Free will vs. Free Agency

A good definition of two theological terms:

a contrast from    with thanks to Gabi Bogdan for the link.

Free will vs. Free Agency

Visitor: What’s the difference between freewill and free-agency?

Response: While descriptions may vary, I find the following explanation to be helpful. When it is said that people have no „free will” it does not mean that a person is coerced from the outside and must act against his will. Let that be clear up front. With this in mind, it is important that we learn to distinguish coersion vs. necessity. We are indeed free of external coersion but not free of necessity. Let me explain:

What we mean by denying a (fallen) person has free will is that he/she will act, by necessity, according to the corruption of his/her nature. They are in bondage to sin meaning the love of God and His law are not the unregenerate persons’ deepest animating motive and principle (nor is it his motive at all), in anything he does. No one is coercing a sinner to act as they do. Man eagerly volunteers his submission to sin. This means, the unregenerate person will always choose according to who they are by nature, driven by their disposition. In other words, our choices are all voluntary, but we are not free to choose otherwise because we will not understand spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14) and indeed are hostile to them, according to Scripture. Men love darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20) Without the Holy Spirit, man, by nature, is hostile to Christ. In other words, we are in bondage to sin until Christ sets us free. Jesus himself says that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, that a thornbush cannot bear figs. Jesus is teaching us that the nature of a thing determines BY NECESSITY (not coersion) the direction he/she will take.

Consider the concept of free will by applying it to God Himself. If freedom were defined as the freedom to choose otherwise, let us ask ourselves, does God have such freedom to choose otherwise? In other words, can God freely choose to do good or evil as He pleases? No, of course not. God in his essence is holy and therefore, by definition, cannot sin or be unholy. If he sinned or broke His sure promise He would no longer be God. The same kind of example can be applied to the glorified saints in heaven. God has sealed them in righteousness and they can no longer sin, and more than this, they have no ability to sin or choose otherwise. Yet we consider them the MOST free of all creatures.

Thus the Bible defines freedom, not as the freedom to choose otherwise in any way we please (contrary to our innate disposition), but as holiness, freedom from sin. Read Romans chapter 6. When Jesus says He will set people free, He does not say they are now free to choose good or evil but He will set them free from the bondage of sin. And where there is bondage, by definition there is no freedom. Yes we have free agency, that is, we can voluntarily choose according to our desires, but because our desires are in bondage to corruption of nature this is not freedom in the Biblical sense. Liberation of the will occurs when the Holy Spirit acts to free us.

Consider the opposite theological position which affirms that God elects people based on some kind of forseen faith. If God already knows who will be saved even before He creates them, then such a reality (their salvation) is fixed and cannot be otherwise. Thus God would be wasting His time to try to convert persons whom He knows will never come to faith. Synergists say that God is trying to save every man, yet such a position is untenable if God already knows who is to be saved, that is, unless you are willing to concede that God is not omniscient, but then you would be denying that He is indeed God.

If God knows the end from the beginning exhaustively then He knows who will be saved even prior to creating them. There is certainty here, an unchangable certainty. An additional problem with this is that it means that there is no real free will in this Arminian foreseen faith position because the future is already certain and cannot be otherwise. Yet in this same view God does not determine this future, and thus something else, like Fate perhaps, determines who will believe. The position is so untenable that many traditional Arminians have fled to become open theists who believe God has no exhaustive foreknowledge of the future. But this heretical view will not stand and is sub-Christian.

3 comentarii (+add yours?)

  1. Delight in Truth
    ian. 03, 2013 @ 22:04:30

    Outstanding post. Great argument against foreknowledge alone.

    Very strong point in the last paragraph

    „Yet in this same view God does not determine this future, and thus something else, like Fate perhaps, determines who will believe. The position is so untenable that many traditional Arminians have fled to become open theists who believe God has no exhaustive foreknowledge of the future.”

    A few years ago I tried really hard to find a Systematic Theology that was Arminian in nature to complement the standard reformed or mostly reformed systematics like Grudem’s… I could not… The closest thing I found was the „Full Life Study Bible” which is actually translated in Romanian, and it is good on Pentecostal Pneumatology, but weak on Soteriology.

    In my search for such an Arminian systematic, I came across authors like theologian Charles Pinnock who write that God is not omniscient 100%. This is how modern Arminians are able to preserve absolute free will… to diminish God’s attributes.


    • rodi
      ian. 03, 2013 @ 22:35:14

      to say that God is not omniscient 100% of the time is absurd.

      How can anyone think that is light of Isaiah 46:8–11,

      Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

      that is why the Arminian arguments against election do not hold.

  2. Trackback: With a new day we have a new chance to change our ways, our path and our destination. | One Lifetime
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