Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Compatibilism & Libertarianism

First, a follow-up for last week. We ended our discussion with the debate over human free will. I want to round out that discussion with a little final commentary, then I'll move on to our preview for next week's lesson in 1 Peter.

Free will that is "compatible" with God's is described like this: Man will do that which he most desires. This means that—in theory—God's will is carried forth through Man's so-called "free" will in that He knows what we desire, what we would choose given various circumstances, and thereby guides human history with this infinite knowledge. This stands in contrast to the libertarian freedom most advocated by Arminians where man's will is not imposed on in any way by God's will—compatible or otherwise.

Now, I included one key phrase "in theory" in this final commentary that (hopefully) wraps up this discussion for our class... at least for now. What I want you to realize is that neither "compatibalism" nor "libertarian" appear anywhere in my concordance, and unless you have some radical new translation of the Bible, I venture to say it's nowhere in yours either. The only authoritative word that we have to go on is the Word itself (or Himself, I could go either way there). I encourage you—nay, implore you—to seek answers FIRST in scripture and make every effort neither to add to its teaching nor dismiss any of its truths despite the understandability and/or logic of what you find.

I don't ask that everyone agree with me, nor Calvin, but only this: that you base your beliefs solely in scripture. Everything else is merely "in theory."

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  • I'm curious about your use of "compatibalism." The fact that it's not found in my concordance isn't of great concern to me as "trinity" isn't found in my concordance either which Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses love to point out, yet "Trinity" is a word that I assume you will agree encompasses rich and foundational Biblical truth about God as the tri-unity of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    So where did you find the word "compatibalism" and how are you defining it. It is the word D. A. Carson uses to acknowledge the mystery of Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. I've heard him lecture on this and found the word useful in that discussion. Carson's excellent book, "How Long O Lord; Reflections on Suffering and Evil" has a chapter on this that I think you will find interesting. But can you help me on your use and I assume rejection of it as a useful word.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 17, 2009 at 4:11 PM  

  • I have to laugh after re-reading this old post. Outside the context of the immediate debate that had ensued in our class, it could very easily appear that I am rejecting compatibalism. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

    Allow me to clarify with some background. As we dove into the topic of sovereignty during this class last September, it became increasingly clear that nobody was "hearing" my words, but only their preconcieved notions about the theological terminology used. Which, ironically, elicited some discussion about "significant freedom" and "libertarian freedom"--two jargon terms used in the Arminian position.

    My goal in this post was, and still is, to willingly lay down my own grip on terms such as Compatibalism if indeed others would lay down their hold on Libertarian and we can both, together, allow Scripture to speak plainly. My hope, perhaps a bit idealistically, is that the tenants of the compatible position would be found to be true.

    By Blogger Nick Carter, At May 17, 2009 at 4:16 PM  

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