White and Zachariades: These Calvinists are not ‘Two Peas in a Pod!’ Is Freedom Necessary for Responsibility Before God?

December 6, 2017

James White, as suspected, responded to my latest piece which issued a call for a debate. It became evident that White claims to have the same position as I do on the nature of the decree of God, namely, that it is unconditional. I had mistakenly thought, with all the talk of “meaningful choices,” (as if I do not believe that choices are real) and his claim how these “really matter,” that White actually affirmed a conditional decree. Conceding this unintentional misreading of his position and realizing that although we are still close in our shared Calvinism, we still do not ground responsibility the same way, I renew my debate challenge noting an actual difference, this time. 


White is an avowed compatibilist, as he has repeatedly affirmed. This means that he takes the view that freedom is compatible with determinism. Hence, we are both determinists. I affirm that freedom, however defined, is incompatible with theological determinism. White could in all fairness then be classified as a soft determinist, and I could be labeled a hard determinist. In denying the actuality of free will, I am not suggesting that mankind does not make choices. We all make myriad choices daily. White believes that this freedom, defined as our actively choosing according to our desires, is what grounds responsibility. I deny this. Hence, the real sticking point is that we differ on whether “freedom” is necessary for responsibility. As White clearly stated the possibility of us having a discussion on the matters before us, I too welcome this exchange.


So, Mr. White, let us debate the proposition: “Is Freedom Necessary to Responsibility before God?” Of course, you may take the affirmative view, and I will take the negative position. I believe this is a debate that can clarify how wide the divide between us, and can help folks address more meaningfully the inherent concepts that make up our respective positions. Again, I await your reply.



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Sonny Hernandez