Ep13: Do Humans Have Freewill? (Part I)


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Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

8 thoughts on “Ep13: Do Humans Have Freewill? (Part I)

  1. I have a personal request. I really enjoy your pod-casts, but I have been having trouble with the player on this page and with i Tunes. I’m not a Mac guy, and for some reason i Tunes is buggy and sometimes it stops unexpectedly. I actually use Pocket Casts since I use a PC and an LG phone. Our church downloads our churches sermons to iTunes and Pocket Casts. That way us Windows guys can hear the great sermons. Just a suggestion. I really do enjoy what you are doing. I have learned a lot! Keep it up!

  2. It’s funny that this subject has come about. The church I go to is full of believers in Reformed Theology and also those who do not subscribe to it. I personally lean more toward Synergism. That being said, I personally cop out and appeal to mystery (1 Corinthians 13:12). My father-in-law’s Church isn’t Pelagian, but they are offended at the idea of Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace (Jumping to the Canons of Dort!). I am not offended because this is difficult to reconcile in our minds as this podcast has revealed. We just had a meeting where my church joined a local association so that we can support a College ministry there, and my Father-in-law’s church voted against us because we have “Calvinists” in our church. They think the entire church is Calvinist, but our pastor told the association that the issue was not considered a “test of fellowship.” There is wiggle room on the idea in our church. There are people in my father-in-law’s church that think Calvinists aren’t Christian because of their view of God. They see the Calvinist’s God as unjust. They also misunderstand Calvinism in my opinion, because they describe it as fatalism (honest mistake) but it isn’t. One question I have is why wasn’t this debated before Augustine and Pelagius? I mean, why did they take so long to fight about it? I have read many of the Ante-NIcene writings, and sometimes they seem like they are with Augustine, and sometimes they seem like they are with Pelagius. Nevertheless, they never seemed to have a problem with the mystery of the issue. They just accepted it. Now, even today Christians are bickering and dividing over the issue. I personally think we can just agree to disagree, and live in harmony. Maybe I am asking too much. The Spirit in our church bends toward unity, and while we discuss these issues, we don’t divide over them. We are all struggling to be faithful. I was sure hoping that my Father-in-law’s church would have a change of heart and bury the hatchet. What are your thoughts?

    1. Phil,
      On the question of why predestination-freewill wasn’t argued before Augustine and Pelagius, I think there are a couple of factors at work. Primarily, I think this debate is best held in a context where you don’t have to worry about persecution (i.e,, it’s a “luxury” question). You don’t debate the merits of grace when you could be hauled from your home and killed tomorrow; you spread the Good News while you still can. It’s only with the peace of Constantine that theologians are free to turn to these types of questions. In the second place, the terms of A-P debate were influenced by biblical interpretation, perspectives which needed time to develop. And finally, I think there are some philosophical influences at work for both Augustine and Pelagius, questions that Plato had asked but needed to come back into vogue enough to influence (especially) Augustine’s thinking.

      On your general predicament, I agree that we need to focus on unity and action rather than these questions. One tactic I try to employ when this becomes an issue is asking a) what are the practical differences between our theologies? That is, where am I going to want to do x and you’re going to want to do y? (most often, there are little to no differences here, so we can at least work together.) And b) are there deeper grammatical issues (hermeneutics, philosophy of ministry, language used, etc) that are clouding this issue or causing the real conflict? (if we’re, on some level, talking past one another, at least awareness of that fact can be helpful.) Unfortunately, of course, not every church or church leader is willing to be honest and open in these types of conversations. But in my experience, it’s a place to start. Hope that’s somewhat helpful. JJP

      1. It is very helpful. I thought about the fact that it is a luxury to discuss these things. When Constantine legalized Christianity, the whole dynamic changed for sure. One probably could make the case that it is more dangerous for a Christian to live where it isn’t persecuted given this issue. There are more snares to avoid. This being one of them.

      2. I do have another question that is unrelated to this topic. What is your preferred English Bible translation?

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