Tuesday, March 04, 2008

JAZ on the Un-Free Will:

February 20th, '08, Church of the Holy Cross, Daniel Island -- Click Me To Listen!


tommy boy said...

"...the will is [either] free , bound , self-determined , or coerced . People generally understand a free will to be one which has in its power to choose good or evil…[But] There can be no such thing as a coerced will, since the two ideas are contradictory. But our responsibility as teachers is to say what it means, so that it may be understood what coercion is. Therefore we describe [as coerced ] the will which does not incline this way or that of its own accord or by an internal movement of decision, but is forcibly driven by an external impulse. We say that it is self-determined when of itself it directs itself in the direction in which it is led, when it is not taken by force or dragged unwillingly. A bound will , finally, is one which because of its corruptness is held captive under the authority of its evil desires, so that it can choose nothing but evil, even if it does so of its own accord and gladly, without being driven by any external impulse. According to these definitions we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free , because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion . For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined. (John Calvin)

John Zahl said...

Great quote Tommy Boy! Reminds me of the following quote from G. Forde:

"...The bondage of the will in question is not a matter of force or determinism. No one is forced. It is something more like an addiction. We all do what we want to do! That is precisely our bondage."

tommy boy said...

" (T)here is a prima facie case of reconciling the activity of the human will with the divine. Those who have attributed powers of contrary choice or self-determinism to the human will have often attempted to effect such a reconciliation by limiting the scope of the divine decree in some respect, e.g.,by denying that God foreordains all human actions, while allowing that he foresees them. Others have rested content with maintaining that while God foreordains all human action he is not the author of sin; either because, since sin is a deficiency, God cannot be its author, or by holding that since to be free is to do what one wants to do, the occurrence of such wanting guarantees freedom and responsibility, whatever the exact nature and scope of the divine decree.. . . .
The freedom that Christ brought is no so much an increase in the range of possible human powers, as a change in that range through release from the corrupting and enslaving power of sin. . . ."

from the New Dictionary of Theology

tommy boy said...

John, will you please elaborate on the nature of determinism as it relates to your sermon as well as it's relevance to Ephesians 1.

You've got my brain working. Would love to hear more of what you have to say on the matter.

Also, John, you seem to be saying that it is pride which leads us to do our will, not God's. I can accept that premise. It is possible that we are totally dependent upon God's grace and mercy for salvation. So is it our 'choice' to accept God's will? I'm not sure if God's grace and mercy is "forced" on us. I also don't believe that there are some 'elect' who are predestined to salvation and others predestined to Hell (reprobation) What are your thoughts on reprobation, effectively a "double predestination" thesis?

BTW, we are stretching the limits of my knowledge with this discussion

tommy boy said...

Extracts from A History of Western Philosophy:

"Everything, according to Spinoza, is ruled by an absolute logical necessity. There is no such thing as free will in the mental sphere or chance in the physical world. Everything that happens is a manifestation of God's inscrutable nature, and it is logically impossible that events should be other than they are." (pg. 571)

But compare:

"In contrasting himself with Spinoza, Leibniz made much of the free will allowed in his system. He had a "principle of sufficient reason," according to which nothing happens without a reason; but when we are concerned with free agents, the reason for their actions "incline without necessitating." (pg. 584)