Arminianism and Calvinism: Free will or Predestined? Question #18
Question: What are your thoughts on Arminianism and Calvinism?
Thank you Trevor for your questions that are relevantly inquisitive.
I hold to neither and I find that find that both are flawed. Lets clarify the two by addressing a few areas that are relevant to the conversation. For example, God’s foreknowledge and our free will is on the line here. Lets say God knows that tomorrow I will eat pizza for lunch. Well God can’t be wrong so it would appear that whether I want to or not, I HAVE to eat pizza tomorrow because God knows this and thus I have no free choice in the matter because God can’t be wrong…right? A Calvinist would say yes. God knows the future because He has already predestined everything to happen and that’s why He knows it. Well on this view there can essentially be no free will if it is all predestined and determined. The arminian would say that no we have complete free will and the only reason God knows the future is because He can “see” what happens and then decrees or “predestines” what He knows would happen. Well on that view, predestination seems quite pointless because its going to happen anyway whether or not God decrees or approves it. Thus both are flawed in that they give up or seem to compromise either God’s power to decree something or our free will. If you give up decreeing a thing then God seems to have no control over a matter and if you give up our free will then it is God who sends people to hell or is the of evil. Are we stuck in a theological paradox? No. Unfortunately molinism is not a widely known view and I’m not quite sure why. This is the view that God not only knows the future but also has knowledge of every possible, contingent counterfactual of every event in which a person is placed in. What does that mean? For example, God knows if I were rich, then I would buy an expensive car. Its an “if, then” statement. So if I’m not rich, I won’t buy an expensive car. If I am, I will buy an expensive car. The truth value of both statements depend on the “if” and is related to my free choice even if God knows it. Why is this relevant? Because God would know what it takes to “woo” a person or influence a person to FREELY make a certain decision. Now note this is still a free choice, and yet God would still know what circumstances it would take for you to make that choice. So
lets say there are 2 doors in front of me, door A and door B and God wants me to go through A and not B. So what does He do? He places door A with a plate of tacobell and door B with a plate of expensive steak. You know which door I would walk through? The tacobell door “A” and God knows that because He knows that I don’t care much for steak and I absolutely love tacobell. Did God know which door I would choose? Yes. Was my free will effected? No. Was it God’s desire for me to walk through A? Yes. Could I have chosen not to? Yes. But was it still my free choice? Absolutely. Thus my free will is intact and God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge still stands without either being compromised. Much like offering my dog, Bella a treat, I know she will take it but that in no way means I made her take it. My foreknowledge of it has no effect on it.
Molinism has incredible theological implications and touches so many other areas of theological inquiry from the problem of evil, to salvation, prophecy, and basically anything else to do with free will and purpose. This has kept me sane at night knowing that all my mistakes, prophetic promises, future and decisions have already been accounted for by God prior to being formed in my mothers womb. All this knowledge and He still chose to create me and woo me to salvation. This hardly even scratches the surface of these issues but I at least hope to point you in the right direction and give you the proper perspective. William Lane Craig is a well known proponent of this view and I would highly recommend any of his work on these views.
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