* From the BEL Archives: Christians taught free will for the first 300 years of the church. Oxford professor of historical theology Alister McGrath, an Augustinian sympathizer, nonetheless admits that "The pre-Augustinian theological tradition is practically of one voice in asserting the freedom of the human will." And Marston and Forster in their classic God's Strategy in Human History show that early Christian leaders taught free will and rejected the heresy that denied genuine free will. Determinism was taught by the pagan Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks, Gnostics, Neoplatonists, Stoics, etc., whereas genuine free will was taught in the first centuries of the church by Christian leaders in Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Carthage, Jerusalem, Lycia, Nyssa, Rome, and Sicca. Some of the early Christian authors who taught genuine free will were Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Gaul, Athenagoras of Athens, Theophilus of Antioch, Tatian of Syria, Clement of Alexandria, Bardaisan of Syria, Tertullian of Carthage, Origen, Novatian of Rome, Methodius of Olympus, Arnobius of Sicca, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Jerome. Oh yeah, and on today's program, Bob mentions how we improved on the latest graphic from AHA's Russell Hunter.
* Related BEL Resources: In addition to the powerful information just above, we've also provided for our listeners...
- Wrong about Augustine, Part 1 (this page)
- Wrong about Augustine, Part 2
- kgov.com/leighton-1 with Soterioloty 101 asking "So, where did God's freedom go?"
- kgov.com/leighton-2 for Pt. 2 of our 2018 interview with this great theologian
- kgov.com/leighton-3 for Pt. 3
- kgov.com/300 for Christians Taught Free Will for their First 300 Years from Marston & Forster (the above program)
- kgov.com/400 aka kgov.com/leighton-3 extends to a fourth century the falsification that Calvinists teach what the early church taught about whether the human will is truly free and an unbeliever has the ability to accept God's forgiveness
- Luther and Calvin Wrong about Augustine Being Orthodox from 2019
- kgov.com/limited-atonement not believed in 318 A.D.
- R.C. Sproul Jr. & White deny the Incarnation in the Enyart/White debate aftermath
- Bob's "Stop the tape! Stop the tape" discussion of the painfully fun Wilson vs. White video (which you can see also embedded below) at kgov.com/wilson-white-soteriology-101 and kgov.com/wilson-white-soteriology-102.
* Athanasius on Free Will: From kgov.com/300, as additional information, we added the passage Bob highlighted in his own copy of the c. 318 A.D. text Incarnation by Athanasius of Alexandria...
"upon men... He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked—namely the impress of His own Image... themselves becoming reasonable [i.e., able to reason] and expressing the Mind of God even as He does, though in limited degree, they might continue for ever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise [i.e., Eden]. But since the will of man could turn either way, God... laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their original innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs, without sorrow, pain or care... But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death..." - Anthanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei, Chap. 1, Sect. 3; 1943 translation
* Luther Claimed God Predestined Men to Hell: Some teachers who claim that all things are predestined, including Martin Luther (think of Bondage of the Will, or better yet, this handy abridged BoW), argue disingenuously that man's will cannot be free because it is in "bondage" from sin. For these same teachers, typically, deny that Adam and Eve had the abiity to decide otherwise. Thus it is mostly a dodge, trying to make their theology appear less unreasonable, to claim that it is because of sin that we don't have actual libertarian free will when in reality these teachers also believe that before any sin whatsoever, Adam and Eve, along with the angels who left their first estate, had no actual ability to decide differently from what they ended up deciding.
By the way, many authors, such as James Swan at Beggars All, try to insulate Luther from John Calvin's harshness. Bob Enyart replied to Swan at his blog post:
When you quote Luther criticizing those who "worry in vain about whether they are predestinated", this in no way distances Luther from Calvin and so does not make your point. Hard Calvinists make the same criticism, and those who are not would immediately answer the concern, that for all those living, your standing before God depends only upon your willingness to accept His salvation.
Martin Luther wrote in his Preface to the Epistle to the Romans:
In chapters 9, 10, and 11, he [Paul] teaches concerning God’s eternal predestination, from which it originally comes that one, believes or not, is rid of sin or not rid of it. Thus our becoming righteous is taken entirely out of our hands and put in the hand of God. And that is most highly necessary. ... God is certain, and His predestination cannot fail... - Luther
Of course, Luther was wrong here. While the reformer taught "double predestination", Paul did not teach that God from eternity past predestined everyone either to salvation or damnation. If you have any doubt of this, we invite you to see Post 1A and Post 2A in Bob Enyart's Calvinism Debate with TNAR's president Dr. Larry Bray.