July 5, 2012

Richard Muller on Francis Turretin and Free Choice

Dr. Richard Muller said the following in a recent interview with R. Scott Clark on the topic of "Recovering the Past for Use in the Present" (see minute 7:39–8:26):
If you read Francis Turretin’s Institutes of [Elenctic] Theology at the beginning of each topic, he has a state of the question. What are we actually discussing here. A good example is when you ask the question, “Do human beings have free choice?” Turretin will say we are not discussing the question of whether human beings have free choice in every day matters. There’s no debate. They do. We’re not discussing the question of whether human beings have free choice to obey the law on a daily basis, the civil law or moral law. We all agree, they do. What we are debating is the specific question, “Do human beings have free choice in matters of salvation, matters of being righteous before God. And the answer we have is, no they don’t. We disagree with Rome and Arminians and the like on that point.
See also Reformed Thought on Freedom: The Concept of Free Choice in Early Modern Reformed Theology, eds. Willem J. van Asselt, J. Martin Bac, and Roelf T. te Velde (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010). They cover the positions of Zanchi, Junius, Voetius and Turretin.

Update on 8-28-2014: Muller also writes this about Robert Baron's treatment of Calvin on free will:
Calvin is similarly defended on the issue of free choice by various others, including the St. Andrews and Aberdeen University metaphysician Robert Baron (1593–1639). In the particular case of free choice of the will, Calvin's rather hyperbolic language of the bondage of the will and its inability to to any good (quite in parallel with Luther's De servo arbitrio) had to be argued as referring to the specific case of the fallen will in its inability to choose a saving good rather than, as one might read Calvin's unqualified language, as a full doctrine of free choice. Baron pointed out, against Ballarmine, that the issue in debate was not the human power of free choice in natura sua considerato, which all human beings can exercise, but rather the limitation of free choice in fallen humanity and the issue of free choice in the instant of conversion.
Richard A. Muller, "Reception and Response: Referencing and Understanding Calvin in Seventeenth-Century Calvinism," in Calvin and His Influence, 1509–2009, ed. by Irena Backus and Philip Benedict (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011),  189.

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