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Calvinism and free will

March 17, 2012


The position of the Calvinist in regards to the sovereignty of God is said to be the highest view one can hold of God being all knowing, all good, and all just. This is where the Calvinist will plant their mental flag, and then presuppose that they hold God in higher honor than anyone else. However, this view is actually one of the lowest views of God one can hold, since in the calvinistic view of opposites, the choice between good and evil are presupposed as well.

For the Calvinist, the choice by God to create everything was a good choice, but since 1) God’s nature is found in creation (ads) and 2) God can only choose the good, and God is the good-creation then becomes not a free choice, but the only choice. It is God’s nature to choose good rather than evil (opposites) so the choice not to bring about creation would have been the opposite of the good, making creation the only choice. Calvinists fall into this thinking, when they ponder if God could have stopped the fall. Creation which was necessary (entailed) and God who divinely chooses what shall come to pass, with the notion of opposites in view, clearly presents a problem when thinking about how the fall was possible. Calvinism falls into the company of Nestorianism, monothelitism/mono-energism, which means that Jesus isn’t in Calvinism.

-If the good was the choice of creation, then creation was a necessary choice, making creation eternal, and even human beings, since we must then be found in the nature of God, just as things such as ADS and Thomism say. The beatific vision is an extension of such theories.

– If creation is a necessary choice, opposed to the evil choice of not creating, then the universe is just a mere extension of God’s nature, making the cosmos God. How can this be rescued from being pantheism?

– If nature is the determining factor in which we, or God make choices, and not the person (total depravity/ads/Filioque) then the fall could not of happened, since Adam had a good nature.

– If two things must be opposed to one another, in order to distinguish between them, just as Monergism entails, then how do you distinguish between Jesus and the Father? Likewise, if Monergism is true, in that the divine will makes our human will choose the good, then how do profess that Jesus had two wills that freely, and synergistically made the same choice, and yet, are able to be distinguished between one another? (Same presupposition as the monothelites,same problem)

– If the Calvinist position on God’s sovereignty is correct, but the Calvinist takes the position that God did not predestine the fall, then the free choice of Adam to do the bad, was the prime factor in God’s redemptive plan, making God’s choices a product of Adam choices..which denies Calvinism.


– If God did make Adam sin: then in order for God to bring about the good, God then must rely on the evil. This would actually be the consistent position for a Calvinist, since destruction of the wicked warms the flames, by which the elect can see God’s glory clearer through the beatific goggles. However, this isn’t even theism anymore, since in order for God to be good prior to the fall, evil must have been present, making God only God if evil is eternal.

Those final points are the only two options for a Calvinist, which I would presume ties off any Calvinistic view as being theism, or Christian.

Now there is actually an answer to these problems, which I know R.C Sproul has even pondered as to how to answer the final two options. But, the rejection of Calvinism is the first step..

My next post will be on free choice in st Maximus the Confessor.



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  1. Canadian permalink

    Hey Eric,
    I was trying to address these issues with a Reformed Pastor a couple weeks ago. He explicitly states that grace necessarily excludes free will, but would not make the connection Christologically which would have exposed his position.

    My mom, who is in Desert Hot Springs for the winter and has been attending Father David’s church near there, will be going to meet Father Josiah at your church today, I think. She is a 20 year Seventh Day Adventist now coming to Orthodoxy.

  2. Eric Castleman permalink

    Hey, I am glad to hear from you again. I am very happy to hear that your mother is meeting with Fr Josiah. He is one of the best people she can talk to about Orthodoxy, I remember the first time I met him: he was extremely warm, and very affable.

    It is common for the reformed to not connect the dots between Christology and soteriology, since salvation in the reformed comes from their views of God’s providence, and their views of God’s providence comes from defining God’s nature as ADS, and the persons are just reflection/attributes. This is why even talking about what a “person” is with the reformed almost goes nowhere, essentially, the nature is the person, and why they assume that sin is in the nature, in which, the person is the nature as well. Jesus then is just some superman.

    P.s I saw you stick it to Hendricks the other day. He deleted his post because of you and Perry. Though, just posting it again, as he did, didn’t resolve the issue. I have spoken to him before, in regards to McCormick’s view of where reformed theology actually stands, and he didn’t take it seriously then, so it makes sense that he wasn’t prepared to discuss Christology.

  3. Eric Castleman permalink

    OH, this is the post I was referring to. I guess he just closed the comments, and reposted the blog. He definitely gets cornered.

  4. Hey Eric,
    This is jacob. Good post. I am blogging at tsar lazar again. What blog were you referring to regarding Perry and Hendricks?

  5. Eric Castleman permalink

    The blog post that Canadian linked to above.

    Btw, Jacob, I have a website full of free PDFs on patristics. Send me and email, and I will send you the link.

  6. Thanks. This is the slam dunk argument:

    If the Bible defines freedom in relation to sin then either God is not free since he existed prior to and apart from sin or he can sin. Is there some other option you can provide?

  7. Eric Castleman permalink

    Exactly! It is interesting, because freedom should then be a result of the fall, making Pelagius the consistent monergist, not the reformed. If the fall produces freedom, since freedom in the calvinist world relies on the choice between the good and the bad, then the freedom to choose the bad was experienced by Adam, and we should have fallen into a free nature, not a bound nature.

  8. Canadian permalink

    That was precicely John’s argument at
    God is not free! He is bound by his nature. His nature determines his choices, so he does not have absolute freedom. God would only be free if he had the freedom to sin……
    The argument is shocking and takes free will away from even God.

  9. Eric Castleman permalink

    I saw that. It really is quite shocking that someone can write such a thing and not flinch. So, creation wasn’t a free choice, but the only choice. Creation then becomes God (pantheism) since it was required by God’s nature to choose. So, if God didn’t create everything, God would have been evil, making creation and extension of His nature. We ourselves then, become God. We are just as eternal as God. As one of our friends put it so well: we are either then ,eternal, since our creation was necessary for God to be good, or God learned something new in creating us. Whoops!

  10. Fr. John W. Morris permalink

    The major problem with Calvinism is that it is based on human reason. They try to understand why some people accept Christ and some reject Him. Calvin was trained in the law and produced a legalistic and logical system. I think that is the appeal of Calvinism. It gives a nice simple explanation that resolves the imagined conflict between grace and free will. It presents a theological system that fits together well and answers all questions. There is not much place for mystery. If you read Calvin or the services approved by Calvin, there is not a whole lot of joy. The emphasis is on the sinfulness of humanity with little room for the love of God. At the same time, Calvinism creates a great deal of spiritual pride because a person comes to believe that they are special because they are chosen by God for salvation while others are chosen for damnation. I once was asked to attend a regional synod of the Presbyterian Church. I was bored to tears. There was no spirit, no sense of joy or of the majesty of God. It was all dry rationalism, including their worship services.
    I have found that it is almost impossible to have a rational discussion with a Calvinists. They are like brainwashed members of a cult. They cannot see any other point of view and refuse to listen to reason or consider that Calvin could have been wrong.

    Fr. John W. Morris`

    • Archpreist John W. Morris permalink

      I also agree that you have hit the nail on the head by identifying Calvin’s Christology as basically Nestorian. That is probably the greatest defect in Calvinism because his Nestorian like beliefs shape all his theology, especially his Eucharistic theology.

      • Eric Castleman permalink

        Exactly! For Calvin, soteriology shaped his “theology”. So, Christ was reshaped unknowingly in his work. That is the same with Newtorius, the Monothelites, and the Iconoclasts etc. expalins this much better than me

      • Fr. John Morris permalink

        What is truly tragic is that Calvinism seems to be enjoying a renaissance among American Protestants. Even continuing Anglicanism has fallen victim to the corruption of Calvinism which completely distorts the Gospel by making God into a sadistic monster who creates people for the sheer pleasure of sending them to hell without giving them a chance for salvation.

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