In Martin Glynn’s critique of the Articles of the Remonstrants, he provides a brief and helpful historical introduction and then dissects each of the five articles. Glynn notes the two surprises in the pile: article…
This article derives from: http://jmleonardfamily.googlepages.com/eternalsecurityandexegeticaloverviewofhe2 and may be viewed there (where the formatting is better) or by clicking on the pdf attachment: Leonard. Eternal Security and Exegetical Overview of Hebrews.
This article is a brief critique of Jonathan Edwards’ views on the will and freedom. I won’t be presenting the alternative view, LFW, nor will I attempt to demonstrate the logical outcomes of Edwards’ view (i.e. God is the author of sin, God’s offer is insincere…). Instead I will just be looking at the internal consistency of Edwards’ view. I really think that the more people understand Edwards, the less they will agree with him.
Brief Outline of Edwards’ view of Freedom
Brief Outline of Edwards’ Arguments in Part II of Freedom of the Will
Edwards attacks LFW in two broad categories: causation and divine foreknowledge. Under causation, Edwards argues that LFW either leads to an infinite regression of causes or is an action without a cause. Edwards then argues that actions without causes are absurd because: 1) they would violate the common sense idea that nothing ever comes to pass without a cause, 2) then we wouldn’t be able to reason from cause to effect, 3) all proof of God’s existence is taken away, and 4) actions produced by a causeless cause would be both random and irrational, and therefore not a basis of moral accountability.
Infinite Regression of Causes or Causeless
In part 2 section 12, Edwards attempts three demonstrations of the incompatibility of LFW and God’s foreknowledge: 1) based on the connection between foreknowledge and the event, 2) based on the impossibility of knowing things without evidence and 3) based on knowing a contingent event with certainty.
The Connection between Foreknowledge and the Event
P1: Things in the past are now necessary
P2: In the past, God infallibly foreknew our future choices
C1: therefore, God’s foreknowledge of our future choices is now necessary
P3: if something necessary is infallibly connected with something else, that something else is also necessary
P4: God’s necessary foreknowledge is infallibly connected with our future choices
C2: therefore, our future choices are necessary
James Leonard provided a nice summary of Roger Olson’s book: Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Olson’s book is quickly becoming an Arminian classic. One of Leonard’ key points is “Arminians are not driven to their…
Outline of Edwards’ Arguments in Part III.IV Commands inconsistent with LFW God commands the acts of the will, not the acts of the body executing the will’s commands. If there’s a sequence of acts of…
Outline of Edwards’ arguments in part III.V Some falsely argue we can’t perform our spiritual duties, but desire these things, so they are excusable. This entails the contradiction that we are inclined and disinclined to…
Background – LFW and responsibility
Under LFW, we are the causal source of our choices (i.e. nothing causally predetermines our choices); we are responsible for our choices. There’s nowhere else to go to. We can’t back track to something else – we are responsible. Under CFW, since our actions are causally predetermined, we can trace back the cause of our actions to something outside of us. Thus, we keep searching for the source of our actions to find out what’s ultimately responsible. When Calvinists say God is the ultimate source, we say they make God ultimately responsible for sin. Even if God establishes a system in which only secondary causes get punished and the primary cause does not (as Calvinists suppose), that doesn’t change the fact that God is ultimately responsible for sin. The issue isn’t one of God’s power or sovereignty, it’s a matter of His goodness and holiness.
Outline of Edwards Arguments in part V.I Arminians say if something causally predetermines our choices, we are not responsible. But responsibility is not the cause of choices, it’s in the nature of choices If responsibility…
Grace comes solely from God and is the uncreated energy of God. This uncreated energy can be understood as the work of God’s person upon the heart and soul and it is my belief that…
This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the…
The John 3:16 Conference — Southern Baptists and the Challenge of Calvinism: A Reformation Arminian Review As many of us who are involved with the Arminianism/Calvinism debate know, Calvinism has recently made major in-roads into…
Outline of Edwards’ arguments in part V.II
- Arminians say that without self-determining power, we have no power of action, acts are not our own, and we must be passive.
- This isn’t the way people use “action” in common speech.
- Used this way action is either causeless or an infinite regression of causes.
- When we speak of a first cause, if nothing causes something, nothing could prevent it, so therefore it is necessary.
- The common notion of action is the effects of the will.
- Arminians think of action as self-determination, because the motion of our bodies is caused by our wills – so they assume the same applies to the motion of our wills.
This article is taken from a chapter in Hoodwinked and Happy?: Evangelicals, Calvinism , and Why No One’s Answering the Problem of Evil, by Daniel Gracely, published by Grandma’s Attic Press, © 2006.
Please note that the author of this article is not an Arminian, but that we have made the article available because it has some good material related to the Arminian/Calvinist debate. SEA does not necessarily endorse everything in the article
Please click on the attachment to view Daniel Gracely, “Divine Sovereignty”
The Southern Baptist Convention has been perhaps the greatest means by which the Gospel has been presented to the world, at least during the history of the United States. No other Protestant denomination has achieved…
Edwards’ arguments in part V.III and part V.IV Edwards splits necessity into two categories: natural and moral. Natural necessity relates to our actions, moral necessity relates to our wills. If an act is naturally necessary,…
For the Calvinist, the “doctrines of grace” is a synonym for TULIP theology. So, do the Biblical Doctrines of Grace of Arminianism also follow a system, such as TULIP? Arminianism proper has not historically employed an acronym as the one used for nearly four centuries by Calvinists.
Let it be stated, however, that if it had not been for the followers of Arminius (the Remonstrants) presenting their five arguments to the state to be approved as orthodox consent, then the TULIP would have never been constructed. And the original order of the Remonstrants was Conditional Election (to those in Christ), Unlimited Atonement, Total Depravity, Resistible Grace, and Conditional Perseverance.
If the Calvinists had strictly followed the Arminian system, it would have spelled ULTIP, which is a bad acronym, considering Ultip is not a word. Worse off, the Arminian acronym would have been CUTRC. The best sense which we could make out of that construct is TRUCC, also not a word.
The word grace, from Genesis 6:8 to Revelation 22:21, is a word meaning “graciousness of manner or act” (literally), or “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life” (figuratively).1
Grace is a special favor bestowed upon an undeserving individual. Thus when a Christian minister quotes Paul as saying, “For it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:8), he or she means that the one saved was saved not by merit but by grace, undeserved favor. This is how to use the word grace biblically. In this we do not go beyond its clear meaning, nor do we fall short of what the Bible teaches.