Calvinism rejects libertarian free will and believes in compatible moral freedom, which means everything and everyone is micro-determined. The following are the definitions of the two perspectives.
Determinism and moral responsibility are compatible; hence, the name. This compatibility is not achieved by compatibilism being less deterministic than hard determinism. Rather, it is achieved by defining free choice to mean as long as a person chooses according to his greatest desire, he can be considered to have made a free choice for which he is morally responsible; even though given the same past, he cannot choose differently in the moral moment of decision.
Consequently, the difference between compatibilism (soft determinism) and hard determinism is not to be found in the levels of the deterministic nature of each because they are the same. Rather, the difference is compatibilism contends people are morally responsible for their choices if they are made according to their greatest desire, and hard determinism says they are not. Continue reading →
Calvinism rejects libertarian free will and believes in compatible moral freedom, which means everything and everyone is micro-determined. For that to be the biblically reflective approach to understanding Scripture (what the Bible actually portrays and teaches), Calvinists would have to explain why the Bible, from Genesis two through Revelation twenty-two, is absolutely permeated with verses, events, challenges, commands, offers, and judgments that clearly reflect that people have libertarian free will. That is to say; they can choose to act one way or differently in a myriad of passages.
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Some Calvinists argue that Extensivists’ (non-Calvinists) belief in libertarian freedom, and God’s foreknowledge of what such beings will choose still results in determinism, and therefore, we are all determinists; thus, we have the same deterministic problem as Calvinists. Calvinists believe this argument assuages the significant problems that are unique to Calvinism because of its commitment to decretal theology and compatible moral freedom, a commitment that results in Calvinism’s micro-determinism of everything; there are no exceptions.
Calvinism’s view of free choice and moral responsibility is called compatibilism. Compatibilism contends that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible; hence, the name. This compatibility is achieved by defining a free moral choice to exist so long as one chooses according to his greatest desire. But compatibilism entails that the desire from which one freely chooses is determined; thus, humans can only make micro-predetermined free choices. Therefore, given the same past, no one can choose differently in the moral moment of decision. So, is the argument legitimate that Extensivists are all ultimately determinists? Well No! Continue reading →
While many don the designation Calvinist because they have endeavored to learn all aspects of Calvinism and are thereby convinced that it provides the most cogent, comprehensive, and consistent grid through which to understand Scripture, others adopt the label less nobly. Of this latter kind, it seems to me many assume the title Calvinist because they like certain components of Calvinism, which they are led to believe are unique to Calvinism. Such conclusions may arise from their exposure to the claims of some Calvinists, the inadequate explanations or responses of those they are familiar with who reject Calvinism, or even from their own subjective assumptions. Such aspects are exampled by God’s sovereignty, the preeminence of God’s glory, or the total depravity of fallen man. Continue reading →
In both Calvinism and Extensivism, God knows all that could happen, and all that will happen. The difference is in how he knows. According to Calvinism, his knowledge of what could and will happen is based upon his micro-determination. Another way of saying God knows what could happen is God knows what he could determine to happen. Similarly, another way of saying God knows what will happen is God knows, out of the possibilities of what he could determine to happen, what he will determine to happen. This determinism is not merely God determining to create the universe because we all believe that if God did not determine to create, creation would not exist. Continue reading →
Romans 9:22–23 is often cited to demonstrate God’s sovereign choice in creating some people for eternal destruction so that he might demonstrate his wrath while making other people to be recipients of his eternal mercy. This understanding highlights God’s eternal, unconditional election. This way, God could put his wrath and mercy on display, which otherwise he would not be able to do. Those who hold this view do believe that God did desire sin and evil, and he created people that ultimately he damned to hell either by predeterminately creating them for such or actively or passively passing them by. Continue reading →
As mentioned in my previous article on Jacob and Esau (Rom 9:10–13), Calvinists use Romans chapters 9–11 as the undeniable evidence of Calvinistic soteriology, defending both unconditional election and reprobation. Regarding chapter 9, B.B. Warfield says, “It is safe to say that language cannot be chosen better adapted to teach Predestination at its height.” As I demonstrated, while the passage regarding Jacob and Esau does show God’s sovereignty, it has nothing to do with salvific election and reprobation, Calvinism’s doctrine of unconditional election. The same is true with regard to Pharaoh. Continue reading →
Calvinists use Romans chapters 9–11 as the undeniable evidence of Calvinistic soteriology, defending both unconditional election and reprobation. A.W. Pink says, “Romans 9 contains the fullest setting forth of the doctrine of Reprobation.” John Piper says that Jacob and Esau “were appointed for their respected destinies before they were born.” In response, to give the context of the verses, Romans chapters 9–11 are about Israel, where Jews are considered nationally, both alone (Romans 9:1–5, 10:1–3, 11:1–10) and contrasted with the Gentiles (Romans 11:11–12). Everett F. Harrison notes that “election which is treated on an individual basis in 8:28–30, 33 is now viewed from the national perspective of Israel.”
Calvinists often refer to two particular events as evidence of God’s sovereign unconditional election and reprobation. These two are Jacob and Esau (Romans 9:10–13), and Pharaoh (Romans 9:17–18). They also quote Romans 9:22–23 to demonstrate unconditional election and reprobation as well. I agree that these passages illustrate God’s sovereignty over creation, a truth with which I wholeheartedly agree; however, they do not demonstrate that God unconditionally elects some to eternal bliss and others to eternal fire, reprobation, nor do they demonstrate the particular way that Calvinists define sovereignty. In this article, I look at Jacob and Esau (Rom (9:10–13). I will look at the other two passages in a following article on Pharaoh. Continue reading →
Salvation begins with God revealing himself to man. Man cannot find God unless he reveals himself to man. God’s love for his creation is why there is a way for people to be saved from their just desert (John 3:16). Christ came into the world to save mankind, which means he had to pay for man’s sins (John 1:29). He also had to initiate the salvation opportunity on a personal level since man on his own will never pursue God (Rom 3:11). He did this by enlightening every person (John 1:9–13) and by drawing and calling individuals to salvation (John 6:44; 12:32) so that a person can by grace, trust in the person and work of Christ, which is the will and work of God (John 6:29).
It is after God reveals himself and enables mankind to believe that he gives man the command and opportunity to believe, which man does not have to do (Matt 11:20–24). If man does respond in faith to the revelation of God, God will respond by creating a new person (2 Cor 5:17). The work of regeneration is totally a work of God, as was the first creation. The order of salvation is revelation, faith, and regeneration. Continue reading →
Although I do not accept Calvinism as reflective of God or his plan of salvation as depicted in Scripture, I do maintain the following. Whether God chose to save man according to the teachings of Calvinism or Extensivism, salvation is all by grace. I further believe he could have chosen either way; since, in either scenario, he would have sovereignly and freely chosen the plan including all of its components, each would be totally by grace; however, most Calvinists are not so kind regarding the possibility of Extensivism. Continue reading →