Think about how often we refer to something as awesome or epic. Those words have lost weight and meaning because people refer to a piece of gum as "awesome" or to a trip to the store to purchase said piece of gum as "epic." Speaking in theological terms think about how easily terms like heretic and false teacher are thrown around. I'm not opposed to saying any of those words. God is awesome. His works are awesome. Lord of the Rings was an epic story. Most of the people on TBN are heretics and false teachers. See, I'm willing to use them; but I want to be sure to use them appropriately.
|C'mon! You know you're not.|
This anti-precision mentality propagated by post-modernists has oozed its way into the church. The first two books the post-modernist would burn are the Bible and the dictionary. While I don't think people in the church despise the Bible (though we all are prone to hide from it when we know we're wrong) we are trying hard to remove the dictionary from our shelves to alleviate the burden of punctilious and definite language.
What is free will and do we have it?
"Tim! How dare you! I'm American! It's almost Independence Day! Of course I have free will! USA! USA! USA!"
I wonder how much our American mindset has corrupted our ability to understand the reality of our flesh. We
Yet each of us still has a fleshly body to deal with. If we're going to honestly evaluate the notion of free will, then we need to look at what the Bible says. Philosophical musings are nice and all but what does the Bible actually say about free will?
Non-Christians are slaves to their sin. What they do always has their sin in mind or, to be put it another way, all they do is done in rebellion to God. In what sense do they have free will if everything they do is influenced by their fleshly desire to rebel? In what sense do they have free will if they cannot please God? It's not that they will not please God, it's that they cannot.
|Just like Charlton Heston couldn't escape playing the leading |
man in movie epics, neither can pagans escape their slavery
But what about Christians? Surely we have free will. Surely we can do whatever we wish. Surely we aren't slaves to anything...
We are now slaves to Christ. We are slaves to obedience to Christ. But we all know we still choose to sin. We should live as though we are slaves to Christ but we all still sin and sin is disobedience and thus fractures the slave metaphor. So maybe we do have free will. Right?
Let's go back to what free will truly is. It's absolute autonomy. It's living in such a way that there's nothing you can't do. It's living without restrictions. It's making choices without any influence. Do any of us do that? How did you work out your free will when you got married? Did you have any man or woman you wanted? No. Did anyone (parents, friends, ex's) influence you on the type of man or woman you should pursue? Yes. Did our culture have any impact on how you determined what's important in a spouse?
Think about this example:
Let's say you grew up in a religious home. Your parents were devout Christians and really exemplary role models.
If you went to a Christian school, then wouldn't it be fair to say that your parents heavily influenced your decision?
But what if you went to a really liberal college just to tick them off? Wouldn't it be fair to say that your parents heavily influenced your decision?
Some might be saying, "But I'd still be making a choice! I'm using my free will to follow the desires of my heart!"
I agree. In some sense you have a modicum of free will. But as a Christian are there some choices that are impossible to make?
A Christian cannot lose his or her salvation. A believer does not have free will in any sense to stop having eternal life. You are Christ's possession and He will not and cannot release you. Aren't you glad you don't have free will in regards to that*?
Are any of the following characteristics true about you? Since the answer is no, then isn't it a bit hazardous for us to put our free will on the same level as God's?
Ultimately only God truly has free will. He's not influenced by external factors. He does as He pleases. He's the only autonomous being. He doesn't battle His own sin nature. He's not surprised by anything. He accomplishes everything He sets out to accomplish. His sovereignty doesn't end where our free will begins. His sovereignty overrides any semblance of free will we have. His free will overrides our choices. We can't change His plans. His course isn't dependent upon human cooperation. His holiness is internal. His plans are unchangeable. He is unchangeable and unshakable. Only God has free will and that is an awesome truth.
*I would add that if you don't have free will in every area, then you don't have free will at all.