The Whole Christ

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17)

Monthly Archives: March 2013

God and Free Will

Most Christians believe in free will. But free will is an incredibly complex thing and there are generally two different versions on offer. The first one is called Libertarianism. Most Christians probably believe in this kind of free will without knowing it. The second is called Compatibilism, which is the minority (Calvinist) view. Here is what they mean:

1) Libertarianism holds that the future is not determined in advance; a decision is freely made if and only if the person making the decision could have made a different decision under the exact same circumstances.

2) Compatibilism holds that all events are predetermined in advance; a decision is freely made so long as the person making the decision was not actively forced into making the decision.

As a Calvinist, I believe that all future events are predetermined. Therefore I fit in the second category. Whilst there are a number of scriptures I could point to suggesting divine determinism, I am going to take a different approach and offer a philosophical argument:

  1. God can never choose that which is evil under any circumstance (axiom A)
  2. Therefore, God does not have libertarian free will with regard to ethical matters (follows trivially from 1)
  3. Libertarian free will always represents greater freedom than merely compatibilistic free will (axiom B)
  4.  There is no sense in which human beings have greater freedom than God does (axiom C)
  5. Therefore, human beings do not have libertarian free will with regard to ethical matters (follows from 2, 3 and 4)

So at least with regard to the decisions which matter the most, human beings don’t possess libertarian free will. Either that or one of the axioms is false.