✤ Freedom of the Will Download ➸ Author Jonathan Edwards – Marjoriejane.co.uk


Freedom of the Will quotes Freedom of the Will, litcharts Freedom of the Will, symbolism Freedom of the Will, summary shmoop Freedom of the Will, Freedom of the Will 9cec39a5 Considered By Many To Be The Greatest Book By Enormously Influential American Preacher And Theologian JONATHAN EDWARDS 1703 1758 , This Provocative 1754 Work Explores The Necessity Of God S Grace For The Salvaging Of The Damaged Will Of Humanity And Argues That Free Will Is An Extension Of And Connected To The Grace Of God What Is The Nature Of Morality Can God Be Evil What Constitutes Sin How Does God S Foreknowledge Of All Events Impact Concepts Of Morality How Does Intent Inform Our Acts Of Vice And Virtue Still Controversial And Hotly Debated In The 21st Century, This Demanding Evangelistic Work Some Call It The Best Argument For The Sovereignty Of God Is Among The Essential Reading Of The Thinker Whose Philosophies Inspired The 18th Century Religious Of The Great Awakening, Which Continues To Hugely Influence American Protestantism To This Day Freedom Of The Will Will Enthrall And Challenge Serious Readers Of The Bible As Well As Students Of Theology S Impact On American History.


10 thoughts on “Freedom of the Will

  1. says:

    Edwards argument, despite the close logic and dense prose, is fairly simple The will is that by which the mind chooses It chooses by its perception the greatest The will isn t the cause of action It is the effect The will isn t just a faculty It is the mind choosing Every act of the will presupposes a cause This cause is the motive The strongest motive determines the action of the will.That s the argument in a nutshell The trick, however, is seeing how this cashes out Edwards anticipated the discipline of analytic and philosophical theology He gives extended treatments concerning necessity and identity He uses the concepts if not the language of Possible Worlds Semantics that we would later see in Plantinga, Chisholm, and Lewis.Edwards sees our actions, if not all of reality, as a string of necessary connections A thing is necessary when it cannot be otherwise Necessity is a fixed connection between things e.g., the subject and predicate of a proposition Contingency is when something has no previous connection If we deny necessity, then we will have something like atoms in the universe which aren t connected to each other For Edwards, to even speak of free will is a category confusion Liberty is the power to do as one pleases It doesn t belong under the category of Will, but agency Agents are free, wills are not Here is where he begins his refutation JE sees a chain of causes in each act of the will The key question is this first act of the Will free or not If it is free in the sense of uncaused , then we have an uncaused Cause God If it isn t free, then the Will is not free.Even if the Arminian wants to salvage some aspect of free will, for Edwards he must come to grips that even that relatively free will is still determined by something, so it can t be truly free He won t let the Arminian claim indifference as the necessary condition of free will If the mind or will is indifferent between two options, then it cannot choose between two options, for it has no reason to choose either Further, it entails a contradiction namely, that the mind is both in a state of inclination and a state of equilibrium In the last section of the book Edwards rebuts final Arminian charges about authorship of sin, morality, etc He does give one interesting observation an Arminian will say that we can t be held responsible for our actions if they are necessarily caused Edwards counters We condemn or praise an act, not in its cause, but in the nature of the act If we blame the cause of an act, then we have to ask why that Cause is evil, which moves the discussion back to a previous cause, and so on When someone does wrong, it is because he is doing as he pleases, and we blame him for doing as he pleases We do not speculate on the Causes of his actions at least not immediately.ConclusionThis book rightly established Edwards as the greatest philosopher from American soil True, some of his arguments need elaboration and discussions of free will have advanced, but Edwards must be dealt with in any discussion of the issue.


  2. says:

    This treatise is highly insightful, and stimulated me to consider ideas that had not occurred to me However, due to the now archaic language combined with the inherently abstract nature of the subject matter, Freedom of the Will is extremely difficult to read A headache Especially because Edwards spends probably half the essay or defining terms As Edwards is a metaphysician discussing abstract ideas here, it sounds like what I remember of the work of Gottfried von Leibniz when I read some of it, a long time ago As an English major with training in technical writing, I suspect that if I rewrote it in contemporary English but took care to preserve all Edwards thought, the new essay might be half the length of the original 25 pages in my book.What I learned, and the conclusions I drew from its implications, relates mainly to the nature of the phrase free will as commonly understood Essentially, Edwards points out that phrase is nonsensical if taken literally, not sneaking any other meanings into the words He defines will as the ability to choose a definition shared by John Locke, he says But he defines free almost identically as simply having the ability to choose Therefore, free will taken literally as will that is free means the ability to choose has the ability to choose In other words, it means the will has a will of its own.Thinking at length about the implications of this, I wondered who invented or, probably significantly, popularized the phrase free will, and also wondered what phrase we used before that to describe human volition I don t know but whoever popularized the phrase long ago, I guessed what they really meant The key is the meaning of free, and whoever it was did not have Edwards definition in mind They evidently meant free as in free agent the idea of one s choices being self determined, uncaused and uninfluenced has been read into the word free and attached to the word will In other words, the common usage of free will is a theologically Arminian construct.In opposition, Edwards claims that human will, choice, exists but is not self determining God s will acts on it In support of this idea, he states that a man is free but his will is not free Freedom is a property of a man, not his will I think this idea is less simple than it sounds, but if one wraps one s mind around it a man is free but his will is not free it may loosen any certainty one may feel that man is a free agent, and help one consider with an open mind the idea of election.That s why I found this essay illuminating, once I teased the salient points out of the archaic language and the extensive space given to mere definitions I was delighted.


  3. says:

    Edwards excellently argues for the validity of Calvinistic theology He demonstrates through cause and effect that the human will is not self originating or self determining that God s foreknowledge demands determinism that the present world is the best possible world for the purpose of the greatest possible good and that though God is the permitter and designer of sins existence He is neither the fountain, agent, or promoter of sin His permission of sin is ONLY for the greatest possible good such as Acts 4 27 28 plainly states He also demonstrates many other truths and successfully argues for the freedom of God to do that which is most glorifying to Himself Blessed to have read this and strongly recommend it to anyone who may want to know about God s sovereign rule over all things.


  4. says:

    This is probably the greatest book I ve ever read excluding the Bible I wish there was a button for stars, because I think this book deserves it I don t think I can do this book justice with a short review One could probably write several books solely based on this one book That being said here s a short review.In this book Edwards argues against the Arminianism belief that man has free will He clearly shows that Calvinism is logical and clearly biblical His main logical point is that an act of the will would have prior acts that have followed, there by making the first act not free a long line of prior acts would logically prove there to be no free will Some of Jonathan Edwards greatest thoughts and arguments are the idea of moral and natural inability, virtue and vice, and that the will is always, and in every individual act, necessarily determined by the strongest motive and so was always unable to go against the motive which all things considered has now the greatest strength and advantage to move the will He defines philosophical concepts and terms like necessity, contingency, and ability throughout A strong habit of virtue, and a great degree of holiness, may cause a moral Inability to love wickedness in general, and may render a man unable to take complacence in wicked persons or things or to choose a wicked in preference to a virtuous life In the end, Edwards gives reasons why man in still morally and ethically responsible while maintaining the view of Gods sovereignty I think this book helped me to see of Gods mercy on his elect Very insightful and helpful in my faith I Also think that I believed some thoughts about arminianism, and now would say that I am definitely a Calvinist Again defiantly not a worthy review of such a heavy book would most definitely recommend the read.


  5. says:

    I finished this late in January, but I have been working on a complete review and summary of the book, which is why I didn t mention it here yet This work was so interesting and solid that I want to summarize all his arguments and points, and then regurgitate them for others I am fully Reformed soteriologically, and yet I heard so many new and extremely compelling arguments in the book that I d never read before This was surprising In my opinion, he completely shows why Arminianism cannot be true, and he does so not only through Scripture, but mainly through logic in this work In other writings of his, he of course shows that Reformed theology is clearly biblical, but here he wants to focus simply on the philosophical reasons Arminians hold, and he shows that their logic, especially concerning free will, simply does not work again, not merely biblically which free will isn t found anywhere in the Bible , but logically as well.In short, it was phenomenal Not easy to read, but that is why I want to write a summary and review.So a review summary will be coming, most likely on my site seekingfor.com I wanted it to be done by now, but I d rather take my time and do it well for my own sake, for my future ministry, and for anyone who wants to know his brilliant arguments without reading the book.But as for now, here is a jumbled list of his main points and arguments If they make no sense to you, that s okay and sort of expected That s why I m writing the longer review and summary But maybe they ll intrigue you and you might even pick up Edwards book Important New Terms and Ideas1 Moral vs natural inability2 Freedom, choosing without constraint and restraint3 Moral and natural causes and effects4 Preference and lack of indifference5 Moral vs natural necessity, relating to responsibility, to praise and to blameNumbered Main Ideas1 There is a true and important difference between moral inability and natural inability2 Freedom is to do as one pleases, according to their choice, without constraint or restraint upon their choice 1 The Will isn t free, the person is the will is used to execute his freedom.3 Nothing occurs without a cause Therefore, there is no such thing as a neutral, non connected act of the will.4 There are moral and natural causes.5 To will is to have a preference based upon some sort of understanding reword 6 There is no such thing as indifference in the will, which is foundational for the notion of free will 7 Therefore, free will meaning, a self determining, non connected, and or indifferent will does not exist Instead, our will is connected morally to many causes, effects, and moral bents in our heart.8 Freedom consists in acting according to our choosing, not as acting from neutrality or indifference9 Yet isn t this sort of freedom meaning, at least morally able to choose both sides necessary for moral agency, for praise and blame Not at all This freedom doesn t exist anywhere see points above , and it clearly does not exist in God, in Christ It is not that God just does not sin He cannot it is morally impossible according to Scripture.10 But why responsible is morally necessary There is a manifest and clear difference between natural inability and responsibility compared to moral inability and responsibility.11 Therefore, the idea of moral free will as defined by indifference, self determination, non connectedness, and or the moral ability to always choose between good or bad is not needed in order for someone to be responsible God is not free like this he is morally unable to sin, and we aren t either we are morally unable to do good on our own.12 What if God gives them up Are they then not responsible No It is their moral evil in it, even if it is necessary due to bent See Judas.13 But if we re bent like this, and say it is necessary for one to do good, then why do they deserve praise There is a manifest and clear difference between natural and moral necessity Natural necessity brings no praise Moral necessity does bring praise.14 In fact, moral necessity adds to one s praise and to one s blame.15 Are we then machines because of our moral inability and God s sovereignty By no means We instead are very bent so bent that we are unable to choose God and good In this way, we act freely, without constraint or restraint But we do not have self determining, indifferent wills Instead, we are bent Hence, the biblical and Calvinistic idea of fallen man isn t illogical, but in fact is logical than the idea of a free will 16 Overarching Argument God is said to be totally sovereign, doing all he pleases and If free will were real in the sense many talk about it which it manifestly isn t then God himself even foreseeing everything would be subject to man s will ultimately This is totally unbiblical and is impossible with statements about his sovereignty over all things and time.17 Defenses Is God then the author of sin No He may permit evil and sin to occur for a greater good.18 Defenses What about what God wills, like all to be saved There are evidently as all who hold to belief in the Bible must agree two wills in God in Scripture.19 Defenses Why does God command things we cannot then do All agree that he commands obedience, and all agree that we cannot attain that 20 Practically, this idea of free will is not only unbiblical, but leads men to think they can will whatever whenever they want, when in fact they can t are truly, morally unable 21 Concluding Arminianism, not Calvinism, is founded upon abstract ideas, about free will that does not exist in reality as we all know.22 Concluding Total depravity, irresistible grace, personal election, limited atonement, and perseverance of the saints all are not only eminent in Scripture, but because of who God is and our moral inability, they therefore must follow.23 Concluding Calvinism surprising to some, maybe actually is agreeable to reason To claim that we are self determining and not affected by causes, or to claim that we are morally neutral in every decision, or to claim that one must be able to choose both good and right to be responsible since God cannot , is actually not reasonable.24 Concluding Calvinism alone leads no one to boast in God s presence.


  6. says:

    Disclaimer this is my first read through I will eventually come back to this, but in the meantime these are my initial thoughts.I am writing this as I have just finished the last page Probably the most challenging book I have ever read, which is commonly accepted by most readers of Edward s work.Based on the limited understanding that I have, this book was broken in 4 main parts 1 Definitions laying the foundation , 2 The debunking of Free Will3 The defense of the Calvinist position of necessity in humans and how we are still responsible4 How God is still righteous in a necessary universe 3 of the 4 sections were very clear to me, while one of the sections intellectually hit me in the face with a frying pan and then promptly continued to kick me while I was down.The book isn t really like a difficulty curve, as some have expressed it to be, starting with simple definitions and then slowly diving into the crux of the argument, it s a difficulty staircase Though I never found any of it light reading per se, the first half of the book part 1 and 2 seemed straightforward enough that I could stick with the topics as long as I was actively thinking.So part 3, was difficult And it was also all of the synonyms for difficult While Edward s overarching themes are very clear, he doesn t hesitate to dive straight into the weeds to flesh these themes out while also leveraging all of the metaphysical lexicon Due to this, I continuously had an on rush of ideas so strong that I found it incredibly difficult to continue to read as well as comprehend Edward s justifications.I did find, what I call part 4 of the book, the sections on God s righteousness, VERY illuminating and as eloquent and encompassing as one can be in just a few sections I highly recommend this part of the book as it rides the fine line of challenging the reader intellectually while still not crushing him Definitely a book to return to and one that is a necessary read as the ideas addressed are ones that weigh heavily on the mind but are ones that cannot be, in their full detail and entirety, held in the mind for an extended period of time for an average person.


  7. says:

    3.8 It s really good, but it is written in response to another book, so if you want the full effect you d need to read that first.Recommended 12 for topics younger readers may not understand.


  8. says:

    I was so intrigued by this book Edwards was a BRILLIANT Man of God This book was deep yet readable for the most part A couple of times he lost me One thing is for sure, he obliterates the Pelagian concept of Libertarian free will There s a reason this book is considered a classic, as well as Edwards most sought after work I plan on reading it again in the future to try to get a full grasp of his finer points.


  9. says:

    On the short list of must read for any theology student.Was my third time through the book, get s better every time.


  10. says:

    Edwards was a wonderfully prolific theologian surely America s greatest, and arguably the greatest of them all, and Freedom of the Will is not exempt from his theological genius With someone who is also so well written, one could hardly call this his magnum opus surely Religious Affections surpasses it , but notwithstanding, Freedom of the Will is a phenomenal treatise on God s divine foreknowledge, and sovereignty human bondage, and volition all the while serving as a forthright rebuttal to Arminian claims floating around during this time in the 18th century The attack is philosophical, the foundation is theological, and the sword is exegetical Heb 4 12, 2 Tim 2 15 , Edwards destroys any notion of libertarian free will, thereby planting a firm foot in determinism, and drawing the scripture to support the tenable claim With so much sophomoric Christian literature floating around these days, this is a must read for all Christians.Brent McCulley 10 26 13


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