Thursday, February 09, 2006
Free Grace or Lordship Salvation? (Part 9)
C. Erroneous Presupposition

Ultimately, the free grace position is found wanting because of its fundamental presupposition. Those who hold to the free grace position also believe that man has libertarian free will. The definition of libertarian free will is: "it is morally self-determined, an act freely chosen, without compulsion, in which one could have done otherwise" (Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 262. Geisler calls this concept "self-determinism free will." It is also goes by autonomous free will, as well as several other terms.). To reject this capability in man is to make man a robot. Hodges asserts,

No system of thought which reduces human beings to mere robots, or to a collection of puppets on strings, does justice to the Bible's deep insistence on human responsibility. For our current purposes, we assume that God is truly sovereign and accomplishes all the ends He decrees. But we also assume that each individual is genuinely responsible to respond to the goodness of God, our Creator (Hodges, Absolutely Free, 86).

While this is a grossly inaccurate picture of the opposing point of view, it does demonstrate Hodges' insistence on his understanding of free will. Hodges denies any other possibility by saying, "The Christian is not a robot who has been programmed to love the Lord and who can do nothing but what he or she was programmed to do. The very thought is unnatural and abhorrent" (Ibid., 134). Once again, Hodges mischaracterizes the opposing view, but believes that his idea of libertarian free will must exist. This is an assumption that he always brings to Scripture.

This assumption drives the entire system. It is by a person's decision that he or she appropriates the gift of eternal life. The individual has the ability to freely accept or deny God's offer—God has no ultimate control over the person's decision. If this is true with respect to God's offer of salvation, then it is only logical that a person has the same choice after becoming a Christian. Michael Horton explains, "If faith is the work of humans and if God is dependent on the exercise of our free will in 'appropriating' his resources, surely each aspect of God's plan of salvation is dependent on a separate and distinct decision. It is up to us whether we will justify ourselves by making a salvation decision, and it is up to us whether we will sanctify ourselves by making a lordship decision" (Michael Horton, "Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover," in Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation, 19). Because of this presupposition, any sanctification or works that occur after salvation cannot be guaranteed because they are up to people, not to God. And since these decisions must all be separately made, they cannot be confused or put together. This idea creates the basis for the free grace view.

The problem with this reasoning is the starting point. Individuals do not possess libertarian free will. People are slaves to sin, and are incapable of choosing spiritual good (John 8:34, Rom 3:10-12). God is completely responsible for a believer's faith and spiritual life (Eph 2:1-11). MacArthur maintains, "It is clear from all this that the sovereignty of God in salvation is at the heart of the lordship debate. The irony is that the so-called Grace Movement denies the whole point of grace: that it is God who effects the complete saving work in sinners. Redemption is all His work. God is wholly sovereign in the exercise of His grace; He is not subject to the human will" (MacArthur, Faith Works, 61). Horton shows the logical conclusion to the free grace presupposition, "Faith is not a gift; repentance is not a gift; perseverance in sanctification or even in continued trust in Christ—none of this is a gift. It is all the work of humans, should they decide to 'appropriate' the items they choose" (Horton, "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover," 23). This is antithetical to what the Bible clearly says. Yet it is the only possibly conclusion one could come to from Hodge's presupposition. Once again, the free grace view does not hold up to biblical scrutiny.
posted at 4:00 PM  

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I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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