Are People Free to Choose?

A question that plagues the honest Bible reader. Our culture reacts by saying, “Of course!” However, the Bible gives a different picture. If God is God then he is free to do as he wills, how he wills. The problem for people is accepting the fact that they are shot through with sin and only a supernatural work can save them…not their intellect or moral striving. In an excellent article, Doug Wilson treats this question (it takes about five minutes of your time and is well worth it!!).
Now the reason we have a problem with God’s control of free actions is that we do not want to say that men are nothing more than puppets. But the assumption of “puppetry” is a false inference. When one creature acts on another creature, his use of freedom displaces the freedom of the one he is acting on. When Hamlet kills Claudius, the freedom of Hamlet removes the freedom of Claudius. But when Shakespeare acts on Hamlet, this does not remove Hamlet’s freedom, it rather creates it. In other words, the actions of Shakespeare on the characters does not have the same effect that the actions of one character have on another character. In the same way, the relation of God’s will to my actions is not a relation that is bound by the rules of the universe because it is the relationship of the Creator of that universe with a creature within it. I cannot displace someone else’s choices, and leave him in full possession of those choices at the same time. To try to explain it would be to try to explain a contradiction. But the error that is made when this is assumed to be true of God’s relationship with us is the error of making God tiny, as though He were simply the biggest subset within the universe. But He is not.
[HT: Jim Hamilton]



Filed under Christian Living, Theology

7 responses to “Are People Free to Choose?

  1. So where does that leave us, Matt? Are we merely actors in a play? Am I not typing this, but it is God typing these words through me?

  2. The problem with wilson’s view and calvinism is that it ultimately makes God the creator of evil.

    this cannot be. and i believe its more of a mystery than we would like to believe.

  3. ryan spak

    Granted I haven’t gotten into much Calvin (beyond the typical things), this reminded me a lot of Jonathan Edwards. We are free to act insofar as our will complies with the motives God gives us. Edwards even nails the natural and moral necessities. So God is not responsible for evil, but it still plays a part in things.

  4. i think there is a difference between God being responsible for sin and actually creating the sin.

  5. ryan spak

    I’m not quite clear on the distinction you’re making here?

  6. Matt, you never answered my question. Is it because you are sovereignly being prevented?

  7. I enjoy the friendly banter…let’s just make sure it stays friendly and Christ-like (for both sides)… For my reply see the Comments section here.

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