Does there need to be free will?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

Does the Bible insist on a completely libertarian view of free will?

There are verses on the Bible (I’ve forgotten where, but in Ecclesiastes) which claim that our actions were decreed long ago.


(Randy) #2

Interesting in the setting of Hawking and others’ point of view on free will (nonexistent, in their opinion). Seems like for research on our psyche to exist, there has to be an assumption of no such thing; but for society to exist, we need to assume it (and responsibility) do.


(George Brooks) #3

This is a classic question: what does the Bible say? The Bible says both things.

The only way to reconcile it all is to either suspend judgement on the general question (being Agnostic on Calvinism)… or to look to the study of Consciousness for the answer.

I solve the problem by putting the operation of the Conscious mind and/or the soul in a spatial dimension that operates with rules and non-rules different from the mortal sphere of existence.

My favorite section of the Bible that speaks to un-free will is Romans 9; we can also see that sometimes Freewill is proposed as a way of making bad things the fault of humanity. But Romans 9 also seems to capture the idea that even if you acted Freely, bad things planned by God can still happen to you.

Rom 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
[TRANSLATION: God does not love everyone.]

Rom 9:14
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
[TRANSLATION: You are forbidden from criticizing God for not loving everyone.]

Rom 9:15
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
[TRANSLATION: He tells Moses that he doesn’t love everyone.]

Rom 9:16
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
[TRANSLATION: It is not up to man’s efforts, but God’s grace that some our loved.]

Rom 9:17
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
[TRANSLATION: God arranges that some people are doomed to show God’s power.]

Rom 9:18
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
[TRANSLATION: God will destroy some humans who cannot resist him.]

Rom 9:19
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
[TRANSLATION: Since no one resists God’s will, why does God blame us?]

Rom 9:20
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
[TRANSLATION: Just because it is logical to “reply” against God … you don’t have the right to.]

Rom 9:21
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
[TRANSLATION A Potter makes what he needs with clay.]

Rom 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
[TRANSLATION God is like a potter. Sometimes he has to make containers for priceless oils… sometimes he has to make containers for gall and other unpleasant purposes.]

MORAL OF THE STORY: Romans 9 says God deliberately creates people (completely vulnerable to God’s volition) that suffer harm from how they are created.


#4

Logically, from necessary causes only necessary events entail.

Reality-wise, it all remains a pervasive mystery.

Personally, I don’t think we fully understand causality.


(Randy) #5

MORAL OF THE STORY: Romans 9 says God deliberately creates people (completely vulnerable to God’s volition) that suffer harm from how they are created.

Thank you. It is for this reason that I often think that Paul and I will have to have a looong talk once I get to Heaven.

The bottommost part of me responds, “that’s not fair!” Paul doesn’t seem very Christian here. And if we start out with this being taught from our mother’s knee and find difficulty accepting it, how hard is it for someone from outside Christianity? I’ve heard that Dorothy Sayers and others found it easier to become Christians after reading George Macdonald’s Unspoken Sermon on Justice, which seemed to give a better view of God than the religion of the day.

Going too far in one direction, one wonders if God takes away our free will and then punishes us for it, whether there’s any difference between our view of God and that of the Devil (except degrees of power). As Macdonald used to say, it’s sometimes better not to believe in God at all, than believe in a god who is a devil. Yet, he was one of the most devout authors I’ve read.

Anyway–thanks for your concise review of a very difficult passage. I’m sure Paul and I will have some good talks :slight_smile: God bless.


#6

Hmm, I would be curious to know what verses. I know of a few that say our results are determined, but not our actions.

But what is free will? We have freedom of speech, what is that? If you say the wrong thing to the wrong people, there are consequences, they might shoot you. You are legally covered from saying many things (though that list is dwindling slowly, that is political and not for this site).

What is free will. You could technically do what ever you want. You could stand in front of a fast moving train if you wanted, but if you do will most certainly die. Are you free to do it? Does having physical consequences mean you don’t have freedom? Or is the only requirement fro freedom mean, there is no legal repercussions? The legal charge of sin is death, so when we use our free will to sin, we die, so did we have freedom to chose sin?

I think the meaning of free will is the fact that we can chose what we want to do, God is not putting a mind block on us, or possessing us, and forcing us to do something. He can influence us to make decisions, like the plagues, making it miserable not to chose His will. But I can’t think of any scripture where He forces anyone to do what they are trying not to do. Like an out of body experience, where you are observing yourself do something but have no control. That is what I think of when I hear free will, and yes, I do think we have that. But legal free will, no, I think it is clear we don’t have it.

But on God’s free will, and anger and wrath…
I don’t look at His wrath as something that He is doing because He is angry (like a human anger). Rather it is like a fast moving train. IF you walk in front of it, you will be destroyed, the train is coming, the wrath is coming. If you get out of the way, you avoid wrath, if you get in the way, it will hit you. If ‘superman’ steps in front of it, you can be spared. Jesus stepped in front of the train, that was destined to hit all of us, He took on the wrath of God, so we would be spared.

Sometimes, the pleading of man, can cause the conductor to switch tracks last min to spare you, but trains are fast and heavy, and cannot be stopped. God’s will, will be done, that train is always moving.

Once Jesus took that impact, we now have free will (legally) again, in that there is no train anymore, Jesus stopped it. We can now do anything we want, we can stand on the track all day long, lay on it, Jesus is blocking it/blocked it. Sure, there are still consequences of the flesh. If you sleep around, you could get an STD. But, you will no longer be dead, or separated spiritually from God due to your actions. You are free to do what you will.

But I guess there are kind of 2 train tracks, a spiritual one, and one of the world. If God wants to do something on earth, and you attempt to thwart Him, you will still incur His wrath, that train will still hit you. If saved, you will still go to heaven, but you will probably die on earth when the train hits you.

It isn’t like God says, “I don’t like what you are doing, I am going to smite you” (which I think is the common caricature painted of God) . It is more like God is saying, “I am trying to get something done here, don’t get in my way, please don’t get in my way, I love you, and I know what is best for you, and this world”. Even God’s “wrath and anger” is loving and righteous.

That is the anger I think God experiences, and the wrath that comes from it. God is trying to get things done on a global scale, over thousands of years. It is a big fast train, and some things work intricately. And if you try to throw something to derail it, it is going to mow you over.

If I am trying to build a house, and I have a wrecking ball, I pulled it up, and hit the release, and a man walks in the way, He is going to get smeared. That isn’t my intent or desire, but it will happen. Sometimes I will see it about to happen, and I will yell and yell for him to move, but if he doesn’t heed my warning, he will die. Sometimes, I place cones around the area, and I put signs that say do not enter, but people still enter, they will die. Sometimes, my kid will wonder in the area. I really love him and don’t want him to die. It takes a while for the wrecking ball to fall, but I am just too far to stop it sometimes. But I can ask others to help run out there and save my boy. Sometimes they get the boy and both make it to safety, sometimes they save my boy, but they die. Sometimes I perform a miracle and change the laws of physics to save people. But for the most part, if you get in the path of the ball, you will incur it’s wrath.

But if God did a miracle every time someone got in the path and no one ever got hit, no one would take his warnings or cones seriously. And He would not be able to get things done, nor would we ever be able to know of His mercy and love.

What if you went into very secure room, where there was a 0% chance of having a gun. And your friend/dad whomever said “In this room, I love you so much, I would take a bullet for you”. Would that mean anything to you? There is no chance of getting a gun in there.

Without the wrecking ball hitting some folks, we could never know of God’s love and mercy, through His warnings, cones, and other people helping, nor would we ever get to see this glorious building He is creating, because it would never be created do to people walking in front of the equipment all day long.

That is my take on free will.


(Christy Hemphill) #7

Ecclesisates would not even be the go-to book, there are lots of verses. So, I take it long discussions about predestination late in the night are not part of the typical college experience? Ah, Wheaton College, what fun we had…


#8

Another word for hate is enemy of.
James 4:6 ““God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”

Esau was a prideful man, and didn’t even want or need his birthright.
Rather, Jacob, was weak and humble.

2 Cor 12:9 "And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” "

There is a reason God chose, Jacob, the little weak boy, David to defeat Goliath, Paul, a persecutor of Christians, Abraham, a man with a temper and bad speech ect. God’s glory is amplified when it is more obvious that a man could not do something. It can either be obvious that a man cannot do something due to an obvious flaw, or if man admits he is weak, and needs the strength of God. One is forced to humility, the other is recognizing humbly, that he was blessed to be able to do things through God only, but both are humbly, and God is exulted through that, and God loves them.

But Belshazzar, or Nebuchadnezzar Dan 4:36
"At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

Then the next Chapter 5, in Daniel, we see a prideful man, who was “hated” or in opposition to God.

There are many many many many more verses that speak of how much God loves us all that show that is true, and it was demonstrated when Jesus died for us. So when a few verses say, “God hated X”. I am more inclined to think that is an exaggerated claim. Like when the flood say everything on earth was wiped out, or god tells man to wipe out all, women and children. I think it is more likely that a dramatic, universal language is being used.

Rom 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
[TRANSLATION: God does loves everyone, but opposes the proud.]

Rom 9:14
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
[TRANSLATION: Who has the right to criticize God?]

Rom 9:15
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
[TRANSLATION: He tells Moses that we cannot understand Him, nor be able to control Him, I AM, who I AM]

[quote=“gbrooks9, post:3, topic:38495”]
Rom 9:17

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

[TRANSLATION: God arranges that some people are doomed to show God’s power.]

This is kind of a rough one to explain. Like a child who is born in America with rich parents. It is more difficult for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a rich man, to enter the kingdom of God. Not impossible, but difficult. God could have raised Pharaoh to be a great and influential man, and then use that influence to “shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” However, the pride of Pharaoh got the best of him. Yet God was still able to “shew my power in thee”. He just went a different route. A prideful man opposes God, but it doesn’t mean God cannot handle the opposition, and still accomplish His will.

Prior to the plagues, would many think the Pharaoh was blessed by God, because he lived a good life? Would people think God cursed the slave, who lived a hard life? Who was able to know God more easily? Sometimes it is the lowly that can find God easier, are more blessed than those who live an easy life of luxury, who never see the need to thank or recognize God. It is almost a curse for them, who are made more difficult to know the goodness of God.

God will destroy those who are prideful. It is those who have luxurious lives who happen to have hardened hearts. A heart of God is soft, and heart of flesh is rock. One who has no seen or seeked God, who has received luxury and has not given thanks to God for that, and recognized Him as their source of blessing. They have never talked to God, they think of themselves as god, they will have a hardened heart. Again, the eye of a needle. Are the rich blessed, or cursed? All those who are humble, will receive mercy.

Rom 9:19
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
[TRANSLATION: Since no one resists God’s will, why does God blame us?] accurate translation.

I am not sure why you think it is logical to reply against God? There really doesn’t need any translation there. It says what it says. Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Rom 9:21
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
[TRANSLATION A Potter makes what he needs with clay.] Accurate translation.

Who is to say what is pleasant and unpleasant? Would a toilet be happy sitting in a museum? Or is it happy doing what it was made to do? But if a toilet thought it was a vase made for the most delicate flowers, then of course it would be miserable and think the potter was unfair. Pride will lead to the vessels own destruction and unhappiness with what it is being used for. But humility and realizing that you are doing an outstanding job, and the household couldn’t operate as well as it did if you were doing your designed job will lead to joy.

But this isn’t a verse that is quoting God, and it say "God said “I show my wrath and make my power known, by making others suffer” This is a guy, who is saying “What if”.

Kind of like myself. I wonder things, I use my logic to attempt to explain God at times. Though ultimately, I trust God and know I will not always be able to understand Him.

But I have wondered at times if God didn’t possibly create soulless people to show His power. People that played a role in His narrative, and it seems they were punished, but not really, because they just ceased to exist, they never really suffered. Like a great actor, or robot. I don’t know if that is true, but I wonder that at times.

There are many things we can’t figure out, this is what Job is all about. His ways are higher than our, we can’t fully understand Him, BUT, we can trust Him.

Just like this thread The death of materialism .

I think it is fascinating and hilarious, and I see quantum physics as a modern day Job. How can something exist only when we observe it, how can something be motionless, and at motion at the same time? I see it as God kind of toying with us. “You think you can figure me out?, Check out this quantum stuff. Explain this”

I don’t think Romans 9 says that, or authoritatively declares that. Just because it is in the Bible, doesn’t mean it is declared or decreed by God. It is a godly man, inspired by God to write some great things about what God revealed to Him. But God didn’t reveal all to him, and some things, he is what-iffing. Even Paul doesn’t have all the answers. That is the purpose of that verse, Paul is saying, God is good, I can trust Him, maybe things work like X. Then Paul quotes verses that say similar things to support his guess. But then he ultimately ends with this in chapter 11 vs 33-36

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!

34
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”[j]

35
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”[k]

36
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen."

So he says a bunch of what ifs, but then closes it all out by getting to the meat and potatoes.

MORAL OF THE STORY: For from Him and through Him and for Him, are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

You seem to be missing the forest for the trees.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #9

Is that what you call it? :smiley:


(Jay Johnson) #10

And as the Christian philosopher and scientist Pascal said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”


(George Brooks) #11

@Christy

I know it was the standard initiation at Eastern Nazarene College … !


(George Brooks) #12

@still_learning

Oh, come on. I didn’t say that the Bible was exclusively Calvinist. There is clearly verses that represent both ends of the spectrum.

Someone who won’t admit that both positions are presented really doesn’t know their Bible.


#13

Fair enough. That wasn’t what I was refuting.

I thought your interpretation was unfair/cherry picking and not looking at the bigger messenge Paul was trying to convey.


(George Brooks) #14

@still_learning

Paul is all over the map. I certainly would never call Paul a Calvinist. He is a brilliant rhetoritician… but I don’t think he has much genius for a systematic theology. If he was, we wouldn’t have needed Church fathers centuries later trying to create a systematic theology.


(Randy) #15

True. Good thoughts. However, I wonder if we could also point out that if we don’t have God as the center of our deeply held emotions, we have even fewer restraints. I read an account of a French journalist who was held captive in Syria recently. He was passed among different rebel groups, ranging from ultra religious to secular. He said that the scariest ones were the secular, because even though the religious ones would also kill you, they at least had some sort of rules about it. There’s the oft repeated statistic of the non religious leaders of the 20 th century, Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin (some would say Hitler too, who was quite demagogical with regard to Christianity), who killed many times the number of Northern Ireland and the Crusades. We all have deep passions. Taking away the religion may just break the banks of the torrent and unleash them ever more wildly.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t use reason to counter crazy religion! It just means that no one’s above a mistake! Thanks for the thoughts.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #16

So I’m guessing the Bible is compatible with both libertarianism and determinism.


(Jay Johnson) #17

You bet! Many atheists like that Pascal quote, too, but they miss his point. To do evil, and to do it from religious motives, is to misunderstand religion entirely. This is especially true for Christians.


(George Brooks) #18

@Reggie_O_Donoghue

Let’s just say, it’s been successfully interpreted in both directions… and just like YEC-ism and BioLogos-ism… there doesn’t appear to be any way of conclusively determining “the Winner” !!!


(Randy) #19

Now, never having gone to a Christian college, that is one thing I miss (in theory, anyway). I think of that when I read “The Chosen” and their discussion of pilpul (minutiae) discussions. Those Wheaton folks are like the Chasids. :slight_smile:


(system) #20

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