A.W Pink in "The sovereignty of God" says in the introduction- "Two things are beyond dispute: God is sovereign, man is responsible". That compatibilist point of view is compared to Libertarian thinking in Scott Christensen's book "What about Free Will?" page 238. Is there a book which challenges both compatibilist and libertarian thinking by putting forward a third possibility, namely hard determinism?

Hard determinism- all human choices are necessarily determined by prior conditions, which in this Christian context would include God's sovereignty.

Libertarianism- Freedom of choice is the ability to choose contrary to any prior factors that influence the choice including one's motives, desires and even God Himself.

Compatibilism-God determines human choices, yet every person freely makes their own choices.


2 Answers 2


I'm not aware of any Christian philosophers who take a hard-line determinist point of view. Of course, no one has read everyone, so I can't say for sure, but it seems like a Christian philosopher who ultimately holds no one except God morally accountable for their actions might be hard to come by. I'm not saying that the position doesn't have any logical foundation, but the position seems to undermine the foundation of the Christian story, i.e. that people have real choices

  • user1636273, I asked this question because I have written rough notes for such a book in which I seek to explore what you call the" logical foundation". Yes the position seems to undermine the foundation of the Christian story but does it? Are our choices anything more than reflections of what grace we may or may not have received?
    – C. Stroud
    Jul 2, 2018 at 16:13
  • C. Stroud, I'd be interested in reading such a book. Many hard-determinists like Sam Harris refer to the 'illusion of free will'. I would like to see a presentation on how this might be so and how it is compatible with the Christian tradition. Jul 3, 2018 at 21:44

It all seems to boil down to how “free will” is defined. Here are brief extracts from two articles that analyse Sam Harris’ book ‘The Illusion of Free Will’:

Philosophy News: Sam Harris says the concept of free will is incoherent. Humans are not free and no sense can be given to the idea that we might be. There are good arguments in philosophical and scientific literature that call into question the ability of humans to make truly free choices. Those arguments generally are rigorous attempts to show that certain necessary conditions for free will can’t obtain or particular sufficient conditions don’t obtain. That is, they unpack a clear definition of what it might mean to be free and then attempt to show that nothing could or actually does fulfill the requirements of the definition. Sam Harris’s new book Free Will takes a somewhat unique, and I think ultimately inconclusive, approach. I will focus mainly on the first part of the book in which Harris lays out his philosophical case. The last part of the book is more about application and I agree with Harris that assuming his philosophical case works, his description of how such a situation would apply to the world seems largely correct. http://www.philosophynews.com/post/2012/05/15/An-Analysis-of-Sam-Harris-Free-Will.aspx

Free Will: Why Sam Harris needs to read more Philosophy: If we revisit Harris’ claim that “free will is an illusion” in light of the above definition of free will then we see that Harris is wrong and free will is alive and well. No neuroscientific study, surely none that have been conducted thus far, has proven that this concept is gone. And, for those who think that the above mentioned definition of free will is not the working definition of many then I ask you to read the study conducted on the folk intuitions regarding free will entitled “Surveying Freedom: Folk Intuitions about Free Will and Moral Responsibility” in Philosophical Psychology 18: 561-84. https://aphilosopherstake.com/2012/07/29/free-will-why-sam-harris-needs-to-read-more-philosophy/

Another consideration is whether or not "Christian philosophers" base their views on Scripture.

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