[quote=Matt16_18]If the Calvinsts were correct about total depravity, if Amy was not a Christian, she would have no ability to restrain her appetite for cherry pie because she would be totally depraved. Amy would have eaten the last piece of cherry pie because selfishness reigns supreme in the totally depraved. Such is the silliness of the “total depravity” doctrine of the Calvinists - in the real world, we all know that non-Christians are capable of acts of selflessness.
I’m no Calvinist, but in all fairness I don’t believe they teach that people always, in all situations, act in a totally depraved manner (i.e. if Amy were living in a Calvinistic universe, she could still have gone for the apple pie as a non-Christian); they do teach, however, that we are all capable of always acting in a totally depraved manner. I understand that they teach, as the Catholic church also teaches, that because of the Fall, the only way human beings can perform acts of moral goodness is by the grace of God. (Jimmy Akin elaborates on this similarity in his book, “The Salvation Controversy”, and I think he also has an article on this site called “A Tiptoe through TULIP” that also covers this material.)
However, I have to say that the difference between the definition of “free will” versus “free choice” sounds like a way for the Calvinists to say that they don’t really deny free will (even though their doctrine, if true, demands denial of moral free will, and I would argue even free choice, which Matt16_18’s example demonstrates quite well). The fact is, predestination (not to be confused with double predestination – God does not predestine anybody to hell) and the perfect free will of mankind are both realities, and a reconciliation between the two doctrines might not be forthcoming until we reach the other side of this life. Scripture clearly teaches predestination (Acts 13:48, Rom 8:29-30), but it also clearly teaches the free will of man, especially in the many passages that show we can lose our salvation by abandoning it through mortal sin (Gal 5:4, Heb 10:26-31, to list only a few).
Fr. William Most gives, in my opinion, the best reconciliation I have found to date that reconciles both views – it’s on the EWTN website somewhere. His theory is that God gives ALL men sufficient grace to overcome the effects of original sin and accept the free gift of salvation; those who reject this gift do so of their own free will (God knows them in advance from our perspective because He is not bound by the constraints of time); the rest God positively predestines for final salvation. He writes in his article that this reconciliation came to him in either a vision or a dream, I’m not certain which.