What About Free Will? Available Soon!

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My book, What About Free Will? Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty is to be released on February 29. It was 2 years ago that I began working on this book and the day of its publication is finally here! You can order the book from Amazon here. The book also has its own website here. If you sign up on the website you will begin receiving a number of resources connected to the book that are not available elsewhere.

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6 thoughts on “What About Free Will? Available Soon!

  1. I have been researching, reading, and following the Calvinist-Arminian debate for many years and this is one of the best books I have read on the subject—well researched and argued.

    This debate should be based firmly and solely on scripture. But what I have come to realize is that it is ultimately a philosophical debate. The reason being is that most Christians—clergy, scholars and laypeople alike—bring their presuppositions to scripture. And many christian philosophers read scripture through a lens of philosophical rationalism (even though they may be unaware of it).

    Often the meaning of terms like free will and determinism are just assumed but never defined and therefore much of the discussion is people talking past each other. This is why it is so important to understand the philosophical ideas so one can address the real issues clearly. Therefore the book’s glossary of the relevant terms is crucial—as is the included plethora of further study resources. All the relevant scriptural references are discussed but the book goes into depth on all the philosophical concepts that undergird the interpretive disagreements.

    For the non-Calvinist the real debate is between libertarian free will and hard determinism. Compatibilsm is not taken seriously. Many christian philosophers see no distinction between determinism and compatibilism. William James called compatibilism a “quagmire of evasion” and Immanuel Kant called it a “wretched subterfuge” and “word jugglery.”

    Even if one were to grant the incoherence of theistic compatibilism this would not by default make libertarianism coherent. LFW must be proven on its own terms—and from scripture. The key is to challenge the morality and logic of LFW, and this is what the book does best.

    As much as I loved this book there is one very unfortunate omission.

    Many of today’s thinking Arminians, and especially many of those who are teachers and philosophers, no longer hold to the Foreseen Faith view of Predestination and Election. The accepted view among non-Calvinist theologians and philosophers is Corporate Election, while concepts like “predetermined” and “foreknow” are divested of their timeless identities. “Predetermined” is explained as something akin to God’s infallible “educated guess,” while “foreknow” simply means that God is remembering or “knowing” something that happened in human history. I think Calvinist apologists need to realize that there has been development within the Arminian and non-Calvinist camps.

    Lastly, there is one logical problem that I am struggling with that perhaps you could address.

    If LFW is the ability to do otherwise this would include the ability to sin or not to sin. Therefore God cannot have LFW because He is not able to sin. This demonstrates a definitional problem with LFW. (Anselm deals with this by making a distinction between human free will and God’s free will. The problem with this distinction is that it negates the Euthyphro Dilemma response.) But, (according to Augustine at least) God gives Adam and Eve the ability to choose to sin or not, which is the usual definition of LFW. (There is something in the fact that God allows Satan to tempt or test them that may be relevant to this problem.)

    This LFW ability to choose not to sin is taken away after the Fall. Adam and Eve’s sin, as was Satan’s, was they wanted to be their own Gods. They wanted the ability to choose good and evil for themselves apart from God. Some kind of LFW is unique to Adam and Eve before the Fall (and by extension this would include angels). You see the problem?

    I look froward to your new book on the problem of evil sometime in the future.

    – Mike Ranieri
    Toronto, Canada

  2. Mike, thanks for your thoughts. The shifting position on the Arminian notion of foreknowledge and predestination, etc., seems to be influenced by open theism which carries out the implications of LFW more consistently. In either case, I don’t think most Arminians are quite prepared yet to dispense with simple foreknowledge. I think Augustine was confused about his definition of free will and later seems to have abandoned it, but I am not an Augustinian expert. I am still wrestling with the nature of Adam and Eve’s pre-fall condition and its implications for their freedom of choice. I will be exploring these issues more in my forthcoming book. However, given what I believe are basic incoherent notions about LFW, I do not believe pre-fall Adam had any such thing. Rather, some form of modified compatibilism makes more sense. In either case, you appear knowledgeable in this area. Do you have recommendations for research?

    • Scott, I have a long reply with a lot of links. I tried to post it but it doesn’t seem to take. I’m a little embarrassed because I tried 3 times—revising and adding to it each time. I kept finding new references. Don’t know if you got the posts, but if you didn’t let me know and I’ll try again. (I could also just send it by email if that would be better.)

  3. Hi Scott, I’ve just finished reading What About Free Will, and I keep coming back to one question which I’d like to hear your thoughts on. Do you think that God punishes people for things that they’re unable to avoid doing?

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