Calvinist Redefines Free Will to Make it Work with Determinism

But now the question arises, Is the predetermination of things consistent with the free will of man? And the answer is that it certainly is not, if the freedom of the will be regarded as indifferentia (arbitrariness), but this is an unwarranted conception of the freedom of man. The will of man is not something altogether indeterminate, something hanging in the air that can be swung arbitrarily in either direction. It is rather something rooted in our very nature, connected with our deepest instincts and emotions, and determined by our intellectual considerations and by our very character. And if we conceive of our human freedom as lubentia rationalis (reasonable self-determination), then we have no sufficient warrant for saying that it is inconsistent with divine foreknowledge. Says Dr. Orr: “A solution of this problem there is, though our minds fail to grasp it. In part it probably lies, not in denying freedom, but in a revised conception of freedom. For freedom, after all, is not arbitrariness. There is in all rational action a why for acting — a reason which decides action. The truly free man is not the uncertain, incalculable man, but the man who is reliable. In short, freedom has its laws — spiritual laws — and the omniscient Mind knows what these are. But an element of mystery, it must be acknowledged, still remains.”[ Side-Lights on Chr. Doct., p. 30.]

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 56). . Kindle Edition.

One comment

  1. Determinism is the thesis that everything that occurs (e.g. all thoughts choices desires etc) are the consequence of someone/something functioning as a “determiner” in the past. And events occur within the boundaries/influences of the laws of nature which exist at the time the event occurs. In Theological Determinism, the “determiner” is a theos. (Greek for god).

    Theological Determinism most notably appears about 300 B.C. in the Stoics and Epicureans who believed that all events are predestined by certain deities. Zeus, or Jupiter etc.

    The logical implications of this notion which conflict with notions of human freedom appear then, and the Epicureans were especially interested in finding ways of evading them.
    Calvinists today, interestingly enough, follow the same template for evading those implications as did the Epicureans. Mostly it boils down to double-think.

    Calvin for instance, teaches his disciples that *ALL* thoughts choices desires in EVERY PART are fixed in the past – determined before we were born – and appear as our fate (LOT in life). But the disciple is to -quote “go about his office AS-IF nothing is determined in any part”.
    Calvin is teaching double-think.

    In Theological Determinism it is critical to identify we are free in respect to what.
    1) You are free to think, choose, do whatever the THEOS determines.
    2) You are NOT free to think, choose, do anything the THEOS does not determine
    3) You are free to have the illusion, deceive yourself, or deceive others that 1 and 2 are opposite of what they are.
    4) You are free to believe and teach others that 1 and 2 are true and false at the same time.

    Once one understands the psychological nature of (1-4) one can understand why Calvinist language is characterized as beguiling double-talk.

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