinating when (quite clearly) emotions are at the forefront, but then are downplayed as if they are not. Hence, one can even see the emotions (which you are trying hard to conceal) in the comment, "no emotion, fact." When one uses every tool in the arsenal to put emphasis on some level detail -- using various font sizes (and colors), bold, underline, and italics -- this is usually representative of how they are feeling in the moment. You cannot say with a straight face that there was (and continues to be) "no emotion" concealed in your comments. I wasn't born yesterday, I was born the day before.

I did not dismiss what you said, I simply pointed out that Calvinists believe in free will and have played a pivitol role in fulfilling the Lord's Great Commission. Nor did I say the greatest "evangelist" (singular) was Calvinist. I said, "some of the greatest evangelists" (plural) were Calvinist, and that is a very true statement.

Do not get caught up on "John Calvin." John Calvin is not the Calvinist's final authority; nor do Calvinist's hold a picture of John Calvin over burning incense.

I think eternally-grateful hit it on the head with the comment:
again you can try to dismiss with the false claim of emotion LOL just speak to the truth that was said, ok guy.

I said the very argument of saved and losing your salvation are made by those who are already saved. Therefore it is not essential to one's salvation or to be saved, because you would have to be saved, to begin with.
 

williamjordan

Senior Member
Feb 18, 2015
187
15
18
#52
again you can try to dismiss with the false claim of emotion LOL just speak to the truth that was said, ok guy.

I said the very argument of saved and losing your salvation are made by those who are already saved. Therefore it is not essential to one's salvation or to be saved, because you would have to be saved, to begin with.
The question is, "Do Calvinists believe in free will?" Of which I responded:

Calvinists do not deny that men have a will, nor do they believe that men are mere puppets on a string which God causes to sin. Calvinism adheres that every part of man, including his will, mind, and emotions are corrupted by sin (John 3:19, John 8:34), and unless man is first drawn by the Father (John 6:65), and regenerated by the Spirit (1 John 5:1), then no man can come to Christ. While God proactively works in the hearts of those who are His, He passes over those who are not, leaving them wholly to their own self-determination in sin; thus, God is good, and men are responsible.

I hope that makes sense.
You then (in response to my post) offer the following comments:

I disagree God passes over no one the call is to all, yet not all will be saved. MAN ( Calvinist) is not to focus on WHO God has saved and Who HE has not. The church's mission and Command came from the Lord Jesus, not John Calvin. WE are to go to ALL and let God worry about who is and who is not.

we are to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples Christ has even provided HIS gifts to the church to achieve this objective as Eph 4:11-13 says:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

both Calvinist and the Arminians are arguing from foolishness and prideful position there will be many of both I imagine who will go to hell thinking they too were saved. This is the great sin of each, PRIDE!
At this juncture there are a couple things that should be pointed out as they may not be overly apparent to the casual passerby. The question asked is not about what you, I, or any other (other than a very specific group of people, i.e., Calvinists) believe. No one asked whether or not you were in agreement. Can you stop trying to derail the topic, and hijack the thread, flooding it with false assumptions about those you are apparently in disagreement with? I have scoured this entire thread, and not a single time do you even attempt to answer the question from an objective point of view. That alone tells me you’re interested in pushing only one agenda: your own. My answer is from an unbias and objective point of view, regardless of what “I agree” or “disagree” with. The ironic thing is that you probably think I identify as a Calvinist. I just believe in integrity. There is no harm in representing the other side accurately and honestly, as this is the only way you’ll ever be able to refute any claim is to do so honestly and fairly.

No traditional Calvinist (that I am aware) has ever taught or believed that the “Doctrines of Grace” (i.e., TULIP) are an “essential” requirement (of belief) one needs to hold to in order “to be saved.” In fact, many well-known Reformed men and women would go so far to say that this topic is a complementary issue (undergirding the narrative to the Gospel of our Lord); and that issues such as these should be discussed from within the body of Christ.

I'm sure you have ran into ultra-dogmatic Calvinists (even, hyper-Cavlinists) who suggest that we should never do evangelism (which is the only way I can make any sense of your comments regarding the Great Commission), but they are a very small minority, which even their “traditional” Calvinist counterparts would disagree with. In fact, a quick search in YouTube will reveal the following results:


Who would have “thunk it”? A group of well-known “traditional” Calvinists who are in fact contradicting the narrative you’re hoping to push onto all Calvinists based off your experience with (what appears to be) a few hyper-Calvinists.
 

williamjordan

Senior Member
Feb 18, 2015
187
15
18
#53
If being Calvinist offends you, then today I will be Calvinist.
If being Methodist (or any other Evangelical denomination) offends you, then I will be Methodist.
If being Catholic offends you, then I will be Catholic.
If being Orthodox offends you, then I will be Orthodox.

But if Unitarianism (of any kind) offends you, then I'll have to disappoint you, because I am a die hard Trinitarian.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
15,050
7,269
113
#54
No traditional Calvinist (that I am aware) has ever taught or believed that the “Doctrines of Grace” (i.e., TULIP) are an “essential” requirement (of belief) one needs to hold to in order “to be saved.”
This is true. At the same time Reformed Theology and Reformed and Presbyterian churches insist that their members believe this nonsense in order to agree with their theology. They expect everyone in their churches to be in full agreement with the Westminster Confession of Faith. So while it may not be essential to believe this in order to be saved, it becomes essential for all intents and purposes. Unless you walk away from those churches.
 

throughfaith

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2020
10,468
1,590
113
#55
Calvinism essentially teaches that the non ' elect' ( Their version of ' elected to be saved ) can really only not do one thing , believe the Gospel. All the smoke and mirrors about ' total depravity/ inability ' nonsense, all boils to ' singular depravity ' in the end .
 

CS1

Well-known member
May 23, 2012
8,073
2,382
113
#56
The question is, "Do Calvinists believe in free will?" Of which I responded:



You then (in response to my post) offer the following comments:



At this juncture there are a couple things that should be pointed out as they may not be overly apparent to the casual passerby. The question asked is not about what you, I, or any other (other than a very specific group of people, i.e., Calvinists) believe. No one asked whether or not you were in agreement. Can you stop trying to derail the topic, and hijack the thread, flooding it with false assumptions about those you are apparently in disagreement with? I have scoured this entire thread, and not a single time do you even attempt to answer the question from an objective point of view. That alone tells me you’re interested in pushing only one agenda: your own. My answer is from an unbias and objective point of view, regardless of what “I agree” or “disagree” with. The ironic thing is that you probably think I identify as a Calvinist. I just believe in integrity. There is no harm in representing the other side accurately and honestly, as this is the only way you’ll ever be able to refute any claim is to do so honestly and fairly.

No traditional Calvinist (that I am aware) has ever taught or believed that the “Doctrines of Grace” (i.e., TULIP) are an “essential” requirement (of belief) one needs to hold to in order “to be saved.” In fact, many well-known Reformed men and women would go so far to say that this topic is a complementary issue (undergirding the narrative to the Gospel of our Lord); and that issues such as these should be discussed from within the body of Christ.

I'm sure you have ran into ultra-dogmatic Calvinists (even, hyper-Cavlinists) who suggest that we should never do evangelism (which is the only way I can make any sense of your comments regarding the Great Commission), but they are a very small minority, which even their “traditional” Calvinist counterparts would disagree with. In fact, a quick search in YouTube will reveal the following results:


Who would have “thunk it”? A group of well-known “traditional” Calvinists who are in fact contradicting the narrative you’re hoping to push onto all Calvinists based off your experience with (what appears to be) a few hyper-Calvinists.

here is your very first response:


Calvinists do not deny that men have a will, nor do they believe that men are mere puppets on a string which God causes to sin. Calvinism adheres that every part of man, including his will, mind, and emotions are corrupted by sin (John 3:19, John 8:34), and unless man is first drawn by the Father (John 6:65), and regenerated by the Spirit (1 John 5:1), then no man can come to Christ. While God proactively works in the hearts of those who are His, He passes over those who are not, leaving them wholly to their own self-determination in sin; thus, God is good, and men are responsible.

I hope that makes sense.



Yet you say :


"The ironic thing is that you probably think I identify as a Calvinist."

You don't?
 

williamjordan

Senior Member
Feb 18, 2015
187
15
18
#57
here is your very first response:


Calvinists do not deny that men have a will, nor do they believe that men are mere puppets on a string which God causes to sin. Calvinism adheres that every part of man, including his will, mind, and emotions are corrupted by sin (John 3:19, John 8:34), and unless man is first drawn by the Father (John 6:65), and regenerated by the Spirit (1 John 5:1), then no man can come to Christ. While God proactively works in the hearts of those who are His, He passes over those who are not, leaving them wholly to their own self-determination in sin; thus, God is good, and men are responsible.

I hope that makes sense.


Yet you say :


"The ironic thing is that you probably think I identify as a Calvinist."

You don't?
Hence the word "Calvinists," "Calvinism," and not "I" or "williamjordan."

I do not completely dismiss Calvinism, as I think (in at least in some respects) they are correct with reference to the way specific texts (i.e., 2 Peter 3:8-9) should be interpreted; but I say that with one caveat:

(Using 2 Peter 3:8-9 as an example again) Whether the Calvinist interpretation is correct does not necessarily mean that the Armenian's doctrine (as a whole) is incorrect. It just means the Armenian shouldn't be using 2 Peter 3:8-9 in their apologetic to make the point they are hoping to prove. And so, I think there are texts on both sides of the aisle that fit this caricature.
 

CS1

Well-known member
May 23, 2012
8,073
2,382
113
#58
Hence the word "Calvinists," "Calvinism," and not "I" or "williamjordan."

I do not completely dismiss Calvinism, as I think (in at least in some respects) they are correct with reference to the way specific texts (i.e., 2 Peter 3:8-9) should be interpreted; but I say that with one caveat:

(Using 2 Peter 3:8-9 as an example again) Whether the Calvinist interpretation is correct does not necessarily mean that the Armenian's doctrine (as a whole) is incorrect. It just means the Armenian shouldn't be using 2 Peter 3:8-9 in their apologetic to make the point they are hoping to prove. And so, I think there are texts on both sides of the aisle that fit this caricature.

I agree completely with what you have said.

I think the issue is more with the message as you say have a valid biblical point yet they have drawn attention ( IMHO) to John Calvin instead of the word of God, they identify as Calvinist or Armenian which takes away from your very point.

"Calvinist interpretation is correct does not necessarily mean that the Armenian doctrine (as a whole) is incorrect."

would you agree the divide caused by them both hurt the church and the message?