It is argued by proponents of Openness as well as Calvinists that claim Openness is the logical conclusion for Arminianism that in order for people to be free the future must be somehow open. Their argument claims that if God’s knowledge of future unactualized contingencies is perfectly known, then creaturely freedom is a farce and whether we like it or not, our Lord has effectively predestinated all of creation. Countering the argument Arminians point out that simply knowing for sure that a person will freely do something is not enough for God to control or predestinate the world. This is because foreknowledge of an event does not imply direct influence or omnicausality, or absolute determination, but merely knows what other wills are doing. In other words, foreknowledge doesn’t mean absolute determination. Yet a fine point should be sharpened at this time: God not only grasps and understands what actually will happen, but also what could happen under varied possible contingencies.
Sovereignty of God
In Adam Clarke’s commentary on Romans 9, he argues for that God choice of Jacob and Esau were primarily national1, rather than the unconditional individual election and reprobation. The idea is that God chose to…
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord…
Supralapsarianism is the teaching that before God decreed to create human beings He first planned to elect and to reprobate. Millard J. Erickson gives the ordered decrees within supralapsarianism as: 1) God decreed to save…
It is often charged that the Arminians’ view of grace is weakened by the notion that God is not sovereign in electing whom He can save. To the Calvinist, God has graciously chosen whom He…
A claim made by many Calvinist authors concerns the terms used in Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and…
In his book Primitive Theology, John Gerstner, in the chapter entitled “A Primer on Free Will,” writes, “Dear reader, you have in your hands a booklet entitled A Primer on Free Will. I don’t know you, but I know a good deal about you. One thing I know is that you did not pick up this book of your own free will.
“You have picked it up and have started to read it, and now continue to read it, because you must do so. There is absolutely no possibility, you being the kind of person you are, that you would not be reading this book at this time.”1
So, at the outset today, let me also say to you, dear reader, I do not know you, but I do know some things about you. One thing I know is that you did in fact choose to visit this site of your own free will.
In their book Why I am not an Arminian, Peterson and Williams writes, “That God sovereignly superintends and controls all things and that human beings are responsible for their choices and actions is repeatedly taught and demonstrated throughout the biblical record. God is sovereignly active in every moment.
“Yet that sovereign agency does not annul or limit human responsibility. Conversely, human agency is affirmed. We are not automatons. Human actions are not coerced or programmed at every moment by mysterious forces such that we wact contrary to our natures and desires. Yet this human freedom does not negate or limit God’s agency” (emphases mine).1
In his blogpost on The Absolute Sovereignty of God, John Piper recalls a time in seminary when his notion of free will was challenged. According to Piper, this experience was one of “two experiences in…
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 3, scections III.I, III.II, and III.III, Edwards argues against the link between LFW and responsibility by appealing to divine impeccability as well as judicial hardening. He argues if God cannot sin, and a…
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
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…
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…
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”
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,…
Everything is about God in one way shape or form. So my biggest problem with Edwards’ arguments regards the nature of God. Outline of Edwards’ Arguments About the Necessity of God’s Will – Part IV.VII…
The discussion concerning God’s sovereignty usually spurs more arguments than decent dialogue. Place a Calvinist and an Arminian in a room to discuss God’s sovereignty and an hour later nothing was settled except the agreement…
One of the questions we invariably get from Determinists is “But HOW does God know the future??” Determinists often seize upon the difficulty of understanding God’s knowledge, and insist that if God didn’t cause the future, then He could not have known it. Besides being a rather silly stretch, this claim requires several unfounded assumptions about the nature of God.
The Basic Views
Now before I jump in any deeper, let’s define what the major views of God’s knowledge in relation to free will are (this is just a basic list, variations of these views exist):
1. Determinism: God determines absolutely all that will be, making absolute foreknowledge trivial. There is no such things as libertarian free will, and our choices cannot be otherwise.
Affirms foreknowledge, but has the very unfortunate side-effect of making absolutely everything that occurs the will of God, and possibly essential to His nature, as we’ll touch on below.