45. What does the term “compatibilism” mean, and is it biblical?

“Compatibilism” is a term which describes the concurrent non-contradictory existence of the two truths we have been discussing above: God's active sovereignty and governance over every event that takes place on earth, and man's responsibility for his actions and freedom (i.e. voluntary choice) to follow his natural desires (which since the fall are wholly corrupt) apart from external coercion. Compatibilism (also known as soft determinism), is the belief that God's predetermination and meticulous providence over all events is "compatible" with voluntary choice. These concepts are both true and biblical, and hence, they are not at odds with each other, but are fully “compatible”.

Not only is the teaching of compatibilism biblical, it is the only solution to the so-called “free will problem” that scriptures allow. The bible teaches, first, that God does not lie, or contradict himself (Hebrews 6:18); second, that God ordains everything that comes to pass (see question 43); and third, that man is fully responsible for his wicked actions, and will suffer eternal punishment for them unless he is given the free grace of God in Christ (Jam 1:13-15; Rev 20:11-15; Rom 2:5-6). Hence, the bible demands that God's active sovereignty and man's real choice and responsibility do not contradict each other, or else God would be a liar, or the author of confusion. Whether we can comprehend the way in which the truths co-exist harmoniously is relatively minor; what matters is that we take God at his word, and believe that these two eminently biblical teachings are in fact compatible with each other.

For Further Study
Subsection on Compatibilism @Monergism.com

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