Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Human Responsibility Does Not Imply Human Ability
01/19/2011 - Alan KurschnerHuman responsibility is dependent on an objective entity (God's law), not a subjective entity (human moral ability). Human responsibility relates to a moral standard. It does not imply a so-called free will.
If a teenager boy gets drunk and runs a red light, is he no longer responsible because of his condition? Yes he is responsible because he has broken the law, even if he did not have the ability to obey the law because of his condition.
The Bible teaches that humans are held accountable to God's law, not based on their moral ability to obey that law. The assumption by the Arminian is if God commands something, then we must have the moral ability to fulfill his command (with some added coaxing by God's grace). But their axiom is not taking the biblical human condition into consideration.
The Bible describes our human condition as slaves to our sinful will. Both Jesus and Paul use that terminology. Jesus did not come to affirm a free will; he came to set the will free. Both teach that the unregenerate person does not posses any moral free will:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 )
“because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:7–8)They both use the exact same language "no one can" and "nor is it able" (ou dynatai). The Greek means "inability." In this context "moral inability." This is why Paul and Jesus use "slave" language. It is not that sometimes they can choose God, or occasionally they can please God. No, it is much more severe. Certainly, they have a will but only in the sense that they can choose according to their strongest desires, which in the unregenerate state is to only choose their fleshy desires.
God's commands do not imply moral ability. This debate is not new! May we continue to pray Augustine's famous prayer: "Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire."