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Summary

Regarded by many as Jonathan Edwards’ greatest work, The Freedom of the Will examines the nature and state of man’s will, explaining that man’s will is fallen and in need of God’s grace for salvation.

In 1754 Edwards published The Freedom of the Will, which although it was written long before the modern debate over Open Theism, thoroughly answers and demolishes the errors of this view.

One of the authors that he was refuting was Daniel Whitby, an Arminian minister in the Church of England. Whitby was known for being strongly anti-Calvinistic, and later gave evidence of strong Arian and Unitarian tendencies. In 1710 he had written his Discourse on the Five Points [of Calvinism]. What Edwards interacted with most was the fourth discourse on “The Liberty of the Will of Man in a State of Trial and Probation.”

Whitby’s statement, “It is better to deny prescience [foreknowledge] than liberty.” Is from that section. He also said that it is better to say that God does not know the future, or that God both does and doesn’t know the future. One can see the “Openness of God” theology in these statements three hundred years ago.

Edwards responded in The Freedom of the Will that man freely chooses whatever seems good to him, but that what seems good to him is always based on an inherent predisposition. That inherent predisposition has been foreordained and predestined by a sovereign God who does not inhibit man’s ability to freely choose from a limited menu. For Edwards the issue regarding a totally free will is a simple one: either contingency and the liberty of self-determination must be run out of this world, or God will be shut out.

Many Christians argue that Reformed theology effectively renders meaningless the concept of free will. However, as Jonathan Edwards demonstrates in this book, Reformed theology is entirely compatible with freedom. His argument has yet to be answered convincingly.”
—Dr. R.C. Sproul

Testimonials

Absolutely incredible work

Jacob Pittman

Freedom of the Will is the pinnacle work of the master philosopher/theologian Edwards. When you ask Arminians how, while being spiritually dead and enemies with God (Biblical descriptions) they could ever accept Him, they often reply with the standard answer, "because of free will." Edwards absolutely abolishes the concept of the libertarian free will and shows how salvation is monergistic and not synergistic. This is a beautiful work that shows how glorious God's grace truly is.