Friday, July 24, 2009

No Will, or Enslaved Will?

One thing I've noticed from different conversations and interactions with Arminians is that many of them seem to think that if humans have "a will" at all then it must be a free will. They say, "If we don't have free will then we're robots."

But there's something terribly wrong with that conclusion. Robots don't have any will at all. The very fact that "will" is modified by the adjective "free" should communicate to our English-speaking minds that our wills can be free and our wills can be enslaved.

So the opposite of free will is not "no will"; it's an enslaved will (John 8:34; Rom 6:6, 6:16-20, 8:7-8). Everyone makes choices. But they can only make choices in accordance with their nature. In humanity's case, that nature is a sin, death, and child-of-wrath nature (Eph 2:1-3).

The unregenerate sinner has a will (i.e., a moral inclination to this or that). But his will is enslaved to sin until freed (or changed) by the sovereign grace of God (Eph 2:4-5; John 1:13; Jas 1:18).

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the power of the air,
of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,
indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
- Ephesians 2:1-3 -

Jesus answered them,
"Truly, truly, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin."

- John 8:34 -

...children of God, who were born,
not of blood
nor of the will of the flesh
nor of the will of man,
but of God.

- John 1:13 -

In the exercise of His will
brought us forth by the word of truth,
so that we would be a kind of
first fruits among His creatures.
- James 1:18 -


olan strickland said...

Yeah, but Mike - if you take away the Arminian's free will and replace it with an enslaved will then to him or her it is no will because he or she would not have the will to seek or choose God.

That would totally destroy Arminian doctrine because then total depravity would be established which would also establish that the salvation of sinners is based soley on unconditional election - that we are saved without any cause whatsoever in us - not even that God saw that we would choose Him so He chose us.

Mike Riccardi said...


To your second paragraph, I respond: Yup.

To the first about "to him it is no will..."

I recognize the tongue-in-cheekness of your comment, and appreciate it very much, but I think I can wring out a point from that idea, even though I know you already agree.

Even if "to him it is no will" because it is no capacity to choose God, it's important that we stress that it is still a will, but an enslaved will. It's important for Arminians (and Calvinists, and the unsaved, for that matter) to see that we do have a will before salvation, but that it is actively and consistently hostile to God. That takes all manner of neutrality out of the equation, and establishes God's perfect right to cast into hell, and save only whom He chooses out of the freedom of His will.

The point is, we can't concede that it is "no will" even if it is no will toward God, because it ignores the fact that their "no will toward God" is actually a hostile, enemy-quality, hatred toward God.

olan strickland said...

Amen Mike! I wouldn't allow for a minute the erroneous idea that if man doesn't have free will that he has no will.

The problem for the Arminian is that he believes God to be unjust for condemning if man doesn't have free will and the capacity to either choose salvation or condemnation. Also the Arminian believes God to be unjust for choosing to save some but not all if man's will is enslaved, forgetting that man's enslaved will is actively and consistently hostile to God...and establishes God's perfect right to cast into hell, and save only whom He chooses out of the freedom of His will.