Thursday, January 26, 2012

William W. Birch: Total Depravity and Total Inability: A Biblical Case Study

William W. Birch: Total Depravity and Total Inability: A Biblical Case Study

Arminius and Free Will

Arminius went too far when he said our free will is destroyed. "In this [fallen] state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and . . . weakened; but it is also . . . imprisoned, destroyed...(Works 2:192-93, emphases author's original).

If the will is freed by God's prevenient grace, then it could not be previously destroyed. The images do not work well. Better to say that human will was corrupted and imprisoned to sin. Being dead in sins in Ephesians 2:1 is understood as separate from fellowship with God. It is drawn by the Holy Spirit through God's prevenient grace to accept the truths about Jesus Christ, freed to accept or reject. But before faith, the will is not yet regenerated. Otherwise, regeneration would come earlier in the order of salvation than faith. This is one of the weak arguments of Calvinism, as it places regeneration not only before faith but also before justification. Yet at the same time, the same Calvinist would place regeneration as first in the doctrine of Sanctification--a teaching which follows from Justification.

Hoitenga's book "John Calvin and the Will. A Critique and Corrective" is right to point out that Calvin went too far in depicting the unregenerate man's will. He points out that even Augustine painted a more positive picture. Interestingly enough, Richard Muller wrote the forward to Hoitenga's book.