Debate on Calvinistic Compatibilism Part 9: Derek Responds


I think we are getting down to the root issue here. If I “hear” you correctly, you are saying that you fundamentally disagree with the premise of Christian compatibilism (which is that God’s pre-determination of everything is compatible with [and not contradictory to] genuine human freedom), and you do not even think it remotely possible that it could be true.

That last part presents a very strong claim of assurance in how divine sovereignty and human choices can relate to one another. You are not simply saying they DO NOT relate a compatibilistic way; you seem to be making the claim that they CAN NOT relate this way. The alternative would seem to be a view of divine sovereignty that does not involve pre-determination of everything. Again, I wonder how you distinguish between those events that are pre-determined and those that aren’t?

Moving along, I find it fascinating that any thinking person would not consider the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human choices to be a mystery. In saying this, I should be careful to define my terms. By “mystery,” I mean an item or area of knowledge which God has not revealed to us explicitly through some means (e.g., the Bible, creation, etc.).

I should also reiterate my definition of “compatibilism,” as mentioned above. It is simply the belief that divine pre-determination of everything does not conflict with genuine human freedom of choice. Jonathan Edwards affirmed this, but also went much further by actually proposing a theory of how it all works. I am not doing that (at least not right now). Although I admire Edwards’ attempt, I don’t view the results as something “revealed by God,” and thus I cannot claim the matter is no longer mysterious to me simply because someone has come up with what they think is a great explanation. Someone else may come up with a better one. Even so, until God reveals this, it remains an area of uncertainty for compatibilistic Christians who regard the Bible as their highest epistemological authority.

I am honestly amazed that anyone can have so strong an assurance in ruling out the mere possibility (that God ccouldpossibly establish His sovereignty and our choices in a compatibilistic way) that they would even cast accusations of “irrationalism” at those who do affirm it.

In short, I would like to see someone here (or anywhere) Biblically and logically demonstrate to me that it is impossiblefor God to use compatibilism (as I have defined it–which, by the way, is a standard definition) in His administration of the universe. In essence, can you show me that the concept of God’s pre-determination of everything and the concept of human freedom are genuinely contradictory?

I am not asking whether they strike you as contradictory, if they feel contradictory, if they appear to be contradictory, etc. (or even if you find the idea to be dangerous from a practical standpoint). I am only asking for Biblical and logical proof that they ARE contradictory.

The person who tries to do this faces a very significant problem: GOD is included in the equation! We are discussing a partly unrevealed relationship of metaphysical concepts which involve God’s management of His creation, the relationships of time and eternity, God and humanity (not to mention angels/demons and other entities we may not even know about), choice and freedom, responsibility and volition, etc.

My contention is that the best Biblical and logical sense that can be made of the situation (taking all of the Biblical data and our own experiences into account) is that God mysteriously works (and remember, by “mysterious” I mean something He hasn’t explicitly revealed to us) in such a way that human freedom exists in harmony with divine pre-determination.

I also believe that one can make a much stronger Biblical argument for compatibilism than for incompatibilism. But that is part of the reason I am a compatibilist.

One additional note: to be clear, when I say a million “rational” arguments won’t convince me otherwise, I am referring to arguments that are purely based on human logic, and thus appear to be “rational,” yet do not take Biblical revelation into account. I tend to think that all of my Arminian brothers will agree heartily with me on this point.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful comments and interactions.


About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I started my blog as an unmarried man who was blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. As of 2022, I am a happily married man to an amazing missionary wife serving together on the mission field. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an apathetic church.
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