John Calvin On Those Who Claim Men Have Free Will

But those who, while they profess to be the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual destruction, labour under manifold delusion, making a heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both.  [Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, translated by Henry Beveridge; Book 1, Chapter 15, Section 8]

I struggled with the issue of free will for a time.  I was only able to get past it once I began to grasp the concept of total depravity.  Once I began to understand how our depravity affects all that we are, the free will issue came into perspective for me.

Do you struggle with the issue of free will?  How did you get past it (if you have)?


7 Responses to John Calvin On Those Who Claim Men Have Free Will

  1. Vehemently anti-“free will” site (predestined, of course, to hold this Biblical position):; visit/comment, please.


  2. l3rucewayne says:

    I struggled with understanding how free-will could be possible if God knows everything we are going to do. I got past it by realizing that even though God knows everything we are going to do, it seems to me that we decide in a sense what it is God knows, so we decide what we are going to do and that determines what God knows we are going to do I guess, and so that seemed to solve the seeming difficulty for me.

    C.S. Lewis viewed it in an interesting way in “Mere Christianity” (or was it “the screwtape letters” or both?), picturing time as a line in eternity where the past present and future all exist at once so to speak, and so of course God’s viewing from the vantage point of eternity what you are doing in the future at the same time as what you are doing in the past and present doesn’t CAUSE you to do what you are doing, and that seemed to satisfy his intellect.

    I would have a real hard time understanding how hell could be without free will (although I have a minority view on the doctrine of hell which might make it make a bit more sense in the face of no free will), or how satan could be, or the fall of man, or even Love (without the freedom to not Love).


  3. Billy Birch says:

    Well, since both of us seem to be tackling this subject today, I thought I’d comment at your site as well 🙂

    So many Christians (closet Amyraldians actually) contend that they see both in the Bible: God’s sovereignty and Free Will. Of course, they are right.

    However, what they define as “sovereignty” is NOT what, in my opinion, is found in the Bible. I believe you and I have had this conversation before. But, if God DETERMINES our everyday choices for us by some supposed eternal decree (and I’m not speaking about the choice to believe in Christ Jesus for salvation at this point), then I’m right and human beings are nothing more than robots, mere puppets in the hands of a Puppet Master.

    However, if God “allows” for free will choices, and He has always known those free will choices (assuming Open Theism is wrong), and that God chose to weave those foreknown choices into HIs overall plan for the ages (Eph. 1.11), then His sovereignty over humanity (and the universe) remains intact and corresponds well with Free Will.

    Once again, in my opinion, if there is no such thing as free will (and I hope that is NOT what Calvin was getting at), then we have some problems, namely, the problem of evil. Since we know that God cannot tempt anyone toward evil (James 1.13), then who is responsible for sin and evil? Who makes those evil choices? Does God make those choices for us? Does God choose what sin which even His own children commit?

    I once heard a Calvinist confess that God actually foreordains his sin. Such theology is . . . now what is the term in Greek? Oh yeah, CRAPoia.

    I don’t see how God could NOT be sovereign.



  4. Tom says:


    Great minds think alike….even if they don’t come to the same conclusions. LOL

    Actually it has been an interesting coincidence. I came across the quote I posted in my reading yesterday.


  5. Billy Birch says:

    Off topic, I know: You were a supporter of Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee, if I remember correctly. Will you back McCain? What are your thoughts on this November’s election?


  6. Tom says:


    I will not be voting for McCain. I will either vote 3rd party (if I can find a decent candidate) or I will not be voting in the Presidential election this year. If I don’t vote, it will be the first time since I have been old enough to vote. I am actually considering switching my party affiliation. I have been looking at the Constitution Party.

    This election has shaken my belief in our political system and the American people in general. Our founding fathers said that our system of government would only work as long as we had decent moral people filling the elective offices. We no longer have that. As a result, it is only a matter of time before it fails. It took the Romans 1000 years to implode. It will take us much less, unless God steps in and gives our nation a revival.


  7. Billy Birch says:

    WOW! Thank you for responding. I’m a bit pooped out on the whole thing. Has this been going on for like three years already? lol

    You’ve piqued my curiosity about a third party. I’ll be looking into it–I’m not thrilled with our choices either.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: