Friday, May 25, 2012

Luther and Calvin v. Augustine and Justin Martyr on Free Will

One of the core tenets of Calvinism is the belief that there's no such thing as free will, particularly in regards to matters of salvation.  What strikes me about this doctrine is that I'm not sure anyone really believes it.  I realize that sounds odd, but consider: even those, like Luther and Calvin, who claim that the will is in total bondage contradict themselves throughout their writings, while St. Augustine (who Luther and Calvin considered the father of the doctrine) expressly denies it.  Let's consider each man in turn:

Luther on Free Will

Martin Luther's 1525 book On the Bondage of the Will argues that free will is an illusion, and that men are either the slaves to God, or the slaves to Satan:
Title Page, Martin Luther's
On the Bondage of the Will
But this false idea of "free-will" is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences. If we do not want to drop this term ["free-will"] altogether - which would really be the safest and most Christian thing to do - we may still in good faith teach people to use it to credit man with "free-will" in respect, not of what is above him, but of what is below him. That is to say, man should realize that in regard to his money and possessions he has a right to use them, to do or to leave undone, according to his own "free-will" - though that very "free-will" is overruled by the free-will of God alone, according to His own pleasure. However, with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, he has no "free-will", but is a captive, prisoner and bondslave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.
Read that passage carefully, and consider the numerous ways in which Luther disproves his own point:
  1. If man has no free will, how can he choose to drop the term free-will altogether, as Luther suggests?  For that matter, if man has no free will, how can he even want to drop the term free-will altogether?  Desire, after all, is tied to the will.

  2. When Luther speaks of dropping the term free-will as being the safest and most Christian thing to do,” how can he speak of actions on a spectrum of goodness?  That is, how could one Christian option be any more safe or more Christian than another, if each is the direct result of the will of God?  How could one of God's actions be any safer or more Christian than any of His other actions?

  3. If man has no free will, how can Luther speak of us as teaching anything “in good faith”?  Likewise, if man has no free will, how can Luther encourage men to “credit” themselves with free-will in respect to what is below them?

  4. Finally, and most centrally, Luther argues that “in all that bears on salvation or damnation, [man] has no "free-will",” yet still claims that a particular doctrine (the doctrine of free will) “is a real threat to salvation.”  If every man is a mere captive to the will of God (the saved) or the will of Satan (the damned) on matters of salvation, how could any doctrine pose a threat to salvation?

    If the saved are completely slaves to God, unable of doing anything contrary to His Will, how would the existence of a false doctrine overcome the will of God?  [The Calvinists ultimately recognized this absurdity, and created the doctrine of  “Perseverance of the Saints” (and the related doctrine of being “Once Saved, Always Saved”) in response.]
I mention this not to pick on Luther, but because Luther is the first of a long string of Protestant theologians to make these sort of internally-incoherent arguments. The very writers who profess to disbelieve in free will write things that only make sense if a thing such as free will exists

For example, a given theologian will deny free will, then talk about the importance and the necessity of having a saving faith in Christ, and ensuring that this faith is an authentic one.  But faith is inherently an act of the will, as St. Thomas has explained. We don’t speak of how doors or rocks have faith in God, because that’s meaningless. Without wills, they cannot have faith.  Or the same writer might say that instead of worrying about good works, we need to trust in God.  But to trust is also to make an act of the will.  It's for precisely this reason that no one can externally force you to have faith, or to trust in God, or any of the rest, because it's an operation of the will

Ironically, this is the very problem that Luther is complaining about in the section that I quoted above: that even Protestants can't seem to avoid speaking as if free will exists.  There's good reason for that.

Calvin on Free Will

Michelangelo, Ezekiel
(Sistine Chapel detail) (1510)
Another Protestant Reformer who talks himself in circles on free will is John Calvin, who carries Luther's doctrines against free will to their logical end-point.  Calvin, like Luther, denies the existence of man's free will in regards to issues of salvation.  But that poses a real problem for anyone who reads the numerous portions of the Bible that call us to convert.  For example, Ezekiel 14:6 says, “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”  Now, that's pretty plain Scripture, showing the clear existence of an authentic free will related to salvation: that the Israelites are capable of repenting, of turning away from idols, and turning away from abominations.

You might think that since Calvin denied such a will existed, he'd find some way of shirking the plain meaning of the passage.  Nope, on the contrary, Calvin's exegesis of the passage only reinforces these realities:
Now God shows why he had threatened the false prophets and the whole people so severely, namely, that they should repent; for the object of God’s rigor is, that, when terrified by his judgments, we should return into the way. Now, therefore, he exhorts them to repentance. Hence we gather the useful lesson, that whenever God inspires us with fear, he has no other intention than to humble us, and thus to provide for our salvation, when he reproves and threatens us so strongly by his prophets, and in truth is verbally angry with us, that he may really spare us.
Consider something that actually lacks a free will, like a robot programmed to perform certain tasks.  Does it make any sense to threaten, to terrify, to exhort, to inspire, to humble, or to reprove that robot?  Of course not.  If we yell at our computers, it's because we're acting in irrational anger. Yet this is exactly how Calvin describes God.

More than that, Calvin says that God does all of these things to and for us, so that we should repent, so that He may spare us.  If one believes in the existence of free will related to salvation, Calvin's exegesis makes perfect sense, and is quite good here.  But if you deny the reality of such a free will, as Calvin himself did, then this exegesis makes no sense.

St. Augustine on Free Will

Both Luther and Calvin are big fans of St. Augustine, and derive their views on predestination and free will in part from some of Augustine's writings (particularly one of his speculative works, his Letter to Simplician).  But taking a fuller view of Augustine's own writings, it's clear he was neither a Lutheran nor a Calvinist on the issue of free will related to salvation.

Joseph-Noël Sylvestre,
The Sack of Rome by the Barbarians in 410 (1890).
For example, in his famous City of God, he writes of how when the Visigoths pillaged Rome, they raped “not only wives and unmarried maidens, but even consecrated virgins.” Augustine is aware that these women are guilt-ridden, feeling “shame, lest that act which could not be suffered without some sensual pleasure, should be believed to have been committed also with some assent of the will.

In response, he assures them that they needn't be ashamed, and indeed, that they haven't violated their vow of virginity, since “the purity both of the body and the soul rests on the steadfastness of the will strengthened by God's grace, and cannot be forcibly taken from an unwilling person.”  He explains this conclusion from the following principle:
Let this, therefore, in the first place, be laid down as an unassailable position, that the virtue which makes the life good has its throne in the soul, and thence rules the members of the body, which becomes holy in virtue of the holiness of the will; and that while the will remains firm and unshaken, nothing that another person does with the body, or upon the body, is any fault of the person who suffers it, so long as he cannot escape it without sin.
Now, this is pretty basic Christianity.  Fornication is a mortal sin, but a person isn't guilty of fornication (or any sin) by being raped.  These women were victims, not sinners, and Augustine goes to great lengths to make that unambiguously clear.  Yet to take Luther and Calvin's arguments seriously, the difference between fornication and rape would disappear, since no free will exists in either case.

Augustine's argument echoes those Fathers who came long before even his own time.  For example, St. Justin Martyr wrote, back in 151 A.D., denouncing the pagan view of immutable Fate:
“We have learned from the prophets and we hold it as true that punishments and chastisements and good rewards are distributed according to the merit of each man’s actions. Were this not the case, and were all things to happen according to the decree of fate, there would be nothing at all in our power. If fate decrees that this man is to be good and that one wicked, then neither is the former to be praised nor the latter to be blamed.”
Put another way, if the Lutheran-Calvinist view of the bondage of the will were true, every bad action we commit would be as far beyond our control as the rape of the Roman virgins was to them.  And just as they could not be justly condemned for actions that they could not resist, neither can we be condemned for the actions we cannot resist.


Conclusion

Admittedly, free will is a bit of a mystery.  We don't fully grasp what it is, or how it works.  It puzzles theists and atheists alike.  But we can be sure that it exists, in part because it is necessary for God's Justice, and in part because we cannot coherently speak of it not existing (any more than we can coherently speak of a self-caused universe arising without God).

As St. Justin Martyr notes, free will has to exist for God's rewards and punishments to be Just.  St. Augustine reaffirms this, and applies this principle, explaining that those actions done to us that we do not will, cannot be imputed to us as sins.  What matters is not what happens to us, but what we will.  Thus, it is wrong to condemn the virgins of Rome as fornicators when they were raped. It would be infinitely more wrong to send them to Hell for being raped.

All of this, in addition to being logically necessary, is self-evident.  That is, each of us experiences free will, even if we choose to deny it.  It's for this reason that even those, like Luther or Calvin, who set out to deny free will (at least as pertains to issues tied to salvation) cannot help but speak as if it exists.  Because it does.  And we can observe it does.

21 comments:

  1. "It puzzles theists and atheists alike." Indeed. A similar argument could be lodged against Stephen Hawking and his recent book The Grand Design, which notes:

    “Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws… It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behaviour is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.”

    And, of course, contradicts himself all over the place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. He, and others like him, such as Richard Dawkins, are not merely saying free will is an illusion; they are, in essence, saying that thought itself is an illusion, the human person is an illusion. And yet they invest hope in that illusion by writing books and expecting progress for human society (else, why would they argue against religion if they didn't believe a religion-less society is progressing toward something better?). It's simply absurdity. If my person is as illusory as God, why not believe? Pure nonsense.

      Delete
    2. Hawking is one of those scientists and new atheists, of which there are many, who appear to never have cracked open a book of decent philosophy in their lives, nor a book of socratic logic.

      Delete
    3. You know the infinite monkeys theorem (that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will eventually type out the complete works of William Shakespeare by accident)? Hawkins is advancing some sort of bizarre variation of that, where a large number of randomly-firing neurons, over the span of a very short period, resulted in the "biological machine" named Shakespeare writing out his complete works.

      Weirder still, if his argument is true, his own book is nothing more than the unintentional and uncontrollable result of the random firings in his brain.

      This is self-evidently silly: we can distinguish between those actions we do willingly, and those that we do unwillingly. Every one of us has experienced consciousness and encountered our own will. Trying to argue against it just shows how detached their theories are from reality.

      Delete
    4. I think that if you really get down into what they're saying, Joe, they're arguing that the very act of realization on our part of our will is an unreal fabrication of the material realm; an ethereal dream that is projected out by the subconscious physical brain. All of the powers in man that Catholics interpret as part of what Imago Dei means, namely organizational brilliance and wielding information and language to construct complex information patterns and communication and art, and all that is beautiful and divine in man, Hawking, Freud, Dawkins, and others would interpret as almost the 'spin-up' or projection of the self-organizing tornado of matter that is the physical human organism in order for the furtherance of the physical body's survival. In order to stay true to the creed of rigid scientific laws that forbid supernatural agency such as the soul from operating metaphysically 'down' on the physical and material universe (which is an awfully good clue of God or of the Divine), they've simply said in a lot of complex ways that reality as you describe it and as human beings experience it is a complete illusion, which, again, reduces to absurdity why they bother to write books and go about their work. They would be unfazed as the argument from common sense and detachment from reality since they are in essence negating reality itself.

      In my opinion, this is nothing less than a betrayal of humanity itself, just as those who denounce all religion as a cancer and a disease turn their backs on humanity itself.

      I think Freud summed it up nicely when he said something like, paraphrased, 'I propose only to make the existence of man manageable unhappiness.'

      Delete
  2. Weirder STILL is as Bill Hasker puts it, on Hawking's theory: “conscious experience is invisible to the forces of natural selection” because all evolution "sees" is actions and conscious experience doesn't affect actions. http://www.iscid.org%2Fpapers%2FHasker_NonReductivism_103103.pdf

    Or, in David Chalmers’ more colorful words “[t]he process of natural selection cannot distinguish between me and my zombie twin.” If so, there is no filtering mechanism for our thoughts. If so, we have no reason for believing our thoughts to be true and, therefore, no reason for believing Hawking's thoughts.

    This "argument from reason" is, I think the best take down of the materialist world view out there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_reason

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wikipedia has this beautiful version of the argument from Lewis:

    "One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears... unless Reason is an absolute[,] all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based." C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliant mind, beautiful soul, C.S. Lewis..

      Delete
  4. While I have read much of Augustine, I admit to not having read much of Luther or Calvin. However, just reading the text you quote at the beginning, I perceive (perhaps wrongly) that Luther is implying the direct-slave relationship "on matters of salvation," i.e., a slave as one with a collar around his neck. I read Luther saying that man can do many things he wants, but God is in control when He wishes to be --- and can, and does, yank on that collar if we get out of line with His will for our destiny. This sounds like a simple predestination belief to me.

    Factually, God CAN do anything, but I don't believe in predestination and Him forcing me into heaven (although I am very grateful to say that at one point in my life I certainly felt I was headed in another direction, before His Mother seems to have called me back to the right path).

    If Luther denies free will in regard to predestination only, then I guess that is just his belief, one I don't subscribe to regardless of his clumsy ways of stating it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It seems like you take a lot from a somewhat peripheral reference to free will in St. Augustine. There are much blunter passages - particularly in his work on the very topic: "On Grace and Free Will."

    http://newadvent.org/fathers/1510.htm

    "... since there are some persons who so defend God's grace as to deny man's free will, or who suppose that free will is denied when grace is defended, I have determined to write somewhat on this point to your Love, my brother Valentinus..."

    "Now He has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in a man a free choice of will. But how He has revealed this I do not recount in human language, but in divine. There is, to begin with, the fact that God's precepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will, so that by performing them he might obtain the promised rewards."

    The whole work lays out a theology of grace, works, free will, and justification, which is very close to the Catholic position and very much distinct from both Luther and Calvin's systems.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, I'm brewing coffee at midnight and reading this. Need it! Thank you for writing on such a meaty and relevant topic. It has been awhile, love your site...

    ReplyDelete
  7. great post. i wonder if you might interact with the text of Romans 9:19-20 in which St. Paul addresses the very problem raised by the quote above from Justin Martyr: namely, the problem of blame within a deterministic theology. I'm not asking to be persnickety - in fact, I too bought into the calvinistic soteriology before becoming Catholic. Rather, this is the one passage that gives me the most headaches.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christopher,

      Thanks, and good question. I would suggest that Romans 9 needs to be read in the full context of Chapters 9-11 of the Epistle to the Romans, and I would make three points.

      (1) Yes, that part of Romans 9 really does sound like St. Paul is saying that God mercifully saves some, and damns the rest.  After all, in v. 18, he says, “So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills.” He then proceeds with the three verses that you cite to, in which he rhetorically asks and answers the question, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

      But here’s the thing. We know that, despite how it may sound, St. Paul isn’t saying that those whose hearts are hardened are eternally damned. And we know this because St. Paul explicitly denies that this is what he’s saying, when he continues this line of argumentation two chapters later.

      In Romans 11:7, he says that “Israel failed to obtain what it sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.” Then he says of those who have been hardened, “So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means!” (Rom. 11:12).  On the contrary, Paul explains that part of his ministry to the Gentiles is “to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them” (Rom. 11:14). And thus, “a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25-26).

      Now, this chapter in particular, with branches being cut off from Christ, or ingrafted on to Him, quite plainly repudiates any notion of “once saved, always saved.” I’d go so far as to say that this makes sense only if election is conditional – specifically, if it is conditioned on faith, as Paul explicitly says it is in Romans 9:30-31 and Rom. 11:20-21.

      (2) The term “elect” simply means “chosen,” so the obvious question is: chosen to what? Are we talking about election to graces and blessings (like having five talents, instead of one), election to participation in the life of the visible Church, or election to eternal life? Protestants tend to assume that “election” is always meant in this third sense, but I’ve never seen a good explanation for this belief. In fact, verses like Romans 11:28 seem to confound that sort of reading.  And if the election Paul is speaking of is to eternal life, then the answer to his rhetorical question in Rom. 11:12 would be “yes,” since he's defined the hardened to be those who aren't elect (Rom. 11:7).

      On the other hand, if Paul is speaking of election in either of the first two senses - that of blessings and curses, or particularly, of being part of the visible chosen people - Romans 9 and 11 make a lot more sense.  After all, the famous line, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” that Paul cites to in Rom. 9:13 wasn't originally about eternal salvation at all.  It was about the way that God had preserved and protected the Israelites, while allowing the country of the Edomites (the descendants of Esau) to be turned into a wasteland (Malachi 1:2-5).    There's no reference in the passage to the salvation of Jacob, Esau, the Israelites, or the Edomites... unless one presupposes that the prosperous are saved, and the desolate are damned.

      Delete
    2. (3) Finally, St. Paul explicitly denies that God shows any favoritism, as regards salvation, in Romans 2:4-11:

      “Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

      For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

      There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

      Ironically, despite Paul's warning here not to “presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience,” Calvinists use this Epistle to justify the idea that once you're saved, you're always saved.  And despite Paul's point that “God shows no partiality” (which is literally the central argument of the Epistle, since Paul's answering the idea that God arbitrarily divided the world into two immutable groups: Jews and Gentiles), Calvinists use this Epistle to justify the idea that God shows partiality, and divided the world into two immutable groups: the elect and reprobate.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S.  For a much fuller treatment of these themes, I would suggest Fr. William Most's Grace, Predestination, and the Salvific Will of God.

      Delete
  8. I’m guessing the idea of predestination stems from the fact that God knows what you will do “before” you do it. Again St Augustine comes riding to our rescue. In the chapter on time and eternity from the Confessions, we learn that God is outside time and knows what we do simply because he sees us doing it. You fall into the trap of predestination only if you imagine that God is imprisoned in time like we are: “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

    I don’t know if anything I have read has helped my thinking in so many different areas as this chapter of St Augustine. For example, it used to bother me that people who died centuries ago had to wait around “until the end of time” for judgment day. Well, if we step out of time when we die, then all humanity will die at the same “time” and are ready for judgment day together - Plato, Aristotle, St Peter, and me (I figure in this company I can sneak into heaven unnoticed).

    Tolkien scholar Stratford Caldecott explains the importance of free will quite beautifully: “God created us incomplete, because the kind of creature that can only be perfected by its own choices (and so through Quest and Trial) is more glorious than the kind that has only to be whatever it was made to be by another.”

    ReplyDelete
  9. Augustine's views on free will and predestination are not from "speculative works," but from literally dozens of his works against the Pelagians (cousins of yours, as all of you are Semi-Pelagians), on Grace and Merit, to his commentary on John and everywhere these scriptures come up. Obviously, your reading of Augustine is, at best, superficial, and warped by your own assumptions.

    In his Enchiridion, Augustine says:

    "But this part of the human race to which God has promised pardon and a share in His eternal kingdom, can they be restored through the merit of their own works? God forbid. For what good work can a lost man perform, except so far as he has been delivered from perdition? Can they do anything by the free determination of their own will? Again I say, God forbid. For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. This is the judgment of the Apostle Peter. And as it is certainly true, what kind of liberty, I ask, can the bond-slave possess, except when it pleases him to sin? For he is freely in bondage who does with pleasure the will of his master. Accordingly, he who is the servant of sin is free to sin. And hence he will not be free to do right, until, being freed from sin, he shall begin to be the servant of righteousness."

    Again,

    "And further, should any one be inclined to boast, not indeed of his works, but of the freedom of his will, as if the first merit belonged to him, this very liberty of good action being given to him as a reward he had earned, let him listen to this same preacher of grace, when he says: For it is God which works in you, both to will and to do of His own good pleasure; and in another place: So, then, it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. Now as, undoubtedly, if a man is of the age to use his reason, he cannot believe, hope, love, unless he will to do so, nor obtain the prize of the high calling of God unless he voluntarily run for it; in what sense is it not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy, except that, as it is written, the preparation of the heart is from the Lord? Otherwise, if it is said, It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy, because it is of both, that is, both of the will of man and of the mercy of God, so that we are to understand the saying, It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy, as if it meant the will of man alone is not sufficient, if the mercy of God go not with it—then it will follow that the mercy of God alone is not sufficient, if the will of man go not with it; and therefore, if we may rightly say, it is not of man that wills, but of God that shows mercy, because the will of man by itself is not enough, why may we not also rightly put it in the converse way: It is not of God that shows mercy, but of man that wills, because the mercy of God by itself does not suffice? Surely, if no Christian will dare to say this, It is not of God that shows mercy, but of man that wills, lest he should openly contradict the apostle, it follows that the true interpretation of the saying, It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy, is that the whole work belongs to God, who both makes the will of man righteous, and thus prepares it for assistance, and assists it when it is prepared."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Apollo5600,

    Thanks for commenting. Let's take your claims one by one:

    the Pelagians (cousins of yours, as all of you are Semi-Pelagians)
    Ha ha ha ha ha! I’m part of the Church that condemned Semi-Pelagianism as a heresy. Which of the two of us can hold to the anti-Pelagian Council of Orange in its entirety?

    Obviously, your reading of Augustine is, at best, superficial, and warped by your own assumptions.
    I have written over a hundred blog posts dealing with St. Augustine. On the basis of one of them, you’ve concluded that I have only a superficial and prejudiced reading of him. And more than that, that I’m a semi-Pelagian, because “all of us” (by which, I assume you mean “Catholics”) are. Which of us is superficial and prejudiced again?

    “Augustine's views on free will and predestination are not from "speculative works," but from literally dozens of his works against the Pelagians (cousins of yours, as all of you are Semi-Pelagians), on Grace and Merit, to his commentary on John and everywhere these scriptures come up.”

    You’re overlooking the work of Augustine’s dealing most directly with this topic: On Grace and Free Will. See Luke Joseph’s comment above.

    I commend you for reading St. Augustine. One final question: do you actually care what he has to say?

    That is, are you just quoting him because a few of his comments sound like things you would say? Or will you actually alter your beliefs if you find out that he was, say, a Catholic bishop who believed in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, the canonicity of all 73 Books of the Catholic Bible, the supremacy of the pope, the need for faith and works, etc.? Or, upon discovering that he was no Protestant, will you simply discard him?

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  11. ALL THESE ARGUMENTS ARE INTERESTING, WHAT IF BOTH ARE RIGHT? IS THAT A POSSIBILITY? PAUL WRITES ABOUT PREDESTINATION WERE IS FREEWILL THEN AND IN ROMANS HE WRITES ABOUT HOW THE PHAROAH WAS RAISED UP AS A VESSEL FOR DISHONOR, HOW ARE THOSE THINGS FREEWILL? EVEN JESUS SAYS NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY HIM AND ONLY IF THE FATHER DRAWS US TO HIM! BUT GOD IS JUST SO HOW COULD HE CONDEMN THE PHAROAH IF HE WAS RAISED TO BE EVIL? HE HAD NO CHOICE. AND IF GOD IS JUST SOME HOW SOME WAY WE DO HAVE A CHOICE CAUSE HE COULDN'T JUDGE US! YES WE HAVE TO HAVE FREEWILL BUT GOD IS SOVEREIGN AND HIS WILL IS THAT EVERY MAN SHOULD BE SAVED! BUT EVERYONE OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T GET SAVED. IS GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY FAULTY OR IS THERE A PARADOX? CLEARLY TO ME BOTH THINGS ARE GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME! WHY AND HOW I DON'T KNOW BUT I KNOW GOD'S THE BIGGEST PARADOX I KNOW!

    ReplyDelete
  12. ALL THESE ARGUMENTS ARE INTERESTING, WHAT IF BOTH ARE RIGHT? IS THAT A POSSIBILITY? PAUL WRITES ABOUT PREDESTINATION WERE IS FREEWILL THEN AND IN ROMANS HE WRITES ABOUT HOW THE PHAROAH WAS RAISED UP AS A VESSEL FOR DISHONOR, HOW ARE THOSE THINGS FREEWILL? EVEN JESUS SAYS NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY HIM AND ONLY IF THE FATHER DRAWS US TO HIM! BUT GOD IS JUST SO HOW COULD HE CONDEMN THE PHAROAH IF HE WAS RAISED TO BE EVIL? HE HAD NO CHOICE. AND IF GOD IS JUST SOME HOW SOME WAY WE DO HAVE A CHOICE CAUSE HE COULDN'T JUDGE US! YES WE HAVE TO HAVE FREEWILL BUT GOD IS SOVEREIGN AND HIS WILL IS THAT EVERY MAN SHOULD BE SAVED! BUT EVERYONE OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T GET SAVED. IS GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY FAULTY OR IS THERE A PARADOX? CLEARLY TO ME BOTH THINGS ARE GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME! WHY AND HOW I DON'T KNOW BUT I KNOW GOD'S THE BIGGEST PARADOX I KNOW!

    ReplyDelete
  13. ALL THESE ARGUMENTS ARE INTERESTING, WHAT IF BOTH ARE RIGHT? IS THAT A POSSIBILITY? PAUL WRITES ABOUT PREDESTINATION WERE IS FREEWILL THEN AND IN ROMANS HE WRITES ABOUT HOW THE PHAROAH WAS RAISED UP AS A VESSEL FOR DISHONOR, HOW ARE THOSE THINGS FREEWILL? EVEN JESUS SAYS NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY HIM AND ONLY IF THE FATHER DRAWS US TO HIM! BUT GOD IS JUST SO HOW COULD HE CONDEMN THE PHAROAH IF HE WAS RAISED TO BE EVIL? HE HAD NO CHOICE. AND IF GOD IS JUST SOME HOW SOME WAY WE DO HAVE A CHOICE CAUSE HE COULDN'T JUDGE US! YES WE HAVE TO HAVE FREEWILL BUT GOD IS SOVEREIGN AND HIS WILL IS THAT EVERY MAN SHOULD BE SAVED! BUT EVERYONE OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T GET SAVED. IS GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY FAULTY OR IS THERE A PARADOX? CLEARLY TO ME BOTH THINGS ARE GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME! WHY AND HOW I DON'T KNOW BUT I KNOW GOD'S THE BIGGEST PARADOX I KNOW!

    ReplyDelete
  14. ONE OF THE MOST important things you realize as you get older..Im 50...
    is all these so called leaders and revolutionary teachers are just men that have very little in common with the actual pillars of the early church.
    When we are young we seem to think these people had special knowledge but what I found is they are just men groping around in the dark like the rest of us.

    If you look at the history of these types of people..Calvin set up a theocracy in an entire city where he punished sins and even had some executed--doesnt sound very Christ like does it? We are suppose to love our enemies..but this is how Calvin treated his friends.

    All throughout the centuries men have grasped power and dealt out pain to the masses. Hunting down those who disagreed with them. In many cases burning them at the stake.

    It almost seems like those who risen to power may be the worst Christians, if they were actually following Christ(many seem to fight against Christ teachings), and the lay people may turn out to be the real faithful.

    In this light, Luther and Calvin seem to get caught up in the thought of a stagnant God who was a-temporally frozen. With this as a foundation, they could not accept God as cooperating with man. God could not be moved through prayer and was an a static director of the movie he has scripted and we are just the actors--where God pulls the strings and we say.."I love you Daddy".

    When you force scripture to behave in light of a core philosophy like this...you end up with the confused teaching of Luther and Calvin.
    Now, even though Luther was wrong about freewill, the ultimate legacy was to expose the abuses in the catholic Church. The problem is..Calvin and others just continued this behavior in another form.
    The question we are all troubled with is this....
    Shouldn't one Group be the real Church? We search and search and find not a single sect is uncorrupted by the past or present errors.
    The Church is not an institution. God could have easily forbid the Holy Spirit to be given to those in error(not serious error of course) but he didnt. Proving that we obviously have FREEWILL. If we didnt..the Church would be perfect.

    ReplyDelete