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Second Rebuttal - Shandon L. Guthrie



Various Calvinists have attempted to rectify free will with theological determinism. (1) Pike is no exception to this. He writes:



If by free will you mean doing what we want to do, then I agree we have
free will. If, on the other hand, by free will you mean we can choose
whatever we want in any given situation no matter what, I disagree that
we have free will at all.


If Pike means that there are certain natural or logical constraints to our freedom, then I would agree. Michael Jordan may be able to freely jump three feet into the air but he cannot jump thirty feet into the air. But these are not constraints on the intellect and, thus, not legitimate obstacles to the free will anymore than God's inability to sin no longer makes Him omnipotent.



I. NO GOOD REASON TO THINK UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION IS TRUE

As Pike suggested in his opening statement, Romans 9:18 allegedly teaches unconditional election. Given the phrase "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy" Pike repeats his original position. But I have already answered this. New Testament Professor Craig S. Keener of Hood Theological Seminary writes,



Paul here discusses predestination only in the context of the salvation of
Israel (9:23-29) . . . God's sovereignty means that he is free to choose on
another basis than his covenant with ethnic Israel (3:1-8); he can choose
on the basis of (foreknown) faith in Christ (4:11-13; 8:29-30). (2)


So, God extends mercy at His discretion and He does not limit it to the Jewish elect. And expressions of God's purpose, that His will is carried out, is consistent with free will and better justified if election were not unconditional.

Do Proverbs and Jeremiah advocate determinism? As I explained before, these texts do not imply that our paths are determined against our will. So Pike complains, "This . . . puts the created above the Creator!" Not at all. If God did not want us to choose certain courses of action then God would have altered the circumstances so that we would have done otherwise. God knows prior to creating the world what we would do under any circumstances. So God's sovereignty in whatever occurs remains intact and is consistent with the definition I quoted from Thomas Flint.



II. GOOD REASONS TO THINK THAT UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION IS FALSE

(A) Theological determinism contradicts creaturely freedom. Pike answers this claim by stating "In our carnal state, our freedom will only lead to sin, and therefore we are disabled from choosing salvation and are still free to do as we please." But this is double-talk because Pike is affirming



(7) P(f) * (~S)



and



(4) P(d) * S



which shows that



(5) [P(d) * S] * [P(f) * (S v ~S)]



is invalid. If (4) is true for some free person [(P{f)] then they cannot refuse salvation!

(B) The New Testament advocates creaturely freedom. Regarding my comments about 2 Peter 3:9 I said that it makes no sense for God to desire that all be saved if they cannot do so. Pike replies with, "God desires something, and that's why it is determined." But that does not follow. How can God guarantee that God's desire for P to be saved will result in P actually being saved unless God makes him be saved? As seen in (A) the two are irreconcilable.

I quoted John 12:32 that says all persons are drawn unto Christ. Pike replies by accusing God of being a respecter of persons in this scenario. However, it seems that if all persons had basically some chance of responding to Christ then how would that constitute God being a respecter of persons? If the person could not choose whether to be saved or not then how can she be guilty of her actions that were caused by someone else?

Is responding in faith a work as Pike suggests? No, and this is demonstrated biblically by Romans 4:5 which states that "to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." So, "work" is categorically distinct from "trust[ing] God."



Therefore, I remain unconvinced that unconditional election is true.







END NOTES



1. See John Feinberg, "God Ordains all Things," Predestination and Free Will, eds. David and Randall Basinger (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1986), pp. 19-43; Loraine Boettner, "Is Calvinism Inconsistent with Free Will?" (http://members.tripod.com/~Michael_Bremmer/free.htm).

2. Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1993), p. 433.