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Do we have free will, or is everything already planned for us?

Sovereignty, determinism, and sin

Postby Hender Williamshot » Wed May 02, 2018 3:02 pm

Absolute sovereignty and hard determinism eliminates the possibility of sin.

Under absolute sovereignty and hard determinism everything that happens is God’s will. Every act committed is in accordance with the will of God.

No act is sinful in and of itself if the act is in accordance with the will of God. Killing is not a sin when God orders it. Even the slaughtering of babies is not sinful when ordered by God. Therefore, no act is sinful when the act is committed in accordance with God’s will.

If everything I do is God’s will, under absolute sovereignty and hard determinism, then nothing I do is sin.
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Re: Sovereignty, determinism, and sin

Postby jimwalton » Wed May 02, 2018 3:04 pm

Yeah, I don't believe in either hard or soft determinism, but in free will. I have no problem with either God's sovereignty or man's culpability for his own chosen actions. God's sovereignty is one of authority and rule, not determinism. We are necessarily free agents, not robots.

I agree with you that hard determinism eliminates the possibility of sin. That's why, to me, it's an untenable theology.
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Re: Sovereignty, determinism, and sin

Postby Spagettios » Thu May 03, 2018 2:48 pm

But sovereign means ruling above all things or having supreme and ultimate power over all things. If God has supreme power over all things, then He must have determined all things. Otherwise, there would be things that existed outside His power, therefore making his power non-supreme, therefore stripping Him of His sovereignty.

I agree that we aren't robots, that we're free agents, but believing that all things have been foreordained and are destined to happen a certain way doesn't negate that, it just limits our will to the boundaries of God's will. We have free will, but we don't have autonomous free will.
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Re: Sovereignty, determinism, and sin

Postby jimwalton » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:03 pm

Sovereignty can mean that, but the Bible portrays God's power as something he can exercise or withhold at will. He can use it more or less, all or not at all. So just because God has supreme authority and power doesn't indicate that he uses it all the time so that we are determined—we do things only by his power and always by his power, i.e., we are robots. That's not the biblical picture.

I could try to use an analogy of the U.S. We have enough nuclear power to destroy the world, probably several times over. But just because we have that power doesn't mean we use it.

So it's not so that if God has supreme power over all things, he must have determined all things. God can work it so that his power does not run roughshod over our exercise of free will.

> Otherwise, there would be things that existed outside His power, therefore making his power non-supreme, therefore stripping Him of His sovereignty.

Yes, things do operate outside of his power, but they are still under his umbrella of authority. There are many things God does not control, and the Bible says so. The Bible says God doesn't tempt anyone. It says God doesn't do evil. And since people are tempted, and some people are evil, that means God allows them to operate as free agents. But that doesn't strip God of his sovereignty. In His kingdom, he allows rogue elements to function as they will. But they're still in his kingdom.

> it just limits our will to the boundaries of God's will

I don't think so. Our wills are limited only by the potential of human initiative. Obviously we can't will ourselves to fly like Superman or to stop a locomotive with our hands. These are not boundaries God imposes but rather are imposed by our physical limitations. According to the Bible, God doesn't place limits on our free wills. He cannot and does not interfere with them. If he wants us to come to him, he can only reveal himself, invite us, speak to us, appear to us, but we have to decide. If he wants us to obey him, he can only instruct us, but we have to choose to obey.


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