Which Protestant denominations do believe in free will or free agency?

I’m really curious about this one.AFAIK Lutheranism is an obvious “not” it’s historical reasons but I"m not sure about other denominations like Pentecostalism,Baptist, Methodism,Anglicanism,Prebyterians etc.With so many Protestant denominations surely at least a few of them went back to thinking that the world’s de facto agency is free will,didn’t they?.

Except for Calvinists, I’m wondering how far apart most Protestant denominations are from Roman Catholic teaching. Along with Catholicism, I think most would say that the will is not free to turn to God on its own, but needs prevenient Grace to enable it. Article 10 of the Anglican 39 Articles says:

“The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing [going before] us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.”

According to a Wikipedia article, Arminius said, “Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace… This grace [prœvenit] goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and co operates lest we will in vain.”

That same article quotes the Council of Trent as saying, “The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace.”

Even with Lutherans, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification seems to indicate that it’s more a difference in emphasis than a major theological rift:

" Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification

19.We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. The freedom they possess in relation to persons and the things of this world is no freedom in relation to salvation, for as sinners they stand under God’s judgment and are incapable of turning by themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God’s grace. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say:

20.When Catholics say that persons “cooperate” in preparing for and accepting justification by consenting to God’s justifying action, they see such personal consent as itself an effect of grace, not as an action arising from innate human abilities.

21.According to Lutheran teaching, human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation, because as sinners they actively oppose God and his saving action. Lutherans do not deny that a person can reject the working of grace. When they emphasize that a person can only receive (mere passive) justification, they mean thereby to exclude any possibility of contributing to one’s own justification, but do not deny that believers are fully involved personally in their faith, which is effected by God’s Word."

So Catholics and a wide range of Protestants seem to agree that the will is not free to turn to God without the grace of God enabling that response. It is in Pelagianism that we find the will of fallen man truly free to choose good without special divine aid.

Pentecostals believe in free will. While God certainly chooses us, we also must choose him. And certainly God makes the first move. We respond to his grace, but it is fully our choice whether to accept it or not.

Correct me if I am wrong but most evangelicals believe that God did his 99% but now I must do my 1% and accept His Grace to be saved. This is where one of the argruments of the Luherans and Catholics come into play over Works in salvation.

To my knowledge, the following Protestant denominations believe in some form of free wil:

*Anabaptists (ancestors of the Mennonites and Amish)

*Unitarian-Universalists (including their spiritual ancestor, Faustus Socinus; also see “The Racovian Cathechism”)

*Methodists/Wesleyans (while not discounting the importance of grace, they believe in comparative free will, along Arminian lines)

*Free Will Baptists (the actual name of the denomination; they too believe in free will, along Arminian lines)

You may be interested to know that, of these groups, it was the Anabaptists who were the most reviled by Lutherans and Calvinists. They were accused not only of affirming free will, but of holding to “works based salvation.”

Anabaptists–such as Conrad Grebel, a one-time associate of Ulrich Zwingli–were highly critical of a passive interpretation of “Sola Fide” and specifically quoted the line from the epistle of James: “faith without works is dead.”

An Erasmian influence on the Anabaptists has been a subject of much speculation, among scholars.

I don’t know. Some evangelicals are Arminians, so they believe in free will. For example, I have read Pentecostal works that speak of “conditional security,” meaning that God’s grace must be accepted to be saved but the continuation of such acceptance is dependent upon the person maintaining his/her faith in God. So once faith in God is lost, salvation is lost. Therefore, human free will is active throughout the believer’s life, not just at the moment of conversion.

But other evangelicals are Calvinists and believe that God has predestined some people to be saved and others to be damned. So for staunch Reformed evangelicals, it is all 100% God’s choice.

And then you get evangelicals that are somewhere in between. For example many Southern Baptists believe in once saved always saved. While they operate in a theological context in which one can make a decision for Christ (thereby exercising human free will), they also believe that after conversion has happened the truly converted will persevere in their faith until the end. So in this theology, back sliding or choosing to reject God’s grace after it has initially been accepted is impossible. If back sliding does appear to occur, it is only proof that the person was never saved to begin with or perhaps is going through a spiritual battle and will eventually overcome and be begin living a spiritually fruitful life later on.

Arminianism is about as close as one will get to finding Protestants who believe in free-will. Still, because of the Protestant obsession with stamping out the somewhat imaginary threats of Semi-Pelagianism (a word the meaning of which nobody can agree upon) and Pelagianism, Arminians for the most part have to straddle a fine line between synergism and monergism, so as not to appear completely heretical within the Protestant world, which means that they can wind up espousing a somewhat compromised vision of human freedom and synergism at times.

Very few Protestants would deny free will outright. Even the calvinists among us usually hold to some sort of free will. Many calvinists I talk to have affirmed the following statement: free will is the means by which God effects our salvation. Whether or not that this falls within the bounds of true free will.:shrug:

Anyway to answer your question, the following probably would affirm free will according to most definitions:
Any descendant of anabaptism (Mennonites, Hutterites, etc.)
Any descendant of Weslyanism (Methodists, Nazarenes, Pentecostal)
Certain strands of Baptists like Free Will Baptists
Most generic evangelical churches, all though this might just be in my geographic location.

:thumbsup: We certainly have free will to reject grace. On this the confessions are quite clear.


Although Luther has some writing(s) that would suggest that one would lose free will once a Christian. Don’t have the reference in front of me, though.

Bondage of the Will is probably what your are thinking of.

Lutherans believe there is no free will in coming to grace, that it is a free gift of God. Rejecting grace, however, is a free will matter.

This might be a helpful article.


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