Compatibilism – Sounds Nicer Than Determinism

Someone stated on a Facebook forum, “Anyone who believes that man’s will is entirely free, and that he can be saved by it, does not believe the fall.” He went on, “God is in control of our thoughts, our words, and our deeds, without making us robots or puppets! We are responsible for all of it!” Lots of verses were provided to justify his beliefs. However, if anything, I found his supply of verses justifying his pronouncements to be woefully lacking. And so, perhaps against better judgement. I responded:

I suspect our respective doctrines are altogether different – especially with respect to such things as Total Depravity, Unconditional election and Limited Atonement. Our doctrines are obviously based on our respective understandings from the Bible. To which, it would seem as though God has taught you things which are significantly different from what he’s taught me. Now, why would he do that? Unless maybe, just maybe, the tenants of determinism within Calvinism are fraught with error. And on that point, I can’t imagine you disagreeing with John Calvin who has written in his Institutes of Religion:

  • The counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.
  • Men do nothing [except] at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what [God] has previously decreed [and] brings to pass by [God’s own] secret direction.
  • The hand of God rules the interior affections no less than it superintends external actions. God [works] in [people’s] hearts to make them will before they [act].

So, apparently God wants you to accept Calvinism. On the other hand, it would seem as though God wants me to reject Calvinism. Go figure. I can only conclude that our differences of opinion likely push us toward a difference as to the nature and character of God. Your statement that you believe God to be in control and yet we are responsible is little more than a nice way to preface Calvinism’s deterministic doctrine which I’m convinced is unfounded and completely illogical. I’m surprised that you didn’t toss out Prov 16:33 in making your point – i.e. God controls the dice in a board game. Suffice it to say that I could walk through each verse provided and show how the verse is not saying what you believe it to be. As in Prov 1:4, – these are parallel thoughts; man is oriented toward wickedness. God is oriented to holiness. Man wants to go one way and God wishes to direct into holiness. Yet man fully has the capability to deviate from that which God desires. And, of course, man will fully have to deal with the ultimate ramifications and consequences of his actions. The Calvinistic concept of compatibilism utterly fails to delineate the inherent disconnect that if God is controlling all thoughts, words and deed, then God is the source and creator of evil. I believe a more scripturally applicable concept would be an understanding wherein God can use all things and work all things together for good i.e. Rom 8:28. Just a thought. Just my $0.02 worth.

Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who recently entered the "Buick stage" of life given my present eligibility for senior discounts. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

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