Below is a Calvinist’s response to something I wrote regarding Libertarian free will. First is his response, which is followed by mine. Then each time I say, “you said” I am quoting him, which is followed by my response.
Pastor Rogers writes, “The two views of free will are Compatible and Libertarian.” This understates the issue. The issue is the degree to which a person is free to choose.
God has free will because God is omniscience, all wise, and not subject to outside influence. God is able to consider all consequences, make a wise (rational) decision, and is not affected by anything outside himself in making decisions. Humans, not being omniscient or all wise or free of outside influence, have a freedom that is limited. In addition, people are depraved corrupted by sin. Calvinism recognizes this and concludes that sinful people in their depraved condition will always reject the gospel they are not free to choose. God then graciously imparts freedom to choose to certain people His elect who use that freedom to accept the gospel.
Non-Calvinists presume that God graciously gives a libertarian freedom to all people. However, the ability to choose otherwise means that the person can rationally evaluate the choices before him and make a wise or rational decision free of outside influence. Faced with the choice between eternal death and eternal life, the person with libertarian free will will always choose eternal life because this is a rational choice. To choose eternal death is to choose irrationally and this indicates the lack of libertarian free will. Further, the Bible never says that people reject the gospel as a matter of choice. It says that they have been blinded by the god of this world and thereby reject the gospel. God must remove this blindness if a person is to accept the gospel and if this blindness is removed, the person will accept the gospel the rational choice with libertarian free will.
Thanks for your comments and interest in this subject.
You quoted me, “The two views of free will are Compatible and Libertarian.” And then you said, “This understates the issue. The issue is the degree to which a person is free to choose.” Please see my article for a fuller discussion at http://wmh.24c.myftpupload.com/2013/10/09/the-fall-of-angels-and-man-two-views-calvinism-and-non-calvinism/.
Of course, the range of options for humans is different from God, which actually has nothing to do with the reality of libertarian free will. Libertarian free will does not advocate the silliness of being able to choose anything at any time, but rather that one can choose within a range of options and could have chosen otherwise than he did in fact choose; in addition, the range of options changes, e.g. age, location, spiritual nature, etc. In its simplest form, one could choose to act or refrain. That is libertarian free will in contrast to compatibilism in which one can only do what one does. Further, it does not negate the biblical seriousness of depravity in any way, which we maintain must be overcome by God’s grace enablement in order for one to exercise saving faith.
You said, “God then graciously imparts freedom to choose to certain people His elect who use that freedom to accept the gospel. Non-Calvinists presume that God graciously gives a libertarian freedom to all people.” Strange that you decide that Calvinists do not presume (I guess they are just stating the facts) and Non-Calvinists “presume” their position. Surely, you jest! It seems to me that you are premising your idea upon the non-existent un-deniability of Calvinism, and of course, that is in fact what most of Christianity denies. The Scripture is the standard, not Calvinism.
You said, “The ability to choose otherwise means that the person can rationally evaluate the choices before him and make a wise or rational decision free of outside influence. Faced with the choice between eternal death and eternal life, the person with libertarian free will always choose eternal life because this is a rational choice. To choose eternal death is to choose irrationally and this indicates the lack of libertarian free will.”
I can only suppose by your words that you believe humans always do the logical thing. I must admit that I find each of your premises to be false. First, libertarians never claim that there is “no outside influence” nor internal for that matter. In fact, I cannot think of a context where any human would ever be totally isolated from influence. We do, however, deny that a person freely chooses because of determinative antecedents, i.e. compatibilism. Second, the only way I can imagine for one to reduce human decision making to mere rationalism is to never have truly known a human, including oneself. Third, there is no evidence that people always act or choose the rational. This is true whether we consider individuals in the Scripture prior to or subsequent to the fall, or whether they have been regenerated or not. Was it really mere logic that led Adam and Eve to forsake God? I think not! When I fail to love and follow God as I should, is it merely my irrationality? I know not!
Fourth, human beings are far more complex than you portray them. They have personality (I suspect by your argument that you are a very logically minded individual, but I believe you err if you think such of all personalities), emotions, pursuits of secondary gain, spirituality, social complexities, shortsighted goals (Adam in the garden, rich young ruler, and I suspect you have such as I do at times), and who has not chosen a vacation, twaddling, or doodling when the most reasonable thing to do at the time was work, etc.? To the song’s old question, “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, I answer, maybe too much at times, but I sort of like that. Now, being wildly in love with the same women for thirty-nine years means by definition, I have not always chosen rationally. That she feels the same about me means by definition that I have not even chosen rationality quotidianly. Nor shall I even do so this week, at least I hope to have occasion to choose love over logic. Surely, you do not think logic makes intimacy between a husband and wife flourish?
Decision making, according to libertarian free will, is the result of the human matrix rather than one component. This is in contrast to compatibilism wherein one actually becomes aware of a decision formulated by determinative antecedents, and then chooses to act accordingly. I dare not even mention the wonderful flibbertigibbets of this world because I suspect that even unconditional election and selective regeneration would be strained, if these entertaining individuals were required to act logically. The Bible never poses logic as the determiner, but rather faith emanating from beings of such complexity, that we are each unique and yet created in the image of God.
You said, “Further, the Bible never says that people reject the gospel as a matter of choice. It says that they have been blinded by the god of this world and thereby reject the gospel.” Again, it appears to me that your observations of Scripture and humanity have led you to embrace undue reductionism. First, even if that was the only appellative used to describe the lost, your conclusion would still be unwarranted as the only option; one can be blind and still pursue evil or even respond to God to some degree (Genesis 3:9-13) with some understanding of the true nature of their plight. Of course, I am assuming that you believe that Adam was blind as well as people like the Bereans who searched the Scripture and then believed, Acts 17:12.
Moreover, since your description is not the only reason given, it surely is not the only available conclusion. I would say not even the best, but then we differ on that. Other examples of why people reject the gospel can be seen in the rich young ruler who is presented as rejecting because he loved his wealth (Luke 18:23), men who love sin (John 3:19-21), and the Pharisees who love preeminence (Luke 11:43), etc. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that your view of Calvinism is so lofty that you miss much of the richness afforded by the Scripture regarding such areas. Second, Jesus and others present the gospel and call for a decision, and even excoriate those who refuse to believe, which gives every indication that they made the wrong choice and should not have done so (Matthew 11:20-24). In fact, the issue of choice is ever-present in the Scripture. The task of discovering passages or narratives where choice is not starkly and even chillingly present seems to me to be the infinitely Augean and impotent quest (John 3:16-18).
You said, “God must remove this blindness if a person is to accept the gospel and if this blindness is removed, the person will accept the gospel the rational choice with libertarian free will.” First, I also believe that God must remove the blindness, etc., before anyone can accept the gospel. That is biblical. He does this through the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16), conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11), by drawing all men (John 12:32) and other providential workings out of His love for the lost. I reject Calvinism’s deterministic compatibilism as being reflective of Scripture. That you disagree is a foregone conclusion. Second, I could not disagree more that when people are shown the “true truth” (Schaeffer’s term), they will accept the gospel. That is compatibilism (provided the determinative antecedents lead to that awakening) and not libertarianism. Further, people do not, never have, nor, I suspect, ever will only make choices that are rational. Adam surely did not. In fact, God regularly calls people to follow Him when they have not one bit of reason to do so I think of Joseph and Mary. Faith is not irrational, but it does often require more than reason and takes us higher than mere reason. The way the Bible gave for Adam remaining in the garden, as determinative of salvation, walking with God, or pleasing God is not reason, but faith (Hebrews 11: 6).