Monday, January 25, 2010

Free Will, Agency and Calvanism

The following is part of a conversation with regard to Agency and Calvinism: Calvinist say no one is free or has agency but Christ, and you are not free until you accept Christ and therefore you are free in Christ. This then leads to the idea that all men are fallen and sinful and deserve nothing but death and misery and it is only by the goodness of God that He selects and few of His chosen to be elected to Eternal Life. Then these same people do things like change the name of the "free will offering" to the "election collection" etc.

God says in the Bible, Look, man has become as one of us to know Good and Evil. So, yes Adam and Eve were not free in the Garden to choose because they had the minds of little children. It is the Bible itself that says they only learned good and evil after partaking of the fruit. But it wasn't the fall alone that produced agency. Agency is a product of several factors including:1. knowledge of good and evil, 2. enticement by good and bad, 3. the atonement of Jesus Christ, 4. and then an ability to choose Christ (free will). All 4 elements are necessary.

Calvinist use several scriptures as proof text for their belief. Two scriptures in the Bible say that no one cometh unto the Son save the Father draweth him, and another says that none which the Father giveth to Christ will be lost. Calvinist interpret the first to support the idea that if the Father didn't elect us, none of us would escape death and hell. And Calvinist interpret the second to mean that after you have been selected or elected, that is impossible to fall from grace.

However, what is left out in this interpretation is that these two scriptures fail to account for the truth that God is no respecter of persons and he draweth all men to Christ and excludeth no none.

2 Ne. 26: 33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

This interpretation also excludes the possibility that some could reject the Father's drawing. The Bible says none which the Father giveth the Son would be lost, it does not say everyone that the Father draweth would be drawn. The Book of Mormon says that man is not free to choose unless enticed by one side of the other. The drawing of the Father to Christ is the required enticement. And the Book of Mormon says that because of the Fall, if it had not been for the atonement of Christ all mankind would have been doomed to be miserable forever. So, taking the Bible and Book of Mormon together gives a clear understanding that through Christ, all men are free to choose. Whether we choose freedom and to remain free or whether we choose captivity and death. We must be enticed by the Father, but in the end, the decision is ours to make.

Calvinists claim that after you accept Christ that it is impossible to fall from grace. This may be so, if a person is really elected for salvation and is not just a tare among the wheat. Paul would say such was never under grace and that person is really elected to damnation because he is put in a situation where he is making promises and not keeping thus bringing more judgment upon himself had he remained ignorant. Again, agency still applies because a person could refuse to be drawn by the Father. And Satan and the 1/3 part of heaven are an example of individuals turning against the Father. Of course, it is correct that without Christ no one is free. But, as long as you are alive and accepting Christ is an option and the Father is reaching out to rescue and draw you, then you are still free to choose to accept or decline.

Josh. 24: 15 Choose you this day whom ye will serve;. . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Rev. 3: 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.


Anonymous said...

Your idea of "agency" is not doctrinal. The words "Free Agency" do not appear anywhere in LDS scripture. "Moral Agency" does appear, but is not "freedom to choose". Scriptural uses of "agency" never refer to anything about "choice" or the philosophical concepts of "free will" (which is at the heart of Calvinism). Instead, they refer to "accountability" (see D&C 101:78). Also, there was no "agency" in the premortal Grand Councils in heaven! In Moses 7:32, the Lord Himself clearly states "in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency."

David B said...

If you re-read my post, I never used the term "free agency". Obviously, agency is not free as it cost the blood of Christ. I did use the term "free will." However, good points on moral agency,

I am interested in you point about agency being first granted in the Garden of Eden. My point was that agency required 4 factors: free will, knowledge of good and evil, and the freedom to choose which involves being enticed by good and evil, as well as the atonement of Christ (lamb slain from the foundation of the world).

Thinking about Moses 7:32, if agency was not present in the pre-existence, what was missing from the Heavenly Council and those who kept not their first estate. The 1/3 had free will, they had knowledge of good and evil, and they had enticement by God and Lucifer. What they lacked was the atonement of Christ which they rejected. Therefore they did not have agency because they did not accept Christ.

David B said...

D&C 29: 36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the ghosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;

Agency was given in the pre-mortal existence. This is the first estate. However, Adam was not an agent in the Garden and agency was re-given in the Garden. This is the second estate.

Jay Garlick said...

Reading the comments here I thought I might add that according to 2 Nephi 2, Lehi points out that there must be choices, choices that are opposite, we must be enticed by both, and there must be knowledge of the consequences of those choices. Therefore those conditions are created not inherent to our condition. That may agency a gift based on God's capacity to control the choices that we have available to us. Ie: the two trees, Lucifer's permitted presence in the garden and clear explanation of the consequences of choices. I also understand "will" as the only thing that is actually ours (Elder Maxwell). If that is the case then the source of that will is our intelligence (matter that can act rather be acted upon) and our spirit birth was that which added to our pre-existent intelligence and offered the gift of the possibility to grow, progress, increase in intelligence, etc. Both the garden and the pre-mortal council were created opportunities (God controlling the conditions of agency)that would not have been available to us without a gift of agency created an opportunity to choose. If you add the formula or will(ours) to the opportunity created by the conditions of agency (choice, opposites, knowledge, & enticements) you have agency and therefore accountability on a God controlled scale. It would be apparent from the casting down of the 1/3 that they did have agency. There does seem to be a difference in the type of agency that comes from the pre-existence and that of a mortal body because as Elder Packer has taught that the body gives one power of those that don't and that men are "free according to the flesh" (2 Ne 2). I would surmize that is related to Elder Packer's teaching that through a system of switches and connections, light can be introduced and darkness must flee(The Holy Temple). It would be logical that Satan would then believe that if he could obtain a body he would have some power to resist that power. But he is of course self deceived and therefore doesn't understand that like the impossible proposal he made in the pre-existence it would not ultimately work out. Light will always win over dark. But I digress.