Tag Archives: Arminianism

Is Free-will the Image of God? (Part 2)

The blue M&M or the red M&M?

The introduction gave us the biblical foundation for the discussion of the image of God. Before going into the view that sees free-will as the image of God, I would like to stress one thing. When we speak on the “image of God”, we are not going to be emphasizing the creature-Creator distinction. This is not to say that this is disregarded, for it is, in truth, an essential doctrine. But the very nature of the discussion is drawing our attention to the creature-Creator connection. We are wanting to know in what sense man is created in the “likeness of God”.

Can free-will be the image of God? It is a common conception, especially of those in

Pelagians are adherrents to the basic view of Pelagius, a British monk who lived in the 4th century. He is infamously known for his denial of the doctrine of original sin and his assertions of the basic goodness of man.

the semi-Palagian and Palagian (1) camps, that the creature-Creator connection is the free-will of man. As God has free-will, so God has given to man this characteristic. It it free-will that makes man superior to the beast. It is free-will that is the key to man’s destiny; whether he will choose good and blessedness, or choose evil and the consequent judgments. This notion of free-will being the image of God in man, however, has a few internal difficulties as well as a lack of Biblical support. Those who are of a Pelagian bent tend to see the image of God as constituting free-will to support their already assumed theodicy. The argument seems to be more an assumption than something arrived at through investigation of Biblical texts. It is posed in this manner, “God has free-will and man has free-will. Therefore, free-will is the image of God”. But this simply begs the question.

Besides begging the question, this view has some internal inconsistencies. The most obvious internal inconsistency is if God has free-will, man cannot also have free-will given the meaning of “freedom” to begin with. Those who hold that God, in His freedom, made a being who in turn thwarts the free-will of God, is, to say the least, problematic. Does God give up His freedom to give man free-will? To suppose He does, for the sake of argument, only demonstrates this cannot possibly be the image of God since God Himself ends up losing the attribute of free-will. And how, then, could man be said to be created in the likeness of God? As theologian and philosopher Gordon Clark says in relation to this, “[I]f man were free, God could not confront him imperiously, from which Feuerbach had already deduced atheism, and modernism had deified man.” (2)

The point is simple: If man has free-will to frustrate God in His purposes, man’s will- not God’s will –  is established. Man’s will, then, is ultimate, not God’s. And from this proposition atheism has flourished, and from it likewise man has been seen as his own god determining for himself good and evil.

The second problem is the ambiguity of the word “free-will”. If it means the ability to choose between two incompatible courses of action then the above refutation stands. If it means freedom to act outside of one’s nature then not even God has that freedom. God cannot lie, cannot become weak, and cannot speak in contradictory propositions. Man, by his constitution after the fall cannot will to do something that is outside if his natural bent. Man before and after the fall was determined by his nature. The difference now is that since the fall, man has become corrupted in all his faculties so he is free only to do that which is evil. Man is said to be “born in sin” (Ps. 51:5) and speaking lies as soon as he is born (Ps. 58:3)

The above establishes this conclusion: Free-will is not the image of God in man. It must be sought elsewhere. The next one that shall be examined is “Language and Creativity”: Is it the image of God?

(1) The works of Gordon Clark, vol. IV, page 309


27 Reasons Why People Are Not Calvinists

Some of these are humorous, some serious; all of them are genuine reasons why people are not Calvinists.

1. Because it’s not fair.

2. Because they hate the notion that they are not “free”. [End note 1]

3. Because God is thought to be so loving he could never have actually hated Esau.

4. Because they lack an education in the fundamentals of logic and can’t find a good logic teacher to their liking because they’re all Calvinists. (Quite the cyclical problem)

5. Because our culture has been infested with philosophies of autonomy on many fronts. When a voice is heard crying in the wilderness saying the notion of free-will is anti-Christ, the Fundamentalist and the Satanist find common ground.

6. Because theology is ignored for devotionals.

7. Because Scripture verses intended for the church are wrongly applied to all men universally. When one points this out, the rebuttal is usually no more than a sigh.

8. Because they are unwilling to accept many of the ramifications of the doctrine. (God is the ultimate cause of all things including evil, reprobation is not according to works, and they only won in Monopoly because God ordained it, or worst yet, they lost because God ordained it. And that’s not fair.)

9. Because it would be horrible for God to predestine someone to hell without “giving them a chance.” [End note 2]

10. Because they like to believe when they pray, they are actually changing God’s mind on a matter. The purpose of prayer for some is to remind God of things he may have forgotten and to change God’s mind about things we don’t like.

11. Because Calvinists are a minority. (I’ve even heard an “independent fundamental King James only Anabaptist” say this. There’s a tad bit of irony there if you can detect it)

12. Because “Calvin burned Servetus.” And a Red Herring is just a fish.

13. Because the Calvinist Jesus violated the most imperative playground rule by not being “fair” in offering Himself for everybody.

14. Because a God that refuses to be “fair” needs revision. We need a loving, sharing God who gets sad when we don’t share back. (I’ll be fair: for Fundamentalists’ God gets more mad than sad)

15. Because they really don’t get it. (See 4)

16. Because they cannot see how man can be responsible before God without free-will. That God ordained both their fall and their responsibility baffles them.

17. Because their great, great Granddad was Charles Finny.

18. Because it’s easier to simply schedule the Holy Spirit to come on some fine spring day for a revival than wait for Him.

19. Because they like saying they are a “zero-point Calvinist” so much they’ll never give it up.

20. Because Calvinists contracted with the Devil. (True story)

21. Because they evade with all diligence the thought that God can do something without their consent. (Like regenerate someone)

22. Because some Calvinists are rude and the Bible tells us not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. (They say this with a straight face)

23. Because the doctrine of divine election is not fair. (Yes, I know I’ve mentioned this multiple times in more than a few ways, but that is the structure of their argument. See 4.)

24. Because replying “Oh, I’m just a Christian” or “I’m a Bible-believer” sounds more pious.

25. Because if God was truly in control of everything the world would be X. (Whatever the individual making the argument thinks it should be) [End note 3]

26. Because they’re too witty and clever to ever be controlled by God. [End note 4, again]

27. (Because we know someone will say it anyway) God did not predestinate them to believe in Calvinism.

End notes:

[1] Freedom, in reality, is obedience to God’s law. This only comes from the working of God in the sinner contrary to the man’s nature.

[2] i.e., it’s not fair. Yet reprobation, like salvation, is not according to works.

[3] They all think the world should be the way they perceive it ought to be and not the way God has it. After all, their world would be a fair world.

[4] Have you ever been debating Calvinism with someone when they do something spontaneous like slam on the breaks without cause, or possibly slap you, as they turn to you and say “Did God cause me to do that!?” Before I was converted I thought it was clever. After, I thought it was annoying. In retrospect, it’s so funny to me I could laugh my lunch up. After all the previous discourse they expect us to concede on that something like that? Astounding!

– Ben Murch