A Myopic View of Freedom in Western Soteriology?

The Western soteriological spectrum generally has Arminianism on one end and Calvinism on the other. Underlying these polemics are views on freedom. For the (intellectually honest) Calvinist, freedom is compatibilist. For the Arminian, freedom is libertarian. Perhaps the entire spectrum is invalid because both views of freedom are flawed.

In antiquity, free will was generally seen either through the lenses of fatalism (or determinism) or libertarianism. However, Greek philosophy didn’t use the language of a ‘free’ will (while Latin did: liberum arbitrium / libera voluntas). The discussion was in terms of responsibility, i.e. what ‘depends on us’ (ἐφ ἡμῖν). To truly be free was to choose well. Having freedom to choose was not seen as an end in and of itself (i.e. freedom was not teleological for purposes of intrinsic finality), but consequentialist and the ethics of virtue / excellence (ἀρετή) influenced whether choices were truly seen as being ‘free.’

Perhaps the modern Western myopic view of ‘freedom’ has tainted our discussion of soteriology (not even to mention the emphasis on the individual over the communal / wholative aspects of salvation). I posit that discussion of soteriology in the West has been clouded ever since the rise of theological voluntarism in the medieval West, but another ‘start date’ could certainly be posited. Thoughts?

2 Comments A Myopic View of Freedom in Western Soteriology?

  1. Caleb

    ‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’
    ‘As he ever has judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves, and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’


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