God as a Debtor to Synergistic Views

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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
A typical comment seen in free-will discussions related to the depravity of the lost in soteriological topics is that "man possesses the ability to respond to God's offer of grace" along with the accompanying "some will respond rightly and others wrongly".

At that juncture I want to probe more deeply into exactly the synergist made the right choice while his or her neighbor did not. What usually follows is more pointed questioning from me and my interlocutor eventually dismissing my questions with some desperate pointers to poorly understood Scripture verses.

It would seem to me that to avoid the rabbit trails related to proper interpretation of the offered verses, a reasonable response to the statements given in my opening sentence above would be a question along the lines:

What specifically was it about your ability to respond correctly and another's to not do the same that absolves God from being a debtor, per your choice, thereby having God giving you what you merited by your perceptive ability to choose correctly?

I am hard pressed to find a response from the Arminian, open theist, etc., that would absolve God from being a debtor. That said, knowing my own limitations, I would be interested in any possible examples that would be a suitable answer to my question.

As more background, I think the approach of using "reasons to boast" as a tactic with a synergist fails too often with their claims that they are not doing any "work" that would given them "reason to boast". It seems to me that another approach would be to approach the topic from a "making God a debtor strategy" as the "wiggle room" the synergist may lay claim to related to "reasons to boast" is much more narrow and explicitly didactic within Scripture.

Am I all wet here or is there any cheese down this tunnel? ;)



Puritan Board Graduate
It goes back to the notion of prevenient grace where God supposedly sets the stage for the possibility of salvation for all. Mathematically this notion can be illustrated by taken the human race from -1 to 0 where each man would have a free choice to accept the grace to get to +1.


Puritan Board Freshman
I wrote a blog post once that's quite similiar to the theme of the OP...

Free will makes God appear impotent.

I keep hearing…and reading…how God has given fallen mankind free will, and with this free will, they can either exercise it and be saved, or refuse to use it and die lost. In this schema, it renders God impotent, bowing to man’s will over His. It puts sinners in the proverbial driver’s seat, and not God…they are the “fulfillers” or their own destiny. Now, before I delve into His Word, let’s learn the definition of “free will” and also “free”.

I found this definiton of free will from the merriam-webster website:

free will noun

: the ability to choose how to act

: the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God

Look closely at that last line; “the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or god.” Now, if that doesn’t render God impotent, then what does? I agree that sinners have a will, yet that will is not “free”, but it is bound to it’s nature. An apple tree can produce nothing other than apples. To do so would be contrary to it’s nature. Only outside influences such as grafting can make it produce another type of apple. I touched on this very subject a few blogs ago, so I’ll leave it here.

Now onto the definition of “free” from the merriam-webster website:

free adjective \ˈfrē\

: not costing any money

: not held as a slave or prisoner

Again, look closely at that last line; “not held as a slave or prisoner.” The record of God easily refutes that notion, and I’ll get to it later on in this blog.

So to be free, means you have no restraints, no restrictions, you are free to go wherever you want, whenever you want. I am free in the United States to go anywhere I choose to go. If I want to go to Kentucky…I live in West Virginia…I don’t have to get prior approval to go there. I can go there at 3:00 PM in the day or 5:00 AM in the morning. Not so with God. In John 6, Jesus states this, “No man can come unto Me, except the Father which sent Me hath drawn him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”(John 6:44) If someone has true freedom of will, then there would be no need of waiting on God’s call…they can come anytime they choose to, be free…free willed creatures. Yet, they can not come unless/until they are drawn. So that shows that sinners aren’t “free” at all. Sinners have sin that holds them back, holds them in bonds, not letting them come to God any time they choose to. They are mastered by sin, by Satan, and his yoke is heavy, and constantly holds them back. Jesus spoke of His yoke that He bestows unto His sheep in this fashion; “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is Light.” (Matthew 11:30) God has to come and break that “yoke of bondage” that Satan has on sinners before they can come to Him. To back up to verse 28 and 29 in Matthew 28, Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” God has to first break that “yoke of bondage” and then, He puts His yoke upon them, because you can not have two yokes upon you at the same time. Jesus stated that this way…“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) God has to first, break Satan’s yoke off of sinners, second, draw them to Himself, and third, place His yoke upon them. In all of this, how is a sinner free? How do they have the ability to exercise their free will?

Now onto that which I wanted to discuss concerning the “free” definition stated thusly: “not held as a slave or prisoner.” As sinners, we are slaves unto sin, and there’s no getting around this. We will always have a master/Master. We are going to be slaves to either Satan or God. As sinners, Satan was our master, and we were his slaves. Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans 6 when he wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Read closely that portion I put in italics and see what Apostle Paul wrote, and meant. We were servants of sin, and Satan our master, when we were sinners. When God quickened us and called us with an holy calling, through the effectual calling, we then became servants of God. Again, where is the freedom, the freedom of the will being exercised by sinners at? I am just not seeing it being shown here. True freedom in Christ is slavery unto Him. Apostle Paul stated this more than once when he said in Romans 1, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,” and in Philippians 1 he wrote, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” Then in Titus 1 he wrote, “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” And finally in Philemon, he wrote, “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabour.” I have shown you four places where Apostle Paul referred to himself as a servant/prisioner of Jesus Christ. True freedom is being bound to God.

Where sinners are “free” is the movement of their will in restraints to their nature. They will always chose that which is the most pleasing to themselves. They freely choose to go to the ball game over church. They choose to sleep with another person outside their marriage, they choose to take something that does not belong to them. Now, not everyone is a theif, not everyone is a whoremonger, not everyone is a liar, &c. But they will choose that which suits them the best.

I pray that this blog post doesn’t cause any confusion on the reader’s part. I did the very best I could to explain that sinners, being dead in their trespasses and sins, being blinded and deaf, aren’t in the least bit “free” as merriam-webster defines “free”. I leave you with this small passage to ponder on:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5) I actually like the ESV’s rendering of verse 5 better when it states, “and the darkness has not overcome it.”



Puritan Board Graduate
Another thing,

Arminianism, RCism and so forth never can escape the house of mirrors, that philosophical infinite regression quicksand where no matter how many kinds of "grace" you add to the will in salvation it doesn't solve the problem of their inherent humanism. You end up with man as the arbiter in salvation and not God.


Puritan Board Freshman
To tell the truth, I can very well see how an Arminian wiggles out of the dilemma proposed in the OP. "God is not a debtor, because that's what He has called me to (my salvation), as He has all men. Therefore I just respond to His call, using my own free will (with maybe just some help from the Holy Spirit :)),so God is in no way indebted to me,etc,etc". Maybe I'm mistaken, though. Anyway, I'll try out the stratagy when I have a chance. :)
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