Does God Have Libertarian Free Will ?

‘Acts 15:18  “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

Psalm 115:3  But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

The only logically consistent Arminian is an open theist – Calvinist James White The only logically consistent Calvinist is the person who denies that God himself has free will – John Schroeder

When asked whether human beings have libertarian free will, Calvinists unanimously respond in the negative.  According to Calvinist theology, human beings do not have libertarian free will.  There are essentially two reasons why Calvinists deny human free will.  These reasons are as follows:

Reason #1:      Inborn Total Depravity – An inborn depraved nature which is wholly inclined toward evil.

Reason #2:      God’s foreknowledge of all future events – If God knew with 100% certainty that Timothy McVeigh would blow up the building in Oklahoma City, then this event was always fixed in God’s mind from eternity past.  Since God always knew about McVeigh’s future actions, these actions were predestined to happen.  McVeigh was not free to abstain from blowing up the building, because to do so would be to falsify God’s foreknowledge.  Since God’s foreknowledge can never be wrong, McVeigh was not free to choose to abstain from blowing up the building.  God’s foreknowledge of McVeigh’s crime, which preceded the commission of the crime, essentially “caused” the crime to take place.

The topic of total depravity (Reason #1) has been covered elsewhere.  This appendix will be exclusively dedicated to God’s foreknowledge (Reason #2).  According to Calvinist James White, the only logically consistent Arminian is an open theist.  In other words, if we are going to embrace human free will (by which I mean libertarian free will), then we must conclude that God does not know the future.  If God knows that I will eat Wheaties for breakfast tomorrow, then I am not free to eat Cheerios instead.  According to the Calvinists, the only way for me to truly be free would be if God does not know the future.  The fact that God doesin fact know the future means that I am not free.  Free will precludes the possibility of God’s foreknowledge.  God’s foreknowledge precludes the possibility of free will.  Or so says the Calvinist.

This leads me to ask two very interesting questions.  They are as follows: 1.         Does God know what God will do tomorrow?

  1. Does God have libertarian free will?

According to Calvinism, God knows what God will do tomorrow.  This seems to be the Calvinist understanding of Acts 15:18.

Acts 15:18  “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

The answer to question #1 is, “Yes, God knows what God will do tomorrow.”

So does God have libertarian free will? The Calvinist answers, “Yes, God has libertarian free will. God can do whatever it is that God wants to do.”  The Calvinist response is based, in part, upon Psalm 115:3.

Psalm 115:3  But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

But this leads us to observe quite a dilemma in Calvinist logic.  Calvinist logic leads us to conclude that Acts 15:18 directly contradicts Psalm 115:3!  For if God knows what God is going to do tomorrow, then God does not have free will!  Psalm 115:3, according to Calvinist logic, should more accurately read as follows:

Psalm 115:3  But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He foreknew he was goint to do.

For if God’s foreknowledge of human behaviors precludes human free will, then God’s foreknowledge of God’s own actions precludes God’s free will. The Calvinist is adamant in asserting that God knows exactly what God will do tomorrow (Acts 15:18).  The Calvinist is also adamant in asserting that God’s foreknowledge destroys libertarian  free will.  This lead to the strange conclusion that even God himself does not have libertarian free will! Why not? Because God knows what God is going to do tomorrow!  Therefore (according to logically consistent Calvinism), God does not have free will.

This leads me to the following argument:

Premise #1:     God knows everything that God will ever do (Acts 15:18)

Premise #2:     God’s foreknowledge is not compatible with libertarian free will. Conclusion:     The doctrine of unconditional election is false, by definition! Since God himself does not have free will, according to the Calvinist’s own logic, then God cannot FREELY choose to conduct an unconditional election.  The doctrine of unconditional election presupposes that God himself is FREE to unconditionally choose those individuals whom he wishes to save and those whom he wishes to damn. But since God already knew the election results BEFORE he conducted the election, he was not free to conduct the unconditional election in the first place!  Thus, James White’s view of foreknowledge contradicts the language embodied in the Westminster Confession of Faith:

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;

As the Calvinist sees it, God exercised his own free will in conducting his unconditional election.  But God never had any free will to begin with, since God’s foreknowledge – according to Calvinism – is logically incompatible with free will.  So the only way in which God could even freely conduct his election in the first place would be under a scenario where God did not know the election results prior to conducting the election. In other words, in order for God himself to be free, open theism would have to be true – according to James White’s own logical standards.  Maybe we should say that the only logically consistent Calvinist is an open theist!  After all, if God does not have free will, then he can’t freely conduct an unconditional election.  And if God knows the future, then God doesn’t have free will – according to James White’s own standards.

Thus James White is in error when he claims that the only logically consistent Arminian is an open theist.  Rather, the only logically consistent Calvinist is an open theist!  For if open theism is false, then, according to James White, God himself lacks libertarian free will.  And thus God was NOT free to conduct his unconditional election.

Thus, the Calvinist argument from foreknowledge actually proves too much.  It proves that God’s foreknowledge is so sovereign that even God himself must bow down to it.  God is handcuffed by his own foreknowledge, such that he himself is not free to choose.  And since God is not free to choose, he is not free to conduct an unconditional election.  Thus, according to the Calvinist’s own standards, God’s exhaustive foreknowledge succeeds in refuting the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election.

In order for God to conduct an unconditional election, God must be FREE to do so. And according to James White’s understanding of foreknowledge, consistently applied to God’s own freedom, the doctrine of unconditional election is not only false, it is logically impossible.’

source: John Schroeder. Published with permission. Published as is.

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