Free Will vs Free Choice


#1

I have been reading some articles on the web about free will. There are people in the “reformed” camp who do not believe in free will but do believe in free choice. Does anyone know what the definition distinction is in that “reformed” camp.

Thank you,
Kathleen


#2

What I think this means is we lost our free will in the Fall, and can do nothing but evil; and that God chooses who He will save before anyone is born and you can’t do anything about it. But free choice means that we can decide on apple pie or cherry pie… I could be waaaaaaaay off track here


#3

[quote=Spooky7272]What I think this means is we lost our free will in the Fall, and can do nothing but evil; and that God chooses who He will save before anyone is born and you can’t do anything about it. But free choice means that we can decide on apple pie or cherry pie… I could be waaaaaaaay off track here
[/quote]

That sounds right to me. Calvinists typically hold that we are incapable of doing anything good by our own natural powers (because of the fall). However, we have the freedom to choose between alternatives such as (apple pie or cherrie pie), (doing homework or playing on the beach) and so forth.


#4

Calvinists typically hold that we are incapable of doing anything good by our own natural powers (because of the fall). However, we have the freedom to choose between alternatives such as (apple pie or cherrie pie) …

‘de gustibus non est disputandem’ – in matters of taste, there is no dispute

The preference for cherry pie over apple pie is a matter of taste, and not something that involves a moral choice. The tastes that we have are in part due to cultural conditioning, and partly because God has created us to prefer certain things over other things. Differences in taste allow us to be unique individuals, and we would have differences in taste with or without the Fall.

Free will always involves a moral choice - taste never does. To illustrate the difference, suppose Amy prefers cherry pie to apple pie. Amy never really made a choice to prefer cherry to apple, her preference in taste was determined by God before she was created. Now imagine that Amy is at a party and she sees that there is only one piece of cherry pie left on the table but plenty of apple pie. Amy goes against her preference in taste and makes a decision to have a piece of apple pie instead of cherry pie. Amy made that choice because she sees that others at the party are really enjoying her favorite type of pie, and she wants make a small sacrifice out of charity so that someone else could be happy. Amy used her free will to make that moral choice for an act of self-sacrifice, but no free will was involved in her preference of cherry pie over apple pie.

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.


#5

"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.

Thank you for this terrific explanation. I may like to quote it sometime. To whom would I give credit if I do?

Kathleen


#6

[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.
[/quote]

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.


#7

[quote=psychemusic] 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.)

.
[/quote]

I am admittly a bit confused. Do Calvinist believe that everyone has the Grace of God? Do they believe that God doesn’t extend his Grace to some?


#8

[quote=deb1]I am admittly a bit confused. Do Calvinist believe that everyone has the Grace of God? Do they believe that God doesn’t extend his Grace to some?
[/quote]

Correct. Calvinists teach that it is not God’s will so save all men but only the elect. Christ died only for the elect and not for everyone. Election is unconditional, not based on any forseen merits.

FYI, Augustine and Aquinas teach almost the same thing.


#9

[quote=byzmelkite]Correct. Calvinists teach that it is not God’s will so save all men but only the elect. Christ died only for the elect and not for everyone. Election is unconditional, not based on any forseen merits.

FYI, Augustine and Aquinas teach almost the same thing.
[/quote]

I also agree that they teach this (I am a former Calvinist myself). However, that would not necessarily mean that a non-Christian could not benefit from what they might call a “general” grace, namely a grace common to all men (recall the words of Christ, who said that God causes rain to fall on the just and on the unjust). Therefore, although the Calvinist would argue that Christ only died for the elect (The “L” in the acronym “TULIP”, which stands for “Limited Atonement”), that would not preclude the non-Christian from benefitting from this kind of general grace. In this way, the non-Christian can still act in a moral way even though s/he is still subject to total depravity.

Limited Atonement is something that we as Catholics cannot agree with. Scriptures clearly teach that Christ died for all mankind; those who reject this great salvation do so in spite of the grace of God, of their own free will.


#10

Thanks. :slight_smile: Feel free to quote it without attribution.


#11

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