"Not Willing That Any Should Perish"
A critical examination of the doctrine of Determinism as taught by Augustine, Calvin, Luther et al., but particularly as set forth by Calvinism's Five Points: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints.
Man's Free Will
The Foreknowledge Of God
The Five Points Of Calvinism Examined
Man's Free Will
by: Allan TurnerCalvinists give lip-service to man's free will, but they do not really believe in it. They say that man, in order to have free will, needs only to voluntarily choose his acts in accord with his own desires and motives; it matters not that God, as Sovereign, has foreordained these desires and motives, along with the choices themselves. Now, does this sound like free moral agency to you? According to Calvinists, a person may have only one course of action open to him and still be free. "For example," they say, "a man may be locked in a room, but not want to get out. He therefore cannot get out (that is certain), but equally he does not want to get out (he is not there against his will)."1 In other words, even though God has foreordained every single choice one makes, every choice is still free because God has also foreordained that each choice man makes will be made voluntarily. Carl F. H. Henry, the founding editor of Christianity Today, noted theologian, educator, lecturer, and author of more than twenty-five books, explains (?) it this way: "To be morally responsible man needs only the capacity for choice, not the freedom of contrary choice.... Human beings voluntarily choose to do what they do. The fact that God has foreordained human choices and that His decree renders human actions certain does not therefore negate human choice."2 As the famed Calvinist Loraine Boettner asserts, "God so controls the thoughts and wills of men that they freely [?] and willingly [?] do what He has planned for them to do."3 In an attempt to bolster his flawed theology, Boettner observes, "It is very noticeable, and in a sense it is reassuring to observe the fact, that the materialistic...philosophers deny as completely as do Calvinists this thing that is called free will."4 How anyone who claims to believe in the Bible could feel reassured because materialistic philosophers had come to the same conclusion as he is absolutely shocking to me. It is apparent that although Calvinists are disposed to citing their "free will" shibboleths, they do not, for a moment, believe that man actually has free moral agency.
Man Possesses Free Will
God's Will Can Be Rejected
Why Does God Permit Men To Reject His Will?
But there is much more to this story. In Psalm 32:1, David says, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." In verse 5, he continues: "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." In verses 8-9, the Lord replies: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you."
Why did God allow David to sin? Why did He not simply stop David from sinning in the first place? The answer seems obvious: God did not want his servants to serve Him because they are forced to do so. He wants those who will serve Him to do so freely, willingly accepting His instructions and counsel. He wants a relationship with His creatures based on mutual affection and love, and not because of some kind of force. The Almighty God, if He so desired, certainly had the power to bridle His creatures, forcefully manipulating their minds and hearts and turning them into robots (or mules), so that they are forced to do His will. But if He did this, He would not be able to achieve His purpose of developing free relationships, like the one He desired with David, with His creatures. He wants all men to repent and enter a free love-relationship with Himself. If He forced them to do this, as Calvinists allege, their allegiance could not be freely given, that is, they would no longer be men but mules. God, who made man in His own image, wants him to be conformed to the image of His Son.9 Unless man is a free moral agent, this simply cannot be done!
What Man's Freedom Cost God
Therefore, man's free will does not render God impotent. Nevertheless, it does, in fact, limit Him. But if God is really limited, then how can He continue to be omnipotent? Are not these two concepts mutually exclusive? Only in the mind of the determinists! As we have already pointed out, the "all things" that are possible with God are qualified by both Scripture and the law of non-contradiction. God can do all things consistent with His nature and that are not, in and of themselves, illogical. Therefore, if God, of His own free will, chooses to create creatures with free moral agency, and in order to do so, He must limit Himself, such self-limitations are not a denigration of His omnipotence, as the determinists think, but are, instead, a powerful demonstration of it, which is exactly the point I made at the beginning of this subsection.
In order to insure man's autonomy, God, of His own free will, was willing to pay a tremendous price. Although He did not have to do so, the Almighty God was willing to limit Himself in relation to His creation. This gives us some idea of just how important man is to God. Furthermore, and this ought to humble us greatly, the final measure of God's concern for man is to be found in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. Praise God, the Sovereign Ruler, for His willingness to give us our freedom, even though it ultimately cost Him the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!"12