The following is the continuation of comments that belongs to a post at Shepherd the Flock on free-will. Does it really matter that this single issue which Luther thought to be the “hinge-pin” of the entire protestation. To borrow Gene’s quote:
“If these issues are not fit for the persons in the pew to know or discuss, then what, I pray tell, is fit for that purpose?”
This was Luther in response to Erasmus. The doctrines of free-will is complicated but well worth the consideration. We only need be afraid of that which is hidden in darkness, but once the light shines upon it, it is no longer a threat.
You may go to the link or just join the conversation in flow. Since you are here check out the other posts, and invite your friends. I do get lonely, honest!
I said in response to James (no link):
If our sense of justice is derived strictly from the Scripture, and I believe it is, why don’t we let another die in someones place and declare the guilty guiltless?
You didn’t address the issue of Christ’s crucifixion. Does Scripture say that it was God’s choice that the men would do what they did, or, was that choice a free contingency without the knowledge of God nor or his decreeing it? In other words, can predictive prophecy be predictive prophecy if it is left to the free-will of the creature to bring it about? And, was it just, if the men could not do otherwise?
So yes, they should if it was just to do so. You see, you miss what justice means, and man’s
justice, although commanded upon a perfect standard, is inadequate to address the reality of murder. We can avenge, we cannot call things that are not as though the were, remediate, that is to bring into existence the perfect prior state. How does man’s justice, propitiate the offence? It cannot erase the guilt, even if the price is paid by another. If it could, then yes, it would be justice to do so. Here is the case, have you ever hated anyone? The answer is yes, for while you were still an enemy of God, Christ died for you. Now, Jesus said that hate was equatable with murder. Do we try people for murder because of hate, or must there be an actual murder? Not only is our view of justice stilted, our view of crime is stilted, we are not truly able to judge rightly, nor are we able to discern rightly a wrong committed.
Only God can perfectly judge. Not only is he capable of trying motive, but even what gave rise to that motive. Human courts cannot do that, yet we are commanded in Scripture to judge perfect judgement. The best we can do is judge evidentially. Our courts do not in actuality judge motive, though they might weigh apparent motive as a circumstantial factor, that is, all the evidence is without object, without motive. Motive is presumed based upon what can be observed. To state motive which is viewed by the court, it is that which is the payoff. However, the motive that precedes the crime has deeper roots which no man can judge, and courts do not judge thought, but presume it. People who kill out of simply a sense of pleasure without a measurable motive, that is a pay off like wealth, et cetera, are considered psycopathological, and innocent of crimes of intent, by reason of insanity. Of primary concern in the motive of sin is self pleasure. It is not the thing that will in the end bring the pleasure, and that is what a court of law considers when it is considering motive. Beyond that, it is the nature that gives rise to self pleasing. The nature is sinful, and it is that which is the cause of the particular sin of self pleasing or self worship, which in turn brings about the thoughts of action that will be actuated in real time if something does not prevent it.
Is it wrong to send another to his death, even a voluntary death, for another? God’s justice, perfect justice, was accomplished in Christ, by his declaration we are without guilt, and all this by his mercy which is by grace given, not for anything that we have done, or any inherent goodness in us, for enemies do not do anything good for their enemy. And, if it is right, that is just, for God, why is it wrong for man? So, the fact remains that God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. His justice likewise is not of the same kind as man’s, nor can man’s justice ever be the same kind as God’s. But, we do derive from that perfection, and from commandment the justice of God towards and for mankind. For every government of man is established by God, but he himself is subject to no one.
So, is God bound by the same rules of justice as man? Or, is that not imposing upon God, human nature and human condition, in other words, remaking God into man’s image, or into the image of things in creation? Or, let me state it this way: Since it is such and such with man, it must likewise be such and such with God? Or, is that the sin of Romans 1. Was it evil of God to place man in the Garden and leave him to the mercy of the deceiver? Was it just of God, if indeed Eve was deceived and deception being by nature not knowing the truth, to judge her for a crime that she did not know that she was committing? Was God just to impute to mankind the sin nature as well as the guilt of Adam? Or, is there such a thing as original sin, or original guilt? Was God unjust to condemn the whole world of Noah? The babies still in their mothers wombs? Innocent children? Wasn’t it unjust for God to take an alcoholic prone to sin into the Ark, and what about his sinful son Ham? What about clean and unclean animals, what significance is there to that? Why the eight not others, seeing that they were just as sinful, just as sinful if sin means anything, as the world around. What of Noah’s contemporaries? Were there none, at least as “good” as they? What about Abraham and his family? They were worshippers of foreign gods, even bringing those gods into the promise land with them. Was it just of God to condemn the sins of Sodom and not the sins of Lot? Abraham prostituted Sarah to a king, Lot his daughters to the men of Sodom, yet even they are called righteous even at the time that they were doing this. Abraham died an adulterer. And Jesus said that monogamy was the truth, as it was in the beginning. Wasn’t that sin that Abraham the father of Faith was living in? Is that justice? Is it just that every man is a liar? Yet God says that no liar will enter heaven, which except for his mercy, none of us liars would. Is mercy, justice? Or, can mercy ever be just? Is it just that on the day that you die you will be every bit as worthy of hell as you were the day you were born again, except that for the mercy of God, he has declared you righteous, guiltless, and made you a joint heir with Christ?
Is God bound by a set of rules that he could choose to disobey? Again, if that is the case then we do not have a God, but a god, who is in subjugation to a standard outside of himself. God is not subject to any ruler. He alone is Sovereign. And, that means that he cannot set aside that Sovereignty for a moment, even to give man contingency, or, libertarian free-will. For that would make God subject to the rules that man makes. What I mean by that is: If man can say no to God freely, without God’s decreedal foreknowing the permission of it, then God is subject to a rule outside of himself, and it is a god above him. That is a type of gnosticism.
I am curious, because you did not address any other thing that I said: Do you believe that before the fall, man could, with knowledge, freely choose to do evil? That is, was man created in the image of God such that he, not only knew evil so that he could choose it, but that he was neutral, and not good by nature, but only becoming so by his choice? Or, is it the case that man was created in the image of God, good, but unlike God, without the knowledge of good and evil, and therefore like God unable to choose? Because, in the end, evil will be cast out into the lake of fire, there will be no knowledge of it in the New Heavens and New Earth, except for that which properly belongs to God. But, man will be unable by thess two things to choose other than good: That the knowledge of evil will not exist in man, and, man by nature will be holy, separated, good. I stated this with my last comment, and I am just curious? Or, let me take it this direction: Can God lie? Why not? Is it that he chooses not to but can, or, that he cannot choose to? Scripture says that it is impossible. If true free will in God is such that because of his Nature he cannot lie, how is it that free will in man is such that he can? The ability to choose between good and evil with knowledge is the very essence of evil itself. That free-will that is libertarian free-will, is the result, not the cause of the fall. Deception was the cause of the fall, evil using that which was good to do that which is evil making it all unclean. Man’s will is bound, bound by sin, and except that it is set free it cannot will anything good. Because, it is unclean. Why is it that Jesus said to the “believing” Jews, “You are of your father the devil and his will you will do”, if they were able to choose to do otherwise? Among them we all had our conversation at one time, at one time we were all enemies of God, and while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. How is it that while we were yet sinners we received the benefit of Christ’s atonement? Did Christ misspeak? Should he not rather have said, “You have a choice, some inherent goodness in you, and you do not need to do your father’s will?” And, I would not want to contradict Jesus when he said, “You did not choose me. I choose you.” If we were indeed enemies, does enemy mean anything except gobbledygook if enemy actually means friend? You see, there are differences in the meanings of words and nuances that we use. Definitions that apply to one, that do not apply to the other. If you were by nature a child of wrath, that is a child of the devil, how did you make a decision for Christ that the devil himself would not make? How is it that God says: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” If they were children of wrath, children of the devil, enemies, how is it that they are a people of God that were the Father’s before they were given to Christ?
I am not a theologian, so I am sure that I have gotten much here not quite right. But, I can tell you this, for years I was not told there was any other way to think than as an modified Arminian. I am SBC and long steep in the status quo. My question has always been, why have the authorities sheltered us from history? Is it not better to fully instruct than to keep in darkness? Doesn’t a man light a light and place it on a table in the middle of the room to illuminate all. Then why? The SBC was founded upon these doctrines. Shouldn’t it be then, that even if they were wrong, that the SBC would be proud to proclaim that they had finally found the light? But instead, as Gene stated, the powers, fearful of history, of all things, chose silence rather than proclamation, darkness, rather than light. Very curious, huh?