They finally got it settled down. It began at a church with "grace" in its name. Nothing wrong there of course. Everyone in the church, led by the pastor (people called him Reverend) fully approved of this doctrine, within limits. "Saved by grace" is foundational to our belief," said the pastor, "but within moderation, as in all things."
He was trying to talk to the believer--show him he would meet him half way on this issue. "You mean people are saved by partial grace?" the believer answered.
"Well, God's grace is not in question," the pastor replied. "It's just that you must cooperate with God. You must do your part."
The believer considered this statement. "Then you believe in the Partial Fall theory, that in Adam's fall all mankind fell, except for their free wills?"
The pastor was taken aback by that way of putting it. Others, like Catholics, might espouse the Partial Fall, but he was proud not to be one of them. His humility in this regard had long been his greatest source of pride. "Oh, no, no, don't get me wrong. I believe in the complete fall. It's in the Bible."
"But you believe man still has free will. So if he is completely fallen, where did he get this free will?"
The pastor would not back down. "Even the most wicked of us still has the ability to choose between right and wrong," he said. "That is what makes us human."
The believer laughed. "I m not laughing at you Pastor. I just thought of my cat, who used to get on our kitchen table when we were gone. When she heard one of us at the door she would jump off the table and slink away in guilt. I guess the cat had free will too?"
"I hope you are not taking this doctrine so lightly as to apply it to a cat," he said. "Guilt is just an acknowledgement of wrong doing, as in the case of Cain, who knew it was wrong to kill his brother."
This argument was going nowhere. The pastor was trying to help the believer see the error in his extremist view. Finally he played is ace. "You haven't been reading that man Calvin, have you?" he said accusingly.
"Well now Pastor," the believer said, "Calvin didn't invent the idea that some of us are predestined to salvation. God did. That's why the Apostle wrote of it in Ephesians, for instance."
The pastor tried one more time. "Have you heard the term, 'God is my co-pilot?'" he asked the believer. "That is all I am trying to tell you. God, as great as he is, must have our permission, The use our free will, in order to save us. Otherwise, He is helpless to act."
The believer seemed to agree. "I am beginning to see your point. That explains why John the Baptist, still unborn, leaped in his mother's womb, when Mary told Elizabeth that she would bear the Savior. Baby John was already using his free will!"