Do predestination and free will contradict one another?

1 Min Read

Early in his career, Augustine wrote a treatise called The Freedom Of The Will, and he never retracted that despite his strong teaching on predestination. When he talked about the freedom of the will, what he really meant was that you have a genuine will that operates according to the way you want it to operate. In that sense, you could call that will free. It’s a real, choosing will that has the freedom to do what it wants.

The Reformed doctrine of total depravity is not that we don’t have a functioning will but that we have a will that always acts in accordance with our fallen, depraved nature. We always freely will against God until we are regenerated. Nonetheless, that’s not what most people mean when they talk about the freedom of the will. Instead, they mean that one is perfectly free to choose for God or against God. In that sense, it conflicts with the doctrine of predestination.

The doctrine of predestination, in response to that notion of the freedom of the will, says: “You don’t have the freedom to choose for God because your will is in rebellion against God. It’s only when God heals your rebellion—when He regenerates your heart and sovereignly turns you back to Himself—that you can know Him and pursue Him.”

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with W. Robert Godfrey and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.