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The Doctrine of Compatibilistic Free Will (Updated)

"The Doctrine of Compatibilistic Free Will" or "Compatibilism" [7|12] as opposed to The Doctrine of Libertarian Free Will [10]


"Decision by Disposition"


choice, compatibilism, conception, conceptualizing, desire, determination, disposition, motives, reasons, free will


"Compatibilism is the belief, that the unregenerate are free to choose only within the boundaries, constraints and limitations of their fallen and sinful disposition"

Proof-Texts and Cross-References

Mt. 7v16-18; Jn. 1v13; Philip. 2v13; 1 Cor. 2v14


The following serves to explain Calvinism's view on Free Will. I'll start out by explaining the decision-making process, then explain why this is a problem for mankind, and finally how God gracefully assist the elect in overcoming these barriers, by drawing them unto Himself.


There are four elements (or aspects) in the decision-making process: "conception" [11], "desire" [11], "choice" [11] and "accomplishment" [11]


Before you can desire anything, "you must first be able to conceive an idea, want, need, whatever it may be" [11]. "You can't desire something without first conceiving it. You have to be able to fathom what that is." [11]


Before you can make any choice, "you have to be able to desire" [11] that which you have conceived.

Yet, we can conceive of many things, which we do not desire.

- We can conceive of being shot, yet not desire to be shot.
- We can conceive of being hurt, yet not desire to be hurt.
- We can conceive of being in hell, yet not desire to be in hell.

We only desire that which is in line with our disposition. We can not desire something that is contrary to our disposition.

"God has knowledge of sin" [11]. He can conceive of it. "He knows what a lie is. He can conceive a lie" [11]. Yet, "God cannot tell a lie, because that's against His nature" [11]. "Now if there is someone who has a free will that would be God. God has a free will, yet He does not make choices that are contrary to His nature." [11]

Decision (by Disposition)

Once you desire that which you conceived of, "you're gonna have to make the choice" [11].

There can be no decision, "without first conception and desire" [11].

Whatever you decide "has to be within your nature" [11].

There can be no decision contrary to your conception and desire. No-one makes a decisions, contrary to their disposition.

» According to Matt Slick, "Logically, someone could not make a choice contrary to his own nature." [14]


Once you made your choice "you must then be able to accomplish that choice" [11].

We can conceive of, desire, and choose many things, that we cannot accomplish.

- We can certainly conceive of flying, we can desire to fly, we can make the decision to fly, yet we cannot fly, without some kind of outside aid.


The problem with our disposition is that it is Depraved, Enslaved To Sin, Spiritually Dead (Rom. 3v9-23, 6v14-21; Gal. 5v1; 1 Cor. 2v14), and therefore wholly incapable of desiring and choosing God.

"Because of our nature, our sinful nature ... we can only choose from that which is sin, within the realm of sin. That's it. Even if you do things that appear good to the human perspective, they are merely stained goods in need of redemption." [11]

» According to Matt Slick, "a person who is a sinner and an unbeliever is not capable by an act of his or her free will to choose to receive Christ as Savior" [14]


Calvinists deny free will

Many of our Arminian friends seem to think, that we deny free will.

This belief is, however, not new. As early as the fourth century, Jerome (347-420 AD) wrote in his letter 'To Ctesiphon', that his opponents, the Pelagians was misrepresenting his views, claiming that he 'condemned free will'. [9]

This, however, is untrue.

Calvinists DO believe in free will. Even Calvinists once said "Yes" to Jesus.

To deny man's ability to make decisions would be ludicrous. In Biblical terms, you "know how to give good gifts unto your children" (Mt. 7v9-11), etc. Of course we can make decisions.

What we do deny, however, is that our will are completely, utterly and sovereignly "free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God" [10].

But God doesn't drag people against their will?

Many of our Arminian friends seem to believe that Calvinists believe that God drags people to Him against their will.

» Kerrigan Skelly of PinPoint Evangelism, for instance, claims that "Calvinists would say that the word 'draw' means to drag, like against their will. Like you know you picture the old caveman that drags his wife by her hair. That's the picture that calvinists give of God and the sinner. He drags them against their will. So really God is saving sinners that don't want to be saved, in their natural state" [8]

The accusation, however, is untrue.

We do NOT believe that God drags sinners "against their will" [8]. We do, however, believe that He "makes them willing", and thereby, "by their own free will", draws them unto Him. Therefore, God does NOT "force people to be saved against their will", nor does He "save sinners that don't want to be saved"; rather He makes them willing to be saved.

also known as "Compatibilists" or "Calvinists"

John Calvin (1509–1564) [5] | Dr. Bruce Ware [3] | Dr. John Piper (1939-) [4] | Matt Slick [14] | Pastor EJ Hill (1977-) | Nick Bibile [6] | Zack Kueker [11]


IF you are reading this off-line, please visit us on-line to view the embedded videos.


1. Edward A. Morris. Calvinism and Free Will (Noble Minded; 18 February 2005)
2. Greg Gibson. Calvinism, Arminianism, So What? (Jesus Said Follow Me; 27 September 2010)
3. Dr. Bruce Ware. A Few Problems With Arminianism and a Case For Calvinism (YouTube; 19 May 2008)
4. John Piper. Irresistible Grace (YouTube; 27 April 2009)
5. Scott David Foutz. John Calvin on Free Will (Quodlibet Online Journal; May 1996)
6. Nick Bibile. God's Grace or the Free Will of Man (Agape Chapel Ministries; 20 January 2011)
7. Compatibilism (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; 20 January 2011)
8. Kerrigan Skelly. Irresistible Grace IS WRONG! (YouTube; 9 May 2009)
9. Jerome. Letter 133 (New Advent; 19 January 2011)
10. Libertarian Free Will (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; 7 January 2011)
11. Zack Kueker. Calvinists Don't Believe in Free Will? (YouTube; 23 May 2009)
12. Compatibilism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; 26 April 2004)
13. Peter Voss. The Nature of Freewill (Peter Vos' Homepage; July 1997)
14. Matt Slick. What is compatibilist free will? (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry; 20 January 2011)


27.09.2010 / 19-20.01.2011 / 26.01.2011 / 31.01.2013 / 08.03.2013
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