The will, whether free or bound, is not material

I originally heard this from a lecture on Berdyaev, though I didn’t realize its importance until last summer.  The will is not a material object.  Therefore, it cannot be bound in material ways.  In this sense, any reformed thinker will gladly say the will is free (though liberum arbitrium is far more accurate–free choice).  It is immaterial and cannot be bound.

More on TU”L”IP, falsely so-called

Steven Wedgeworth has done helpful work on the atonement in Dort’s theology.   It summarizes what I have been saying about TULIP: once you move outside the English language “TULIP” doesn’t even make sense.  Therefore, how can one seriously reduce all of Reformed theology to a controversy at one specific time, whose authors were merely responding to several loci of theology, furthermore the very wording of the appellation doesn’t even work outside the English language?!?

The Canons of Dort do not follow the order of TULIP. In fact, the acronym TULIP only even works in English!…

Dort does not use the language of Christ simply dying “for” one group, but not “for” another. Instead, it treats his death as being “the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.”…

This type of explanation is important because it does not limit Christ’s own value or worth. He being divine, his merit was necessarily infinite.

A Reverse Ontological Proof of Contingent Freedom?

I’ve been wrestling with this idea.

  1. God is the only absolute, necessary being (all confessional Christians agree to this).
  2. That which is not absolute is contingent.
  3. Human choices are not absolute, thus contingent (2).
  4. There is both necessity and contingency (1, 3).

Is that the same thing as “free will?”  It is probably not the same thing as libertarian free will, nor have I covered all of the finer points.  I think the propositions stand, though.  All of this is another way to affirm the necessity of consequence and the necessity of the consequent thing.

Muller’s Rebuttal of the “Calvinism” Paradigm

Muller notes, “It is really quite odd and a-historical to associate a particular document written in the Netherlands in 1618-19 with the whole of Calvinism and then to reduce its meaning to TULIP. Many of you here know that the word is actually “tulp.” “Tulip” isn’t Dutch — sometimes I wonder whether Arminius was just trying to correct someone’s spelling when he was accused of omitting that “i” for irresistible grace. More seriously, there is no historical association between the acrostic TULIP and the Canons of Dort. As far as we know, both the acrostic and the associated usage of  “five points of Calvinism” are of Anglo-American origin and do not date back before  the nineteenth century (Muller 8)


Free Choice in Reformed Thought: An Introduction

I listened to Muller’s lecture “Jonathan Edwards and the Absence of Free Choice” today.   Much of it was review but it did reinforce some points.  The following are taken from Muller’s Dictionary.

  1. Will is distinct from intellect (intellectus) [330].  The intellect is that which knows objects, and the will is that which has a desire for them.  Will and intellect are the two highest spiritual powers.  The question immediately arises as to which of these faculties stands prior to the other.  The Protestant Orthodox frequently state the problem of priority without really solving it (but also avoiding Thomist and Scotist difficulties, though I personally lean towards the Thomist reading).  The Reformed acknowledge the relationship between intellect and will and focus on the problem of fallen man.
  2. Will, defined as the appetitive faculty of man, must also be distinguished from choice.  Will is the faculty that chooses.  Arbitrium (choice) is the capacity of will to make a choice or decision.  Thus, the will can be described, even post-fall, as “free” and unconstrained but nonetheless limited by its own capacity to choose particular things.