Conversations usually become heated when discussing free will, Calvinism, and the seeker-sensitive movement. How would you answer this statement: "Once you affirm that man has the ability to choose, the logical philosophy would be to 'cajole' this person into making the right decision. Not only is Calvinism plainly taught in scriptures and preached by our Lord, but this truth was at the foundation of the Reformation." Can you clarify? -- Don Di Maulo

I agree that Calvinism-Lutheranism was the foundation of the Reformation. Reformed theology stressed the sovereignty over the need for human works. Given the times, this was a move in the right direction. (And yet, of course, things went too far.) At any rate, for the foundation of our theology we must look not to the Reformation, but to theology of the New Testament itself.

As for cajoling people into becoming Christians, or members of one sect or another, this is exactly what the Reformation led to. Armies of Protestants fought against armies of Catholics, or even other Protestants! Force was used to enforce uniformity of doctrine, no different to the force used by the inquisitors of Catholicism. But is force implicit in the doctrine of free will? Not at all. I would argue the very opposite. Free will means we appeal to the individual to decide, just a God allows our own free will and does not coerce anyone. After all, if you force someone to make a decision, it isn't really his own decision, is it? Yet if Calvinism is true, no one has a true choice; everyone's actions are predetermined (read "stipulated" or "forced") by God.

Finally, Calvinism is not taught clearly in the scriptures. For more on this, see the study on Calvinism in Till the Nets are Full (formerly Shining Like Stars).

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2005. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.