A must read for all Calvinists is the book “No Place for Sovereignty” by R.K. McGregor Wright. It is one of the best reads on reformed theology I have read thus far, even considering The Potter’s Freedom by Dr. White. In his book, Wright demonstrates a fundamental flaw with Arminianism’s idea of free-will, and how it actually destroys the very concept it tries to protect. This argument not only refutes the free-will idea, but it also establishes a wonderful platform to accurately present and describe the reformed position on anthropology, which is often grossly mischaracterized by those not in the community.
The free-will position is often used to establish human accountability. It is argued that if man does not have an autonomous free-will, then he cannot be held accountable for his actions, echoing Paul’s objectors in Romans 9,
“but you shall say to me, why does He still find fault, for who can resist His will?” (19)
However, Wright demonstrates how the free will position actually destroys accountability when establishing “the will is free to follow or resist whatever option the mind presents”.
“The most serious problem here is that this form of spontaneity is indistinguishable from a chance event. We need only ask ‘what causes the will to choose one way rather than the other?’ If it is not caused, it is purely random, if it is caused to act then it is not free from causation.”
Wright continues pointing out that if the will is not caused, then its unpredictable and random. And if it is random, it is not something that we can hold man accountable. Random chance events do not have a responsible party.
The reformed position is not that man does not have a will and does not make choices. Man clearly has a will. However, a man’s will is dependent upon his character and nature. Man does what man wants. The will is influenced by who the man is. A sinner will always freely choose sin. Therefore the will is in boundage, it is not free.
In my opinion, the strongest analogy ever used to describe this originated from D.A. Carson. He described how a hungry lion, when given the choice between a plate of raw meat and a plate of cooked broccoli, will always choose the meat. This is not because he was “puppeteered” or compelled. He still made a choice. However, he is a lion. Lions eat meat; therefore, his will was not influenced by an external force, but by his very own nature.
In the same way, humans willfully choose according to their nature. Romans 8:6-8 makes this clear.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
This text speaks of an inability. The will is not free to please God; it is unable to do that. The will of man is enslaved to the state of being of natural man.
As we see, this is the only way we can judge one’s actions and hold men accountable for their actions… their willful actions that is.