Free Will and Free Agency

Sharing Options

No serious participant in this debate denies that men are free, responsible agents, and that they are fully accountable for what they do. There is, however, much debate on what the word freedom means.

How Does the Will Operate?

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matt. 12:33-37).

Jesus teaches here two fundamental truths about choices. The first is that choice are determined by nature. The second is that this is fully consistent with exhaustive responsibility for what we say and do.

The will is that which reaches into our hearts and brings out the strongest desire we have in order to act upon it.

Creaturely Freedom

Given this definition we see that we are free in Baskins & Robbins to choose whatever flavor we desire. There is no coercion.

How this freedom is reconciled with the exhaustive sovereignty of God is a question we cannot answer. The Bible simply tells us that we are free in this sense, and that God controls every detail of history.

Man as creature is free.

Moral Freedom

It is here where we have real problems. It is in the area of morality, and choosing to follow Christ, where we want to assert that men have free will. But it is here that the Bible expressly denies that men have free will.

. . . knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin (Rom. 6:6-7).

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor. 1:18-25).

What this amounts to is the fact that man as sinner is not free at all. The place where we most want free will is the one place where it is excluded in Scripture.

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