I am not sure why I check Dave Hunt’s newsletter every month. Maybe there is a ray of hope that he will begin to engage with concrete objections presented to him over the years. But once again, we find his February Newsletter Q&A section consistently disappointing.
Someone wrote in with a Calvinist persuasion and asks Hunt some honest questions about the will of man. What we find is not a instructive response to any specific questions and comments, but what is to be expected when the pot’s knee refuses to bow down to the Potter. Nevertheless, in this post I will respond to one comment in particular that Hunt makes, and post a couple of more responses in the near future. Hunt writes,
If something or someone “makes the will make its choices,” free will is not free.
On the contrary! For those who are new to this debate, Arminian theology affirms a philosophical view of free will called “Libertarianism” (if our actions are determined by a set of antecedent conditions, we do not possess authentic free will); versus Calvinism’s model of Compatibilism (it is precisely because our actions are governed by a set of antecedent conditions, we can say that we make authentic choices.)
If there are no causal reasons that govern our choices, as Hunt asserts, then he is an irrational man and so is everyone else who cannot give an account for his behavior.
Arminian theology asserts that if we could not have chosen to do something otherwise, then there is no free will. Here is their irrational fallacy in a nutshell. They are resisting any idea of a guaranteed result from any same conditions. It is irrational because there is no explanation for the effect of an action.
If they cry, “oh yes, there can be an explanation,” then I ask, “Will it always be guaranteed to produce the same action?” They of course being the libertarian have to say “no.”
This is ironic because Calvinists are frequently accused of having no basis for personal responsibility. It is the Arminian who has no basis for personal responsibility because there are no conditions that can exist in their system that can produce the desired result every time.
For personal responsibility to exist there must be the same set of conditions to always bring about the exact same result. How else can you hold someone responsible if they can claim no reason (i.e. set of antecedent conditions) for their actions?
Arminian theology says if you do not have something of a neutral will at the moment of choosing, then you have no authentic will at all. Think about that most absurd statement. That is a contradiction in terms. A “will” by definition is not neutral but rather acts on causality. A will by definition cannot be “neutral.” If it was neutral, it could not will. What makes us choose X over Y? Not neutrality, but rather causal conditions.
In the theological context, it is Calvinism that believes in a will—a very strong will. One that makes authentic choices. When the Spirit regenerated our heart, he placed in our heart a set of antecedent conditions that would always produce the same result: faith and repentance. And thus we chose according to our strongest inclinations. Could we have chosen otherwise? No. Because the conditions that existed from God’s miracle of regeneration produced what it intended from its particular causality.
Praise God…the Creator of intelligibility, and creating in our hearts a set of antecedent conditions that gave us spiritual life.
I close with a summary by Steve Hays on the state of the irrational condition of Arminian theology,
Calvinism and Arminianism are not epistemically on par with each other. For Calvinism enjoys explanatory power, while Arminian theology represents the abdication of rationality.
Arminian theology is worse than untrue—it could not even be true. It is unable to supply and satisfy certain truth-conditions without which the very possibility of an explanation is overruled. As Van Til would say, Arminian theology is disproven by the impossibility of the contrary, for it cannot acquit the preconditions of intelligibility.