Reconciling Deadness and Free Will


I was re-listening to an exchange between James R. White and the late Dave Hunt on Reformed Theology. Two points very specifically came to my mind in listening to this exchange.

1). Passages of Scripture that address willingness or unwillingness.

Certainly there are passages of Scripture that speak of desire or willingness. However, I'm amazed that if we read passages of Scripture that discuss will or choice that there are some who immediately bypass the exegesis of passages and launch into diatribes that choice or willingness automatically means ability. Certainly Scripture cannot be broken and there is a distinct harmony and unity that exists in what it teaches. Thus, if deadness in sin and inability is explicitly taught then what should we say about will and choice? The answer is exactly that will and choice cannot trump deadness and inability. The Bible also teaches God's sovereign grace in granting ability as in John 3:1-8 and 1 John 5:1. The idea that regeneration—giving life and ability—must come first prior to willingness or choice. Advocates of autonomous human freedom must admit that the Bible talks about deadness and inability. The second thing is in relationship to something that Dave Hunt said in the aforementioned link. Essentially that those who hold to irresistible grace believe in a God who can save all of creation and yet chooses not to and that that's really bad and proves irresistible grace is wrong.

2). How does this deny Reformed Theology and not just simply deny God?

I don't understand how it would exonerate God to say that God's grace in the moment of salvation isn't irresistible. Since, otherwise, God would still have His ability to save everyone and yet chooses not to because of the autonomous free will of man being necessary to choose God in order for salvation to exist. Wouldn't the autonomous free will of man being necessary for salvation and able to resist God's grace in the moment of salvation still lead to a God who is able to save all and doesn't? This point just seems a little ridiculous and very reaching for a successful argument. Obviously if the Bible said someone wasn't willing to come to Christ but also teaches they don't have the ability to do so you can't reject the inability passage and teach ability based on unwillingness. If someone is unable to come to salvation by virtue of their inability they are unwilling. Thus, I think we need to be given passages of Scripture, not the "willing" and "choose" ones, that actually address the ability of man prior to God giving it.

3). Reasons why this is important

The fact is that before counseling or helping individuals with they're problems or finding solutions for our own, a right understanding of anthropology is needed. If we are engaging in pre-counseling evangelism and attempting to appeal to a person's alleged ability to be saved when it's not there I fear we run the risk of not expressing the Gospel as what it is, the ability of God to save. And in effect appeal to the ability of the will to choose. When the will lack's that ability.

About Jeremy Menicucci

Pastor Jeremy Menicucci is the President of Nacmin and main contributor. He is an established nouthetic counselor, pastor, apologist, amatuer textual critic, husband and father.

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