Written By Thomas Perez. March 3, 2013 at 11:21AM. Copyright 2013.
Lets talk “Freewill” and “Determinism”
Instead of getting into a large study (of which I did already on the topic) let us consider this outline. After considering it, if anyone desires to study these definitions & what the paragraphs therein contains more broadly and deeper; then that is it be commended. But if not, if you chose to continually debate others because there are of a different persuasion, then you are nothing more than a typical child – wanting to be spoon fed and wanting to have your diaper of defecation changed by the hands of the “status quo”.
Here in this outline, I have taken bits a pieces of a much larger study and condensed it to…shall we say; simplistic terms. Because I know the heart & brains desire to read is often cut short by a lackadaisical shortsightedness and a heavy laziness that falls upon the dogmatic individuals after reading only the 1st 3 to 4 paragraphs pertaining to studies that threaten their little “box” of ideologies. Shame on you all!
Leave those that are content and doing the will of God alone. If they want to believe that God is wise enough, compassionate enough, strong enough, and loving enough to save ALL of men/women with or without the ideologies of “Freewill” or “Determinism” then let them/us be. Because if you don’t, if you continually attack us with your bias, little boxes, and status quo’s within our groups or walls; then I/we will attack you on your Arminian and Calvinistic groups. Therefore, Pentecostals, Baptists, Fundamentalists, Reformed, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, etc; beware – for you have been fore-warned!
And now I present my little outline of non-biases…and just for the record, I have underlined and italicized my preferred viewpoint.
The Modal of Freewill From the Philosophical View
The Pre-Socratic Thought
Determinism is the view that every event occurs necessarily. Every event follows inevitably from the events that proceeded it. A sort of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Freedom either does not exist (such an ideology entails ‘Hard Determinism’), or freedom exists in such a way as to be compatible with necessity (‘Soft Determinism’). The first appearance of this thesis (Determinism) first occurred in the Pre-Socratic (before Socrates) tradition, by the likes of Leucippus 460 – ? BC and Democritus 460 – 370 BC. Leucippus and Democritus observations and speculations on Determinism took a culmination of at least a hundred years of studying the world surrounding us. But, their conclusions were not truly recognized until about two thousand years later. True science, in the sense of the word, the way we know it today, did not come to the forefront of history until such men as Sir Isaac Newton 1642 – 1727, The Baron Henri D’ Holbach 1723 – 1789, and Pierre – Simon Laplace 1749 – 1827. These men further argued that if such events proceeded cause in the physical world, the same principle can also apply to the human brain and the general functionality of the human body as well.
For example, the cerebrum works in conjunction with the command of movement from the cerebellum. Within these functionalities; we can observe, as the ancients did, and many post modern scientific authorities of today do, that the human brain house’s what is deemed the ideology of ‘Determinism’ ‘Hard Determinism’, and ‘Soft Determinism’ as an integrated whole. The key ideas of Determinism is therefore a chain of events proceeding from one event to another. Determinism is the idea that “A” causes “B”, therefore “B” can not exist without “A”. Hard Determinism is the belief that determinism is true and that freedom and responsibility do not exist. It is contrast to ‘Soft Determinism’.
B.F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud
In B.F. Skinners’ book, “Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, Skinner says: “Many anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists have used their expert knowledge to prove that man is free, purposeful, and responsible. This escape route is slowly closed as new evidences of predictability of human behavior are discovered. Personal exemption from a complete Determinism is revoked as a scientific analysis progresses, particularly in accounting for the behavior of the individual” (pg 20 – 21). Here Skinner is claiming that “the escape route” of freewill, purpose, and responsibility are eroded away due to mans predictability (Hard Determinism). Skinner was an empiricist and a materialist (the view point that all knowledge is derived primarily from sense experience or an accidental cause, as in the theory of evolution, thus eradicating purpose and goal). In this sense Skinner denies the teleological model of explanation. As we all know the teleological model explains things in terms of goals, purposes, plans, and intentions. If Skinner does away with the teleological model, he also overturns our moral and legal institutions by denying the free will of intentions. Moreover, overturning our judicial system, value of life, and sense of belonging as well.
We hold people responsible for their actions, if they break the laws of the legal system, they are held accountable for their actions. Therefore, if Skinners’ model of Hard Determinism is valid, one can commit murder and claim that it was not intentional because he/she is incapable of freewill. Skinners’ model / theory is a radical one and is left wanting or needing further explanation. If this argument is valid, what do we do with the concepts of theft, murder, disobedience, anarchy, or our moral obligations to our partners in marriage? Society as we know it to be, would not exist as a civilized body of individuals. A society is a totality of human relationships, a human community of sharing a culture. In all or most cases, that culture is based upon principles of what is legally right and wrong. But upon an individuals justification of their in-ability to choose due to a lack of freedom of the will, leaves behind a society devoid of basic rudimentary principles. Principles that can be seen governed, even in the animal kingdom.
Freud takes the deterministic argument further. Freud argues that human responsibility and character is established at the age of five. Freud further states that after said age, a persons urges, painful memories, childhood memories, fantasies. unresolved conflicts, desires, and fears all stem from the unconscious of which we know nothing of or have no control over for that matter (no conscious will of a suppressed unconscious). This unconscious is what Freud called “The Ego”. Yet, Freud also admits to a conscious of responsibility called “The Super Ego”. However, the super ego is the by product of a nay – saying, guilt – spawning social conscious according to the Freudeanim thought.
According to this Deterministic reading of Freud, all significant actions of the so – called normal person or psychotic for that matter, are unfree. As in the case of Skinners’ model. Freud argues there is no responsibility here because we cant help our actions. The significant action according to Freud’s model is quoted by Freud as follows: “We may say that a man is free only to the extent that his behavior is not unconsciously motivated at all. If this be our criterion, most of our behavior could not be called free: everything, including both impulses and volition’s, having to do with our basic attitudes toward life, the general tenor of our tastes, whether we become philosophers or artists or business men, our whole affective life including our preferences’ for blondes or brunettes, active or passive, older or younger, has it’s inevitable basis in the unconscious. Only those comparatively vanilla – flavored aspects of life – such as our behavior toward people who don’t matter to us – are exempted from this rule” (John Hospers, “Meaning and Free Will”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol 10, No 3 March 1950, pg 316 – 330). In this view Fatalism is expressed.
The Stoics and Enlightenment Philosophers
‘Soft Determinism’ is the view that Determinism is true, but that freedom and responsibility can exist despite the truth of Determinism. It is in contrast to ‘Hard Determinism’. There are many philosophers who have affirmed to a belief in ‘Soft Determinism, but only because they didn’t like the conclusions reached by Skinner and Freud; that no one is ever responsible for anything. It is with this conjunction that philosophers have pressed to demonstrate ‘Soft Determinism’. ‘Soft Determinism’ is quite common among twentieth century philosophers. However, its roots go back to Roman times (The Stoics, 1st Cent AD).
St. Augustine (fourth Cent), Thomas Hobbles (seventieth cent), and Baruch Spinoza (seventieth cent) all defended this particular model of Determinism as well. However, in Augustine’s view, man is left to do only what he knows how to do of his own free will that is left in bondage due to sin. However, a bondage of the will indicates a lack of freedom in the truest sense of the word. In this definition of ‘Soft Determinism’, freedom is compatible with Determinism. I sometimes do what I want to do even if my will was determined. In theological terms, it is that which is ordained by a sovereign God that will come to pass, but in coming to pass it is doing so because of my free will, bringing about Gods’ personal set actions, plans, goals, and intentions as seen in the theological model. In Augustine’s’ viewpoint; God knows the future, the future must unfold in accordance with His knowledge of it or as other proponent’s would declare a ‘foreknowledge’.
However, Augustine’s argument is left needing further information and clarification, of which we will examine later in this chapter. One can argue if God truly has a foreknowledge of the future, He is left limited due to the unfolding of such futuristic activities performed by man and can thus only perform His own will in accordance with a future that will unfold. In this view God is left limited due to a model of free will. God can only operate in the affairs of men based on His foreknowledge of what man will or will not do. Therefore, God is not omnipotent. This view places the sovereignty of God in subjection or servitude to what I call the sovereignty of will (the will of man). The very concept seems to warrant a cancellation of each other. But, as we will learn, it truly does not.
While it may be said that a free will can co – exist with Determinism, Determinism in the true sense of the word can not exist within the realm of Soft Determinism if we are to believe that God is omnipotent and sovereign. Moreover, many critics are dissatisfied with the Soft Determinists definition of freedom as in the coincidence of will and ability (desire to do “X” plus ability to do “X” = freedom to do “X”). Yet, we are reminded about the abilities and functions of the human brain. As you will recall, the medulla functions on its own…shall we say ‘Determinism’. While the cerebellum is concerned with the ability to do “X” which entails freedom to do “X”. Now we have a paradox as ancient as the pre – Socratic tradition on Determinism. It is because of this paradox, as well as those discussed that it was inevitable that an opposite model to determinism would begin to hatch, the model of ‘Indeterminism’.
Indeterminism is the view that there are such things as uncaused events and that therefore; Determinism is false. In the twentieth century a number of scientists and philosophers of science rejected the ninetieth century conception of causality. An Indeterminist can argue either that…
1. There are only random events.
2. There are some random events.
3. There are some uncaused events.
4. Some caused events are not necessary events.
of all the four theories, number four is probably the best one for explaining the truth of propositions like “Heavy smoking causes cancer”. Not every case of cancer is caused by heavy smoking and not every case of heavy smoking causes cancer, but nevertheless, heavy smoking (statistically) causes cancer. Indeterminists defend possibilities 1, 2, and 3 depending on which model of causality they work with.
Indeterminism has been given a new lease on respectability because of recent developments in physics (which is somewhat ironic because the authority of Determinism has usually been associated with its relationship to classical physics).
C.A. Campell and Richard Taylor
The Libertarian Model is the view that freedom exists. This model consists that determinism is false and that freedom does exist.
The Libertarian sides with the ‘Hard Determinist’ against ‘The Soft Determinist’ on one important topic: The Libertarian and ‘Hard Determinist’ agree that if ‘Determinism’ is true, then there is no freedom. The ‘Soft Determinist’, while accepting determinism in general (the view that every event follows necessarily from its antecedent conditions), did not like the radical conclusions the ‘Hard Determinists’ drew from this fact (namely, that there is no freedom, hence no responsibility). The’ Soft Determinist’, in attempting to salvage responsibility, pointed out that “freedom” means the coincidence of will and capacity (“I can”). Furthermore, the ‘Soft Determinist’ claimed that, given such a definition of freedom, freedom certainly does exist, even in a ‘Deterministic’ universe. And if freedom exists, says the ‘Soft Determinist’, so does responsibility. Libertarians such as Campbell argued that the Soft Determinist definition of freedom is only half truth. Freedom entails not only the ability to achieve what one desires (“I can”) but also the access to genuine alternatives, real choices (“I could have done otherwise”). That is if I perform act ‘X’ under conditions A, B, and C, ‘X’ is a free act for which I could be held responsible only if under those identical conditions I could have performed act ‘Y’ instead of act ‘X’. But, this is what determinism denies. ‘According to this theory, Soft Determinists’ are wrong. Their theory does not generate a genuine concept of freedom, hence it does not generate a legitimate concept of alternatives or responsibility.
Jean – Paul Sartre
Existential Freedom was conceptualized and represented by twentieth century philosopher Jean – Paul Sartre (1905 -1980). Sartre was a humanist who thought that Existential Freedom existed in the moderate sense. In other words Sartre recognized that we are free in only some of our acts, not in all of them which entailed that Determinism might be true despite our experience to the contrary.
What Sartre is saying is that there is no accident in life. One makes a choice based on random alternatives (as provided by the ‘Libertarian Model’). But while in so doing, we have the ability to make our own random decision to choose destiny life ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’. Yet, Sartre recognizes alternative ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ as being part of a ‘Deterministic’ Model, since we are given various options of choice as defined in his ‘being-for-self’ and ‘being-in-itself’. We make or fulfill our own destinies as we are dealt the cards that are given to us in life. In Sartre model the ‘being-for-itself is what we experience of itself. It is equivalent to the consciousness, as in Freud’s “Super Ego” theory. While the ‘being-in-itself is a non-human-reality as it exists prior to human intervention. In other words; “It is what it is, “nothing more can be said”.
The ideologies of ‘Free Will’ and ‘Determinism’ make sense to a certain degree. Each concept can practically stand on its own merit of thought and conclusion (including all their counterparts). It can virtually also stand together as an integrated whole. So what are we to believe? Before we answer this question let us go a step further. While all the views as discussed above seem to offer satisfactory answers to the age old question of Free Will or Determinism, they all overlook one general basic elementary reality; the reality of time. The concept and reality of time indeed time is a reality.
Ronald L. Mallet
We know as individuals that we live in a three dimensional world (width, length, and height). But their is a 4th dimension theoretically speaking. This 4th dimension is called “time”. This 3 dimensional world is governed by time. We can not see, touch, or smell time, yet it is in absolute control. We travel by and through time everyday. We are also in constant restriction because of time. Again, bear with me as we go a step further. While time travel into the future has already been accomplished, time traveling into a given past is still a lurking thought within the field of physics, not yet accomplished; perhaps it never will be. But what if we were to create a time machine and travel back into the past or forward into the future? For example traveling back in time to the year 1912 to prevent the sinking of the Titanic by warning the Captain of the icebergs that lay ahead, convincing him to steer away from the impending doom. Such an action would save 1500 lives. Another scenario presents itself in the prevention of Kennedy’s’ assassination or the extreme opposite of such, a 1938 assassination of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Perhaps even more extreme would be the prevention of the crucifixion of Christ. History and the world in which we know it to be would not exist as it exists today. Perhaps; overall, we would not be having this discussion at all.
But before we get carried away with the notion of travel into the past, we must realize the paradox mentioned above. If time travel into the past was possible, then theoretically I could go back to visit my grandfather or grandmother when they were little kids. What if I accidentally kill them both or even one of them for that matter? They don’t grow up, get married, have my father or mother (depending on which side of my family I accidentally kill), and I don’t get born. So the question is, if I don’t get born, who was it that went back in time and accidentally killed my grandparents? It did not happen, but it did happen, this is called a paradox. Even if I wanted to kill them on purpose, something would taunt my plan. Things will stop me from achieving my purpose. Therefore; perhaps, I really have no freewill at all and everything is predestined. A traveler can go into the future, come back and describe the future for each and every one of us. From birth, to death, our lives will be predestined as immovable and unchangeable as the past.
The Theological Thought
St. Augustine (354 – 430 AD), born in Hippo North Africa, held a similar belief, that all things were predestined and predetermined. According to ‘The Moody Handbook of Theology’, “Because of the fall, man’s only freedom was freedom to sin”, as quoted by St. Augustine (424). This statement by Augustine also confirms his belief in ‘Soft Determinism’ as cited in the definition of ‘Soft Determinism’. Man is incapable of doing right due to ‘The Fall.’ When we do what is considered right, it is only based on a moral concept of precepts handed down by a Creator God in the form of the law.
In his day Augustine had three opponents in particular, they were: the Manicheans, (who fundamentally thought agnostic and dualistic ideologies, stating an opposition between God and matter), the Donatists, who required worthy ministers to administer the sacraments accordingly. Augustine maintained that the unworthiness of ministers did not invalidate the sacraments, since their minister was Christ, and the Pelagians (of which most of Augustine’s rebuttal against their theological ideologies stem from. It is the Pelagian’s position that declares that a person can come to salvation by his or her own efforts apart from God’s grace).
In general, the doctrinal ancient anthropologic belief system of Augustine is as follows: The doctrine as pertaining to “Freewill and the Sovereignty of God…
1. Because of the fall, man is inclined to only do a will of evil. Man was no longer free – doctrine of original sin.
2. The neutrality of freewill was lost in the Garden of Eden.
3. In the fall, all men inherited a sin nature including infants – doctrine of the imputation of sin (Psa 51:5, Rom 5:12).
4. God’s grace is absolutely essential in rescuing man from his state of total depravity.
5. This grace of God operates contrary to the nature of man. Salvation is possible only through God’s grace.
6. In this manner, grace is imparted to sinful man, not because he believes, but because faith itself is a gift of God. Some would argue that if Augustine’s doctrine is correct, then the responsibility for the shape that the world is in belongs to God, not man. However, as mentioned, Augustine’s view was not left unchallenged as demonstrated in the Pelagian Controversy.
In 410 AD a British monk by the name of Pelagius (360 – 420 AD) challenged Augustine’s doctrine of total depravity (which indicates of lack of freewill). Pelagius was quiet and lived a solemn life. He was quite the opposite to Augustine. But, he knew very little of spiritual conflict. Pelagius propounded his doctrine of man and salvation in Rome about 400 AD. Pelagius doctrine is as follows:
1. Man has the ability to choose good or evil. He is born neutral. Thus, a sinless life is possible.
2. Man is not born with original sin.
3. The problem of evil was “wrong education” or “social up-bringing” (Freudian thought as in the ‘Super Ego’).
4. God’s grace, while helpful in overcoming evil, is unnecessary for salvation.
5. Man can choose of his own ability to accept or reject God’s grace for overcoming evil.
6. Salvation is therefore independent of God’s grace.
Pelagius believed that things unfolded according to the foreknowledge of God in conjunction with mans freewill. Thereby insinuating that man has complete ultimate fate in his destiny and that God acts, intervenes, and plays a supporting role in establishing that which He knew would unfold due to mans choice in human affairs.
Furthermore; according to ‘The Moody Handbook of Theology’, “Pelagius believed man was born neutral, without a depraved will and without an inherent tendency toward evil. He believed man had the ability to choose to serve God without any need of God’s grace. Augustine believed Adam’s fall had affected the entire human race so that man was thoroughly corrupt, his will inclined toward evil. Only the intervention of God’s grace could save man; man was not free to choose good. Salvation was not man cooperating with God, but man was entirely dependant on God’s grace for salvation” (shades of Plato, Determinism, and a foreshadow of Calvinism)…Pelagius was ultimately accused of heresy at the Synod of Jerusalem, and Pelagianism was condemned as heresy in 416 AD at the Synods of Carthage at Mileve. The council of Ephesus also condemned Pelagianism in 431 AD. Unfortunately semi-Pelagianism which attempted to follow a mediating position, resulted. Followers of this new mediating theology stressed that both the grace of God and the free will of man were operative in salvation. Mans will was weakened but not fatally injured in the fall. (similar to what many Baptist, Methodists, and freewill advocates say today in their defense of this ideology). Semi-Pelagianism ultimately came to fruition in the Roman Catholic Church” (424 – 425).
Because Pelagius’ view was radical to say the least, Christianity soon found itself in a new controversy, the controversy of Semi-Pelagianism which was anchored by a new supporter, ‘Jacobus Arminius’ (1560-1609) and his constituent opponent, ‘John Calvin’ (1509-1564).
Pope Gregory The Great
In short, Gregory saw Christ as putting away original sin, and also destroying sin itself but, the destruction of sin was only by example, by giving us an example to follow. This amounts to saying that Christ’s work was Incomplete. For the work of Christ must be supplemented by our penances, for it transformed the eternal punishment of original sin into temporary penalties, which must be atoned for in this life, and it acts mainly by way of example.
Along with this came other sacramental offerings of self obedience or penance: Flogation, (self inflicted punishment), asceticism (the renunciation of worldly pleasures), the intercession of Popes, Mary, angels, saints, alms, masses for the dead, and indulgences. Such was the condition of the church which eroded from that of true Augustinian doctrine. It is of little wonder that sooner or later such Roman dogma would be challenged by such reformers as Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli to say the least. However, the central theme of this chapter focuses on freewill and determinism (predestination), upon this therefore, we now turn to Protestant Reformer John Calvin.
After Martin Luther’s Reformation of 1517, Protestant Reformer John Calvin went back and concentrated on Augustine’s original anthropologic system of belief in relation to God’s sovereignty, in which Catholicism nearly destroyed by adding on to it its traditions of thought, rather than upholding Augustine’s original doctrinal intent. Calvin also held similar Aristotelian (philosophy of Aristotle) beliefs in relation to God having foreknowledge, partly because God is the source (arche) of all things, and partly because God alone possesses knowledge in the highest degree.
According to ‘The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions’, “Predestination in particular was never a leading axiom of Calvin’s thought: the heart of his theology was union with Christ through the Spirit, by which a person found peace with God and the beginning of a transformed life. But many of Calvin’s followers (e.g. Theodore, Beza) were quick to establish the divine degree (to eternal life and death) as the principle from which all other ideas were derived, and on this basis elaborated logically rigorous theological systems”.
This new emphasis on predestination was due in part to a need to preserve the distinctive identity of the followers of Calvin over and against the Lutheran wing of the Reformation, and to the resurgence of interest in Aristotelian philosophy. Calvinist theology reached powerful expression in the ‘Helvetic Confession’ (1566) and at the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), the latter expressing the the so-called ‘five points’ of Calvinism: 1 Total depravity, 2 Unconditional election, 3 Limited atonement, 4 Irresistible grace, and 5 Perseverance of the saints” (190). Naturally, there would arise an opponent as in Augustine’s day. The opponent is Jacobus Arminius who held similar Semi-Pelagian doctrine’s.
Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) Dutch theologian, gave his name to the system of theology known as Arminianism. After studying with Beza (one of Calvin’s follower’s), he became minister in Amsterdam Holland. After disputes, he became professor at Leiden, where there were further arguments over predestination, leading to severe divisions, upon which Arminius’s advocates were condemned and ultimately left the Reformed Dutch Church. Arminius believed that God willed that all people be saved, and that it is only because God foresaw the belief or unbelief of individuals that He can be said to have predestined some to salvation, others to damnation. His views is as follows: 1 Christ died for all, 2 God’s saving grace can be resisted, 3 Christians can fall from grace, 4 The Holy Spirit is necessary to help the achievement of what is good, and 5 Persist in holiness, obedience, and faith.
The human brain has three collective features; the Medulla (that which signifies Determinism), the Cerebellum (that which signifies movement based on choice/will, or Soft Determinism), and Cerebrum (that which causes outcome from the cerebellum, such as reading, writing, etc, as a result of freewill to do this or that – Soft Determinism / Existential Freedom).
The sovereignty of God operates within all three chambers…that which He ordained to be so, as in the Medulla or soul/mind of man if you will. But, as we have learned, the soul and mind of man was destroyed due to the ‘fall’ as Scripture and Augustine indicates, or as in the ‘Ego‘, as Freud puts it. It merely exists doing that which it is only now capable of doing, breathing and providing vital bodily functions. However, according to the writings of St. Paul, the Human body was meant to do more than just exist, it was to be a vessel fitted and made to glorify God since all three chambers as a collective whole was created in the image of God (I Thess 5:23). Perhaps this can confirm Paul’s words found in Philippians 4:7-8 in his plea for conformity of the mind (cross ref with Romans 12:1-2), as to grow out of the fall and into Christ – via “progressive sanctification! In the Cerebellum, there are indications that we have what is called Existential Freedom, which gives us the ability to pick up a pencil, read, write, and ask the very questions upon that which we read, as in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch as he met the Apostle Philip (Acts 8:26-39). However, and this is most vital, perhaps the Cerebrum caused an outcome of faith due to God revealing Himself first as indicated in Acts, considering that it was God who directed the evangel Philip to speak with the Ethiopian to begin with. Therefore, perhaps he had the ability to use what I call a restored freewill in conjunction with Sartre’s Existential Freedom. However, it must be pointed out, that it would appear, what God is restoring is the freedom that was lost in the fall.
In the midst of this fall we are told to reason with the Lord as Isaiah exhorts us to do (Isa 1:18) but how can we, if we are so desperately wicked? Before, I answer that question, let us look at, what I call ‘The 5 R’s’. According to modern day Apologist Norman Geisler, they are as follows 1. Reason over Revelation, 2. Revelation over Reason, 3. Revelation only, 4. Reason only, and 5. Revelation and Reason (An Introduction to Philosophy, pg 64). To me, it would appear that a revealing God revealed Himself through Revelation as (Gen 12:1-3, Ex 3:1-18, I Sam 3:21, Isa 40:5, Matt 11:25-27, 16:17, 20:16, Jn 1:12-13, 12:32, Acts 9:1-16, II Cor 2:10-11, Eph 3:1-3, II Thess 2:13-14, James 3:17) indicates, otherwise we would have no concept or idea of an eternal being because no man has seen God at anytime, except the mind (Logos), the very person of God that became flesh! Thus producing in an individual, ‘Revelation over Reason’, thereby producing what is called ‘faith’ which then becomes the Revelation and Reason. Let us remember; According to the scriptures, it was God who first created man and walked and spoke with him. It was God who first spoke to Noah. It was God who first spoke to Abraham. It was God who first spoke to Moses, and it was God who first spoke to the prophets. Thereby, revealing Himself for the salvation of ALL MEN, and to the glorification of His sovereignty.
It is God choosing to save man. Truly a reason to believe (Jn 3:16-17, 36)! Thus, resulting in PERFECTION! If one were to accept Reason only or Reason over Revelation, then that would be implying a system of Epistemology (a philosophical viewpoint that concerns itself with the nature and scope of knowledge. What does it mean to know the truth and what sort of things go beyond the evidence of our senses?). This type of reasoning is dependent upon our opinion and knowledge. If freewill is reason, then our salvation, or at the very least, our aspirations’ of perfection from a theological standpoint is invalid due to our fallible wisdom. And since epistemology seeks the truth through reason (a questionable and fallible attribute of man), then truth can never be discovered unless it is revealed to us by the epitome of all truth, ‘Jesus Christ’. Therefore, Revelation must reveal itself first to us. It is God choosing us to faith (which is not seen), and repentance through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. To the unbeliever it is a faith built and produced upon ideologies. But to the believer, it is a faith that is seen by knowing that it exists in our minds, much like a thought that exists, but is never truly seen unless the thought is acted out!
What then becomes of the unbeliever? Did God chose not the unveil Himself to them as Calvin’s followers (e.g. Beza) insinuate? God forbid! All will eventually be saved (I Tim 4:10). As it is written “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” What is revealed in scripture is a choosing of the body of Christ. We are the first fruits (the Church) of His death. But all shall be made alive, every man in his own order” (I Cor 15:21-23). Such is the sovereignty of God’s personal election of all Mankind not just a few. From the sheep to the goat…to wheat and tares…each has its own individual preordained life, that are given alternatives to chose many paths (Existential Freedom) to the epitome of truth (Jn 14:6 – Jesus Christ). It is rather an election from sin and imperfection to complete holiness and union with Christ, as Calvin indicates in his ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’, where sin and death are completely destroyed! God draws all…why draw all, if He does not intend to save all? He calls many, but He elects a few by choice to be partakers of the harvest that is to come! Therefore, Theological Determinism and Existential Freedom are adjacent to one another in this life time.
As for myself, I favor the teachings of Ultimate Reconciliation. Although traditional Calvinism & Ultimate Reconciliation can seemingly clash to a certain degree, I myself don’t consider that possible if one was to understand the two views properly. I think Karl Barth (1886 – 1968) came close to accomplishing that…though, by careful study, I may not agree as to the means of which he attained his conclusions, but I do understand what he was trying to convey. Nevertheless, and most importantly, it must be pointed out that a true Christian bears good fruit & upholds the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith…everything else is debatable or of scholastic differences.
I can also agree with Jacobus Arminius in point number one – that Christ died for ALL men. Yet on the same token chooses to have at His disposal vessels of honor and dishonor to bring about His ultimate will (Rom 9:21)! This should not be of no surprise to the reader, God always had a people chosen and set apart for Him. Men that were called and separated onto God (I Pet 2:9). Someone may argue this point by claiming, “if the idea of a God were perfection, as we have demonstrated, then why not reveal Himself as part of that perfect will to ALL nations, not just the Israelites? Well, the answer to that question is rather complex (see my Statement of Faith – Article 10 and the category “The Theological Thought”). Man seeks to rejoin with his Creator but cannot, unless that Creator reveals Himself first. And that He did in Jesus Christ. We all seek the same goal, the ‘Kingdom of God’ through the eternal Logos – Jesus Christ, the true Messiah. The Almighty One! Let this be our motto.