The body of this article begins immediately after this one page, fairly tedious introduction. A reading which only the seriously curious will not by-pass. My thoughts regarding free will, after due consideration and study, may be stated: A choice is conditioned by what men know and what they desire. Which encompasses a wide range of factors.
The merit of the subject of free will deserves at least an appreciation of the complexity of what is discussed. Should one assume they are in tune with their very own free will, the following excerpt is cited. This quote is from the classic theological study of "personal power" by the famous and gifted American evangelist, Jonathan Edwards. This introductory quote will, in the least, expose serious misapprehensions and many unrealized assumptions.
FREEDOM OF THE WILL, by Jonathan Edwards, excerpted from the ending of Part I. (Quotation was obtained from freeware available at, www.ccel.org.:
"If the Will, which we find governs the members of the body, and determines their motions, does also govern itself, and determines its own actions, it doubtless determines them the same way, even by antecedent volitions. The Will determines which way the hands and feet shall move, by an act of choice: and there is no other way of the Will’s determining, directing, or commanding any thing at all. Whatsoever the will commands, it commands by an act of the Will. And if it has itself under its command, and determines itself in its own actions, it doubtless does it the same way that it determines other things which are under its command. So that if the freedom of the will consists in this, that it has itself and its own actions under its command and direction, and its own volitions are determined by itself, it will follow, that every free volition arises from another antecedent volition, directing and commanding that: and if that directing volition be also free, in that also the will is determined; that is to say, that directing volition is determined by another going before that; and so on, till we come to the first volition in the whole series: and if that first volition be free, and the will self-determined in it, then that is determined by another volition preceding that. Which is a contradiction; because by the supposition, it can have none before it, to direct or determine it, being the first in the train. But if that first volition is not determined by any preceding act of the Will, then that act is not determined by the Will, and so is not free in the Arminian notion of freedom, which consists in the Will’s self-determination. And if that first act of the will which determines and fixes the subsequent acts, be not free, none of the following acts which are determined by it can be free.— If we suppose there are five acts in the train, the fifth and last determined by the fourth, and the fourth by the third, the third by the second, and the second by the first; if the first is not determined by the Will, and so not free, then none of them are truly determined by the Will: that is, that each of them are as they are, and not otherwise, is not first owing to the will, but to the determination of the first in the series, which is not dependent on the will, and is that which the will has no hand in determining. And this being that which decides what the rest shall be, and determines their existence; therefore the first determination of their existence is not from the Will. The case is just the same, if instead of a chain of five acts of the Will, we should suppose a succession of ten, or an hundred, or ten thousand. If the first act he not free, being determined by something out of the will, and this determines the next to be agreeable to itself, and that the next, and so on; none of them are free, but all originally depend on, and are determined by, some cause out of the Will; and so all freedom in the case is excluded, and no act of the will can be free, according to this notion of freedom. If we should suppose a long chain of ten thousand links, so connected, that if the first link moves, it will move the next, and that the next; and so the whole chain must be determined to motion, and in the direction of its motion, by the motion of the first link; and that is moved by something else; in this case, though all the links, but one, are moved by other parts of the same chain, yet it appears that the motion of no one, nor the direction of its motion, is from any self-moving or self-determining power in the chain, any more than if every link were immediately moved by something that did not belong to the chain.— If the Will be not free in the first act, which causes the next, then neither is it free in the next, which is caused by that first act; for though indeed the Will caused it, yet it did not cause it freely; because the preceding act, by which it was caused, was not free. And again, if the Will be not free in the second act, so neither can it be in the third, which is caused by that; because in like manner, that third was determined by an act of the Will that was not free. And so we may go on to the next act, and from that to the next; and how long soever the succession of acts is, it is all one: if the first on which the whole chain depends, and which determines all the rest, be not a free act, the Will is not free in causing or determining any one of those acts; because the act by which it determines them all is not a free act; and therefore the Will is no more free in determining them, than if it did not cause them at all.— Thus, this Arminian notion of Liberty of the Will, consisting in the will’s Self-determination, is repugnant to itself, and shuts itself wholly out of the world."
IS FREE WILL WITHOUT THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD RECOGNIZED AS SAVING FAITH?
The sovereignty of God exceeds the notion of prerogative as conceived by many. Dr. Lewis Chafer well defines the attribute of sovereignty in the God of the Bible: “Sovereignty is the very foundation of the doctrine of decrees – yet to be discussed. However, when contemplating the transcendent completeness of the divine Person it is required that His sovereignty shall be included. The sovereignty of God is determined in the absolute manner in which all things have been assigned their respective places in creation, in appointing to men their day and generation as well as the bounds of their habitation, and in the exercise of saving grace. There is perfect peace and highest destiny for those who, knowing the will of God, are subject to it. There is distress and anguish awaiting those who, knowing the will of God, disregard it. Because of divine sovereignty, the saving gospel of Christ is, in various Scriptures, presented as something to be obeyed.” i
At the end of the day, fancy ideas of unlimited free will and self salvation touted by religious humanism holds the field of visible Christianity. In America where millions of people read millions of Bibles, for millions of lifetimes and after trillions of contemporary dollars have been spent in the maintenance of Christian religion, 51% of Americans are taken in by a "Governmental Theory of Atonement" and a derived theology of law, not grace, and are satisfied to be entertained by the fantastic notion of salvation as personal piety weighed on a scale or calculated on a balance sheet. They, like the Pope himself and the millions who follow a self-salvation styled after that old rascal Pelagius, are doomed if they truly believe what they profess. The instructions given in Scripture are not being followed.
Philosophy, theology, academia, tradition, prejudice, and vanity hold sway over humble reflection. For consideration, I’d like to offer my thoughts, which lack a pedigreed source. I conclude on the subject of the sovereignty of God verses man’s free will, which has flowed forth a river of cuneiform tablets and ink long before Christ came, that academia plays a much larger part than is warranted. Those properly schooled and confident of sources have slung books across the centuries at opposing viewpoints over this perceived paradox. Thomas Aquinas, the darling of Catholic theology and the compromise of Scholasticism, came to a place in his life where he stopped his professional speaking and writing. Not because of any disability, mind you, just a personal choice. I believe he had an insight and saw the futility of past intellectualisms over the ancient problem of the universals. I choose the Bible as my source and will make this brief.
THE PARABLE OF THE SUNKEN TREASURE SHIP
The Apostle Paul, not lacking a fine education himself, said he should not of known sin until sin was revealed in God’s law (Rom 7:7). This is on the negative side, bear in mind there is a positive side. I ask you, how common is it to control children by manipulating the knowledge of something to obtain a desirable effect? Aside from election verses, NT Scripture reveals, in several places, that God draws men to salvation, that He draws all men.
Now, let’s say you, the reader, desire a sunken treasure ship. You may search with limited funds as best you can or, with a sophisticated effort to solicit money for research, surveying, equipment, etc. You might even become a real "Mel Fisher" kind of a guy in your efforts. During the pressing demands of your search, let’s say someone comes to you with a map and all you have to do is go with him and take a look, no expense to you. Okay, you don’t have time for foolishness, so you tell the guy to get lost.
Not that sunken treasure ships don’t exist, but for various reasons you fail. Later, you hear of some nobody who was given a map and can’t bring up all the sunken treasure he has the rights to in ten lifetimes. Now, I ask, what kept you from sharing in this treasure? Free will of course. ... Hold on, hold on ... not so fast! What brought that Mr. Nobody to the treasure ... free will?
I suggest your imperfect knowledge kept you from that treasure, in both cases -your own search or sharing with Mr. Nobody. The mysterious Mr. Nobody followed the knowledge, the instructions, revealed in the map. Desire you had; but it was focused on the treasure, instead of what turned out to be the proper knowledge. Mr. Nobody might have been a farmer who never thought of sunken treasure, but he had the price of the proper knowledge and the treasure within his means - simple trust in someone else. “Faith is the evidence” and "knowledge is power."
A fool’s story, a tale told by an idiot, perhaps? Scripture says the Lord will use the foolish to shame the wise. Also, that He is pleased in that by the foolishness of preaching men are saved. Paul, addressing believers asks the question, “Who of you was wise? Who of you was respected? Who of you was highly born?”
The Bible reveals the repentance of Judas, Gk. metamelomia, which drove him to hang himself. The best kept secret in America today is that to repent for salvation does not mean, as preached by the ignorant, to wail and moan and feel horrible regret about sin, nor does it mean that one must clean up their act. The Greek word for repent is never used in the Gospel of John, written expressly for saving faith in Jesus Christ. Saving faith in the original Greek is metanoia, repent in the KJV, which means to change one’s mind about a contrary matter. It is used with the synonyms “believe” and “faith.” Of something like 150 verses, rarely are two synonyms used in the same verse. Repent is to turn to what was deemed unworthy from what one held to be worthy. A major reversal of fortune dear reader, based on knowledge and faith in that knowledge.
Mtw 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father.50 No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” NET
50sn This verse has been noted for its conceptual similarity to teaching in John’s Gospel (10:15; 17:2). The authority of the Son and the Father are totally intertwined.
John 10:38 But if I do them, even if you do not believe me, believe the deeds, so that you may come to know and understand that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” NET
John 5:25 I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. NET
1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. NET
Furthermore, to treat the future as present and the invisible as visible requires an informed intelligent decision.1 If the NT were not written on the principle of “now-but-not-yet,” hope could not exist:
“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance” (Rom 8:24-25). “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1). “Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Col 1:5-6).
1 see Appendix, The Definition of Faith and The Doctrine of Faith
i Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Chafer, Vol 1, p 222
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