Evidently a radio host recently rebuked a Calvinist by asking, "Can't you choose between Burger King and McDonald's"? The caller apparently was rebuffed because, of course, he was indeed able to choose which fast food chain to enjoy. And for that show, as I heard it, the debate was over.
This kind of thing is so ridiculous and simplistic as to leave me hot and bothered. I'd like to ask the host: "Can you choose to purchase a mini-van for your family that explodes in flames if it goes over 25 mph?" That man will not buy that van. And why not? It is not because he doesn't have the faculty or responsibility of choice. He does. Rather, he cannot choose to buy the family inferno because he does not want to. He loves his family and wants to keep them safe.
Desires determine choice. You choose what you want with every choice every time. I'd love to hear someone prove that assertion wrong. Now, of course, your options in every choice are limited. For instance, you cannot choose to have a condo on Mars, no matter how bad you want it. Only God has this kind of "free will." (Psalm 115.3) But for us there are only so many realistic options in every choice we make. That can make things quite painful at times. But even when the options are bad and worse, the "chooser" will choose the option he most prefers every single time. Desires determine choice.
That's why the Calvinist, with the apostle Paul as I understand him, insists upon the truth that those in the sinful nature cannot choose Christ without the powerful, irresistible, gracious act of God in changing their core desires. When we say the sinner cannot choose Christ it is not because he has not the faculty of choice. O, he does. He chooses against Christ in every moment. The problem is not the ability of making decisions.
The problem is the desires. As the apostle proclaims, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires." (Romans 8.5, NIV) And in verse 7, "the sinful mind is hostile to God." The unbeliever has evil desires and is hostile to God. Against God. Rebellious. Therefore, because of his evil desires, his nature "...does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (verses 7-8; emphasis mine)
"Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11.6)
"Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot have faith in Christ. Not because they can't have faith - they do all the time! They worship sex, status, money, themselves, whatever. But they cannot have faith in Christ because they do not want to! They do not love Him or find Him desirable. The relationship is hostile.
This is so important ultimately because the conclusions on the matter will determine whose glory and praise will echo for all eternity. For if faith is yours, you can boast in something. But if faith is a gift, the song sounds like this:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2.8-9 NIV)
So choose to be a Calvinist, and give God the glory He deserves!