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Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Apr 11 2015 12:30 PM

For reasons that are really quite bizarre I am appearing on TV tomorrow to debate "Free Will" with a mixed panel of folks (including Muslims, atheists and Arminians), The show is on the BBC so it is quite high profile and given my own mediocre talents and knowledge it is, to say the least, quite daunting.

I take a boringly orthodox reformed position in respect of free will that can be summarised as:

  • Only God has "libertarian" free will.
  • Man acts according to God's decrees but do so according to his own will and is therefore free to the extent that he is not forced to do anything he does not choose (or perhaps more accurately "want") to do.
  • Man's freedom is therefore preserved through "compatibilism"

I have been very influenced through reading Luther's "The bondage of the will" but wonder if any of you folks have any suggestions of short (the debate is tomorrow) Logos resources that I could profitably look at prior to the debate.  

Given the secular nature of the BBC and the overriding humanism that pervades the UK (and especially the BBC) I am fairly certain that a reformed view will not be well received, therefore I would not be offended at any suggestions you may wish to make and especially for any prayers you could make on my behalf. 

Posts 479
Nord Zootman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 12:34 PM

No suggestions, but you have my prayers!

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 12:35 PM

Mike Pettit:
therefore I would not be offended at any suggestions you may wish to make and especially for any prayers you could make on my behalf. 
 

No suggestions, but I will pray that God is glorified. 

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

Posts 3375
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 12:55 PM

Mike Pettit:
Given the secular nature of the BBC and the overriding humanism that pervades the UK (and especially the BBC) I am fairly certain that a reformed view will not be well received, therefore I would not be offended at any suggestions you may wish to make and especially for any prayers you could make on my behalf. 

I'll be praying.

I can't think of anything offhand in terms of Logos resources, but for future reference (from a non-Reformed source) I would recommend the lengthy section on free will in Servais Pinckaers' The Sources of Christian Ethics, which I've recommended to Faithlife before.

Posts 701
ChelseaFC | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 1:34 PM

Hey Mike, 

   Many blessings on this great outreach opportunity tomorrow....You may also try For Calvinism by Michael Horton and Against Calvinism for Roger Olson. God bless you as you prep and speak tomorrow. May He give you boldness, clear speech, and may He be glorified. 

Cheers, 
 ChelseaFC

Chelsea FC- Today is a good day!

Posts 1002
Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 3:04 PM

ChelseaFC:

Hey Mike, 

   Many blessings on this great outreach opportunity tomorrow....You may also try For Calvinism by Michael Horton and Against Calvinism for Roger Olson. God bless you as you prep and speak tomorrow. May He give you boldness, clear speech, and may He be glorified. 

Cheers, 
 ChelseaFC

Many thanks for the suggestion, I have had a good read through the relevant sections of both and they are indeed very useful in framing the debate.

Posts 147
Darcy S. Van Horn | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 3:49 PM

You might find D. A. Carson's book Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility helpful.  Not yet available in Logos (it is in pre-pub as part of the Wipf & Stock D.A. Carson Collection) so you'd have to find a print copy.  Too much to read in one day, but you would probably find some helpful material, perhaps most likely in the final chapter "The Formulation of the Tension" in Part Four: Theological Reflections.  May the Lord bless you and use you in tomorrow's debate!

In Him,

Darcy

Posts 1059
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 6:39 PM

Oh, that's very interesting, I hope and pray that it goes well. I'll be very interested in watching. Send us a link when it's published, if you can.

I've mulled this over, and the thing that has struck me is that free will is only possible in a theistic universe. Otherwise our will is simply the solution to physical mechanics. There was an interesting discussion, mostly from a materialistic perspective, at http://www.quora.com/Free-Will/Does-free-will-exist

Glyn Williams seemed the most intellectually honest from that perspective.

Sorry, I don't have any logos resources at my fingertips to help. I find the reformed explanation to be the most compelling, so I'll be cheering you on.

All the best to you!

Posts 835
Jack Hairston | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 6:50 PM

May I illustrate the paradox of free will with a joke?

Two dumb guys are watching a western movie.

Dumb guy #1: See the cowboy with the black hat? Betcha ten bucks that when he rides under a tree, his hat will be knocked off.

#2: You're on!

They watch the movie, and sure enough, the cowboy rides under a tree and a branch sweeps off his black hat.

#2 reaches for his wallet, but is stopped by #1: I can't take your money. I already saw the movie.

#2: I did too. I can't believe he made the same dumb mistake.

We live our lives as part of life's "movie," but God is outside of Time and has already seen the whole thing. For God, prophecy is no big deal. (Of course, being God, He can interfere with our "movie" any time He wants to.)

Hope this helps,
Jack

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Kent | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 7:31 PM

Jack Hairston:
but God is outside of Time and has already seen the whole thing.

Jack Hairston:
He can interfere with our "movie" any time He wants to.

But Jack, if God is outside of time how can he then act inside time? It is the old debate: is God temporal or timeless, inside or outside the experience of time?

Sorry I couldn't resist Cool

Posts 1059
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 11 2015 7:42 PM

Kent:

Jack Hairston:
but God is outside of Time and has already seen the whole thing.

Jack Hairston:
He can interfere with our "movie" any time He wants to.

But Jack, if God is outside of time how can he then act inside time? It is the old debate: is God temporal or timeless, inside or outside the experience of time?

Sorry I couldn't resist Cool

Too bad it's been a debate. ;-). And I know this is just friendly ribbing.

How powerful could God be if he were not both inside time and eternal?

Ps 115:3

That's real free will.

Posts 1002
Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 12 2015 12:13 AM

William Gabriel:

Oh, that's very interesting, I hope and pray that it goes well. I'll be very interested in watching. Send us a link when it's published, if you can.

I've mulled this over, and the thing that has struck me is that free will is only possible in a theistic universe. Otherwise our will is simply the solution to physical mechanics. There was an interesting discussion, mostly from a materialistic perspective, at http://www.quora.com/Free-Will/Does-free-will-exist

Glyn Williams seemed the most intellectually honest from that perspective.

Sorry, I don't have any logos resources at my fingertips to help. I find the reformed explanation to be the most compelling, so I'll be cheering you on.

All the best to you!

Many thanks for the link, some very interesting thoughts there.

Posts 1002
Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 12 2015 11:53 AM

If anyone has any interest in this the programme will be broadcast at 10.00am on the 19th April on BBC1 as "The Big Questions".

While I would definitely say very different things in retrospect It is hard when you are put on the spot with no warning. The best part was taking the train back to London afterwards with an atheist philosopher, a Roman Catholic and a Muslim and engaging on free will with them for two hours. It was much more interesting and we covered much more ground than you could in the studio. 

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 12 2015 1:03 PM

Kent:

But Jack, if God is outside of time how can he then act inside time?

By reaching out and doing so.

Sort of like with a dollhouse...if your child is not in the dollhouse, how can she act inside the dollhouse?

By reaching out and doing so.

Again, this reminds of Zeno's paradox. Before you get from here to there, you must first travel halfway there...but before you can travel halfway there, you must travel halfway to halfway...but before you can travel halfway to halfway, you must first travel halfway to halfway of halfway...and so on, which means that you are never able to make progress forward because you are constantly being delimited by an infinite regress. So what can be done?

Take a step forward.

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John Goodman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 12 2015 3:22 PM

Maybe its too late now but I have found this chapter food for thought...

Webster, J. B. (2005). Evangelical freedom. In Confessing god: Essays in christian dogmatics II (pp. 213-226). London: T & T Clark.

Not sure if it is in Logos?

גַּם־חֹשֶׁךְ֮ לֹֽא־יַחְשִׁ֪יךְ מִ֫מֶּ֥ךָ וְ֭לַיְלָה כַּיּ֣וֹם יָאִ֑יר כַּ֝חֲשֵׁיכָ֗ה כָּאוֹרָֽה

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