Pondering on Free Will

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:25 AM
Those who follow SCF know I've been musing a lot about free will lately. A good portion of me is solidly in the Reformed camp, because it seems to make the most sense. Yet I continue to find it impractical to reject the notion of free will, as the strictest in Reformed theology will do. Reading Mere Christianity tonight, I reencountered Lewis's argument for the creation of free will:
Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness of joy worth having. (48)

Now, Lewis doesn't suggest that we are able on our own to establish a right relationship with God. Specifically, he argues a case of God being like someone reaching down to save a person drowning in a river. That drowning person has a choice to refuse the help or accept it, but the actual process of being saved from the watery depths is entirely dealt with by the rescuer.

This sounds Arminian, and to the extent that it is, I perhaps should consider myself Arminian. On the other hand, I remain convinced of the perseverance of the saints and believe that God must reach out the hand of Grace for one to be able to accept it; perhaps He does so arbitrarily, more likely, I believe because he foreknows whom will accept Grace of their own accord having been offered that Grace. I believe the latter proposition can still qualify as election, although perhaps in a four-point Calvinist way rather than five point. In the future, I plan on considering Karl Barth's alternative thoughts on the subject of election, but that's too much to handle tonight.

Therefore, I have a foot in both camps, but remain convinced I should consider myself a member of the Calvinist/Reformed tradition. I do believe there is a divine mystery concerning the relationship of the sovereignty of God and free will in which both are allowed to coexist for the greatest good possible.

Tags: Faith

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5 comments posted so far.

Re: Pondering on Free Will

Divine mysteries are something Christianity is full of, isn’t it? :)

Posted by Flip - Mar 05, 2005 | 8:39 AM- Location: Sweden

Re: Pondering on Free Will

In Acts 2: 23 Luke wrote that Peter said Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. Did God look into the future and see the death of Jesus and then decide to *send* Jesus for that purpose? Just a question… :-)
Posted by jtr - Mar 05, 2005 | 2:05 PM- Location:

Re: Pondering on Free Will

I have your interview questions up. They will actually let you discuss this topic some more! evil grin

Posted by Christopher - Mar 05, 2005 | 5:56 PM- Location: MO

Re: Pondering on Free Will

I’m too much a pragmatist to define things that clearly. I’m willing to accept your viewpoint as a valid expression of things beyond our ken. There are other ways to explain it, but that will work. I would say it appears some events are clearly predetermined, but some seem not to be. My line on this could jokingly be called Agnostic Calvinism, I suppose. I don’t believe we can really comprehend, but I’m sure Calvin is on the right track.

Posted by Ed Hurst - Mar 05, 2005 | 7:01 PM- Location: Rural SE Texas

Re: Pondering on Free Will

Flip: That’s for sure! One scholar actually defines religion as the thing that deals with mystery. :-)

jtr: Heh. No, I don’t think that’s it at all. Really, to take that view, one would have to argue that Jesus wasn’t God, I would think. FWIW, I also don’t think God would have to look into the future, since the future and the past are really not distinctions that concern a Being outside of time.

Christopher: Oh, goody! Sounds fun, I will have to go look at the questions.

Ed: I like that term (“Agnostic Calvinism”)! I’d have to agree that some things seem predestined and others do not. That pretty much sums up my view as well.

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Mar 05, 2005 | 10:09 PM- Location: Missouri

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