Friday, May 20, 2005

Calvinist Robots

As Christians living in this world persevering to the end because of the joy set before us, we encounter many questions in our own faith. One big question is this:

"If God forordained and predestined everything for everyone, then are we not all just fulfilling a program already determined by God? Are we indeed mindless robots marching on towards glory or condemnation, depending on our programming?"

Are we robots? No. The Bible say we are clay; molded by God, just as God desired. (Romans 9)

"Okay," you say to yourself, "How does clay differ from robots in this sense?" First of all, we have minds which are cabable of thinking, processing, evaluating, and making decisions. This does not mean that we have no prior inclination or that we are free of any effects of influence. To get a better commentary than I can provide go to A Form of Sound Words.

The question I posed was quoted from Rand @ A Form of Sound Words. He gives quite a biblical post on the topic.


Frank Martens said...

So what's the question? It seems that it was answered in the post.

-Frank Martens

Julianne said...

Hi Frank,

The question basically comes down to, do humans have a free will or are we free agents?

Thank you. Sometimes, I don't think I make myself clear enough.

God bless,


Daniel said...

Did Adam have free will? Or was he just a free agent?

Did God predetermine that Adam sinned in the garden? If He did, isn't He the author of sin, and not Adam? This notion seems blasphemous.

In what sense would Adam be actually free, if in fact God degreed that Adam would necessarily sin? Someone might still insist that God predetermined Adam's decisions and yet Adam's decisions were free; however, this does not seem coherent. It's hardly a robust definition of freedom of any sort.

Daniel said...

Let me add to that. In order to have a robust definition of human freedom, we allow for the possibility of contingencies. If you believe that Adam had free will, how do you allow room for contingencies. In other words, could of Adam actually obeyed God by not eating of the forbidden fruit? Or was it necessarily that Adam disobeyed God?

Julianne said...

Hi Daniel,

You bring up some good points. You ask a lot of questions (which I bet you have the answers). Let me tackle this by subject.

God: "Did he predetermine..." Yes. This takes no guessing on my part for Scripture is very clear that all that happens was planned from before the foundations of the earth. The Bible also tells us that humankind is responsible for their actions, and will be judged accordingly. We could get into all the primary and secondary causes and such, but the time I can spend on here is limited.

Adam: Did he have free will? It seems that he had the ability to obey God and/or disobey God (this is what theologians call "arbitrium"). Now, we know he acted in disobedience which was the first sin. The effects of that first sin was "original sin, " wherein the rest of humankind are all born dead spiritually. So, in Adam's case, does having the ability to obey/disobey God constitute as "free will?" For this you have to go back to the definitions of "free will" and "free agent."

I believe the case rests on how we define these terms. Free will is acknowledging that we can come to Christ without prior inclination (God changing our heart), whereas free agancy is acknowledging that we are creatures created differently than the rest of creation, this namely being, we have thoughts, reasoning, logic, etc. and that we do not desire Christ until the change has taken place in our heart.

I am focusing more on the rest of humankind rather than Adam. First, because God has revealed clearly in Scripture of how that plays out. Second, I just don't fully understand the paradox that happens with God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.

Good thoughts, Daniel.

Frank Martens said...

It's ment to be a paradox :)

It's like Piper says, you can't just logically come to some conclusion about this. Scripture shows that Man has a choice AND God chooses/predestines. I highly recommend Piper's TULIP CD's


Daniel said...


Before appealing to mysteries and paradoxes, shouldn't we try to find a rational explanation? It seems like a cop out to me. We shouldn't just try to dodge the question. I have yet to hear a good explanation of the problem of evil from a Calvinist perspective.

I highly recommend William Lane Craig's "The Only Wise God." He gives a better explanation than simply ignoring the question.

Julianne said...

Hi Frank,

You wrote:
"Scripture shows that Man has a choice AND God chooses/predestines."

Maybe I'm being picky (which is not unbiblical), but Scripture does say to choose this day whom you will serve, however, we understand from Scripture that we can't receive God's promise by choosing it or working hard for it. Therefore, we must conclude that there is a choice to be made, but our making it does not depend on our will and abilities, it depends on God's sovereign election.



Righteous Sinner said...


One very good Calvinistic (Biblical) explaination for the problem of evil is Gordon Clark's book "God and Evil". You might also look at Jay Adam's book "Grand Demonstration". Mostly I'd recommend Clark because he takes the time to define the terms. Much of the back and forth can be avoided if one takes the time to define the words we use. R.C. Sproul Jr. also has a good chapter on this in his book "Almighty Over All". I'm sure this is just scratching the surface of the many good answers given by Calvinists over the years. Berkhof may be another.

MegLogan said...

How would the Isaiah 45:7 play in here?

"I form light and create darkness, I make WEAL and create WOE, I the Lord do all these things"


Julianne said...

Hi Meg,

That is just another verse which declares God's sovereignty. Praise the Lord!

Thanks for stopping by.