Edwards: Part 2 – "Free Will"

In his book “Freedom of the Will” Edwards addressed the Arminian view of human free will. His opponents claimed it was necessary for the human will to be self-determining, or sovereign, in order to truly be considered as “free”. On the contrary, Edwards wrote that “free will” simply referred to a person’s power of choosing. The will itself does not have some hidden, innate power of free choice. Rather it is the INDIVIDUAL who has a will, the power of choosing. It didn’t make sense to say the will must be free from the controlling disposition of the person who is doing the willing. Free will means one is free to do what one wants to. Otherwise, there would have to be an agent called “will” inside us that was free to NOT follow our own strongest inclinations…an absurdity. God allows mankind choices that are THEIR choices. We choose what we want to choose. The genius of Edwards’ treatment is that he was defending “free will” in the highest intelligible meaning of the term, not denying it. It was the Rationalist view of “uncaused free will” that was the logical absurdity. “Edwards’ unrelenting commitment to the sovereignty of God led him to marshal his formidable dialectical skills in an assault on one of the seemingly impregnable fortresses of modern thought.”

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4 comments on “Edwards: Part 2 – "Free Will"

  1. Beth says:

    That just gave me a headache.

  2. Beth'sMomToo says:

    Yeah, but it’s worth it. The Arminian view of the free will of man is certainly alive and kicking today! One thing Edwards brought out that I had never considered before was that to assert that man must have an “uncaused free will” is saying that he is sovereign! And that’s the crux of the whole thing! Who is really sovereign – man or God? It can’t be both! Unregenerate man has free will because he freely chooses to reject God because that’s what he WANTS to do. When a man is regenerated, he chooses God because he WANTS to choose God. Both choices are freely made. But the next time someone gets into a discussion with me about man’s “free will” I’m going to put it in Edwards’ terms.

  3. Doug Wilcox says:

    Okay, after a week of reading and rereading this, I think I get it. :: holds breath :: Here goes …

    The Arminian thinkers believed that the will was a separate entity, that was separate from the individual, and that ultimately the “will” made decisions, not the person. Edwards argued that such a view was not even remotely rational.

    Did I get that right? It sounds like Freedom of the Will should be on my reading list for this year.

    There is room for a discussion here on the nature of free will, or perhaps freedom of choice would be a better expression, as it pertains to the sovereignty of God.

  4. Beth'sMomToo says:

    Freedom of choice is exactly what man has. Unregenerate man “chooses” to reject God. He does exactly what he wants to do. It’s like when the Bible says God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart…He left Pharaoh to go the way Pharaoh naturally desired to go. The unregenerate “heart” is sinful. It doesn’t WANT to choose God. It doesn’t want to obey Him. It wants to be its own sovereign. (which we know from Scripture is just an illusion) The natural man is blind to the things of God, because they must be spiritually discerned and his spirit is dead…dead…dead… It takes the supernatural intervention of God to quicken, regenerate a dead “heart”. When God does that we STILL choose what we want to choose…except now we choose God, because it is what we WANT to do.

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