Comments on De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of Will

tomgroeneman's picture

Dan- free will in relation to salvation

Thanks Dan for explaining that. My original post was not intended to articulate how free will works in salvation but I do agree that saving faith is a gift of God apart from any effort I might make. I only meant to express my personal experience that I have always had a free will demonstrated by the numerous choices I have made; some good and some bad. This reality had no bearing on my initial experience of salvation; that was a supernatural work of God. Luther (and Calvin) might say that the free will choices I made before salvation were so much dung but that does not change the fact that they were free will decisions I made.

Now in relation to salvation, my free will is still in effect because I have to make a conscious effort to obey God otherwise the prayer: "nevertheless not my will, but thine be done" makes no sense. The efficacy of salvation is all God's doing but the receiving and confirming of it are mine. Again, Luther and especially Calvin, might say that even the response to God's free gift is but dung and the product of a totally depraved soul but where I see the misunderstanding lying is in the contention that even the response to the Gospel is involuntary. The reformers have reduced human behavior to a deterministic or fatalistic result of God always pulling the strings of His puppets. God does work providentially in history and even intervenes at times based on His wise judgments but rarely if ever will He preclude the free will of one of His creatures.

The question of whether I can appropriate salvation by the exercise of my free will in doing works of merit is emphatically answered in the negative in my view. The work of the cross is entirely God's doing not mine. This I see as a separate issue however and perhaps more akin to another thread.

An OT example of God's intervention is when Balaam was determined to go and curse the Israelites and God had to use his donkey to prevent him. But in David's case as related by Psalm 51 there is a remarkable compliance to the will of God and in which he then says he will teach others and offer sacrifices after he has been restored to full fellowship with God. Luther's point that David does not claim any merit for God's mercy is well taken.

Rev. TOM G.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to all the believing; to the Jew first and also the Gentile." Romans 1:16