Over the past months I’ve had an on again off again conversation with Jared about Calvinism and free will. Jared is an unapologetic Calvinist. I, frankly, had no idea what that meant until recently, and even now I’m not entirely sure. But thanks to Jared’s patience in answering, probably, the same question repeatedly, I’m getting there. I am still a long way away from being a Calvinist, and probably never will be entirely, but I’m finding that it is not nearly as far fetched as it seemed a few months ago. (BTW – The Calvinist belief can be summed up with the acronym TULIP. There’s an explanation of TULIP here.)
My debate with Jared began in the comments thread here. Jared had taken offense at another’s claim to sovereignty over his own life. I had written a paper on God’s putting us in control and I commented that I felt that God has given man sovereignty over his own life. (that paper has seemed incomplete ever since it was completed. There’s more to the story, but I haven’t been inspired to go back and dig into it yet. As Jared pointed out, it’s a little too ‘Deist’) A very civil conversation ensued about all things Calvin but settled down to the idea of free will or not. Jared made his points, I tried to provide examples in scripture of free will and then Jared said
Salguod, I’m not sure if you haven’t made it through my previous comments yet, but I have specifically said several times that I don’t deny the reality of the will or the reality of man’s choosing.
All you’ve done with these references is provide examples of man making choices or the call to man to make a choice. I have never denied any of those things.
If I wasn’t already confused, that did it for me. A will that is not fee? Choices but not freedom? How can this be? I attempted to understand his position, but couldn’t get it.
Then, a few days ago he posts A Will Conformed to Reality in which he makes the argument that it is our role to change our will to match God’s. I let it sit for a couple of day, but couldn’t take it any longer. So I asked
How does this idea of conforming our will to God’s square with your position that we have no free will of our own? If God’s in control of all and directing all, how can we say to have conformed our will to His, as you suggest here?
So Jared graciously explains it to me one more time and this time it clicks and I respond:
So the idea then is that we seem to have free will before we are saved, but in reality we cannot help but to sin. It (perfection or ‘being good’) is an ideal that is a lie for we are powerless to achieve it. We are perhaps more or less successful than our neighbor, but ultimately sinful beyond our control. It is only because God has given us grace in Christ that we have a chance to be saved from this depravity.
So the lack of free will is not an inability to make any choice, but rather a limitation on making all the right choices. Our freedom is limited by our tendency to sin.
It turns out that this Calvinist idea of no free will isn’t as wacky as it might seem. In fact, it makes perfect sense.
Jared, you’ve still got a long way to go on original sin and predestination, though.