During a conversation over at Luke’s blog, I was asked to clarify my approach to understanding the effective work of grace in our lives. I mentioned that I really don’t fully understand the philosophical implications, but tried to lay down my own admittedly somewhat speculative thoughts on the matter.
Since this is one of the few times I have tried to consider these topics on a bit of detail, I thought I might share these thoughts here as well.
If I were were to make a go of your question, I wouldn’t start by examining causes, but by considering Christ, by contemplating the connection between the human and divine wills within the Incarnation. There we see salvation, as divinity took on flesh. Yet, the Ecumenical Council (if I’m remembering correctly, this one was at Constantinople) argued that Christ was fully human, that he had both human and divine wills. On the one hand, his divine will did not invalidate or destroy his human will, it did not compel his human will to submit (and just in case you’re concerned about any implications I’m making, I’m not suggesting anyone of the discussion partners is saying that it does, Traever, as I am aware that Calvin explicitly denied that God’s sovereign work compelled the individual). Instead, it is in the garden that we see his human will freely submitting to the divine will, turning towards the cross. Christ’s effective work is effective through the submissive will of Christ, acting in concert with each other, when each operation (that of divinity and that of humanity) operate together, when they cooperate.
So did Christ submit because he chose to, or because God chose to. Both, I think. Divinity chose first, humanity last, but both chose. Divinity humbled himself, empyting himself, taking the form of the servant so that we, humbling ourselves, empyting, and submitting ourselves to his will so that we may “become partakers of the divine nature”. If the latter action is not free in a way that is analogical to the former, the redemption, our healing is incomplete (for the will as not yet been healed).
As to where that puts me on the map of Christian theology, I honestly don’t know. But I think it fits will within the ethos of the Apostolic Christian Church.
As Thou in true, obedient love
Didst give Thyself up wholly,
I give myself to God above
To do His will here solely.
As I found out later, this didn’t directly answer the intended question, which was whether or not one who is “born again”, regenerated, who has had their will freed by the work of God can then freely decide to reject the faith. I won’t give my thoughts on that quite yet, though I think my above reasoning gives some structure to those questions. I believe our church gives its own answer within another hymn.
As witness of God’s love
The Spirit then descendeth;
As unction hallows all
Whom Christ as His commandeth.
But they who have this grace
And then to sin revert
Shall double stripes receive,
To their eternal hurt.