John Calvin On The Dangers Of The Use Of The Term “Free Will”

From:  Exploring Theology

How few are there who, when they hear free will attributed to man, do not immediately imagine that he is the master of his mind and will in such a sense, that he can of himself incline himself either to good or evil?  It may be said that such dangers are removed by carefully expounding the meaning to the people.  But such is the proneness of the human mind to go astray, that it will more quickly draw error from one little word, than truth from a lengthened discourse. [Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, translated by Henry Beveridge, Book Two, Chapter 2, Section 7]

Is this not true?  If you have ever discussed free will with someone who is a believer in free will you will know that most of their objections occur because they take the very position that Calvin describes in the quote.

Free will has become a “hot button” issue.  If you dare suggest that God is sovereign then the immediate response is “What about free will?”.  This objection has infiltrated every part of our culture today.  Even movies portray this false understanding.  Have you seen Bruce Almighty?  Remember the scene where God is explaining the rules of being God to Bruce.  He basically tells Bruce that he can do anything he wants except tamper with free will.

I admit that I don’t fully understand all aspects of this issue.  I plan to read some on it soon.  My theology study group is going to be reading Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards soon so I hope this will be a good place to start.

If you have any suggestions of good books to read on the subject, please share them in a comment.

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One Response to John Calvin On The Dangers Of The Use Of The Term “Free Will”

  1. Scott says:

    Hello,
    I wrote on this just recently. I have a bibliography at the end of this post:

    http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/adam-was-dead-to-begin-withadam-was-as-dead-as-a-door-nail/

    Hopefully, this could be useful for you.

    Like

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