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Free Will challenge

Discussion in 'Debate with a Calvinist' started by Paul., Feb 27, 2021.

  1. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Chapter 9 Paragraph 1 and 2 describes Adam and Eve as having free will (the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action) prior to the fall.

    There appears to be no scriptural basis for believing this ability was lost at the fall without violating good Bible interpretation principles.

    How would you answer this with scripture and good hermeneutics?
     
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  2. JM

    JM Particular Baptist Supporter

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    I hold to the 1689 with few exceptions but I see the fall of Adam as preordained and predetermined. Just as the Last Adam came to die so did the First.

    "GOD PREDETERMINED THE FALL OF ADAM; this fell under his decree, as all things do that come to pass in the world; there is nothing comes to pass without his determining will, “Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?” (Lam. 3:37), nothing is done, or can be done, God not willing it should be done: that the fall of Adam was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God is certain; because the sufferings and death of Christ, by which is the redemption of men from that sin, and all others, were ordained before the foundation of the world; and which must have been precarious and uncertain, if Adam’s fall was not by a like decree (Acts 2:23; 4:28; 1 Pet. 1:20), but then neither the foreknowledge of God, nor any decree of God, laid Adam under a necessity of sinning; it is true, there arises from hence a necessity of immutability, that is, that the things God has decreed should unchangeably come to pass, but not a necessity of co-action or force; as Judas and the Jews sinned freely, the one in betraying, the other in putting Christ to death; so Adam sinned freely, without force or compulsion, notwithstanding any decree of God concerning him; so that these do not make God at all chargeable with being the author of his sin; he and he alone was the author of it." - John Gill

    Yours in the Lord,

    jm
     
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  3. Hammster

    Hammster Jesus is Post-Mil Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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

    That’s what’s meant by loss of free will.


    But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
    1 Corinthians 2:14-15
     
  4. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Simul Justus et Peccator Supporter

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    Hello @Paul., as far as the Scriptural evidence for the loss of our first parents' neutral "free will", these verses come to mind.

    Romans 3
    9 We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) are all under sin;
    10 as it is written,
    “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
    11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
    THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
    12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
    THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
    THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”

    23 ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    And speaking of Christians prior to coming to saving faith, the Apostle Paul says this:

    Ephesians 2
    1 You were dead in your trespasses and sins,
    2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

    3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were ~by nature~ children of wrath, even as the rest.
    As far as reasoning apart from the Scriptures goes, we need look no further than the most common saying among us which is, "nobody's perfect". IOW, there is something that happened to us from the get-go (something in our DNA you might say), that caused the LOT of us, W/O exception, to be sinners. Surely if this was not the case, at least a few of us over the years would have chosen to be righteous instead :preach:

    Also, since we know that God made us "upright" .. e.g. Ecclesiastes 7:29a/created us in His perfect image .. e.g. Genesis 1:26-27, we know that the fault for our collective sinfulness as a race lies with our progenitors, whose ~tarnished~ image is the image that we are all "begotten in" (instead of God's original, perfect image).

    That's part of it anyway ;)

    God bless you!

    --David

    Ecclesiastes 7
    29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  5. Michael Collum

    Michael Collum Everything began with a voice, use yours Supporter

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    I was looking at passages that illustrated being freed from bondage in the NT, and noticed that there are more words than usual for the translated subject, that being liberty.

    Genesis 1:1 (KJV)

    Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

    This passage brings out a distinctive point of the current covenant. In that the old testament people did not receive the outpouring that we do today. Thus the a freed will was not possible. However, where the Holy Spirit is, there is freedom.

    A will under the compulsion of sin is not "freed" - thus the dichotomy between divine freedom and "doing whatever you want" freedom.

    Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

    This also illustrates how the whole creation was under the bondage of corruption, including the human body - thus a mind shacked to a sinful body, sinful brain cannot have a freed will. This can only be granted by God's presence.

    These points establish that there was corruption that bound all of creation, and that the Holy Spirit gives freedom from this bondage.

    Since Adam and Eve did not have the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is available today, their wills cannot have been freed.
     
  6. tdidymas

    tdidymas Newbie

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    Most people confuse natural free will with spiritual will. The natural free will is in regard to what people decide to do in the natural realm without compulsion by another or a law. The spiritual nature is another matter. Paul explains spiritual freedom and slavery in Rom. 6:15-18, ending in the statement "having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." This implies that every person is subject and servant of another, either the devil or God. One who has a will free from sin is a slave to God, and vice versa.

    John concurs in 1 Jn. 5:19 when he says "the whole world is under the control of the evil one," with, of course, the exception of Christians, which we can see from the context. If a person is "not in the flesh, but in the Spirit..." as Paul says, then such person's will has been freed from the sinful nature, and has the ability to overcome sinful habits, but such a will is not free from God's will, since their will is in concurrence to His will.

    Again, Phil 2:12-13 "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you, to will and do His good pleasure." This distinction between the natural and spiritual realm tells us that in order to avoid conflict in the heart and wavering in doubts, we must use our natural will to cooperate with what God is already doing in the spiritual part of us. This is in concurrence with Heb. 12 which tells us that we are to trust God whenever we encounter hardships, because God is making us share in His holiness.

    So the problem with Christians after the fact of conversion use their current experience to claim that unregenerate people have the same free will as Christians, this poses a confusion against Biblical teaching on the doctrine of total depravity (which I like to call total spiritual inability). According to Rom. 3:10-18 and 1 Cor. 2:14-16, God has to make someone spiritual in order for that person to understand the gospel enough to believe and obey the message.

    The fact that free will is so controversial in the churches today shows that spirituality is a mystery that is not well understood even among Christians. The result is that it requires us to trust God for His promises regardless of whether we understand it or not.
     
  7. Don Maurer

    Don Maurer Newbie

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    If I go with your definition, I would agree that unbelievers still have the ability to refrain from evil. Unbelievers walk down the street daily and pass by all sorts of people and do not murder them. Many more illustrations could be given to show that unbelievers at times choose not to sin. So then, they "refrain from a given moral action." If that is your definition of free will, it accords with reformed theology and the 1689.

    Correct, the ability to make a choice was not lost in the fall. What do you think was lost in the fall? Was there any change in the nature of man? Would you agree that the spiritual nature of man is now dead? What is the consequences of the spiritual death of Adam? Was this spiritual nature of rebellion (death) inherited by all mankind? How do you read Romans 5? Psalm 51? Ephesians 2? Of course if you wish, you can read some of the statement in the 1689 that follow paragraphs 1 and 2. It might help you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  8. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Hermeneutics? . .just read the text.

    Jn 8:34 - ". . .whoever sins is a slave to sin."

    Slaves are not free.

    Sin originated in the Garden.
    .
     
  9. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    It sounds like you are advocating hard determinism. If you are not, then please explain what it is and how it is not just a distinction without a difference.
     
  10. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    That is the claim of the 1689 LBCOF. I do not believe it is a wholly biblically supported claim.
    The context of this scripture is Paul comparing the person who trusts in the wisdom of the world against the person who trusts in the wisdom of God. To interpret that this encompasses all humanity is false as we see a few verses later Paul points to the Corinthian Christian's who don't fall in either of these categories. Due to this context, this scripture does not show that people are unable to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.
     
  11. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    The fact that everyone will sin is not evidence that people have do not have the ability to refrain or not refrain form a given moral action like Adam and Eve.

    Every person who sins is under the wrath of God prior to being a Christian. This is not the same as saying every person who sins can never choose to do one good moral ever again.
    Because people live in a world full of sin and have an inclination towards sin, is not proof they cannot refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.
    Adam and Eve sinned without a tarnished image. Logically we could sin too without starting off tarnished. To say we sin therefore we must have started out tarnished is not a logical interpretation especially in light of the example of people who were not tarnished who did sin.
     
  12. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    Are you concluding that Adam and Eve prior to the fall did not have the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action?
     
  13. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    You appear to be defining slavery to sin as meaning the loss of the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action. There is a difference between showing the Bible talks about people being in bondage to sin and defining bondage to sin as the loss of free will. Where do you see the Bible saying bondage to sin equals no ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action?
     
  14. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    Unfortunately that is only pert of my definition. Let me quote it for you.
    In other words, I am defining free will as the ability to do or not do a bad moral action and the ability to do or not do a good moral action.

    Do you want me to reply to the rest of your response or do you want to provide a different response in light of me explaining the definition?
     
  15. Paul.

    Paul. I think therefore I post Supporter

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    Nobody just reads the text. They interpret it and extract meaning which you also have done in the rest of your post.
    You are interpreting slavery to sin to mean the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action no longer exists in a person. What is your justification for claiming this as a correct definition of slave to sin?
     
  16. Hammster

    Hammster Jesus is Post-Mil Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    I’ll have to disagree with your assessment. If Paul had said “will not” instead of “cannot”, your argument would have more force. There’s more, however.


    For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
    Romans 8:5-9

    Here Paul is beginning the end of the argument started in chapter five about the differences between those in Adam and those in Christ. A summation, if you will. Those in the flesh, the unregenerate, cannot please God. They don’t even want to, because of their hostility towards God.
     
  17. Don Maurer

    Don Maurer Newbie

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    Please address the questions in the lower part of my response. I think I completely understood your definition the first time you wrote it. The discussion should be in the fall of man and what happened in the fall of man and also what is meant by the term "original sin." I actually am agreeing with what you said about point one and two of the 1689. I disagree that you understand the whole section and that is why we should discuss the fall of man and the concept of "original sin."
     
  18. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Precisely. . .do you know anyone who is free from all sin?
    Since no one is, that would be slavery to sin.

    Slavery to sin is like any other slavery, there exists a certain amount of personal freedom--what to like and dislike, what to believe and not to believe, who to trust and not to trust, etc.

    My point being that there is a bondage from which we are unable to extract ourselves--sin.
    No one has the power to be sinless, in that we are not free.

    Ergo, we cannot say we have complete free will, we have limited free will, which philosophically is called free-agency.

    The Bible denies philosophical "free will," and presents philosophical "free agency," to frame it in terms of philosophy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  19. tdidymas

    tdidymas Newbie

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    Jesus said "he who sins is a slave to sin." Slave in this context means that a person cannot refrain from sin, and this is the nature of addiction. Sin is an addiction to disregarding the will of God when making choices. So even though a person has a "free will" in the natural sense, in relationship with other people, an unregenerate person does not have a "free will" in the spiritual aspect of his life. It means that his desire for pleasure wins out over his desire to avoid lake of fire judgment. And this is obviously the case for people ignorant of God's will. This is why in 1 Cor. 2 and Rom. 8 Paul says that the natural (unregenerate) man is unable to understand (and thus obey) spiritual things. He is talking about truth in the spiritual realm, not the natural realm.

    The term "free will" in the Biblical context simply means a person doing something without compulsion by law or peer pressure. It does not mean that a person has no compulsion from God whenever God decides to strongly influence them to do something. My objection to the "free will" idea is that it assumes that the will of an unregenerate person is completely neutral to any compulsion from God, and that they actually have the wisdom to correctly discern the value of the gospel, and that they choose on their own, without God's help, to believe and obey the gospel. But I disagree with that idea, based on the verses I cited, and Eph. 2:5 is clear about the level of God's compulsion on a person who becomes a believer.

    And claiming that a "given moral action" can be done by anyone implies an assumption that all moral actions can be done by anyone at all times, which is a fallacy.
     
  20. JM

    JM Particular Baptist Supporter

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    "Hard determinism" is a philosophical idea. I believe scripture which teaches, God will make "peace, and create evil" after all, "shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" And spare me the Hebrew gymnastics, however you translate the Hebrew God did it. Further reading.
     
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