While reading For Calvinism by Michael Horton, I came across the following quote:
A libertarian view of human freedom insists on nothing less than the ability to choose anything. However, this means that the will is free not only from external compulsion but from the person who is exercising it! In other words, it assumes that the will is independent of the mind, preferences, character, and heart of persons (pp. 43–44).
By contrast, Horton, like most Calvinists, subscribes to a compatibilist view of human freedom in which freedom is understood as freedom from external compulsion. What choices free people make must be explained in reference to their mind, preferences, character, and heart. He writes:
Before the fall, humankind had the natural and moral ability to obey God with complete fidelity and freedom of will. After the fall, we still have the natural but no longer the moral liberty to do so. When it comes to our fallen condition, we all have the natural ability to think, will, feel, and do what we should. None of our faculties has been lost. We have all of the “equipment” necessary for loving God and our neighbors. Nevertheless, the fall has rendered us morally incapable of using these gifts in a way that could restore us to God’s favor (p. 44).
The juxtaposition of these passages led to the following chain of reasoning: If before the fall, Adam and Eve had compatibilist freedom, then their mind, preferences, character, and heart explain their action. But if their mind, preferences, character, and heart were morally good, why did they sin? Unless we attribute Adam and Eve’s fall to some flaw in their created nature (i.e., their mind, preferences, character, and heart), it seems that Adam and Eve’s prelapsarian fall was libertarian in nature. How else could a good tree—contrary to its nature—produce bad fruit?
So here’s today theological question: Before the fall, what kind of freedom did Adam and Eve enjoy? A libertarian or a compatibilist freedom?