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Free will vs. total depravity

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- Choosing only between the doctrine of free will (the first point of Arminianism) and the doctrine of total depravity (the first point of Calvinism), which do you believe? -  
[ Poll ] 
 
 
I believe that humans have free will. [6] 
I believe that humans do not have free will because their will is enslaved by the sin nature and, thus, only wants to sin. [1]

Free will vs. total depravity 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 05/17/2004 10:41 AM 
 
The first of the five points of Arminianism teaches that humans have free will and, thus, are capable of choosing or rejecting God on their own and, thereby, can thwart the will of God. In another thread someone raised the issue of free will and, so, at the suggestion of one of the posters, I decided to start a more focused discussion on the subject, i.e., the Arminian belief in free will vs. the first of the five points of Calvinism, the total depravity of man (the doctrine that says humans are entirely corrupted by the sin nature and, consequently, are incapable of choosing anything on their own except sin).

Because there's another thread discussing free will from a wider perspective, let's keep this thread focused solely on the the Armininan position vs. the Calvinist position as concerning free will. Thus, the discussion would be limited to the first point Arminianism and the first point of Calvinism: free will vs. total depravity.


 
Author: otseng 
Posted: 05/18/2004 12:21 PM 
 
I didn't vote for either since I believe in both.

I believe man does have free will. Yet I also believe that man is depraved and will sin. I don't see how they are mutually exclusive.


 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 05/18/2004 01:26 PM 
 








otseng wrote:
I didn't vote for either since I believe in both.

I believe man does have free will. Yet I also believe that man is depraved and will sin. I don't see how they are mutually exclusive.



What makes them mutually exclusive is that the doctrine of total depravity teaches humans, because of their sinful nature, cannot and will not ever choose God on their own: that humans are born inherently evil. The doctrine of free will teaches that man can choose God on his own that there is still some good (as God views good, not as man views good) inherent in man.


 
Author: Crixus 
Posted: 05/18/2004 01:38 PM 
 








otseng wrote:
I believe man does have free will. Yet I also believe that man is depraved and will sin. I don't see how they are mutually exclusive.



I actually have to disagree, in a sense, with this, because although I believe that man is sinful and that it is almost a certainty man will sin, still I believe that Christ, having been made man, provides absolute proof that man does in fact possess the ability to transcend sin.


 
Author: otseng 
Posted: 05/18/2004 02:02 PM 
 








Quote:

What makes them mutually exclusive is that the doctrine of total depravity teaches humans, because of their sinful nature, cannot and will not ever choose God on their own: that humans are born inherently evil. The doctrine of free will teaches that man can choose God on his own that there is still some good (as God views good, not as man views good) inherent in man.


If we're talking about free will only in relation to one's salvation, I can partially agree.

But, when I think of free will, I include all aspects of decision making. So, for example, I could have chosen to eat cereal or a bagel this morning. But, I chose out of my own volition to eat a bagel. I don't think it was predetermined what I would be eating for breakfast.


 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 05/18/2004 06:12 PM 
 








Crixus wrote:








otseng wrote:
I believe man does have free will. Yet I also believe that man is depraved and will sin. I don't see how they are mutually exclusive.



I actually have to disagree, in a sense, with this, because although I believe that man is sinful and that it is almost a certainty man will sin, still I believe that Christ, having been made man, provides absolute proof that man does in fact possess the ability to transcend sin.



The difference, however, is that Jesus was not born with a sinful nature whereas the rest of us are. If man had the capacity, on his own, to transcend sin, there would be no need for the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.


 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 05/18/2004 06:16 PM 
 








otseng wrote:








Quote:

What makes them mutually exclusive is that the doctrine of total depravity teaches humans, because of their sinful nature, cannot and will not ever choose God on their own: that humans are born inherently evil. The doctrine of free will teaches that man can choose God on his own that there is still some good (as God views good, not as man views good) inherent in man.


If we're talking about free will only in relation to one's salvation, I can partially agree.

But, when I think of free will, I include all aspects of decision making. So, for example, I could have chosen to eat cereal or a bagel this morning. But, I chose out of my own volition to eat a bagel. I don't think it was predetermined what I would be eating for breakfast.



The Arminian doctrine of free will specifically applies to salvation (as does the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity). All of the five points of Arminianism (along with the five points of Calvinism) have to do with salvation.


 
Author: Crixus 
Posted: 05/20/2004 05:34 PM 
 








Chancellor wrote:
The difference, however, is that Jesus was not born with a sinful nature whereas the rest of us are. If man had the capacity, on his own, to transcend sin, there would be no need for the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.



This is certainly one outlook, however I think that to assume that Christ was separate from man in nature is folly. It is true Christ is God, yet he was born a man on earth, thereby bestowing upon him all the trappings that we carry with us at birth. Hence the saying “fully god and fully man”.

Now perhaps one could argue that he was born without the burden of original sin and thus was by nature less drawn toward sin, yet this assumes much. First it assumes the existence of original sin, second it assumes that original sin instills a predilection for sin, thirdly it assumes that Christ, even though being born of a mortal, averted the taint of original sin.

Yet, regardless of belief about original sin or whether Christ would have carried that same affliction, it is my contention that the rejection of Christ's nature, as being equal to that of all other men, disparages the purpose of Christ’s life. Such an assumption implicitly excuses man of his sins, in as much as it states that man is incapable of living up to the standards that Christ put forward. If this were indeed the case then why is it that God did not send Christ immediately after man's fall?

Also inherent in such a belief is the diminishing of Christ's struggle, as a man, against sinful temptation, and so the diminishing of his triumph over sin.

Probably the most profound issue I have is that this perception seems to make Christ's life as a man, in preparation for his subsequent sacrifice, moot. Christ came to teach, and to sacrifice himself for man's sin. Yet, any prophet can teach, and any of God's choir of angels are sinless, so then what illuminates Christ is that he lived as we do facing the very same temptations; without that, the sacrifice is pointless.

I am certain that no man will equal Christ’s sinless life, yet I believe that God created us with that ability, and that Christ came also to prove to man that a sinless life on earth is possible.


 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 05/21/2004 10:38 AM 
 








Crixus wrote:








Chancellor wrote:
The difference, however, is that Jesus was not born with a sinful nature whereas the rest of us are. If man had the capacity, on his own, to transcend sin, there would be no need for the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.



This is certainly one outlook, however I think that to assume that Christ was separate from man in nature is folly. It is true Christ is God, yet he was born a man on earth, thereby bestowing upon him all the trappings that we carry with us at birth. Hence the saying “fully god and fully man”.

Now perhaps one could argue that he was born without the burden of original sin and thus was by nature less drawn toward sin, yet this assumes much. First it assumes the existence of original sin, second it assumes that original sin instills a predilection for sin, thirdly it assumes that Christ, even though being born of a mortal, averted the taint of original sin.

Yet, regardless of belief about original sin or whether Christ would have carried that same affliction, it is my contention that the rejection of Christ's nature, as being equal to that of all other men, disparages the purpose of Christ’s life. Such an assumption implicitly excuses man of his sins, in as much as it states that man is incapable of living up to the standards that Christ put forward. If this were indeed the case then why is it that God did not send Christ immediately after man's fall?

Also inherent in such a belief is the diminishing of Christ's struggle, as a man, against sinful temptation, and so the diminishing of his triumph over sin.

Probably the most profound issue I have is that this perception seems to make Christ's life as a man, in preparation for his subsequent sacrifice, moot. Christ came to teach, and to sacrifice himself for man's sin. Yet, any prophet can teach, and any of God's choir of angels are sinless, so then what illuminates Christ is that he lived as we do facing the very same temptations; without that, the sacrifice is pointless.

I am certain that no man will equal Christ’s sinless life, yet I believe that God created us with that ability, and that Christ came also to prove to man that a sinless life on earth is possible.



If Jesus had a sinful nature, such as the rest of us have, then He could not have been the perfect sacrifice for sin. Yes, Jesus was tempted in every way that we're tempted, according to the New Testament book of Hebrews, yet He did not sin. What Jesus had in terms of human nature was the nature that Adam had before that first sin in the Garden of Eden.


flawed question will produce flawed results 
Author: Rayooms 
Posted: 07/30/2004 10:52 PM 
 
The question as posed is faulty/flawed. The understanding of "Calvinism," as described, is incorrect - it's actually a misunderstanding. Calvinism does not teach that man does not have the freedom to choose what he wants. Man always chooses what he wants - never has done anthing but that!

The mistake commonly made is that people think "Total Depravity" speaks to the matter of freedom, as in freedom to choose. Man was made as a free moral agent, and as such, can ONLY freely choose what he wants. Otherwise, if it was not he who chooses, then where would guilt come from??

Total Depravity, then, speaks to the nature of man, and the quality of those free choices. The problem with man, according to this doctrine, is that he always freely chooses to sin. This is because man's nature is fallen, bound up in Adam.

So, it is not a question or poll consisting of "Free Will vs Total Depravity." Correctly stated, it is a question of, what does God say about man's nature? Is it basically good, or is man intrinsically God's enemy, from the Fall (of Adam) onward?

The Biblical answer is that man is God's enemy, and he freely chooses this. The Bible also teaches that man will only bow his will when God first changes man's sinful heart. Then man, being made spiritually alive and new, will freely choose to please God.

That's the tertium quid that removes us from the nasty horns of the false dilemma presented.

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