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Like both Calvinist camps, Lutherans view the work of salvation as monergistic in that "the natural [that is, corrupted and divinely unrenewed] powers of man cannot do anything or help towards salvation" Formula of Concord : Solid Declaration, art. Hence, Lutherans believe that a true Christian that is, a genuine recipient of saving grace can lose his or her salvation, "[b]ut the cause is not as though God were unwilling to grant grace for perseverance to those in whom He has begun the good work Unlike Calvinists, Lutherans do not believe in a predestination to damnation.

The Anabaptist movement was characterized by the fundamental belief in the free will of man. Many earlier movements such as Waldensians and others likewise held this viewpoint. This freedom to will what one desires is inherent in all people. This is perfectly true: but why should so small a matter have been dignified with so proud a title? Calvinist Protestants embrace the idea of predestination , namely, that God chose who would be saved and who would be not saved prior to the creation. They quote Ephesians "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight" and also "For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Edwards believed that indeterminism was incompatible with individual dependence on God and hence with his sovereignty. He reasoned that if individuals' responses to God's grace are contra-causally free, then their salvation depends partly on them and therefore God's sovereignty is not "absolute and universal. In this book, Edwards attempts to show that libertarianism is incoherent. For example, he argues that by 'self-determination' the libertarian must mean either that one's actions including one's acts of willing are preceded by an act of free will or that one's acts of will lack sufficient causes.

The first leads to an infinite regress while the second implies that acts of will happen accidentally and hence can't make someone "better or worse, any more than a tree is better than other trees because it oftener happens to be lit upon by a swan or nightingale; or a rock more vicious than other rocks, because rattlesnakes have happened oftener to crawl over it. It should not be thought that this view completely denies freedom of choice, however.

It claims that man is free to act on his strongest moral impulse and volition, which is externally determined, but is not free to act contrary to them, or to alter them. Proponents, such as John L. Girardeau , have indicated their belief that moral neutrality is impossible; that even if it were possible, and one were equally inclined to contrary options, one could make no choice at all; that if one is inclined, however slightly, toward one option, then that person will necessarily choose that one over any others.

Some non-Calvinist Christians attempt a reconciliation of the dual concepts of predestination and free will by pointing to the situation of God as Christ. In taking the form of a man, a necessary element of this process was that Jesus Christ lived the existence of a mortal. When Jesus was born he was not born with the omniscient power of God the Creator, but with the mind of a human child - yet he was still God in essence.

The precedent this creates is that God is able to will the abandonment of His knowledge, or ignore knowledge, while remaining fully God. Thus it is not inconceivable that although omniscience demands that God knows what the future holds for individuals, it is within his power to deny this knowledge in order to preserve individual free will. Other theologians argue that the Calvinist-Edwardsean view suggests that if all human volitions are predetermined by God, then all actions dictated by fallen will of man necessarily satisfy His sovereign decree.

Hence, it is impossible to act outside of God's perfect will, a conclusion some non-Calvinists claim poses a serious problem for ethics and moral theology. An early proposal toward such a reconciliation states that God is, in fact, not aware of future events, but rather, being eternal, He is outside time, and sees the past, present, and future as one whole creation. Consequently, it is not as though God would know "in advance" that Jeffrey Dahmer would become guilty of homicide years prior to the event as an example, but that He was aware of it from all eternity, viewing all time as a single present.

Calvinist theologian Loraine Boettner argued that the doctrine of divine foreknowledge does not escape the alleged problems of divine foreordination. He wrote that "what God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained; and if one is inconsistent with the free agency of man, the other is also. Foreordination renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain. Mormons or Latter-day Saints, believe that God has given all humans the gift of moral agency.

Moral agency includes free will and agency. Proper exercise of unfettered choice leads to the ultimate goal of returning to God's presence. Having the choice to do right or wrong was important, because God wants a society of a certain type—those that comply with eternal laws. Before this Earth was created, this dispute over agency rose to the level that there was a " war in heaven. Many Mormon leaders have also taught that the battle in Heaven over agency is now being carried out on earth [ citation needed ] , where dictators, influenced by Satan, fight against freedom or free agency in governments contrary to the will of God.

Mormons also believe in a limited form of foreordination — not in deterministic, unalterable decrees, but rather in callings from God for individuals to perform specific missions in mortality. Those who are foreordained can reject the foreordination, either outright or by transgressing the laws of God and becoming unworthy to fulfill the call.

The New Church , or Swedenborgianism, teaches that every person has complete freedom to choose heaven or hell. Emanuel Swedenborg , upon whose writings the New Church is founded, argued that if God is love itself, people must have free will. If God is love itself, then He desires no harm to come to anyone: and so it is impossible that he would predestine anyone to hell. On the other hand, if God is love itself, then He must love things outside of Himself; and if people do not have the freedom to choose evil, they are simply extensions of God, and He cannot love them as something outside of Himself.

In addition, Swedenborg argues that if a person does not have free will to choose goodness and faith, then all of the commandments in the Bible to love God and the neighbor are worthless, since no one can choose to do them - and it is impossible that a God who is love itself and wisdom itself would give impossible commandments. As Hinduism is primarily a conglomerate of different religious traditions, [] there is no one accepted view on the concept of free will.

Within the predominant schools of Hindu philosophy there are two main opinions. The Advaita monistic schools generally believe in a fate -based approach, and the Dvaita dualistic schools are proponents for the theory of free will. In both Dvaita and Advaita schools, and also in the many other traditions within Hinduism, there is a strong belief in destiny [] and that both the past and future are known, or viewable, by certain saints or mystics as well as by the supreme being Ishvara in traditions where Ishvara is worshipped as an all-knowing being.

However, this belief in destiny is not necessarily believed to rule out the existence of free will, as in some cases both free will and destiny are believed to exist simultaneously. The six orthodox astika schools of thought in Hindu philosophy give differing opinions: In the Samkhya , for instance, matter is without any freedom, and soul lacks any ability to control the unfolding of matter.

The only real freedom kaivalya consists in realizing the ultimate separateness of matter and self. For the Yoga school, only Ishvara is truly free, and its freedom is also distinct from all feelings, thoughts, actions, or wills, and is thus not at all a freedom of will.

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The metaphysics of the Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools strongly suggest a belief in determinism, but do not seem to make explicit claims about determinism or free will. A quotation from Swami Vivekananda , a Vedantist , offers a good example of the worry about free will in the Hindu tradition. Therefore, we see at once that there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know, and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by conditions of time, space and causality.

To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here. However, Vivekananda's above quote can't be taken as a literal refutation of all free will, as Vivekanda's teacher, Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to teach that man is like a goat tied to a stake - the karmic debts and human nature bind him and the amount of free will he has is analogous to the amount of freedom the rope allows; as one progresses spiritually, the rope becomes longer. On the other hand, Mimamsa , Vedanta , and the more theistic versions of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism have often emphasized the importance of free will.

For example, in the Bhagavad Gita the living beings jivas are described as being of a higher nature who have the freedom to exploit the inferior material nature prakrti :. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature. The doctrine of Karma in Hinduism requires both that we pay for our actions in the past, and that our actions in the present be free enough to allow us to deserve the future reward or punishment that we will receive for our present actions.

The Advaitin philosopher Chandrashekhara Bharati Swaminah puts it this way:. Fate is past karma, free-will is present karma. Both are really one, that is, karma, though they may differ in the matter of time. There can be no conflict when they are really one. Fate, as I told you, is the resultant of the past exercise of your free-will.

By exercising your free-will in the past, you brought on the resultant fate. By exercising your free-will in the present, I want you to wipe out your past record if it hurts you, or to add to it if you find it enjoyable. In any case, whether for acquiring more happiness or for reducing misery, you have to exercise your free-will in the present. Disputes about free will in Islam began with the Mu'tazili vs Hanbali disputes, [] with the Mu'tazili arguing that humans had qadar , the capacity to do right or wrong, and thus deserved the reward or punishment they received, whereas Hanbali insisted on God's jabr , or total power and initiative in managing all events.

Ash'ari develops a "dual agency" or "acquisition" account of free will in which every human action has two distinct agents. God creates the possibility of a human action with his divine jabr , but then the human follows through and "acquires" the act, making it theirs and taking responsibility for it using their human qadar. Free will is therefore discussed at length in Jewish philosophy , firstly as regards God's purpose in creation , and secondly as regards the closely related, resultant, paradox.

The topic is also often discussed in connection with Negative theology , Divine simplicity and Divine Providence , as well as Jewish principles of faith in general.

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The traditional teaching regarding the purpose of creation , particularly as influenced by Jewish mysticism , is that "This world is like a corridor to the World to Come ". It is further understood that in order for Man to have true free choice, he must not only have inner free will, but also an environment in which a choice between obedience and disobedience exists.


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God thus created the world such that both good and evil can operate freely, this is the meaning of the rabbinic maxim , "All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven". Free will is granted to every man. If he desires to incline towards the good way and be righteous, he has the power to do so; and if he desires to incline towards the unrighteous way and be a wicked man, he also has the power to do so. Give no place in your minds to that which is asserted by many of the ignorant: namely that the Holy One, blessed be He, decrees that a man from his birth should be either righteous or wicked.

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Since the power of doing good or evil is in our own hands, and since all the wicked deeds which we have committed have been committed with our full consciousness, it befits us to turn in penitence and to forsake our evil deed. In rabbinic literature , there is much discussion as to the apparent contradiction between God's omniscience and free will. The representative view is that "Everything is foreseen; yet free will is given".

So does He know whether a particular person will be righteous or wicked, or not? If He does know, then it will be impossible for that person not to be righteous. If He knows that he will be righteous but that it is possible for him to be wicked, then He does not know everything that He has created. God and His temperaments are one, and God's existence is beyond the comprehension of Man… [Thus] we do not have the capabilities to comprehend how the Holy One, Blessed Be He, knows all creations and events. It has been said because of this that a man is judged according to all his actions.

The paradox is explained, but not resolved, by observing that God exists outside of time , and therefore, his knowledge of the future is exactly the same as his knowledge of the past and present. Just as his knowledge of the past does not interfere with man's free will, neither does his knowledge of the future. One analogy here is that of time travel. The time traveller, having returned from the future, knows in advance what x will do, but while he knows what x will do, that knowledge does not cause x to do so: x had free will, even while the time traveller had foreknowledge.

Further, the presence of the time traveller, may have had some chaotic effect on x's circumstances and choice, absent when the event comes to pass in the present. Although the above discussion of the paradox represents the majority Rabbinic view, there are several major thinkers who resolve the issue by explicitly excluding human action from divine foreknowledge. Isaiah Horowitz takes the view that God cannot know which moral choices people will make, but that, nevertheless, this does not impair his perfection.

In line with this thinking, the teaching from Pirkei Avoth above, is then to be read as: "Everything [] is observed while - and no matter where - it happens , and since the actor is unaware of being observed free will is given ". The existence of free will, and the paradox above as addressed by either approach , is closely linked to the concept of Tzimtzum.

Tzimtzum entails the idea that God "constricted" his infinite essence, to allow for the existence of a "conceptual space" in which a finite , independent world could exist. The teaching that men and women have the potential to be exalted to a state of godliness clearly expands beyond what is understood by most contemporary Christian churches and expresses for the Latter-day Saints a yearning rooted in the Bible to live as God lives, to love as He loves, and to prepare for all that our loving Father in Heaven wishes for His children.

Several biblical passages intimate that humans can become like God.

New Testament passages also point to this doctrine. These passages can be interpreted in different ways. Many other Christians read the same passages far more metaphorically because they experience the Bible through the lens of doctrinal interpretations that developed over time after the period described in the New Testament. Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded more familiar to the earliest generations of Christians than they do to many modern Christians.

Many church fathers influential theologians and teachers in early Christianity spoke approvingly of the idea that humans can become divine. What exactly the early church fathers meant when they spoke of becoming God is open to interpretation, 15 but it is clear that references to deification became more contested in the late Roman period and were infrequent by the medieval era.


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The first known objection by a church father to teaching deification came in the fifth century. Why did these beliefs fade from prominence? Changing perspectives on the creation of the world may have contributed to the gradual shift toward more limited views of human potential. The earliest Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Creation assumed that God had organized the world out of preexisting materials, emphasizing the goodness of God in shaping such a life-sustaining order.

It became important in Christian circles to assert that God had originally been completely alone. Creation ex nihilo widened the perceived gulf between God and humans. It became less common to teach either that human souls had existed before the world or that they could inherit and develop the attributes of God in their entirety in the future. But revelations received by Joseph Smith diverged from the prevailing ideas of the time and taught doctrine that, for some, reopened debates on the nature of God, creation, and humankind.

Early revelations to Joseph Smith taught that humans are created in the image of God and that God cares intimately for His children. But this liberation has not made us happy. Instead, it has left our lives empty, without purpose, and, above all, extremely lonely. Television, internet, and pornography have replaced organic social intercourse and physical intimacy. Liberalism and socialism differ when it comes to the most effective way to achieve that objective, but they do not differ in the objective itself.

Over time, all such institutions that the individual requires to fully actualize a meaningful existence—such as a family and a connection to generations past and future, a nation, a tradition, perhaps a church—will weaken and eventually disappear. It is this fundamental assumption of the modern age—that individual autonomy be it through free markets or welfarism leads to happiness—which Michel Houellebecq challenges.

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He questions the sacred trinity of the modern worldview. As we once worshipped the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we today venerate liberty, equality, and fraternity. And Houellebecq proposes that this new trinity falls short—that the very idea that we should be trying to pursue individual happiness is itself flawed. Getting what we want does not make us happy; it actually makes us unhappy. For without the ability to define ourselves in an unbreakable connection with our surroundings, there is nothing for us to derive meaning from and we end up depressed.

Thus, the freest people who have ever lived have also come to live the least meaningful lives. The remedy for this collapse of the modern promise is clear. This naturally implies a powerful nation-state that protects the social fabric, along with a high degree of skepticism towards immigration and free trade. But this in itself is not enough. To recreate embeddedness in society, the individual himself has to be embedded again. He has to be deliberalized.

Indeed, apart from implying the indispensability of a strong national state, Houellebecq indicates that two much more fundamental challenges must be overcome: our sexual and spiritual liberation. A scarce, artificial and belated phenomenon, love can only blossom under certain mental conditions, rarely conjoined, and totally opposed to the freedom of morals that characterizes the modern era.

How encouraging to finally read a modern writer who takes the problem of sex seriously! Sex, in short, can be a threat—and not simply an aide—to intimacy and love. Now this may be true, or partly true, or there may at least be some truth to it. But whatever the case, it is not easy to see how we could possibly constrain the forces that we have unleashed. In this age of instant hookups and online pornography, renewed chastity seems very far off. Then, religion: Houellebecq argues that we will always conceive of ourselves in terms of a metaphysical purpose.

This is the tragedy that has befallen us. Take, for example, the protagonist of Soumission , who tries with all his might to convert to Christianity in the legendary cliffside city of Rocamadour:. The Virgin waited in the shadows, calm and timeless. She had sovereignty, she had power, but little by little I felt myself losing touch, I felt her moving away from me in space and across the centuries while I sat there in my pew, shriveled and puny. After half an hour, I got up, fully deserted by the Spirit, reduced to my damaged, perishable body, and I sadly descended the stairs that led to the car park.

A crisis of atomization. We are free, and we are glad we are free.