Before the foundations of the world, was I predestined to give my life to God? Or was I in complete control of my decisions, my fate, which lead me to choose God? Queries such as these are the very type asked throughout history by not only by the founding fathers of the Christian faith but also by current theologians. The battle of the will has drawn stark white lines between denominations and close friends. Nevertheless, few choose to accurately examine what they are debating in depth and tend to have shallow understanding of the issue. Steeped not only in theology, this dispute is also based in history and has applications to daily life. In the end it is up to each man and woman to make ...view middle of the document...
Romans 3:9-10 says, “That Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one;’” (NIV). Thus, because we are all unrighteous, we are unable to come to God on our own. Lacking in the ability to freely choose God, God must than have chosen us.
Interestingly, what the theology of predestination and freewill is not is the question of whether every action taken is decided before hand by God. Erwin Lutzer states,
“Luther could not care less about whether a man has the freedom to choose to lie out in the sun or to stay indoors. Such a discussion, though interesting, has nothing to do with the gospel. At stake is the question of whether man can, on his own, turn away from sin to God” (165).
At the heart of the debate is if God elects certain people or if man chose God. Thousands of verses can be offered from both sides, and brilliant theologians can be quoted from either side of the line. Obviously the two are polar opposites, and are impossible to reconcile. Therefore, it would be easy to imagine that throughout history quarrels have sparked between the two sides. Three of the most eminent disputes are: Augustine and Pelagius, Luther and Erasmus, and Calvin and Arminius.
In the 4th century A.D., Pelagius and Augustine’s differing thoughts collided into one another, creating one of the most influential debates to the field of the will. As B. B. Warfield put it, “it is Augustine who gave us the Reformation” (qtd. In Sproul). Pelagius controversially contented that man had no original sin, sparking a response from Augustine. Although the discussion revolved around original sin, it was focused on the extent to which the will of a fallen man was free (Sproul). Holding a humanistic view, Pelagius thought that because man had no original sin he could choose between good or evil. Which lead him to conclude that man had the freedom to choose God, since man was at his core good. Augustine countered fiercely, he stated that Adams sin compromise himself and the entire race of mankind. Due to this devastation humanity not only received the sin of Adam there very character became corrupt causing what is called total depravity (Ritchie). Proceeding down the road of depravity lead Augustine to conclude that mans will in salvation cannot be free. Our total depravity causes us to reject God; therefore, we require God to swoop down and save us. Enthrallingly, Pelagius was condemned by the Catholic Church as a heretic, only later to have his many of his teachings accepted as truth. However, the debate between freewill and predestination was far from over.
Pelagius and Augustine set the stage for Luther and Erasmus. In essence, Pelagius and Augustine placed all the pieces on the chess board for which Luther and Erasmus would later use to contend with each other. Promoting two major claims, Erasmus maintained that God would not offer numerous commands if a person could not obey them. As well as claiming...