As I was reading in the book of Exodus this morning, I came across a couple of verses that provoked some reflection on the debate about the nature of human freedom. After defining the Arminian view of human freedom, I’ll share the verses and throw out a question for discussion.
Calvinists and Arminians have debated the nature of free will for centuries. While mainstream Calvinists tend to hold to a compatibalist view of the will, Arminians have typically gravitated toward a libertarian view. Bruce Ware defines the libertarian view as follows:
“This conception of freedom proposes that a moral agent is free so long as, for whatever choice he makes, he could have chosen differently. That is, given all the conditions that are true of the situation in which he makes his choice, the agent is free so long as he could have chosen differently within that identical situation in which he makes the choice.” â€“God’s Lesser Glory, pp. 34-35
Arminians typically argue that there can be no moral responsibility if human will is not free in the sense defined above.
Exodus 3 is the narrative of the burning bush in which God commissions Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Moses is skeptical both of his ability to convince the Israelites to follow him and of his chances of getting Pharoah to listen. So God makes two predictions to Moses:
“And [the Israelites] will pay heed to what you say . . . But I know that the King of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion” (Exodus 3:18-19).
So God makes two predictions concerning the actions of free moral agents. (1) The Israelites will choose to follow Moses. (2) Pharoah will choose to reject Moses’ directives. God infallibly predicts these choices well in advance of their actual occurrence.
Here is my question for discussion. Were the Israelites and Pharoah free to choose other than what they did? To put it another way, were the Israelites and Pharoah free to choose other than what God infallibly predicted they would choose?
If you answer yes, do you also believe that God’s prediction could have turned out to be incorrect?
If you answer no, do you really believe that human will is free?