Over at The Preacher, Charles is musing about the implications of radical "free will" and its effects regarding God's sovereignty. As it turns out, I've been thinking a little about this topic recently. (And when I say "a little," I mean it; you'll see that shortly.) So here's a brief, slight, small, observation regarding Arminianism and its accessory, radical or "libertarian" free will.
(Because of my need to preserve energy, I just Wikipediazed "Arminianism" - I apologize in advance for the mental energy you will need to exert if you're unfamiliar with this jargon. If it makes you feel better, you can just close the browser in frustration now. The blog will continue its slightly esoteric existence without you...)
It just so happens that other than prevenient grace**, radical free will is one of the aspects of Arminianism that strike me as strange, off-balance, and ridiculous. And now, to atone for merely linking, "Arminianism," I'll explain.
Radical (or libertarian or contra-causal) free will is the concept of human freedom that maintains that at any point we make a decision, we could also have made the opposite decision(s). Example: I choose to brew dark Ethiopian coffee; I could also have chosen not to, or to brew a medium Costa Rican blend.
At first glance, this idea of freedom seems intuitively true. Problem is, it deconstructs. We end up denying, effectively, that people have convincing reasons for what they do. I am forced to argue that I could choose to kiss Lindsay goodbye in the morning or kick her in the shins--within the same framework of motive. "Choice" becomes indifferent and random.
Policeman: Why did you follow that man for ten miles, corner him in a cul de sac, and taunt him into a round of fisticuffs?
Me: Because I was having a great day and was enjoying a pleasant drive home, when all of a sudden, the idea came to me. I decided to go for it.
In the real world, we do have reasons for the things we do. Even the most nonsensical actions can be explained once you get the man to 'fess up. Ask my wife for stories. There was a reason I kicked a hole in the plywood door instead of delivering a strong uppercut to the brick wall.
What cannot be explained is how anyone could make either of two decisions when the choices in question were dramatically different. Like, say, giving your life to the Creator of the world or laughing in his face. The same rationale does not provide a suitable motive for both situations. In other words, if radical, libertarian, contra-causal free will is in operation, we may as well shut down our law courts and remove "motive" from the dictionary. This world is crazy, yes, but not that crazy. People who pop champagne corks and jump off bridges typically do so for different reasons.
So, that's what I think.
And now, the addendum.
** Prevenient grace
Simply stated, prevenient grace is the idea that God extended enough grace to everyone to be saved. He invited everyone to join his Facebook account. Some people said yes. And then God, enjoying the benefit of eternal foresight, decided, "OK, these people who will accept my invitation to be friends--I would like them to be my friends. In fact, these people who will decide to be my friends I will 'predestine' to be my friends." In other words:
People who accept prevenient grace: We will be your friends, God.
God: Because I see that you will be my friends, I choose you to be my friends.
This strikes me as the kind of thing I made up in junior high to solve some of God's pr problems. Which is one reason I can't believe it now. It reminds me too much of myself when I was young and silly and thought you could fix the Bible like a crossword puzzle. Also, there are verses like John 15:16.