Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The "Arminian" Verses

R.K. McGregor Wright does what no other Calvinist writer does: in his book, he writes a chapter (chapter 9) titled “Are There Any ‘Arminian Verses’ In The Bible?” Chapter 9 focuses on verses that refer to the concept of “free will.” Keep in mind that the sole purpose Wright provides this chapter is so that he can refute the Arminian belief that all persons have been endowed by God with a will free to choose and make decisions.

McGregor Wright notes that the King James Version of Scripture has about 16 references in its text. From the sixteen, I will produce certain references that include the Greek word for “free will” in the text.

First, there is Leviticus 23:38—

“ ‘besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD” (New King James Version).

The word for “freewill” in Leviticus 23:38 is the word “hekousion.” McGregor Wright notes:

“The Greek phrase…’kata hekousion,’ which literally means ‘according to what comes from (your own) being.’ The contrast is with the Greek notion of fate (ananke), translated ‘necessity’ (KJV) or ‘by compulsion’ (RSV)” (“No Place for Sovereignty: What’s Wrong with Freewill Theism.” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996, page 164).

We can see, then, from McGregor Wright’s definition, that “hekousion” refers to “of one’s own being,”; a more literal definition would be, “of each one.” Biblegateway defines “freewill offering” as “a spontaneous gift (Ex. 35:29), a VOLUNTARY sacrifice (Lev. 22:23; Ezra 3:5), as opposed to one in consequence of a vow, or in expiation of some offence.”


Another reference to “free will” is found in Numbers 15:3—

“ ‘and you make an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or as a FREEWILL offering, or in your appointed feasts, to make a sweet aroma to the LORD, from the herd or the flock…” (NKJV)

The word for “freewill” here is “hekousion.” The “freewill offering” was an offering given “from one’s own being,” from the person’s decision to do so (thereby showing us the existence of free will). The person could voluntarily choose to give this offering to the Lord.

Next, we have Numbers 29:39—

“These you shall present to the LORD at your appointed feasts (besides your vowed offering and your FREEWILL offerings) as your burnt offerings and your grain offerings, as your drink offerings and your peace offerings.”
The word for “freewill” here is “hekousia.”

Then, we have Deuteronomy 12:6—

“There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your FREEWILL offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.”

The Greek phrase for the English phrase “your freewill offerings” is “ta hekousia humon.” As you can see, the word “hekousia” comes from the Greek word “hekousion” or “hekousios.”

Last but not least, we have a reference from the Psalms:

“Accept, I pray, the FREEWILL offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me Your judgments.”

The Psalm reference is Psalm 119:108, but the reference is Psalm 118:108 in the Septuagintal text (LXX). The Greek phrase “ta HEKOUSIA tou stomatos mou” becomes “the freewill offerings of my mouth” in English. The freewill offering the writer desires to give is an offering that comes from the writer himself. He is giving this offering “of his own accord”—he is not forced or made to do so.

The trace of “freewill” throughout the Old Testament shows us that “Arminian” verses existed throughout the Old Testament. But they just didn’t stop there; they also existed in the New Testament. The use of the word “hekousios” or “hekousion” doesn’t stop in the Mosaic Law; it reappears in Hebrews:

“For if we sin WILLFULLY after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no
longer remains a sacrifice for sins…” (Hebrews 10:26, NKJV)

The word for “willfully” here is “hekousiose.” It serves as an adverb here in Hebrews 10, giving us the “manner” of sin that will cause a person to be judged (in this case, deliberate sinning). Accordingly, the “Reader’s Greek New Testament” published by Zondervan gives us the following definitions beside the footnote of “hekousiose” at the bottom of the page:

“77 hekousiose, ‘WILLINGLY, intentionally. TNIV: deliberately” (“A Reader’s Greek New Testament, Second Edition” by Richard J. Goodrich and Albert L. Lukaszewski. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007, page 486).

There are other words the New Testament uses for human volition that I will cover in the next post. For now, it’s safe to say that if a person does something “voluntarily,” then they initiate the choosing and are not coerced into doing it (not forced by an external pressure of any sort).

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