In 1859 Charles Spurgeon noted in a sermon, “I have been struck lately, in reading works by some writers who belong to the Romish Church, with the marvelous love which they have towards the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Bible teaches forgiveness. It teaches that God sent his only and beloved Son to satisfy the just penalty required of us due to our sin. Using biblical forgiveness as an analogy for student loan forgiveness also requires an explanation for how forgiven loans will satisfy the requirements of the loan (i.e. who foots the bills). [Read more…] about Four Thoughts on Student Loan Forgiveness and the Bible
The world of the Bible feels far from us. The psalmist claims that the blessed person “meditates day and night” on God’s Torah (Ps 1:2). Paul tells us that growing in the Christian life means not just doing something but standing there, “beholding the glory of the Lord” and so “being transformed” (2 Cor 3:18).
The one thing David yearns for is “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps 27:4). David even looks to the work of the Creator to contemplate his glory: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The drive to know God and his works, wait and not act, to contemplate spans the Scriptures and is everywhere present in the ancient world.
But not so for us. We live in an activist age, one characterized by escaping thought into action, fleeing thorny problems into political solutions, running from theology to a more practical faith. [Read more…] about Living in an Activist age: Escaping Thought by Turning to Action
In Christ “all things hold together,” says Paul (Col 1:17). In other words, God “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3). More specifically, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Calvinists are some of the best in class at affirming free will. Granted, things went awry around 1800. But I mean before that. Everyone affirmed free will and free choice. Even Luther in his characteristically bombastic way denied free choice when it comes to matters of salvation, not free choice in civil, moral, mundane matters.
But I am thinking more of the mainline reformed tradition. For example, Peter Vermigli (1499–1562) wrote, ““God foreknows everything and our freedom of will is retained” (Common Places 2.33).” Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) in his 1562 Helvetic Confession wrote, “no one denies that in external things both the regenerate and the unregenerate enjoy free will” (Ch 9).
No one denies that. That’s right. Only the most cage-staged Calvinist in his college dorm room would be silly enough to proclaim, “There is no free will!”
Everyone agrees that natural necessities limit freedom: disease, death, and so on. And after the Fall, we cannot please God with our works since sin is everywhere. “And without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6). So we are not free to do whatever we want—I cannot fly even if I choose to do so.
But we still have genuine freedom: I can choose red or blue or white or green. I can do one thing, but I might have done otherwise. I am not constrained by any external thing but my mind judges and my will chooses.
A Calvinist affirms all this. Yes, some like to nuance things in various ways. Calvin himself was not very clear on how to put the pieces together (click here to learn more). His contemporary Peter Vermigli was though. I wrote an article on him and free choice, which you can read by clicking here.
Later reformed theologians like William Perkins really found the language to speak about human freedom and divine freedom concurring. (To learn more about Perkins’s view, click here). And it is this idea of concurrence that makes Calvinists—or better Reformed Theologians—thinkers really skilled at affirming free will.
If God knows everything, you basically have five types of explanations when it comes to free choice in saving faith:
1. God sees into the future and knows your choice. So his decree to create includes your choice. (Arminian)
2. God has middle knowledge, knows all possible worlds, and selects the one that both guarantees creaturely freedom and occurs just as God wills. (Molinist)
3. God causes everything. He is the pool cue. We are the billiard balls. (Determinist)
4. God ordains genuinely free acts since he, as First Cause, acts in a way that transcends the physical ordering of things. He is first cause to our free choices, not in time nor in physical order, but in a way that only can make sense to God before whom all things are present in his timeless eternal existence. (Early Reformed / Reformed Orthodox)
5. God ordains all things, but he does so in a way that is compatible with human free choice. So God determines all, yet does so such that humans experience genuine freedom (compatibilism).