Free Will or Free Willy?

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My friend Gunny has an excellent post over at his blog about free will: Free will. It’s like butterfly wings: once touched, they never get off the ground. I couldn’t have said it better. This is a great post and might be helpful to those of you who have been interacting on this blog about these matters. And on account that I was taught Church History to the Modern Era by Gunny, and since he understands the history of the church as it wrestled with these theological issues WAY BETTER than I ever will, I gladly defer to my rabbi…

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13 comments

  1. Dear Benji, Gunny’s post was very helpful to me, especially the statement, “A depraved and unregenerate person’s problem is not the will per se, which is just the decision-making faculty, but rather the heart is the problem. Because the heart is evil, it will only choose evil.”
    After thinking about free will more, our will seems to be something like what I have noticed about MY child’s will. As a parent, I have the power to influence and/or limit her choices by limiting her knowledge of certain things. For example, when I give her the opportunity to use her free will by choosing which snack she will enjoy, I nevertheless sometimes determine that her choice will meet my approval (will) by limiting her choices of snack, to banana and orange, for example. (When she was younger, it worked every time!) Or, I may ask, “Why doesn’t Elizabeth-my daughter who is seven-choose to snort cocaine and steal cars?” The answer is greatly because we have provided a childhood and an environment for her so that she is not even aware of such things; ignorance of those options means she will not (at least at this time) choose them.

    Surely that is one way our Father governs our free will, or limits our free will, by placing “boundaries” of various kinds on our knowledge, awareness, intelligence, desires, etc. This idea seems to me to agree with Gunny’s explanation that mortal man cannot choose to accept Christ as his Savior until the Holy Spirit has first blessed him with the knowledge/awareness of the value of Who Jesus is and what He has done for us.

    Thank you, again, for your help.

  2. Shelley,

    Yes, Gunny’s post was good. It seems like I have trouble getting what’s in my head to come out of my mouth without convoluting it into some “mental-jello-blob.” Gunny’s so much better at explaining these things than me {and he’s WAY smarter!}.

    I absolutely believe that God in His grace definitely puts boundaries around us, protecting us…if this were not true, I know that I would have already ended up like Ananias or Sapphira {Acts 5} or the unnamed old prophet of 1st Kings 13 who disobeyed God’s command to not eat food and the Lord killed Him through a lion…oh, how many “lions” has He spared me from in my life!!!

    How good He is!!! He has recorded the story of this unnamed prophet in His goodness to serve as a reminder that we be faithful and obedient to His Word! And the passage in 1st Kings shouts at ME from the rooftops of the danger, the weight, the gravity, the seriousness and blood-earnestness with which pastors and leaders in the church must always have before their minds, lest they too mislead the people of God by not being true to His Word. Pray for me!!

  3. As He kept His faithful servant Daniel free from the jaws of the lions, I will be praying that He will also protect you from Satan, that prowling lion.

    I wonder whether Daniel had ANYONE praying for him? Surely Daniel’s humility and faithfulness attracted other godly people. I sometimes think about the people who lived with and “surrounded” the heroes in the Bible; I wonder whether their lives-so near to God’s chosen vessels-were changed or at least minimally affected in the way in which God wants OURS to be changed as we learn about them.

    My mind won’t be still; and my words, also, get jumbled. Perhaps that is why I love to read so much: the order and efficient organization of another’s ideas works like balm to calm the spasmodic wanderings of my mind.

    God’s blessings on all you do for Him today!

  4. I believe he proves a good point against Pipers argument, as expressed in this example: “In my present state there is no desire to eat green beans. They appear repulsive and I can barely tolerate to have them in my presence. They are clearly made of Kryptonite. Now, on the one hand, I have the natural ability to eat green beans, but I will never do so because I don’t want to. Since I don’t want to, in that sense I cannot. It would take a tongue transplant and perhaps a brain transplant to really put green beans in the realm of realistic options for me. My taste buds and food processing faculties would need to be regenerated.”

    See choices have decision. Because he doesn’t east green beans may not kill him but more than likely he will substitute them for a better tasting alternating and one that is probably not healthy, which could lead to being overweight and dying prematurely from a heart attack….now did God have anything to do with his heart failing because he CHOSE not to eat healthy? No, just like the bridge…cause and effect. Bad eating = fat turd = dying young. Cause and Effect not divine intervention.

    Am I the only one seeing this simple answer?

  5. I see your point, Dave, and I certainly agree that for every cause there is an effect. I would never deny that fact. Nevertheless, I presume to attribute original causes to something (actually, Someone) predating any other causes.

    For example, I wonder, what or Who determined the genetic (and, perhaps personality) design of Gunny that would predispose him to detest green beans and therefore more likely to choose to never eat them?
    To me, it is like the scientists who last week announced they are “very close” to creating new life. They are using genetic material. Where did the genetic material come from? They will never truly “create” anything like a new life until they are able to wholly create the basic components of life. I am intrigued by their discoveries, but I am relatively unimpressed by their claims and their capabilities.

  6. OK, we are almost meeting in the middle….finally. I think the answer is always in the middle. Extreme disbelief leads to death, extreme belief leads to following blindly (and there you have terrorist zealots).

    God has a plan, we don’t know all the details but we do know how it ends and His plan will prevail no matter how much “free will” we exercise. I grew up with a very narrow view of God and religion; some of that is a benefit but some of that caused me to persecute those around me much like the priests of the Bible.

    If have never read the articles on the divine council and/or heard about the full story of the Bible then you are missing out on a lot of great stuff. Check out these two links and before you think he is off his rocker, read his resume. He was educated at DBU, he has several papers that have been peer reviewed. He is coming out with a book hopefully in early 2008, Title: The Myth that is True. He has a logical way to show people how God is the fulfillment of all things and that Christianity is true. It is going to be an amazing book; I personally think it is going to user in a new generation of Christianity.

    http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/

    http://www.michaelsheiser.com/

    I don’t mean a different religion; I mean a renewing of mankind to the truth of Christ and the story of God’s son.

  7. For those that want to see other points of view, here are comments from http://bible-truths.com on the issue:

    THE ILLUSION OF FREE WILL

    Here it is, the magical source of man’s imagined deity. It is, of course, “HUMAN FREE WILL.” Or, as in the case with Satan, “SATANIC FREE WILL.” And just what is human and satanic free will? It is a fictitious power that Satan and all humans imagine they have, which gives them the power to make choices that have NO CAUSE. Do not mistake what I have said. Choice is not the power to MAKE choices. We all have that power. Choice is a power of the brain, mind, and spirit. It is a logical functioning mechanism. Even a sophisticated computer can “make choices” based on other data at its disposal contained in its memories. But making choices is not … I repeat is NOT, judging, determining or selecting something BASED ON NOTHING!!!

    The first edict of the physical universe is “CAUSE AND EFFECT.” There cannot be an effect anywhere in the universe, on earth, in a laboratory under strict controls, or in the mind of a human being that does not have A CAUSE! It is axiomatic! It is not debatable! It is a LAW OF GOD! And therefore, the most lawless of all lawless conceptions possible is that man can make choices and decisions that are NOT BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE BY EITHER INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL CAUSES AND FORCES!!! It is, in fact, an attempt at nihilism of the very laws of physics. And so theologians, philosophers and the world’s greatest wisdom thinkers would have us believe that free will is a power even greater than God Himself, seeing that even God does not think things, or create things from NOTHING! God does NOT operate the universe by decisions based on nothing and therefore have no cause.

    “In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who works [Greek: ‘is operating’] ALL things after [after what? His ‘free’ will?] … After the COUNSEL of His own will” (Eph. 1:11)!

    Nor does God create things out of NOTHING:

    “…IN [Greek is ‘in’ not ‘by’] Him [Christ] is ALL CREATED, that in the heavens and that on the earth…” (Col. 1:16).

    “For OUT [the Greek is ‘out’ not ‘of’] of Him and THROUGH Him and FOR [Greek is ‘for’ not ‘to’] is ALL” (Rom. 11:36).

    So creation is “IN Christ,” but “OUT of God.” Not, out of “nothing.” The universe consists of the things of God’s already eternally existing SELF. God is SPIRIT (John 4:24). And what is matter but invisible spiritual power and energy?

    “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that THINGS which are seen [physical matter] were not made of things [were they then made of nothing? NO] which DO APPEAR” (Heb. 11:3).

    There it is. God made everything out of things that DO NOT APPEAR [invisible things] not out of things that do appear [physical things], and this is because GOD HIMSELF IS INVISIBLE!

    “Now to the King of the eons, the incorruptible, INVISIBLE, only, and wise God…” (I Tim. 1:17).

    God follows His own spiritual laws. “Free will” sounds like a marvelous and magical thing — it is rather, however, the god of stupidity. It is the height of man’s foolishness and human wisdom. It is both ungodly and unscriptural! It is an affront to the Sovereignty of God. Man and Satan are not deities that can operate independently of the Creator! The theory is an hoax, a farce, a sham. It’s only reality is as an IDOL OF THE HEART which will be burned out of every son whom God scourges.

    Of course all theologians are quick to point out that man does not posses total free will. His will is obviously limited we are told. Oh really? So it is “limited free will” that Satan and all humans possess is it? Does no one ever bother to question the contradictions of Christian doctrine?

    “Iimited, a. restricted,” Webster’s Twentieth Century Dictionary, page 963.

    “free, a, without restriction,” Webster’s Twentieth Century dictionary page, page 682.

    Does everyone know the meaning of the word “contradiction?” Only Satan could convince otherwise intelligent people that they have a “limited” — restricted, “free” — without restriction “will.” For sure man has a will, however, it is anything but FREE!

    “For it is GOD which works in you both to WILL and to DO of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

    “To will” requires a “work” of GOD! We all choose as we choose because there are things and forces and situations by the millions beyond anyone’s control that CAUSE US TO CHOOSE AS WE DO! It matters not that you cannot see or feel the cause. It is there and it does its work on you. And when causes make you choose, then that particular choice could not have ever been otherwise. God is the great CAUSE of all there is. I know Christians by the hundreds of millions deny it and deny God’s Word that teaches it. That unbelief and lack of faith, however, does not change the facts of God’s Word or the laws of physics.

    That God creates good and peace, there is no question. That

    “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James. 1:17),

    There is also no question about it among Christians. That God is the creator of evil and preordained the sin of Adam, however, is believed by virtually no one:

    And so it is that neither man nor Satan can do anything contrary to the intention of God. God has a will that includes a final destiny of total perfection of His whole creation. God has set man and Satan (his very name means adversary) AGAINST HIS OWN WILL for a period of time. But during this period when everyone goes against God’s will, God INTENDS them to do so. And when God no longer “intends” for there to be any more adversaries or enemies opposing Him or His will, He will remove all such opposition (See I Cor. 15:21-28). ALL OF GOD’S WILL, WILL THEN BE DONE!

    Therefore it should come as no shock to us when we learn that even the destruction and crucifixion of His own Son was God’s INTENTION from before He even created the world:

    The Kings of the earth stood up, and the Rulers were gathered together against the LORD, and against HIS CHRIST.

    “For of a truth against Thy Holy Child JESUS Whom THOU [God the Father] hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel [God anointed them ALL for this purpose], were gathered together, For to do whatsoever THY HAND [the very HAND OF GOD], AND thy counsel [God works ALL according to His ‘counsel’ Eph. 1:11] determined BEFORE [God predestinated His Son’s crucifixion before the foundation of the world Rev. 13:8] to be done” (Acts 4:26-28).

    And so we see that ultimately, behind the scenes, it was really God the Father Who planned and brought about the Crucifixion of His Own Son! We are all accountable for the death of His Son, because He died on OUR BEHALF and for OUR SINS which we voluntarily sinned, but it is God Himself Who is RESPONSIBLE for His Sons Death. And God takes responsibility. And He takes responsibility for EVERYTHING that happens in His creation and universe! Therefore God will bring all things back to restoration and perfection. It is so sad that this grand truth is so violently opposed by the enemies of the Cross.

    There are three Scriptural reasons for this evil doctrine of eternal torture in a lake of fire:

    “The heart [of carnal unconverted mankind] is DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, and DESPERATELY WICKED: who can know it” (Jer. 17:9).

    “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which DECEIVES THE WHOLE WORLD…” (Rev. 12:9).

    “Because the carnal [natural] mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

    The inconsonant, incongruous, inconsistent teachings of Christendom are bewildering. All my life I have heard that God hates SIN, not the SINNER. Why then, according to Christendom, doesn’t God save the sinner and abolish the sin? Wasn’t that the purpose of God in the first place? “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes [Greek: ‘is taking’] away the SIN OF THE WORLD” (John 1:29). “And He is the propitiation [to be favorably inclined to the sinner because of the sacrifice for him — merciful] for OUR sins: and not for ours only, but also THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD” (I John 2:2). As Christ died for the sake of all sinners and paid the penalty for all the sins of the whole world, why does Christendom teach that these same sinners for which Christ died, must still be tortured for eternity?

    Now don’t all e-mail me at once, telling me that they go to hell in a hand basket because they DID NOT REPENT OF THEIR SINS for which Christ died. It is concluded by modern religious theory that most of humanity have DIED IN THEIR SINS, neither having repented nor accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour. And this is their simple (albeit totally unscriptural) answer as to why most of the human race will be tortured in a hellhole of fire for all eternity! For they know not the Scriptures, nor the Plan of God, nor the Wisdom of God, nor the Power of God, nor the Sensibility of God, nor the LOVE OF GOD.

    I know that many people think I am too hard on Christian heresy. That’s cause I love them. Would you not show a little “hard” tough love to your children if they were taking mind-destroying DRUGS? Well it is my opinion that Christian heresies are mind-destroying drugs as well. This ministry is a love/hate ministry — love for all God’s creatures and hate for all the spiritual mind-destroying heretical drugs out there on the streets and on the air waves around the world.

    Trust me when I say: When one learns the Truth about our All Wise, All Powerful, All Loving God, the unscriptural theories regarding an eternal hellhole of eternal torture will vanish like the dew in the morning Sun. I believe there will be some who will already come to know the truth about the lake of fire-second death long before we ever get to chapters 20 and 21 of Revelation. Before we get there I want to teach you a few things about God and His love for humanity.

  8. Dave,

    I’m sorry brother, but I have to disagree with you on this one. This website/the author’s theology and understanding of Biblical passages, the Biblical languages {their use of the Hebrew and Greek}, etc is off base…TO ME.

    All I’m saying is I think that what this website is saying is unfounded in Scripture, but I guess its his right to publish a website with his views just as much as it is mine. I just don’t agree with it.

    I love you enough to warn you to be wary of this man’s beliefs. He does not even believe that God exists as 3 distinct persons with the same essence {Father, Son, Holy Spirit}. Therefore, be careful…

  9. Ben,

    I agree brother, just bringing in different opinions. I think he is way left…Piper is way right….and I am in the middle. I know God controls the ultimate outcome, I just feel we are free to choose within God’s set boundaries.

    Love ya Man!

    Dave

  10. Dave,

    Alright…I was scared when I went to his site and saw a lot of what he said. That relieves me! Hope all is well. You gotta be ending this term soon, right? I’m off to play some covers of some 80’s power ballads at a restaraunt here in town for their lunch crowd. I couldn’t help but think of the Shags as we’ve been rehearsing. All I know is this:

    “Every rose has its thorn…”

    Benji

  11. Awesome man, are you in a band there? That is so cool. Yeah, I like to read a lot of views it helps me really dig in the word and figure it out for myself.

    about 20 days to go…i am ready. I will always remember the Shags and our late night practices in the fellowship hall of the methodist church. I still remember the talent show where Travis acted like he played bass but it was unplugged!

    Keep in touch brother!

    Dave

  12. No band. The worship pastor at the church and I just went and did a set. A bunch of old 8o’s stuff. It was fun! Man, I’m rusty. Thought I’d never remember how to play “Wanted Dead or Alive”! That intro guitar part was buried somewhere deep in my mind. I had to go spelunking to find out how to play it again. I haven’t played that in 17 years!
    It made me think of Face.

    Yeah, that talent show was a hoot. It was funny because Chad’s little brothers who were very young at the time said, “Travis, you weren’t really playing bass!” That was the highlight of the show! Good times….

    Godspeed on your last few days! If you wanna come visit, you know you got a place to crash. Any holiday trips to Salli? We will probably do one of the 2 there this year…

  13. Cool, let us know which one and we will try to coordinate. It would be fun to let the wives have a night together and then the guys….or something like that.

    Ok, I do have a question. Reading Matthew 25: 31-46. Won’t summarize but it is Jesus’ own words and when he separates the nations as sheep and goats, he says those that did things for the least with inheirt the kingdom and the others eternal damnation. So are “good” people also included in the final judgment? I want that to be true but something tells me I am missing something.

    Also. a lot of the vision of the 1,000 year reign I read is referenced to the prophet Isaiah (65). But IS 1:1 says visions he saw concerning judah and jerrusalem in the days for specific kings. Wasn’t that vision for that time not a vision of the 1000 year reign? And if people are born and die during the 1000 year reign, where do they go?

    Thanks buddy, whenever you have time.

    Dave

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