God's sovereignty and man's responsibility, part 5
Now I want to answer some of Dagood's questions he brought up in the discussion section of his "check your oil" blog. I had brought up Philippians 2:13 where it says, "It is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure," and I said, "God gives us the disposition to work and strive, and then it is we who do it." He asked a series of question in order to flesh out my thought. I'm going to answer these question in light of everything I've written so far.
1. If God gives us the disposition, can we still choose to not do it?
We can, in the natural sense, choose not to do it, but not in the moral sense. That is, if we are disposed to act in a particular way, whether that disposition got there because God put it there or some other way, we cannot dispose ourselves to do otherwise, even though we may have a natural ability to do otherwise (i.e. nothing is physically stopping us from doing otherwise).
2. If God does not give us the disposition, can we still do it?
We can if we have the same disposition for some other reason. But if we have no disposition whatsoever to do something, then we have a moral inability to do it since the will cannot act without a disposition. We may have the natural ability to do it, but not the moral ability.
3. If God gives the disposition, and the person does not do it, is the person responsible?
This question is based on an impossible premise. It's not possible for a person to not do what he has a disposition to do. That is, of course, unless he has a stronger contrary disposition, or he has a natural inability to act on the disposition. If he has a natural inability, then no, he's not responsible. But if he acts on a stronger contrary disposition, then yes, he is responsible.
4. If God does not give the disposition, and the person does not do it, is the person responsible?
Whether the person is responsible depends on his reason for not doing it. If he fails to do it because he has a natural inability, then he's excused. But if he fails to do it because he has a moral inability (i.e. a lack of disposition), then he is responsible.
5. What exactly IS “giving the disposition”?
A disposition is just a mental state in which the will prefers a course of action. For God to "give a disposition," that just means that God brings it about somehow that the person has such a preference or desire. When he hardened Pharaoh's heart, for example, he created in Pharaoh the disposition to not let Israel go.