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Rhyfelwr
May 3rd 2009, 11:00 PM
We all know the classic free will v determinism, Calvinism v Arminianism debate. Despite the issues prominence since the Reformation, us Christians have never been able to come to any sort of conclusion on the matter, and it is probably the most divisive issue in Christendom today.

But what if the whole debate is meaningless? I came across the idea of Stoicism recently, and if you replace the Stoics notion of logos/nature with God/Godliness, you pretty much have my position on this controversial issue. Below is an extract from Wikipedia:


The ancient Stoics are often misunderstood because the terms they used pertained to different concepts in the past than they do today. The word 'stoic' has come to mean 'unemotional' or indifferent to pain, because Stoic ethics taught freedom from 'passion' by following 'reason.' The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions, rather they sought to transform them by a resolute 'askēsis' which enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm [22]. Logic, reflection, and concentration were the methods of such self-discipline.

Borrowing from the Cynics, the foundation of Stoic ethics is that good lies in the state of the soul itself; in wisdom and self-control. Stoic ethics stressed the rule: "Follow where reason leads." One must therefore strive to be free of the passions, bearing in mind that the ancient meaning of 'passion' was "anguish" or "suffering",[23] that is, "passively" reacting to external events — somewhat different from the modern use of the word. A distinction was made between pathos (plural pathe) which is normally translated as "passion", propathos or instinctive reaction (e.g. turning pale and trembling when confronted by physical danger) and eupathos, which is the mark of the Stoic sage (sophos). The eupatheia are feelings resulting from correct judgment in the same way as the passions result from incorrect judgment.

The idea was to be free of suffering through apatheia (Greek: ἀπάθεια) or peace of mind (literally,'without passion)'[24], where peace of mind was understood in the ancient sense — being objective or having "clear judgment" and the maintenance of equanimity in the face of life's highs and lows.

For the Stoics, 'reason' meant not only using logic, but also understanding the processes of nature — the logos, or universal reason, inherent in all things. Living according to reason and virtue, they held, is to live in harmony with the divine order of the universe, in recognition of the common reason and essential value of all people. The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy are wisdom (Sophia), courage (Andreia), justice (Dikaiosyne), and temperance (Sophrosyne), a classification derived from the teachings of Plato.

Following Socrates, the Stoics held that unhappiness and evil are the results of ignorance. If someone is unkind, it is because they are unaware of their own universal reason. Likewise, if they are unhappy, it is because they have forgotten how nature actually functions. The solution to evil and unhappiness then, is the practice of Stoic philosophy — to examine one's own judgments and behaviour and determine where they have diverged from the universal reason of nature.

By becoming a Christian, you do not become God's puppet, but at the same time neither do you have your own individual free will. You become one with God's will, part of it. Of course, it's not like He is not complete without you, but you still fit in perfectly nonetheless.

To be absent from God is to be ignorant of Him, or of the logos as the Stoics would say. The only way to cure ignorance is through education, and this cannot come from the ignorant person himself, but from the logos/God, which is the understanding.

Now that last part sounded Calvinistic, and I am indeed a Calvinist. But if you think about it, under such a system there is no individual free will, but every individual is instead part of a greater conscience (be it the logos or God's understanding), or if not a lack of it.

As John the Baptist said, "as Christ in me grows stronger, so I become weaker", or something along those lines, can't find the passage. The point being that it's not about individual free will, its about becoming one with God.

Any thoughts on this? :hmm:

manichunter
May 3rd 2009, 11:04 PM
Yes it is meaningless, unless our will is voluntarily submitted to the Father's will by our own volution.

Mankind has a will, but the results are the same. There is a way that always seems right to man, but the end is always destruction.

I would rather keep surrendered my will as Jesus taught us to do. My will keeps getting me in trouble.

Josie
May 3rd 2009, 11:42 PM
We all have wills, but even those are not free there is a cause behind every move we make.
If we had freewill we could choose to be saved or not to be on our own.
No one can come unless they are called.
Jesus had a will but he put his fathers will above his.

Bandit
May 3rd 2009, 11:50 PM
...
To be absent from God is to be ignorant of Him, or of the logos as the Stoics would say. The only way to cure ignorance is through education, and this cannot come from the ignorant person himself, but from the logos/God, which is the understanding.

Now that last part sounded Calvinistic, and I am indeed a Calvinist. But if you think about it, under such a system there is no individual free will...

Any thoughts on this? :hmm:


In Proverbs it says,

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." [Proverbs 1:7]

Notice that it says that fools despise wisdom and instruction, not that God never attempted to give either. (Note that one cannot despise instruction unless it was offered.)

Also Proverbs says,

"Wisdom calls aloud... She cries out... Turn at my reproof...
Because I have called out and you refused...
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD... Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own doing...
But whoever listens to me..." [from Proverbs 1]

It seem the biblical perspective is that God calls out, but some choose to reject God's call while others listen to it. How, from this passage, can anyone say that man has no moral volition? Some chose one way while others chose the other. God does not say that He never called them; He does not point out any difference in the call; nor does He say they can't choose; He says that they (those who reject him) chose to reject His reproof while others accept it. Would you claim that His reproof was not genuine to some, while it was genuine to others?

It would seem that free-will is far from dead.

Josie
May 4th 2009, 12:19 AM
Peter thought he had freewill when he told Jesus he would not deny him but Jesus said before the cock crows three times you will deny me.
Peter denied Jesus out of fear, he didn't want too deny Jesus and believed he wouldn't, yet the cause being fear he denied Jesus.

Butch5
May 4th 2009, 12:24 AM
We all know the classic free will v determinism, Calvinism v Arminianism debate. Despite the issues prominence since the Reformation, us Christians have never been able to come to any sort of conclusion on the matter, and it is probably the most divisive issue in Christendom today.

But what if the whole debate is meaningless? I came across the idea of Stoicism recently, and if you replace the Stoics notion of logos/nature with God/Godliness, you pretty much have my position on this controversial issue. Below is an extract from Wikipedia:



By becoming a Christian, you do not become God's puppet, but at the same time neither do you have your own individual free will. You become one with God's will, part of it. Of course, it's not like He is not complete without you, but you still fit in perfectly nonetheless.

To be absent from God is to be ignorant of Him, or of the logos as the Stoics would say. The only way to cure ignorance is through education, and this cannot come from the ignorant person himself, but from the logos/God, which is the understanding.

Now that last part sounded Calvinistic, and I am indeed a Calvinist. But if you think about it, under such a system there is no individual free will, but every individual is instead part of a greater conscience (be it the logos or God's understanding), or if not a lack of it.

As John the Baptist said, "as Christ in me grows stronger, so I become weaker", or something along those lines, can't find the passage. The point being that it's not about individual free will, its about becoming one with God.

Any thoughts on this? :hmm:

We have free will, if you study the early church the free will, determinism debate will be settled.

Athanasius
May 4th 2009, 12:31 AM
'Free will' must be careful defined and its context properly understood, needless to say, however, we 'have free will'.

Watchmen
May 4th 2009, 02:07 AM
We all have wills, but even those are not free there is a cause behind every move we make.
If we had freewill we could choose to be saved or not to be on our own.
No one can come unless they are called.
Jesus had a will but he put his fathers will above his.We are al called, and we do have a choice to heed or reject the call. to be saved or not to be, this is our choice. The Bible makes it clear that it is God's ''will'' that we all be saved. So if all men yielded to God's will as Jesus did then we all would be saved, but we know this is not the case because some choose death rather than choosing life.

Watchmen
May 4th 2009, 02:08 AM
Peter thought he had freewill when he told Jesus he would not deny him but Jesus said before the cock crows three times you will deny me.
Peter denied Jesus out of fear, he didn't want too deny Jesus and believed he wouldn't, yet the cause being fear he denied Jesus.It was still his choice to deny Him. He was not under any hypnotic spell to force prophesy to be fulfilled.

Watchmen
May 4th 2009, 02:10 AM
We all know the classic free will v determinism, Calvinism v Arminianism debate. Despite the issues prominence since the Reformation, us Christians have never been able to come to any sort of conclusion on the matter, and it is probably the most divisive issue in Christendom today.

But what if the whole debate is meaningless?No it is not meaningless. God wants us to know our choice (life or death). However we must first realize that we have a choice.

Josie
May 4th 2009, 02:17 AM
It was still his choice to deny Him. He was not under any hypnotic spell to force prophesy to be fulfilled.
Choices and freewill is different, and he didn't want to deny Jesus so where was the choice?

Slug1
May 4th 2009, 02:19 AM
This is how I feel... My freewill was in effect when deciding to put faith in God or not to put faith in God. I decided under my own freewill to put faith in God.

At that moment I was His and I had no more freewill. I had two choices to follow God's will now. They are to be obedient or to be disobedient.

If I'm obedient to the will of God I reap the blessings that go with being obedient. This does involve stepping out in faith when God makes His will known to me and I think :o WHAT!!!!

If I'm disobedient and don't do it OR do it my way, not the way God wants... then I reap the consequences that go along with not doing what God's will is.

Watchmen
May 4th 2009, 02:22 AM
Choices and freewill is different, and he didn't want to deny Jesus so where was the choice?Are you being serious? He could have chosen not to deny Him. I have done things I did not want to because of fear just like Peter, and I have also stood up and done the right thing inspite of my fears, either case is a choice that I had to make for my self. To say there was not choice is simply ridiculous.

Josie
May 4th 2009, 02:28 AM
Are you being serious? He could have chosen not to deny Him. I have done things I did not want to because of fear just like Peter, and I have also stood up and done the right thing inspite of my fears, either case is a choice that I had to make for my self. To say there was not choice is simply ridiculous.

As you can see I do not believe we have freewill.

Athanasius
May 4th 2009, 02:28 AM
As you can see I do not believe we have freewill.

How do you explain events such as your participating in this discussion, or perhaps Hitlers genocide of Jews, homosexuals, etc.?

Josie
May 4th 2009, 02:45 AM
How do you explain events such as your participating in this discussion, or perhaps Hitlers genocide of Jews, homosexuals, etc.?

What I am saying is everything is causes by a circumstance, nothing is without a cause, so that is not freewill.
Freewill freewilly the only will that matters is our Fathers will. :)

Athanasius
May 4th 2009, 02:47 AM
What I am saying is everything is causes by a circumstance, nothing is without a cause, so that is not freewill.
Freewill freewilly the only will that matters is our Fathers will. :)

That's actually quite close to a proper definition of free will, however with that said it's still free will. I'm influenced by circumstances, environment, etc., though with those influences I still have the choice to act (within those circumstances). I might only be presented within these circumstances choices 'A,' 'B,' and 'C,' and that's fine, it's still my free will to make the choice.

So then, how does that answer my question about Hitler or your engaging in this discussion?

Rhyfelwr
May 4th 2009, 11:40 AM
Well I meant maybe we don't have an individual free will, but are part of a greater will, and so the old "do I have free will?" debate was pointless.

As for Hitler, the things he did were prophecied in the OT so maybe his actions were inevitable.

Athanasius
May 4th 2009, 01:38 PM
Well I meant maybe we don't have an individual free will, but are part of a greater will, and so the old "do I have free will?" debate was pointless.

As for Hitler, the things he did were prophecied in the OT so maybe his actions were inevitable.

We have individual free will, however, if we're living the Christian life as we're supposed to be that free will is supplanted (freely) by 'thy will be done'. As for Hitler, I wasn't aware his actions were prophecied in the Old Testament:rolleyes: If his actions were inevitable, shall I blame God? Is this what you're suggesting?

apothanein kerdos
May 4th 2009, 01:48 PM
Well I meant maybe we don't have an individual free will, but are part of a greater will, and so the old "do I have free will?" debate was pointless.

As for Hitler, the things he did were prophecied in the OT so maybe his actions were inevitable.
That's not Calvinistic - that's pantheistic.

To say we're part of a "greater will" is so Hegelian that I had to double check and make sure he's dead and wasn't instead posting here on Bible forums. :)

We're not a part of God's conscious or conscience; that's the problem. For one, we're finite so we could never be a part of God's consciousness or His conscience. Secondly, we're fallen, hence the separation.

Though we are to become like-minded with Christ, this doesn't mean we partake in His thoughts. To do so would mean that we share in the essence of God, which is pantheism.

As for if the debate is worthless or not - it can be. The debate over free will, specifically libertine free will, has major ramifications on theodicy and the creation narrative. Both of these are affected by if we have significant free will or not.

Finally, I guess I just don't understand most Calvinists. Calvin himself would stand aghast at how many Calvinists apply his teaching on soteriology to every aspect of life. He taught we needed to be chosen because in our fallen state we would constantly rebel against God. He didn't teach that every aspect of our lives was predetermined.

apothanein kerdos
May 4th 2009, 01:53 PM
What I am saying is everything is causes by a circumstance, nothing is without a cause, so that is not freewill.
Freewill freewilly the only will that matters is our Fathers will. :)


That's actually part of a definition of free will. Stealing this from one of my friends who has put far more study into this than myself:


Before I proceed, I’d like to emphasize the reason why I think libertarian-free will is so important. It comes down to this: God holds us responsible for our actions. Ethics is thrown in a bind if humans aren’t responsible for their actions. The question is: How can man be held responsible for his actions if, in fact, he is NOT responsible for his actions?

Scripture and common sense tell us that we ARE responsible for our actions; thus, God is just and “blameless” when He judges (Psalm 51:3-4). Therefore, some form of libertarian-free will must be true. Deterministic worldviews can’t explain why man is responsible for his actions or why God is just to condemn man for his actions.

Terms

(1) Agent: “anything that has representations of its own goals, such as desires, and the means to achieve those goals, such as beliefs, and whose behavior is rendered intelligible in light of those representations.” Agents Under Fire pg. 12

(a) It’s important to note that when an agent has representations of his desires and beliefs it is in the first-person sense. For example, he doesn’t just picture a desire (drinking a Coke) and a belief (there is a Coke in the fridge). An agent has representations from a first-person perspective.

Ex. MY desire to drink a Coke and MY belief that there is one in the fridge or I want a Coke and I believe there is one in the fridge.

(2) Desire’s and Beliefs: Desires and beliefs play an significant role in the decisions we make but are NOT the efficient cause of our actions. Desires and beliefs are the FINAL CAUSE (reason for or purpose) of our actions. The agent is the efficient cause.

Free-Will entails two things…

(1) That an agent is the efficient cause (first-mover, unmoved mover) of his or her actions.

(2) That an agent is faced with REAL choices and is free to make choices.

1. This includes moral choices such as: Agent p can either A (lie to his mother) or B (tell the truth to his mother).

2. This includes "amoral" choices such as: Agent p can either A (eat tomato soup) or B (eat potato soup).

3. This also includes choices like motion, speech, etc…

*In each of these choices the agent has the REAL ability to act or refrain from acting.

What Free-Will Does NOT Mean…

(1) That an agent has Free-Will does NOT mean an agent has “total freedom” or freedom from influence.

1. This includes biological, environmental, other finite agents, and most importantly God. All of these have a profound influence on an agent.

2. Influence does NOT negate free-will. For example, an agent’s biology and environment could influence him in that it predisposes (produces a desire for) him to get angry when someone insults his mother. However, a free agent could fight against this influence and choose not to act on his anger.

(2) That an agent has free-will does NOT mean he can do whatever he pleases.

1. Obviously, an agent does not have the freedom to defy the rules of gravity just because he wants to.

Why use the term Free-Will and not just Will?

Using the term free-will is a necessary distinction because the type of freedom to will I am talking about is not the same as what many of you are describing. Libertarian Free-Will says that the Agent is the efficient cause (first mover) of actions. What many of you are arguing is that desires and beliefs are the efficient cause of actions. You say that a man has the ability to choose, but he will only choose what he desires and these desires determine his actions. What I am saying is that desires and beliefs are the final cause of an agents actions and NOT the efficient cause. The efficient cause is the agent.

Hence, there is a good reason to make the distinction “free” will and not just use the word “will.”

Rhyfelwr
May 4th 2009, 03:48 PM
Well when I say a greater will I don't mean we actually merge into God, I just mean that we need to 'tap in' to His understanding, its not something parallel/similar that we develop in ourselves.

EDIT: I wasn't sure I believed that anyway but it was because of a dilemna I had, but now I've resolved it!

Rhyfelwr
May 4th 2009, 10:07 PM
Just to be clear, pantheism is a stupid idea. If our only aim was to be reconciled as part of God's spirit, we would have to wonder why He went to the trouble of creating Adam in the first place!

What I meant is that we must be united with God's ways, and that those values are above our individual values. To be a Christian, you lose your own values and surrender to a universal system. You only 'will' to see God's will done, its not your unique individual perspective.

BroRog
May 5th 2009, 03:13 AM
Peter thought he had freewill when he told Jesus he would not deny him but Jesus said before the cock crows three times you will deny me.
Peter denied Jesus out of fear, he didn't want too deny Jesus and believed he wouldn't, yet the cause being fear he denied Jesus.

Josie you make an excellent point and if you had reps turned on I would give you one. :) The Bible contains a tension between man's freedom and God's determinism and you have found one of the most striking.

BroRog
May 5th 2009, 03:22 AM
AK's friend

(1) That an agent is the efficient cause (first-mover, unmoved mover) of his or her actions.

(2) That an agent is faced with REAL choices and is free to make choices.

To these I would add a third,

(3) That an agent's choice follows from the agent's own preferences, desires, dreams, aspirations, wants, personality, etc. A freewill choice is not a meaningful choice unless the agent owns the choice for him or herself.

apothanein kerdos
May 6th 2009, 10:02 PM
To these I would add a third,

(3) That an agent's choice follows from the agent's own preferences, desires, dreams, aspirations, wants, personality, etc. A freewill choice is not a meaningful choice unless the agent owns the choice for him or herself.


I'd certainly add that in there.

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