Free will Vs Free agency? What’s the difference??
I fail to understand why so many consider calvinists to be intellectual people! Over and over I come across such inane explanations from them as they try to justify their impossible biblical interpretations. Talk about claiming sola scriptura! That’s the biggest lie on the calvinist agenda, for they cannot abide defining anything biblical from the Bible alone.
And here’s yet another one! I have read many calvinists attempting to deny the free will of man, yet upholding man as a free agent. They claim that being a free agent is not the same as having free will, yet I fail to see any logical difference! But, as is my habit, I don’t just accuse; I research the subject thoroughly first to see if my criticism is justified. Many calvinists just quote their rhetoric about the free will and free agency of man, yet, also like most calvinists, give no reasoning for their statements. Of course, if they are trying to justify the unjustifiable, then avoiding clear explanations will help them, for how may one attack a shadow. (And “shadows” is the best way to describe much calvinist rhetoric.)
But I do read widely, especially calvinist literature; I can never be accused of not trying to understand what they are trying to say. And I find that much of this free will versus free agency is taught by Loraine Boettner (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination), a much-quoted (yet confused) calvinist author.
P 154 – The problem which we face here is, How can a person be a free and responsible agent if his actions have been foreordained from eternity? By a free and responsible agent we mean an intelligent person who acts with rational self-determination; and by foreordination we mean that from eternity God has made certain the actual course of events which takes place in the life of every person and in the realm of nature. It is, of course, admitted by all that a person’s acts must be without compulsion and in accordance with his own desires and inclinations, or he cannot be held responsible for them.
He admits two conflicting views: God determines all things, yet man can only be responsible for that which he chooses to do without compulsion. Of course, if man has free will to choose, then there is no problem at all, for he then will be judged one day for all his free will choices (2 Corinthians 5:10). Yet, Boettner claims, no-one will be forced to consent to God’s government, because God will influence them to make them willing to accept the gospel and delight to obey sovereign God.
Boettner says on P 155 – Heaven will be truly a kingdom, with God as the supreme Ruler; yet it will rest on the consent of the governed. It is not forced on believers against their consent. They are so influenced that they become willing, and accept the Gospel, and find it the delight of their lives to do their Sovereign’s will.
Even MacArthur is a bit confused on this issue, saying No one was ever saved against their will. yet also says No sinner has the capacity to be willing. Both are from “The doctrine of God’s effectual call”.
But Boettner insists that this certainty of God’s will is consistent with the free agency of man. He explains that a father may make his son a doctor by controlling the circumstances of his education.
P 156-157 – A father often knows how his son will act under given circumstances and by controlling these he determines beforehand the course of action which the son follows, yet the son acts freely. If he plans that the son shall be doctor, he gives him encouragement along that line, persuades him to read certain books, to attend certain schools, and so presents the outside inducements that his plan works out.
However, the only way this could be certain in real life is to force the son to do so!
And then Boettner explains that God doesn’t actually decree the event, but instead makes sure that it will happen anyway. (What great verbal gymnastics, though!)
P 157 – In the same manner and to an infinitely greater extent God controls our actions so that they are certain although we act freely. His decree does not produce the event, but only renders its occurrence certain; and the same decree which determines the certainty of the action at the same time determines the freedom of the agent in the act.
That is, God doesn’t decree what man may choose, yet makes it certain that man will choose according to God’s will. God doesn’t decree man’s actions, yet ensures that man can do nothing else than what God desires of man. For example, Boettner’s God didn’t decree that Adam should sin, yet made it impossible for Adam to be able to choose any other course of action. God told Adam to obey Him, yet left Adam with only one option: to disobey God! Free agency, according to calvinists, means that man must choose according to God’s will at all times. Thus, literally, being a free agent (according to calvinists) means only being able to choose what God has decided that you will choose. They say that the calvinist God doesn’t choose for you, yet makes it impossible to choose anything else. So how are these different from each other??
The calvinist free agency of man means to be able to choose the only pathway that God has left open for you. No other pathway is an option. So, tell me, just how is free agency free in any way at all? If free agency means being able to take the only pathway God leaves open for you, then that makes it the equivalent of a slavery imposed by the calvinist God. If God rendered it certain that Adam would sin, then where is Adam’s freedom of choice here, and why would Adam be responsible for the choice that the calvinist God has clearly made? (Of course, Boettner would say that Adam actually made the choice to sin, but what other choice did he have if God had removed all other options?)
It is said that Henry Ford once said that you could choose any colour car you wanted, as long as it was black. Of course, whether or not Ford actually said this is irrelevant; his cars were all black so there was no choice possible of any other colour. You didn’t get black because you chose black; you got black because you had no other option. And likewise, Boettner is teaching that his God has made certain that you may choose the only option which the calvinist God has left available to you. “His decree does not produce the event, but only renders its occurrence certain.”
Come now, calvinists, is this the most intellectual you can get? Shame on you! Your teaching on this matter is helping to lead many people away from the God of the Bible and toward the gates of hell. But, man does indeed have a free will. Man must choose this day whom he will serve. God has reached out to mankind with the gospel of the cross of Christ, and man must choose what he will do with the Saviour. It is not God who chooses whether you go to heaven or hell! God has sent His Son to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind, and He commands people everywhere to respond to the gospel and repent of their sins and be saved.
The choice you make will determine your eternal destiny; God will not make that choice for you. When you stand before God in judgment, either your name will be written in the Lamb’s book of life, or it won’t be written in the Lamb’s book of life. When you respond to the gospel and repent, calling by faith upon the name of the Lord to be saved, then God will be faithful to His promise to save you. By His foreknowledge He will know this and will have then written your name on the list of elect (1 Peter 1:2) from the beginning of the world. He will then save you to the uttermost, all because you responded and chose by faith to trust in the promises of God.
Calvinists, stop taking this choice away from those who may end up in hell because you told them they cannot choose; that God would make the choice for them, and with fatalism they believed your lie that if they weren’t chosen by God, then they could never be saved. But, God will not make this choice for you. You must make this choice for yourself, and God will indeed honour the choice you make, whether for life, or for death.
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