Saturday, February 11, 2012

Free Will - Confusion Abounds

 From the Reformed Apologist -

The nature of man, whether pre-fall, post-fall and unconverted, post fall and converted, or glorified, does not affect the discussion of whether any moral being can act contrary to how he does. No moral being can have libertarian free will (LFW).

LFW is simply the power of contrary choice. Put another way, it is the ability to choose with equal ease between alternatives out of pure contingency and no necessity. Consequently, if one is endowed with LFW, he can choose contrary to what God knows he will choose. (In fact, if God has LFW, then he too can choose contrary to what he knows he will choose!) My position on the matter is straightforward. LFW is a philosophical surd. If it is true that one can choose something different than he will choose, then the future God believes will come to pass might not come to pass; and even if the future does come to pass as God believes, he will not have been thoroughly justified in his belief. He would have just been lucky, or at best very insightful.

A brief word about the relationship between the truth of a future choice, God’s knowledge and the grounding of that truth is in order. God’s knowledge of a future choice does not ensure its fruition. Rather, it presupposes the deterministic nature of its fruition. Knowledge is receptive not causative. Accordingly, that a choice cannot be contrary to what it ends up being is not a matter of God’s foreknowledge but rather it is a matter that it is true that the choice will come to pass. God knows it because it is true, for God knows all truth. The grounding of that truth is of course God’s determination. In sum, God determines that it will be true that X chooses Y in circumstance Z, therefore, God knows it as true.

Confusion abounds, even in Reformed circles:

John Frame once noted:

“I don't know how many times I have asked candidates for licensure and ordination whether we are free from God's decree, and they have replied ‘No, because we are fallen.’ That is to confuse libertarianism (freedom from God's decree, ability to act without cause) with freedom from sin. In the former case, the fall is entirely irrelevant. Neither before nor after the fall did Adam have freedom in the libertarian sense. But freedom from sin is something different. Adam had that before the fall, but lost it as a result of the fall.”

I resonated with John’s observation the very first time I read his lament. This is a very serious matter. These men to whom John refers may have very well been ordained and licensed in Reformed denominations (or have gone on to teach other men at seminary; or if they've really arrived, have their own Blog!) - yet without any appreciation for the implications of their religious philosophy as it pertains to free will. So many Reformed people (including Reformed ministers as John rightly observes) are willing to assert that Adam prior to the fall.......

Read rest of post HERE

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