Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Inventokos - aka - Necessity


Necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention.

Nevertheless, the term "necessity" has been pressed into those who oppose themselves to the Calvinistic position on "free will."

The Calvinistic position on "free will" is that men are free to choose as they please. It's a very simple, uncomplicated definition that is understandable to the average person and fits Scripture.

There ways in which men's wills are free, and ways in which they are not free.

One aspect in which they can be free is with respect to necessity.

It is this aspect with regard to which Calvinists and others disagree.

Calvinists recognize that Scriptures teach that man can be free from necessity in two senses:

  1. De facto necessity
  2. De jure necessity

De Facto Necessity

De facto necessity is violent / forceful compulsion, otherwise known as coersion. Its primary manifestation is external. A man can be coerced by violence and/or threat of violence. We do not view such a man as "free." A hostage or kidnap victim is typically so restrained, as are rape victims. The greater the likelihood of violence, the less "free" we view the person.

Although de facto necessity can be external, it can also be internal. Thus, for example, certain bodily functions can compel us to seek a certain room. Likewise, hunger, thirst, and even sexual lust can be viewed as providing de facto necessity. Thus, we commonly speak of the need to eat or drink, and it is not uncommon for people to speak of their having sexual needs.

Scripture provides examples of de facto necessity:

- Food

Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

Acts 28:10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

- Health

1 Corinthians 12:22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

- Poverty

Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Philippians 4:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

- Sexual Activity

1 Corinthians 7:37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

De Jure Necessity

De jure necessity is legal / ethical / moral requirement or rule. There is also some bleed-over from the defintion of de facto necessity, in that de jure necessity can also include the compulsion associated with knowledge of the legal / ethical / moral requirement. Thus, one's conscience can provide a form of necessity that is both moral and, to a degree, forceful. Furthermore, rules are often accompanied by a threat of force and an expectation of punishment to violators. People who are under legal / ethical / and moral rules may be free in general, but they are not legally, ethically, or morally free with respect to prohibited or prescribed acts. Furthermore, the greater the number and specificity of the rules, the less free we consider people to be.

This kind of freedom is also discussed in Scripture.

- Free will offerings

Deuteronomy 23:23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

Free will offerings are offerings that are associated with the taking of vows. Vows are something that the law does not require. Accordingly, the offerings associated with vows are referred to as "freewill oferrings."

- Free will return to Israel

Ezra 7:13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

Here Artaxerxes is indicating that no one is being kicked out. If they want to go, they can go with Ezra. Artaxerxes is giving permission for the people who want to leave to leave, but he is not banishing anyone from Babylon.

- Free from Roman rule

Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

- Free from servitude

Leviticus 19:20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.

- Free to marry

1 Corinthian 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

- Free from the law

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

As is this kind of necessity:

- Produced by the law

Luke 23:17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

- Produced by a covenant

Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

-Produced by a command

1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

2 Corithians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Philemon 1:14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

- Produced by wisdom

2 Corinthians 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Having seen these examples, we can readily determine what "necessity" refers to a common parlance, ordinary speech sense. It is the property of being necessary or needed.

Other types of Scriptural necessity

There are other senses of necessity that have little or nothing to do with freedom. For example, in the science of Logic, a conclusion is necessary if it is the inevitable or inexorable conclusion of the premises. Of course, there is no concept of "freedom" in logic. The opposite of a necessary conclusion is a non sequitur.

Logical Necessity

There are four Scriptural examples of logical necessity (two clear examples, and two arguable examples):

The Two Clear Examples of Logical Necessity

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hebrews 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

The Two Arguable Examples of Logical Necessity

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

These verses do not speak of a lack of human freedom, but of logical necessity. That is to say: you cannot have a sacrifice without a victim, because of the definition of sacrifice; you can't have an inheritance without the death of the testator, because the inheritance does not pass to heirs during the testator's life; if physical purification requires a sacrifice of one dignity, the spiritual logically requires a sacrifice of greater dignity; and a change from the Aaronic priesthood required a change in the law, because of the link between the priesthood and the law.

The Arminian View

The Arminians, however, add to the Scriptural sense of necessity a third, distinct sense of necessity that relates to predetermination. For clarity, I will refer to this as LFW-N for LFW necessity.


LFW-N is, fundamentally, a philosophical term not a term of common speech. It is hard to pin an Arminian down on a definition of LFW-N. LFW-N seems to be best characterized as there being no, i.e. zero, ability for things to be otherwise than they are. As such, it would appear to relate to Logical Necessity, as discussed above, and have nothing to do with human freedom. Nevertheless, the Arminians apparently conflate Logical Necessity with the other kinds of necessity in certain instances to assert that man is somehow free from LFW-N.

Any idea that man is free from Logical Necessity is absurd. First of all, Logical Necessity does not - itself - place any attempted restriction on action. Logical necessity is definitional. If you have a sacrifice, you have to have a victim, otherwise it is not a sacrifice. If you have a different priesthood, you have to have a different law, because law is what defines a priesthood. For you to receive an inheritance (properly speaking), the person giving the inheritance has to die. If it takes a X amount to fix a small problem, it will take > X amount to fix a big problem.

Nevertheless, you can pray without sacrificing, you can have an illigitimate priest, you can receive an in vivo gift (like the prodigal son), and you can come up short in your attempt to merit salvation by adherence to the ceremonies of the Old Testament ceremonial law.

Thus, Logical Necessity is descriptive and definitional, not proscriptive like De Jure or De Facto necessity, and the apparent Arminian conflation of Logical Necessity with the other kinds of necessity to produce LFW-N is rather self-evidently mistaken.

Consequently, LFW-N can be seen to be not the common usage of the term "necessity" (or even a technical, logical usage of the term "necessity") but a philosophical use of the term. There is no Scriptural usage of the term necessary, necessity, needs, or the like that fall into this category.

Examples of non-Calvinist proposals for necessity:

Godismyjudge (and many others) define LFW-N as:

"Cannot be otherwise" with free will (LFW) being defined as "the ability to do otherwise."

This definition is slightly ironic, in view of the presentation noted above, because it - at least facially - defies logic, while providing no real de facto or de jure freedom to man.

Thus, for example, while Logical Necessity does not prevent a man from sailing a boat in Peru, or flying a kite in Norway, it does render certain statements impossible because of paradox or self-contradiction.

Thus, for example, a man - due to his physical nature - can only be in one place at one time. Accordingly, it is impossible for a single man both to be in Peru, sailing a boat, and in Norway, flying a kite, at the same time.

That, however, is no restriction on man's freedom, in the sense of imposing a necessity on him, in terms of De Facto or De Jure necessity. One might argue that such necessity is involved, because man's physical nature imposes restraints despite his efforts to stretch (de facto necessity), and these are provide by the laws of nature (de jure necessity). However, such an argument is certainly a stretch, to say the least.

Similarly, a man cannot both do and not do the same thing at that the same time. The reason for this is the law of the excluded middle. Either man can do A, or man can do not-A, but not both at the same time.

Usually, in most Arminian explanations, there is a recognition of this problem, and accordingly, a patch is provided.

Patched Definition of LFW

The patched definition of LFW is that man is able to do either A or not-A prior to the deed.

This patched definition seeks to avoid the problem of the law of the excluded middle, by suggesting that the ability (and lack of LFW-N) is at all points prior to the event.

There is one serious problem with this definition, and that is its reference to the future.

It is important to note that this is a problem only for the Arminian, and not for the Calvinist. While we do speak in common parlance of the future as existent (e.g. tomorrow is ...), if the Arminian acknolwedges that the future exists, the battle is lost. If the future exists, Calvinism or some other form of predetermination is absolutely, logically necessary.

Accordingly, some Arminians will assert that statements about the future are not true or false. Since this statement of ability is a statement about the future, it too should be deemed neither true nor false by the Arminian. If that is how it is viewed, there is - of course - no reason to accept the idea that is being presented as true, and one can eliminate Arminianism from the realm of the reasonable.

Nevertheless, let us assume that we can make true statements about the future for the sake of the argument. The patched definition also has another serious problem for the Arminian, and that is that the ability does not coincide with act. That is to say, even if the man has some kind of ability prior to the act, man does not have the ability in the act itself.

Thus, if the act we are speaking of is a choice, then under the patched definition, while man may have freedom from LFW-N prior to the choice, in the choice itself man does not have any such freedom. Thus, under this patched definition of LFW, man's freedom disappears at the crucial point, and man's choices and acts are apparently not free.

Other Options?

The cautious reader will recognize that this author is not an Arminian, and can only speak for Arminians to the extent that they have presented their own views. Accordingly, perhaps there are other options, other patches to the supposed common parlance sense of LFW-N, or perhaps some Scriptural support for that kind of necessity.

If so, I welcome them, and will address them below, as they are presented.


New Option - LFW-2

In this response, Godismyjudge presents what looks like a new version of LFW and LFW-N.

LFW-2 is defined as "freedom from someone or something external to us controlling what we want."

LFW-N2 is defined as "someone or something external to us controlling what we want."

This sort of necessity (if it can even be called necessity) was not addressed in the original article, because it is not called necessity in ordinary speech or the Bible.

Nevertheless, the Bible does talk about what controls what we want, at least to some extent. What the Bible does not do, is discuss any sort of freedom along the lines of LFW-2.

Indeed, LFW-N2 can be shown from Scripture, common sense, common experience, and logical deduction.

[Proof to be provided as time permits.]


1 comment:

Turretinfan said...

Dan, thanks for your comment, I have moved it into a new post here:

and responded to it there.