Does God have "free will - choice?"

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by agedman, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. agedman

    agedman
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    When God created Adam, it is recorded that He said, "Let us make man in our image."

    There are those of the BB who proclaimed and attempted to show (in recent threads) that humankind deoes have freedom of will - choice.

    But the question of this thread is:
    "Does God have complete unfettered freedom of will - choice?"
    There are two "rules" that the OP suggests concerning God:
    1) God cannot separate from Himself His character and attributes - His nature.

    2) God cannot perform or choose what is not conformed to his character and attributes - His nature.
    For the purpose of starting the discussion, the OP takes the view that the answer is: No, God does not have freedom of will-choice.

    To support that view the following is offered:

    The Scriptures state: "God is Love" (1 john 4:8)
    Love automatically places constraints and values upon the one who loves. All expressions would be conformed by the hierarchy of constraints and values. "God is love" then it follows that the nature of God obliges expressions consistent with what is God.

    The Scriptures state: "God is good and upright (just)" (psalm 25:8, 2 Thess. 1:6, Romans 3:26)

    God being just and the "justifier" is also integral to His nature. God can make no choice that would be unjust for that would violate His nature. There is not even a "shadow of turning" with God. God cannot perform or conform outside of His nature.
    The list could go on, but these two alone are sufficient to begin the discussion.



    Therefore, if God does not have "freedom of choice-will," then it follows that humankind who are "made in the image of God" also do not have that same ability - contrary to the desire expressed by some on the BB who have attempted to state such freedom is found in common humankind,

    Lets restate the thinking of the OP in this manner to further clarify the OP possition:

    When speaking of faithfulness, in the second letter to Tim, Paul states:
    "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."

    Here then is a truth, as presented in faithfulness, but can be extended to every attribute and character (referred to as the nature) of God. He cannot deny Himself. His NATURE demands consistency and compliance in every aspect.

    How does this apply to the nature of humankind?

    Can a person deny the fallen nature?

    Don't get carried away with whether or not a person is "born in sin," because "ALL have sinned." Such an argument has no place in this thread. "All have sinned," and therefore, all have the nature of the fallen - sin filled.

    Can that NATURE of the fallen - sin filled be free to choose and express will that is not conformed and conforming to that fallen nature?

    The answer is - according to this OP's statements - no. There is no true freedom of choice-will - the human nature does not allow such to exist just as the divine nature does not allow such to exist.

    This OP desires that folks will bring Scriptures into every post - either to prove God can express some "freedom of will - choice" contrary to His nature - character, or show how God cannot.

    The answer will determine if humankind has such ability.

    For the Scriptures state, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." But the creation became sin filled "...through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned..."
     
  2. Judith

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    2Tim 2:23 ;)
     
  3. Jacob_Elliott

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    You don't believe we should try and understand God's word? That we shouldn't wrestle with scripture? I'm sorry but these types of post really irk me, along with people saying don't judge when they get rebuked and we as Christians shouldn't be argueing. Anyway, OP isn't trying to be quarrelsome(we can tell by how wisely and Un-confrontational he made his post). OP is trying to have a civil discussion on the attributes of God.
     
  4. JonC

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    The will is derived from the nature - in this context it is not free. But I suppose that doesn’t mean that the choices are not free choices, only that we choose in accordance with our nature.
     
  5. Skandelon

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    I believe we would all agree that we choose in accordance with our nature, the question is whether our nature is 'contra-causally free' to choose from among available options (options which all would be within the scope of the nature from which to choose.)

    In other words, its one thing to say God cannot choose to lie, because lying is obviously outside the scope of God's nature. But its another thing to suggest that God could not have chosen to refrain from creating the earth or creatures, for to do so suggests He is not all self sufficient in Himself and that somehow he by necessity had to create. Is God free to not create? Is he free to not show mercy to you? Is he free to show mercy to you? Is that a CHOICE? If so, how does he go about making that choice? Can we comprehend such things?
     
    #5 Skandelon, Nov 30, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2013
  6. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Nicely done. You lifted a verse out of context that has absolutely no impact on, or relevance whatsoever to, the OP. What do you do for an encore?
     
  7. Winman

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    I would disagree, Paul shows that in his mind he approved of the law of God and desired to do it, but in his flesh he was pulled and tugged in the opposite direction.

    Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
    15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
    16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
    17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
    18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
    19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
    20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
    21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
    22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
    23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
    24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.


    Most people interpret this passage to be Paul speaking from the perspective of a born again person, but I believe that is impossible for at least 3 reasons;

    #1 Paul says he is sold under sin in verse 14. No Christian is sold under sin, we have been made free from sin.

    Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

    #2 Paul says he is captive to the "law of sin" in verse 24, but in Romans 8:2 he says we are free from the law of sin and death.

    Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    #3 Paul NEVER mentions the Holy Spirit in chapter 7, not once, but immediately and repeatedly speaks of the Spirit in chapter 8.

    So, I believe it is clear that Paul is speaking from the perspective of an unregenerate man in Romans chapter 7.

    Paul here says over and over that in his mind he approves of the law of God and desires to obey it, but he is defeated by the flesh which brings him into the captivity of sin.

    What this means is that the first time you willingly sin, you come under the ownership and domination of sin. It is just like the ancient slave market, you now belong to sin and he is your master. No matter what you do, good or evil, your wage is DEATH. That is the only wage sin pays.

    This is why Paul says he is "sold under sin" and brought "into captivity to the law of sin".

    But Paul had true desire to obey God. He believed the law of God was good. If he had his way he would always obey the law, but again, he is defeated by his flesh that wars against his spirit.

    So man does not always do what he most desires to do. This teaching is not scriptural whatsoever.
     
    #7 Winman, Nov 30, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2013
  8. Jacob_Elliott

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    Well said :thumbsup:
     
  9. Tom Butler

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    Within our nature, we operate freely.

    Here's a verse to chew on.
    Romans 8:7
     
  10. JonC

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    I don’t think that we can fully comprehend such things. Too many unknowns and inadequacies (on our part) exist. If, for example, God chooses the best option and all options are not equal - then is it really a choice? If He created the universe in accordance with His perfect plan, then how could there have been other scenarios that would have better accomplished His goals? While it is interesting to ponder, I do not know how profitable such a discussion would be in terms of actually knowing God. We’d just end up with a bunch of conflicting ideas upon which to argue.

    There are many ways of viewing this verse and the two “I”s. It could be that Paul centers on the inherent inability of the Law to transform (verses 7-12 may support this view). I think this is Paul’s point - but not that he had a true desire to obey God (his desire on his own merit was actually self-righteousness through the Law). Taken as a whole, I believe that Paul is describing the nature of the Christian life. In 6:12-23 He warns Christians not to resubmit to sin as a master. In 6:12 that sin can still arise and needs to be resisted. The Christian can choose righteousness or unrighteousness, and the redeemed still struggles with the flesh. I do not see this as an issue for the lost. But given your understanding of the passage, I see where one could determine that natural man can will apart from his nature or perhaps that this willing is not external to man's nature but an natural internal conflict.
     
  11. JonC

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  12. InTheLight

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    This verse says nothing about desire. It speaks of inability. Now back to the OP...
     
  13. Winman

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    Well, if you want to ignore and redefine what Paul actually said...

    You and other Reformed/Calvinists say a man will always do what he most desires to do, but Paul says the opposite;

    Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

    We don't always do what we most desire to do.

    Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
    17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
    18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
    19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
    20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
    21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
    22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
    23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
    24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    Paul was a Pharisee before he was saved. He wanted to please God, he wanted to obey God. He was not rebellious, he did not hate God.

    Now, that said, he was ignorant of what the scriptures truly teach, that righteousness comes through faith, and that no man can merit righteousness.

    Nevertheless, he sincerely did not hate God.

    Now, there ARE men who hate God, these are those "wicked" persons described so often in the OT;

    Psa 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

    This does not describe Paul, God was constantly in his thoughts. Paul was a "devout" man, as was Cornelius;

    Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
    2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

    This is where Calvinism goes seriously wrong IMHO, they apply verses that are speaking of especially wicked men to all men. That is not what the scriptures say or show. Some men are "devout". These men like Cornelius feared God and prayed always.

    Paul was not wicked, he was ignorant. He thought he was serving God when he persecuted the Christians.

    1 Tim 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
    13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
     
  14. Winman

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    Romans 8 says the "carnal" mind is enmity with God and cannot subject itself to the law of God.

    But are men always in a carnal mind? The scriptures show otherwise.

    Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

    This was before the disciples received the Holy Spirit, so this verse is speaking of their natural spirit, the spirit of man they were born with.

    Jesus shows that in their spirit they indeed desired to obey Jesus and stay awake with him and pray, but the flesh exerted a powerful influence over them and caused them to fall asleep. Compare this to what Paul said in Romans 7;

    Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

    I believe the disciples truly and sincerely wanted to stay awake with Jesus, because that is what Jesus said, and Jesus KNOWS.

    But their flesh warred against their spirit and won, they fell asleep.

    The point is, man is not simply FLESH. Man is also spirit, and the spirit can be willing to obey God.

    But the flesh wants to do it's own thing. It is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. So the man who gives supreme attention to the flesh cannot please God.

    This I believe is what Paul is saying in Romans 8.
     
  15. JonC

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    This is interesting to me. You describe my view that men are limited in will to what is in their nature as "Calvinism." Yet, this is also what secular science and psychology has to say. For example, Freud held that it was our upbringing that constricted the will, others to biology, modern science now attributes it to genetics. But either way, they present a will constricted to our nature. A will constricted to nature is what some non-Calvinists, certainly what Arminianians, present as the will of man. Your remark that it is Calvinistic is absurd. I take it that your misstep here is not representative of the issue at hand but rather a rebuttal of what you foresee as a Calvinistic response.

    It is not a rewrite of Scripture, but rather the view that Paul is speaking of his experience as a believer. I understand what Paul says - there is a struggle between the flesh and spirit in the lives of believers. I also understand your rebuttal, but reject it for the reasons stated. You seem to purpose that men are naturally enabled to will what is contrary to their nature to will - I reject the notion. While I do understand your objection based on the interpretation you present, it is dishonest of you to simply attribute my interpretation to Calvinism.
     
    #15 JonC, Nov 30, 2013
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  16. Winman

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    I am not personally interested in what psychology and secular science say, especially Sigmund Freud.

    Believe it or not, I had two years of Psychology in High School (really), terribly depressing.

    Paul said he was unable to do what he wanted, but what he hated, that he did. I think we can all relate to that statement, I know I can.

    All I know is that Paul spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that is good enough for me. I don't care what Jonathan Edwards wrote.
     
  17. OldRegular

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    Some would say that verse shows the Total Depravity of mankind. I prefer the term Total Inability since some assume Total Depravity indicates the depth of sin that man has fallen into.
     
  18. JonC

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    I had a year in college...I know what you mean. Freud has been debunked and is not valid for an argument today - but he does show that your attempt to limit the argument to Calvinism is flawed. Add to that the secular view opposed to a will apart from our nature...I just don't see how you view Calvinists alone as holding to the will as an aspect of our nature (there are too many non-Calvinists examples that affirm the opposite).

    I haven't really considered what Jonathan Edwards wrote (speaking of depressing :smilewinkgrin:), and don't really know why you bring him up. My point is that our will is limited to our nature - whether or not our nature includes an inclination to righteousness is not the issue. While I think not, the OP was discussing Divine Will. What you need to show is that Paul strove against his natural will (spiritual, mental, and flesh) to seek God without Divine grace. If you can prove this, then I would agree with you.
     
  19. Winman

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    Yeah, I don't know why I ever took those classes, I guess I thought it was interesting, and it was AT FIRST. But then I began to analyze everyone and I realized this was not good, at least for me. I don't think about it anymore and quite frankly I can barely remember anything. We read a lot of incredible case histories.

    And I am shocked that you have not heard of Jonathan Edwards, some consider him the greatest Reformed theological mind ever. He wrote the famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I read that about 30 years ago, also quite depressing.

    He had a church where I live, just over the Massachusetts line. I have driven by it many times, very tiny. There is a plaque out front. He was from Connecticut.

    Edwards wrote much about the will, I am surprised you do not know this. He is the Sigmund Freud of Christianity, especially Reformed Christianity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Edwards_(theologian)
     
    #19 Winman, Nov 30, 2013
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  20. JonC

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    I was seeking a B.S. in psychology when B.S. began to take on an entirely different meaning for me so I changed my major :D.

    I do know Edward's works - I've read Freedom of the Will several times (I'm kinda thick, had to read it several times to get what he was saying :) ). You mentioned that you didn't care what he wrote...I just didn't know where that fit in since I didn't see Edwards quoted here.
     

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