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Presbyterians/Compatibilism and Freedom of the Will


Hello Pastor G,

I showed my friend what the Bible says about predestination and God's sovereignty. The problem he has is that he doesn't understand how everything thing was predestined (Ef 1:11) and how humans are able to choose between two different ties (or make choices). He thinks since everything works after the council of God's will, people are not responsible for their sins because "it was God that predestined the unsaved to always sin and not repent and be saved".

1. Do you think compatibilism is a good explanation of how everything   takes place according to the will of God and how people are still responsible for their sins?

2. By the way,
do you know if there is an easier-to-read version of Jonathan Edward's Freedom of the Will?
I never read it but I want to. I believe it will help understand these issues.


Nathan, I would recommend that you get any books you can get hold of by Cornelius Van Til. Virtually every problem of this nature stems from not understanding that God is not a part of the universe. Having created the universe, he is outside of it (until he invaded it in the incarnation). There is no conflict between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, freedom, and choice. The problem only appears when people conceive of the universe as THE reality, and God and people both as belonging to it.

The question for your friend is really, "Is this (predestination) what the Bible says?" If it is, then it is legitimate to ponder "how" but not "if." To say, "this is what the Bible says, but it can't be true because it does not make sense to me" is to put human intellect (in fact, ONE MAN'S intellect) over the Word of God. No Christian can be comfortable with that.

Edwards may help. As you know, he is widely regarded as the greatest philosopher North America every produced. While I respect that, I have never liked Edwards. It takes him a chapter to say what could be said more easily and clearly in a paragraph. Although I have friends who tell me the same about Van Til :)

The issue is bigger than human freedom, Nathan. When people think that God is a part of this universe, that what he does must conform to the laws he created for it, that is the foundation of the mistake. The reasoning goes something like this: "Since if I, as a part of creation, exerted my will over you, I would have to take your freedom away to do so." They mistake God as a bigger version of themselves, different only in size. The answers to these questions lie most fully in the books of Job and Ecclesiastes. This can be seen when we give up making ourselves equal with God. He is simply other than we are, and no one can be compared to Him.  


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Pastor G


I am glad to answer questions about the Scriptures, Systematic, Biblical and Historic Theology, New Testament Greek, Biblical Hebrew (although my Greek is stronger than my Hebrew); and I am also glad to give pastoral advise and counsel.


A minister ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church since 1993. Prior to that I served as an elder. Former Senior Police Chaplain. College and Seminary-level lecturer.

B.A. Psychology and Theology, M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Law Enforcement Chaplaincy certification, ICPC

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