Does man have a libertarian free will?

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Does man have a libertarian free will?

  • Yes, man has a libertarian free will

    Votes: 5 38.5%
  • No, man does not have a libertarian free will

    Votes: 8 61.5%
  • I don't know

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    13

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
2,137
1,077
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#1
The question is this:

Does man have a libertarian free will?

Free will theism, which influences the thoughts of many including Arminians, says "yes".

Reformed theology says "no".

I am Reformed and my conviction is this: man has creaturely free will, but not libertarian free will. This free will is constrained by his nature.

A fallen man is in bondage to sin, according to Romans 6 and many other Scriptures. He can exercise his will within the parameters of his fallen nature, but his decisions are going to be sinful, because he has a fallen nature.

A saved man has a new nature that wants to love and please God. He is freed from his former slavery to sin. He has been freed to obey God. He does not always do this, because he struggles with a remnant of the old nature called "the flesh", but that is his consistent desire and direction.

Here's an article by gotquestions.org which defines libertarian free will.

More extreme teachings on "free will theism" include Jesse Morrell, Clark Pinnock, and Greg Boyd.

Here's an article by Gotquestions.org on this topic.

Question: "What is libertarian free will?"

Answer: Libertarian free will is basically the concept that, metaphysically and morally, man is an autonomous being, one who operates independently, not controlled by others or by outside forces. According to the Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (InterVarsity Press, 2002), libertarian free will is defined as “in ethics and metaphysics, the view that human beings sometimes can will more than one possibility. According to this view, a person who freely made a particular choice could have chosen differently, even if nothing about the past prior to the moment of choice had been different.” In the libertarian free will paradigm, the power of contrary choice reigns supreme. Without this ability to choose otherwise, libertarian free will proponents will claim that man cannot be held morally responsible for his actions.

As mentioned earlier, the word “autonomous” is key in understanding libertarian free will. The word basically means “self-government.” It is derived from two Greek words, autos and nomos, which mean “a law unto oneself.” This is libertarian free will in a nutshell. We, as free moral agents, can make our own decisions and are not subject to the will or determination of another. In any given situation, let’s call it X, we can freely choose to do action A. Furthermore, if situation X presents itself again, we can freely choose not to do A (~A).

The opposite of libertarian free will is called determinism, and determinism essentially denies free will altogether—our choices are determined and that’s that. In situation X, I will always choose to do action A, and in situation Y, I will choose to do ~A, etc. Instead of being autonomous beings, mankind is reduced to being automatons—beings who perform programmed responses to certain situations.

The first thing to take into account regarding the biblical position of libertarian free will is what the Bible says about God. The Bible describes God as sovereign, and sovereignty designates control. But what exactly is the sphere of God’s sovereignty? Psalm 24:1 makes it plain: “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” What is the sphere of God’s sovereignty? Everything. God spoke the universe, and everything in it, into existence. As Creator, He has sovereignty over His creation. This is the image used in Romans 9 when Paul refers to the potter and his clay.

So we need to ask ourselves how does libertarian free will fit in with God’s sovereignty? Can a human being, a creature, be autonomous if God is sovereign? The obvious conclusion is that libertarian free will is incompatible with the sovereignty of God. Consider this passage from the book of Proverbs: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). This does not paint a picture of man as an autonomous being, but rather as man operating within the confines of a sovereign God.

Consider another Old Testament passage: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Here again we see a sovereign God declaring to us that He will accomplish all His purposes. The concept of libertarian free will leaves open the possibility that man can freely refuse to do God’s will, yet God says all His purposes will be accomplished.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
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#2
Gotquestions.org article concluded

Man is not a “law unto himself.” Man is a creature in the Creator’s universe, and as such is subject to the will of the Creator. To suggest otherwise is to elevate man beyond his station and to bring God down to the level of the creature. Those who advocate libertarian free will may not come out and say this, but logically speaking, this is the conclusion that must be drawn. Consider a popular evangelistic slogan found in Christian gospel tracts: “God casts his vote for you, Satan casts his vote against you, but you have the deciding vote.” Is this how it works in salvation? Is God just one side of a cosmic struggle with Satan for the souls of men, who must resort to ”campaign tactics” to sway voters to heaven? This view of God is an emasculated God who is desperately hoping mankind utilizes his free will to choose Him. Frankly, this is a somewhat pathetic view of God. If God wills to save someone, that person will be saved because God accomplishes all His purposes.

Now, we must be careful not to swing to the (equally) unbiblical view that God is the divine Puppet Master and we are merely His puppets. This is the view of hard determinism in which man is reduced to an automaton making robotic responses to situations. The Bible presents a third option between hard determinism and libertarian free will, and that is the view called compatibilism, or soft determinism. In this view, man makes real choices and will be held responsible by God for those choices. The choices that man makes emanate from his desires. God grants the creature a certain amount of freedom, but that freedom always operates within the boundaries of God’s sovereignty.

Now by embracing this view, we must avoid two errors. The first is to posit what is called “middle knowledge.” The doctrine of middle knowledge teaches that God created a world out of the infinite number of worlds He had available to Him to create, and God chose that particular world in which free creatures made the very decisions that accomplished His will. The second error to avoid is to think that God is somehow a cosmic manipulator setting up situations so that His creatures freely make the choices that accomplish His will.

There are two keys to understanding human will and how it relates to God’s sovereignty. The first is the fall. Prior to the fall, man could be said to have had a “free” will in that he was free to obey God or disobey God. After the fall, man’s will was corrupted by sin to the point where he fully lost the ability to willingly obey God. This doesn’t mean that man can’t outwardly obey God. Rather, man cannot perform any spiritual good that is acceptable to God or has any salvific merit. The Bible describes man’s will as “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) or as “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:17). These phrases describe man as both unable and unwilling to submit to God’s sovereign authority; therefore, when man makes choices according to his desires, we must remember that man’s desires are depraved and corrupted and wholly rebellious toward God.

The second key in harmonizing man’s “free” will with God’s sovereignty is how God accomplishes His desires. When God ordains all things that come to pass (Psalm 33:11; Ephesians 1:11), He not only ordains the ends, but the means as well. God ordains that certain things will happen and He also ordains how they will happen. Human choices are one of the means by which God accomplishes His will. For proof of this point, look no further than the exodus. God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that God’s glory in the deliverance of Israel would be manifest through him (Exodus 4:21). However, as the narrative continues, we see that Pharaoh hardens his own heart (Exodus 8:15). God’s will and man’s will converge.

In conclusion, we must try to understand the effort to import libertarian free will into the Scriptures. The reasoning is usually to preserve human autonomy because it is seen as the key to moral responsibility. This is also done to preserve God’s justice. God cannot be seen as just if He would condemn those who cannot choose against their depraved wills. Yet in these attempts to preserve God’s justice and human responsibility, damage is done to the Scriptures. The Bible emphatically affirms human responsibility for sin and God’s justice, but it also clearly rejects libertarian free will. Scripture clearly affirms that 1) God is sovereign over all affairs, including the affairs of man; and 2) man is responsible for his rebellion against a holy God. The fact that we cannot completely harmonize these two biblical truths should not cause us to reject either one. Things seem impossible to us often simply because we do not have the mind of God. It is true that we can’t expect to understand the mind of God perfectly, as He reminds us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Nevertheless, our responsibility to God is to believe His Word, to obey Him, to trust Him and to submit to His will, whether we understand it or not.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
9,968
3,592
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#3
The obvious conclusion is that libertarian free will is incompatible with the sovereignty of God.
Not necessarily. Since God made man in His own image and likeness, He also gave human beings the ability to make free moral choices. At the same time there are consequences either way. And Adam and Eve experienced the negative consequences of making the wrong choices. They were under no compulsion to disobey God.

Human free will DOES NOT conflict with the sovereignty of God, so that is a totally false premise. Indeed it glorifies God in that many will freely choose to believe Him, love Him, obey Him, and serve Him.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (Rev 7:9,10)
 

Melach

Well-known member
Mar 28, 2019
1,776
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#4
yes he does. or else we arent responsible for what we do.

another cult of calvin advertisement from this guy. he never gets tired of telling us he is reformed, every topic every post. what about just being christian?,
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
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www.christiancourier.com
#5
yes he does. or else we arent responsible for what we do.

another cult of calvin advertisement from this guy. he never gets tired of telling us he is reformed, every topic every post. what about just being christian?,
I think there could be an ulterior motive to the madness. With every thread that upholds the doctrine of the Reformed church, they are paid attention to and responded to by those not so inclined.

It is a way therefore for them to in a very subtle implication, without saying so outright because the counter point to the reformed stance says it first, that those persons are not of God's Elect. And are therefore doomed to die totally depraved and as such, damned.
Making in that reformists mind for the ultimate final word no matter how a thread goes.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
9,968
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#6
another cult of calvin advertisement from this guy. he never gets tired of telling us he is reformed, every topic every post. what about just being christian?,
I would call it trolling for Calvin. Enough is enough.
 

dcontroversal

Senior Member
Dec 12, 2013
43,653
16,911
113
#7
yes he does. or else we arent responsible for what we do.

another cult of calvin advertisement from this guy. he never gets tired of telling us he is reformed, every topic every post. what about just being christian?,
Amen little brother....if we take his view to the proverbial tenth degree, God becomes the author of all evil act that men have committed......there is a balance to be struck in the middle from both sides of this coin.

The water influences the movement of a fish, but the fish goes where it wants to in the pond!
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
2,137
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#9
Always with the either or propositions and ridiculous extremes.
Sad really.
The word "autonomous" means "self-law".

In other words, the person is self-governing in the free-willer theology. He is not affected by external influences, including God.

This is what libertarian free will teaches. It posits that the will has not been corrupted by the fall, and has the power of contrary choice, or the power to act against one's nature.

By the way, God himself doesn't act contrary to his nature. So, vain man thinks that he can act according to a nature he doesn't possess, and that the will is a separate component from his corrupted soul.
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#11
The word "autonomous" means "self-law".

In other words, the person is self-governing in the free-willer theology. He is not affected by external influences, including God.

This is what libertarian free will teaches. It posits that the will has not been corrupted by the fall, and has the power of contrary choice, or the power to act against one's nature.

By the way, God himself doesn't act contrary to his nature. So, vain man thinks that he can act according to a nature he doesn't possess, and that the will is a separate component from his corrupted soul.
Is "libertarian free will" a philosophical or theological construct?
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#12
according to calvinist brainfart if you dont micromanage everything you arent sovereign.
I agree there seems to be this need for things to be either black or white.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
2,137
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#14
Is "libertarian free will" a philosophical or theological construct?
It's heavily couched in philosophy. In fact, it is very Greek in it's assertions. It is humanist. By it's nature, it is very man-centered.

Take a look at the thread that was started called Absence of Free Will.

The guy who started the thread..is he referring to Scripture primarily, or is he supporting his claims from philosophical assertions?

Look at his other threads. Does he promote "logic" and philosophical assertions, or does he reference Scripture?

Now, I would agree that Christians employ critical reasoning skills along with their exegesis, but his approach seems to laud philosophy. That might tell you something.
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#15
It's heavily couched in philosophy. In fact, it is very Greek in it's assertions. It is humanist.

Take a look at the thread that was started called Absence of Free Will.

The guy who started the thread..is he referring to Scripture primarily, or is he supporting his claims from philosophical assertions?

Look at his other threads. Does he promote "logic" and philosophical assertions, or does he reference Scripture?

Now, I would agree that Christians employ critical reasoning skills along with their exegesis, but his approach seems to laud philosophy. That might tell you something.
It's heavily couched in philosophy. In fact, it is very Greek in it's assertions. It is humanist.
Exactly, so how does it have any bearing on the discussion of scripture.

Well I do not agree with that guy either. ;)

I see no bearing of the philosophical debate of 'free will" versus "determinism" as it relates to scripture, it sets up a false dichotomy from which all arguments seem to flow.
 

Grandpa

Senior Member
Jun 24, 2011
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#16
Most of the world worships their own will.

I don't think they like being shown that their will is useless. I don't think they want to understand even if they had the capacity to.


Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.


Its kind of funny that almost everyone thinks they are a good person. They have made up in their own mind what a good person does and doesn't do and thats what they are.


Its the same here with those who argue AGAINST Gods Sovereignty and Omniscience. They have made up in their own mind what is good and what is not. For them worship of the will is over all. Even God is secondary. God can't do something if man wills against it. Its like little children throwing temper tantrums. You don't really expect it from adults but here it is.

But it is God who has Chosen. It is God who has Created His Kingdom.

Matthew 6:9-10
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Amen.
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#17
Its the same here with those who argue AGAINST Gods Sovereignty and Omniscience.
What does it mean to argue against God's sovereignty, what is it that they state?
 

Grandpa

Senior Member
Jun 24, 2011
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#18
What does it mean to argue against God's sovereignty, what is it that they state?
It means to state that you weren't totally depraved.

It means that you argue that there was something GOOD in you that decided to LET God save you.

It means that you have placed your will above Gods Will.
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#19
It means to state that you weren't totally depraved.

It means that you argue that there was something GOOD in you that decided to LET God save you.

It means that you have placed your will above Gods Will.
Totally depraved now there is a big term... all part of the construct to make Calvinism work.

Well, we could discuss argue what total depravity means with the context of responding to the Gospel message but I think we have done that already.... so I am exiting stage left.:)
 

Angela53510

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2011
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#20
Totally depraved now there is a big term... all part of the construct to make Calvinism work.

Well, we could discuss argue what total depravity means with the context of responding to the Gospel message but I think we have done that already.... so I am exiting stage left.:)
So do you think you had some good in you, before God saved you? I know I did not!

Perhaps God did me a big favour, by allowing me to fall into a deep, dark pit before he saved me. There was no doubt in my mind I was depraved, even totally depraved, although I had never heard those terms until decades after God saved me.

I tried over and over to pull myself up by the bootstraps. It would work for a day or maybe more. But then, the total depravity would reassert itself. I started reading the Bible, but I was blind, it made no sense to me. People told me about Jesus, and how a sinner's prayer would save me. I said a sinner's prayer, and nothing happened. It was just my will.

But, when God lifted me out of that pit, in less than an instant, I was a new, redeemed person. I was changed, and had a new heart. I didn't decide anything, God called me, and I was a new creature in Christ. There was no change of my will, but a complete reordering of who I was by the Holy Spirit.

Maybe it is harder if you are a pretty good person, living a decent life, to acknowledge your own depravity. One might say, "Oh, I'm not perfect, but I try my best." What does "trying your best:" have to do with the will and purpose of God? If you are not transformed by the power of God, you are still as lost in that dark pit as I was, but you don't even realize it.

Be sure God has called you to this great a salvation. I am not saying that a belief system saves you. But certainly, in order to repent of your sin, you can't say that some areas need repenting, but I am 50% or 75% or even 2% good. Better to understand that no one is good, except God alone, (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19) and go from darkness to light. From total depravity to walking with Christ in his fullness.