Though it is variously stated, most Calvinists believe that humans do not have a free will.
Some argue that humanity did have a free will before Adam and Eve rebelled against God and fell into sin by eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Others argue that a form of free will is awakened in the minds of the Christian. What almost all agree on, however, is that no unregenerate person has free will. Of course, even here, you will occasionally run across a Calvinist who claims to believe that unregenerate people have a free will, but that the free will of unregenerate people is only a free will to do evil. That is, though they can choose of their own free will to do what they want, their choices are only between various forms of evil, and they cannot choose to do any good.
Calvinism and Free Will
Here are some Calvinist quotes about Free will:
Free will is nonsense (Spurgeon, Free Will a Slave, 3).
Free will is the invention of man, instigated by the devil (David Wilmoth, The Baptist Examiner, September 16, 1989, 5).
Free will makes man his own savior and his own god (Tom Ross, Abandoned Truth, 56).
The heresy of free will dethrones God and enthrones man. … The ideas of free grace and free will are diametrically opposed. All who are strict advocates of free will are strangers to the grace of the sovereign God (W. E. Best, Free Grace Versus Free Will, 35, 43).
To affirm that [man] is a free moral agent is to deny that he is totally depraved (Pink, Sovereignty of God, 138).
In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater and lesser evil, which is not properly free will… As the bird with a broken wing is ‘free’ to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able (Boettner, Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 62).
Inasmuch as Adam’s offspring are born with sinful natures, they do not have the ability to choose spiritual good over evil. Consequently, man’s will is no longer free (i.e., free from the dominion of sin) as Adam’s will was free before the Fall. Instead, man’s will, as the result of inherited depravity, is in bondage to his sinful nature (Steele & Thomas, Five Points of Calvinism, 19).
What are your thoughts on free will? Does it exist? Does it not? If it does, how can we have free will and God remain sovereign? If free will does not exist, how can we avoid the charge of fatalism or determinism?If you want to read more about Calvinism, check out other posts in this blog series: Words of Calvinism and the Word of God.