5. The Bible Teaches Man Still Had A Free Will After Adam’s Sin
That man’s free will to choose between good and evil, between obedience and disobedience, continued after the fall of Adam and Even can be seen in a plethora of verses.
i. Genesis 4:6-7: God spoke to Cain immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve as someone who had no reason to be upset because he could simply do well and it would be accepted of him.
ii. Deut. 11:26-27: God told Israel that He was setting before them blessings or curses, blessings if they obey and curses if they disobey, thus declaring that they had the power of contrary choice between obedience and disobedience.
iii. Deut. 30:19: God told Israel that He set before them the way of life and the way of death, choose life.
iv. Deut. 8:2: God tested men to see if they would obey Him or disobey Him. Why would He test them to see which one they would do if their ability to do anything except disobey had been lost?
v. Joshua 24:25: Joshua told Israel to choose this day whom they would serve, whether they would serve God or other gods. Evidently men have a free will choose whether they will serve God or not.
vi. Jer. 21:8: God said to Israel that He set before them the way of life or the way of death. God is declaring that He has given them the “power of contrary choice.”
vii. Jer. 11:7-8: God said that He “earnestly protested” with the fathers of Israel to obey His voice. Why would He “earnestly protest” for them to obey Him if they cannot?
viii. Jer. 38:20: Jeremiah told the king, “Obey I beseech you the voice of the Lord” as if this was a choice the sinful king could and should make.
ix. Ps. 53:2: God looked down from heaven to see if there were any that did understand and seek Him and found none. Why would God look down to see if this was happening if He took away any possibility of it when Adam sinned? The fact that God looked down to see presupposes that it was a possibility.
x. Genesis 6:5-6 & Ezekiel 6:9: God expresses great brokenness of heart over the abundance of man’s sin, as if things could have been differently.
xi. Jer. 19:5, 32:35: God said when Israel sacrificed their children to false gods that they were doing what He commanded not “neither came it into my mind” He said that they would do such a thing. In other words, God knew that they were capable of doing otherwise and expected them to.
xii. Isa. 5:4: God said He did all that He could for His vineyard to bring forth grapes but it brought forth wild grapes instead. Evidently Israel had a free choice to bring forth either kind and God did not withhold from them the ability to bring forth that grapes that He wanted.
xiii. Ps. 81:13 & Isa. 48:18: God bemoans the disobedience of Israel, saying O that they had obeyed my commandments, as if they could have! He is speaking as if the past could have been different than it was.
In Isaiah, for example, God complains that He has reared children but they have disobeyed Him. (Isa. 1:2 NRSV; cf. Isa. 30:1, 2, 3, 9, 12, 13) God then reasons with them: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isa. 1:16, 17) Does God not have a purpose? Yes, God has a purpose, and God has a decree for the ages. But God also declares: “The look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.” (Isa. 3:9 NRSV, emphasis added) God pronounces blessings to the innocent (Isa. 3:10) and justice to the guilty (Isa. 3:11) — “for what their hands have done shall be done to them.” God even grieves over the willing rebelliousness of His people: “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?” (Isa. 5:4; cf. Isa. 9:13, 14, 15, 16, 17) Isaiah betrays the Calvinist.
In Jeremiah, God is, again, angry with His rebellious people, leading us to ask: If He decreed, rendered certain and necessary, and brought about their rebellion, then why would God be angry? God is not schizophrenic: He does not commit mind-control, bringing about one’s rebellious heart, only to then judge the individual for doing what He decreed for them to do. (Jer. 2:13, 14, 15, 16, 17) We find God Himself admitting that human beings have the ability to reject His authority. The LORD said, “Indeed, long ago you threw off my authority and refused to be subject to me. You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill and under every green tree.” (Jer. 2:20 NET, emphases added; cf. Jer. 2:29) But how can the Israelites reject God’s sovereign authority? How can they refuse to be subject to Him, since He has strictly foreordained all that comes to pass? God, allegedly, foreordained their rebellion, which they, allegedly, “freely” committed, and then God punished them for it. Jeremiah betrays the Calvinist.
In Ezekiel, we note the sovereignty of God, rightly defined, and the free will and responsibility of human beings created in His image (Ezek. 3:6, 7, 18, 19, 20, 21, 27; 5:6, 7, 8, 9; 6:9; 9:9, 10). As a matter of fact, the prophet informs us of God’s relationship to the thoughts of people: “Mortal, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying; say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination; ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ Thus says the Lord GOD, Alas for the senseless prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (Ezek. 13:2-3, emphases added; cf. Ezek. 13:8, 9, 10, 17; 20:32) God does not wish for their adversity and treachery: “You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad. And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins. Because of all this, you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you make predictions. For I will rescue my people from your grasp. Then you will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezek. 13:22-23 NLT, emphasis added) Ezekiel betrays the Calvinist.
In this Calvinist meme, the idea that is being presented is that if God strips people of liberty in heaven then there is no reason to think God has not striped mankind of liberty on Earth. The humorous point is that Christians generally believe that in heaven there is no free will, so are endorsing some sort of double standard. Ignoring the moral implications (in heaven it is often thought that there is no sin while on Earth there is sin, making God not cuplible for sin in heaven but cuplible on Earth) of this meme, there is no reason to think that there is no free will in heaven. The closest the Bible comes to this concept is the description of the new earth in Revelation:
Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
God is wiping away tears. No one is dying. No one is crying. Does this mean that there is no free will? Is this a hyperbole meant to illustrate the greatness of the Kingdom? Or is this a testament to God’s kingship and judgment? Is there any reason to default to a loss of free will?
Revelation also contains an idea of evil people still alive and functioning in the new Earth:
Rev 21:24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
Rev 21:25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).
Rev 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
Rev 21:27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The nations that are saved enter the city, except for those who are unclean. Why are these passages worded as such if there can no longer be sin? Would this suggest that the natural understanding of “no more tears” in the same chapter is due to the wicked not being allowed entrance?
We have every reason to believe in heaven, rebellion is possible. Also from the book of Revelation:
Rev 12:4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
Rev 12:7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
Rev 12:8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
Rev 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
In this passage, there appears some sort of heavenly war. Inhabitants of heaven are disenfranchised and cast to Earth. This suggests that these actors all had the ability to rebel.
Why does this meme assume there is no free will in heaven? There is ample evidence even within the author of Revelation that mankind will always have free will to reject God. There seems to be no assumption otherwise.
Do Humans Have Free Will, from Bible Contradictions:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
O LORD, I know that the way of man [is] not in himself: [it is] not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ
Bible Contradictions lists maybe one verse for free will. But they do show a basic understanding that when the Bible gives choices, it does so under the presumption that people can in fact choose one option or the other. The Bible is filled with such verses.
The verses listed against free will are approached by Biblical Contradictions either as a gross misunderstanding of free will or a presumption of fatalism. If a father says “The way of my son is not his own will, I direct him” this is not a claim for fatalism or a counterclaim for free will. This is just a general control statement. Sometimes sons are even controlled against their will, but no one stipulates that the son no longer has free will because their resistance failed.
In Acts 13:48, the verb could very well be reflexive. The context suggests as much, as shown by Jesse Morrell.
On the face value reading, Jude 1:4 suggests mankind has free will. Who are the individuals marked out for condemnation? Those who turn grace to lewdness and deny Jesus. In Jude 1:18, the author even goes so far as to point out it is “their own ungodly lusts”. And interestingly enough, Jude adds in a call to save these people. In verse 23, Jude calls for believers to “pull out of the fire” those who are failing.
Biblical Contradictions doesn’t seem to notice the point of the author with verse 4. Jude is saying that God has prepared a judgment place for those who reject Him. The author is not saying individuals were picked by name to suffer this judgment.
The open theist maintains that we must have libertarian free will in order to be rightly held accountable for our actions. There are no explicit verses in Scripture that demonstrate our wills are independent of God’s will. Libertarian free will is more of a philosophical assumption, failing to take into account one’s will and desires in choosing or not choosing, failing to recognize the role of causality in events that take place. So what they have done to ensure the Bible teaches that we have libertarian free will is they have removed God’s divine foreknowledge.
Those findings listed above are staggering and devastating to one who holds to libertarian free will. Now, obviously we cannot go through all of verses demonstrating that God brings about human free actions that we are responsible for, so we will examine a few where we see this clearly, and I will list more Scriptures at the end.
While some Open Theists maintain that God does not provide any coercive influences (See Thomas J Oord’s work), this is not a standard belief in Open Theism. Both the Dispensationalist and Moral Government spectrum of Open Theism would take strong issue with this. One glaring example is that this wing of Open Theists sees God’s warlike calls to Israel as being literal and not impugning the character of God. Influence does not negate free will.
I can offer my son $20 to mow the lawn. He can accept it or not, but it is not as if my offer of $20 somehow makes his choice unfree. Human decision is largely a product of cost-benefit analysis mixed with randomness (free will). If I knew my son wanted money to buy a present for a girl, I have extra assurance he will take my offer. None of this necessitates omniscient knowledge of the future or even coercion (although that wouldn’t hurt). Prediction Markets exists and function well precisely because human behavior is largely predictable.
The Ranting Reformer offers a list of prooftexts to show God’s influences on people. But this is the question: if people cannot deviate from God’s will, why does God have to perform special action to ensure the people act how He wishes (see the strange case of King Nebuchadnezzar)? In fact, the entire story of the Bible is God’s struggle to mold and shape people. Particularly this is true for Israel. In Isaiah, God laments “What more could I have done?” (Isa 5:4). In Jeremiah, God punishes Israel in vain (Jer 2:30). In Ezekiel, God abandons Israel to be gang raped. Finally, in Romans, God cuts Israel off for disobedience (Rom 11:20). Neither blessings or curses worked in bringing Israel to God.
A lot of the times, God’s influences work. It is easy to influence Pharaoh to be prideful. It is really easy to call Assyrians to attack in pursuit of land and wealth (Isa 7:18). But when God wants to influence people to love Him, the Bible overwhelmingly portrays God’s attempts as futile. It is a lot harder to influence a prideful Pharaoh to love God. It is a lot harder to make the Assyrians repent and worship God. It is a lot harder to make Israel stay true to God. In Israel’s case, sometimes God has to cut them off and graft in the Gentiles in order to try to make Israel jealous (Rom 11:11). When God wants to cut people off, who can resist God’s will (Rom 9:19)? But when God wants to make people love Him, even lawyers can thwart God (Luk 7:30).
Tool, who is not a Christian band, explores the effects of Free Will:
Angels on the sideline,
Puzzled and amused.
Why did Father give these humans free will?
Now they’re all confused.
Don’t these talking monkeys know that
Eden has enough to go around?
Plenty in this holy garden, silly old monkeys,
Where there’s one you’re bound to divide it
Right in two
Angels on the sideline,
Baffled and confused.
Father blessed them all with reason.
And this is what they choose.
(and this is what they choose)
Monkey, killing monkey, killing monkey
Over pieces of the ground.
Silly monkeys give them thumbs,
They forge a blade,
And when there’s one they’re bound to divide it,
Right in two.
Right in two.
Monkey, killing monkey, killing monkey
Over pieces of the ground.
Silly monkeys give them thumbs,
They make a club
And beat their brother… down.
How they survived so misguided is a mystery.
Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability
to lift an eye to heaven conscious of his fleeting time here
Gotta divide it all right in two (x4)
They fight, till they die
Over earth, over sky
They fight, over life,
Over brawn, over air and light,
Over love, over sun. Over blood
They fight, or they die, all for what? For our rising!
Angels on the sideline again
Been too long with patience and reason
Angels on the sideline again
Wondering when this tug of war will end
Gotta divide it all right in two (x3)
Right in two
Right in two..
Rohan Holt asked Michael Saia to distribute for free his book “Does God Know the Future?”, and Michael Saia said yes. The Facebook post:
Rohan Holt uploaded a file.
November 24 at 5:02pm
Michael Saia, the author of “Does God Know The Future?”, has generously agreed to allow me to post a PDF of his book. Please feel free to distribute broadly. The book is still available for purchase, from Amazon & the like, but getting the word out is most important.
The book: [link]
George Macdonald from Man’s Difficulty Concerning Prayer:
That God cannot interfere to modify his plans, interfere without the change of a single law of his world, is to me absurd. If we can change, God can change, else is he less free than we–his plans, I say, not principles, not ends: God himself forbid!–change them after divine fashion, above our fashions as the heavens are higher than the earth.
From Evangelical Arminians:
So what exactly are Open Theists adding to libertarian free will? Open Theists hold the idea that propositions about future free will acts, in an absolute sense, cannot be true. (I say in an absolute sense, because some Open Theists reinterpret statements about the future in a relative, probabilistic sense, meaning given current factors, Bob will choose chocolate is more likely than not, but not 100% certain). If the statement, “Bob will eat chocolate” is true, then Bob is not free with respect to eating chocolate. Propositions about events become true the moment the events happen and not before. Bob himself has the power to change the proposition “Bob chose chocolate” from possibly true to actually true. This is how Open Theists cash out the idea of Bob making statements true and this is the power that Open Theists add to definition of libertarian free will.
From The Openness of God:
In an attempt to preserve the notion of God’s power as total control, some advocate what they call biblical compatibilism, the idea that one can uphold genuine freedom and divine determinism at the same time. This is sleight of hand and does not work. Just the fact of our rebellion as sinners against God’s will testifies it is not so. The fall into sin was against the will of God and proves by itself that God does not exercise total control over all events in this world. Evils happen that are not supposed to happen, that grieve and anger God.
In The Foreknowledge of God, and Cognate Themes in Theology and Philosophy, L. D. McCabe writes:
It is remarkable how constantly it is implied, or assumed, in the Scriptures, that God does not foreknow the choices of free beings while acting under the law of liberty. As for example, the words of Jehovah to Moses, “I am sure the King of Egypt will not let you go.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham out of the heavens, and said, “Lay not thou a hand on the lad, neither do thou any thing to him; for now I know that thou fearest God seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” These words imply that up to that point God did not absolutely know what the final decision of Abraham would be. If he did foreknow it, a seeming falsity, or pretense, is assumed, and a deception practiced upon the reader. “Now I know that thou fearest God.” Of Solomon God promised, saying, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. But if he commit, iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of iron.” “He led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldst keep his commandments or no.” And the Lord said, “It repenteth me that I have made man.” Moses said, “It repented the Lord that he had made man, and it grieved him at his heart.” These words seem to imply a heart-felt regret on the part of God, and that he had not foreknown with certainty the fall of man. For, if he had foreknown the wickedness of man, why did he grieve after its occurrence more, than before? And if he grieved equally before he made Adam, at the sight of his future sinfulness, why did he not decline his creation? If he foreknew the fall, not merely as a contingent possibility, but as an inevitable fact, then this mournful declaration makes him appear inconsistent. And then who can sympathize with him in his grief for having created man? Evidently, in this passage, God implicitly, but clearly, assumes his non-foreknowledge of the certain future wickedness of man. And that assumption is necessary to give consistency to the divine conduct and statements, and to establish any claim on, the sympathy of an intelligent universe in his great disappointment. But when the whole transaction is considered in view of that assumption a light, luminous with the most interesting suggestions, emanates from this troublesome text.
CS Lewis writes in Mere Christianity:
Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of the World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will or not? If it is, He is a strange God you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen that is contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?
But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, “I’m not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You’ve got learn to keep it tidy on your own.” Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. This is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will that has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.
It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. 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 is makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.
From God’s Strategy In Human History Dealing with Man’s Free-will by Roger T. Forster And V. Paul Marston:
GOD’S PLAN REJECTED (Greek root: boulomai)
We discover that an individual can reject God’s plan for him:
Luke 7.30: But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel (boule) of God, being not baptised of him.
Mere human beings, of course, could not thwart God’s ultimate plan for the world, but they both can and do thwart His plan that they, as individuals, should have a part in it. The Pharisees could not prevent God’s ultimate plan achieving its end. The New Heaven and New Earth will come, whether they want it or not. In this sense we may well cry ‘Hallelujah, the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth.’3 But what they can do is to personally opt out of the new creation to come. God ordains that the new heaven and earth will come, He does not ordain which particular individuals will accept His plan for them to have a part in it.
Calvinists says there is no such thing as “free will.” But the Bible refers to “freewill offerings.”
Calvinists say there is no such thing as “chance.” But Jesus said a priest happened upon a wounded man “by chance.”
The burning bush story is a great picture of who God is and how He relates to man. He spends a great deal of time telling Moses what he will do and what he will say. But Moses is fearful and essentially rejects God’s plan. So God gets angry and says, “Fine! Have your brother Aaron do it.”
What God said Moses would do, Aaron ended up doing. What God said Moses would say, Aaron ended up saying. Prophecy is not pre-written history.
12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”
14 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well.
I’ve always been shocked at the lack of information on the internet about this issue of Joseph’s dream. I think the answer is simple, yet goes against traditional theology, so people don’t want to talk about it.
The verse is definitely talking about Leah. Jacob interprets his son’s dream as that he, Leah and their 11 sons will bow down to Joseph. (This is quite insulting!) These dreams are prophesies from God to Joseph, which is where this gets really interesting.
As we read on in Genesis, we see that the brothers ended up bowing down to Joseph in Egypt as his first dream of sheaves stated. Jacob was on his deathbed when he found out that Joseph was still alive. He actually had to be carried to Egypt and was incredibly grateful that he got to see Joseph before dying.
But the interesting thing is that Leah did not make it to Egypt. We don’t know exactly when she died, but she was buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah in the field of Machpelah by Jacob himself.
So essentially, we have here a great example showing that prophesy is not pre-written history. God’s message to Joseph was not about specifics and numbers, but a general principle that He had a bigger plan in mind. Had even Jacob died before making it to Egypt (which was almost the case), God does not break because His prophecy did not come to pass exactly as stated. God is not concerned with details as much as Calvinists and Arminians are. He wants us to see the forest and not get caught up in the trees. This dream of Joseph’s is a perfect example.
How can some call these Anthrophorism(Or w/e that is called. Do not know that is the correct specific word?)
There is no reason in scripture to believe these passages do not mean what they say. Or that God is just saying it like this to relate to us and does not mean it.
Deut 8:2-And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, **testing you** ** to know ** what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.
Gen 22:1-Now it came to pass after these things that God **tested** Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Gen 22:12-And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now **I know** that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
Exod 16:4-Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may **test them,** whether they will walk in My law or not.
Exod 20:20-And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to **test you,** and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”
Deut 13:3-”you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is **testing you** ** to know* whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Judges 2:22-”so that through them I may **test Israel,** whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”
Judges 3:4-And they were left, that He might **test Israel** by them, **to know** whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD,which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
2 Chr 32:31-But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to **test him** and **to know** everything that was in his heart.
Pastor Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church addresses the five points of Calvinism:
Michio Kaku says the universe is random:
From Kurt Johnson‘s blog. Kurt gives his own definition of Open Theism:
Open Theists believe that God has made beings (humans, at least, & probably angels) with a free-will. They believe that God has created us with the ability to choose. They don’t think that we are always freely choosing, but when we are freely choosing, we could have done other than we did. (Read that last sentence one more time.) This is what Open Theists mean for us to have a free-will. It’s a will that is truly free to go one way or another. (This is a view of free-will that is shared by most Arminians and is called a libertarian view of free-will.)
For full post, click here.
1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1Pe 1:2 Elect [eklektos] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
In 1 Peter 2, Peter writes that people were “chosen” or “elect” according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. In the Augustinian mindset, this is some sort of predetermination of people, almost like a guest-list of people that will be saved. But this is not at all how Jesus uses the word “elect”.
Two times in Matthew, Jesus states “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Context is key to understanding this phrase. In both contexts, Jesus illustrates with a parable. In no context does the events indicate the Augustinian interpretation of election.
In Matthew 22 is found the parable of the wedding feast. It is a very odd story:
Mat 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,
Mat 22:3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
Mat 22:4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘
Mat 22:5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.
Mat 22:6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
Mat 22:7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
A rich man is hosting a wedding for his son and invites all the guests. The feast is prepared and waiting for the guests. All the guests had to do was show up. The invitation is made on several occasions. Eventually some individuals even kill the messengers; the king extracts swift vengeance on the murderers.
Mat 22:8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
Mat 22:9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’
Mat 22:10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
The banquet is prepared, but was been refused by the normal guests. The king has to change his plan and then outreach to the masses in order to fill his banquet table. He invites anyone and everyone. But some who came to the wedding, were not suitably dressed:
Mat 22:11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
Mat 22:12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The “rich” man, who could afford to dress nicely but declined, that is the one who was thrown out of the banquet. It is in this context that Jesus states:
Mat 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” [eklektos]
This is not at all what the Calvinists think of when they talk about election.
The parable mirrors Jesus’ gospel of the Kingdom. God reached out to convince mainstream Israel to be saved, but they declined. God reached out to them time and time again. But they responded with rejection and murder of God’s prophets. God then responds by broadening His invitations for salvation, reaching out to all classes of society (Jesus’ primary ministry was to the sinners). Some of these people respond, but not all of them in an acceptable fashion. God casts those individuals out. The remaining are “elect”. Election is not a guest-list filled with approved names. The idea is the exact opposite. Election is about individuals choosing God.
Jamie RA Gerrard of Radical Reformation points out that the Bible tells us to seek God:
Reformed Christians aka Calvinists, Lutherans and others teach man has lost his free-will due to the fall and can no longer seek God. (Lets see what scripture says.)
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” Psalm 105:4
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” Isaiah 55:6
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. Matthew 6:33
”And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Luke 11:9, 10
“God that made the world and all things therein,….hath determined… That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us…” Acts 17:22-31
Oh wow! God has determined that we should seek him. I recommend reading the whole of Pauls sermon on Mars Hill as it destroys Calvinism.
For full post, click here.
In Bruce Ware’s God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism, Ware is giving evidence that God knows the future when as a side note he writes:
Even more remarkable is the prediction of a future king to whom God gave the name Cyrus nearly 200 years before his parents gave him that exact name.
Ware, here, is perplexed that God could know a name of a baby 200 years in advance. In Ware’s mind, there is no other way to know the name of a future baby than to meticulously see the entire future.
In real life, there are plenty of ways to ensure a baby is named what you desire. You could pay the parents. You could threaten the parents. You could convince the parents. You could publish a popular nickname for someone, supplanting their given name. The possibilities are endless. God is powerful, ensuring a name of a future baby does not seem as impressive as Ware would have us believe. The text itself is found deep in a long series of chapters proclaiming God’s power (Isaiah 40-48). In the text, the author stresses the point God knows what will happen because God is powerful and He will bring it to past. The text is the exact opposite of Ware’s understanding: that God knows what will happen because He mystically sees the future. That the text stresses God’s power as the mechanism makes it antithetical to the knowledge mechanism. It is evidence against the Augustinian view of God!
But all this aside, Ware ignores very similar events in the Bible: the naming of both Jesus and John the Baptist.
Jesus’ naming was easy. God sends an angel to Mary and the angel tells Mary what to name Jesus:
Mat 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Being told by an angel what to name her child is convincing enough for Mary. Mary promptly names her child “Jesus”. Could Cyrus’ parents have had an angelic visit? If God controlled all things, as some Calvinists claim, why would God have to convince Mary in the first place? Mary had a free choice as to naming Jesus and chose the name provided by God.
Another naming story occurs in the person of John the Baptist. In Luke 1, a priest named Zacharias encounters an angel. The angel prophecies that Zacharias would have a son and call his name John:
Luk 1:13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Zacharias waxes skeptical. He does not believe he will have a son. Zacharias points out he is old. The angel responds by striking Zacharias mute until the things that are prophesied are completed:
Luk 1:18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
Luk 1:19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.
Luk 1:20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
Not only was Zacharias struck mute but he was also given an implicit threat. Zacharias would have the child, but would only be granted the ability to speak once the child was properly named. This is precisely what happens:
Luk 1:24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived…
Luk 1:57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.
Luk 1:58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.
Luk 1:59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.
Luk 1:60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
Luk 1:61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.”
Luk 1:62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.
Luk 1:63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled.
Luk 1:64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.
Notice that it is exactly after the moment that Zacharias names John that he is allowed to speak again. Zacharias had already been proven wrong about his wife getting pregnant. For at least 9 months, Zacharias sat mute contemplating the angel’s words. When the angel stated “these things take place”, the angel was including the naming of John the Baptist. Implicit in Zacharias’ mind was that if he deviated from the angel’s instruction then he would not be granted voice. In other words, God coerced Zacharias into naming his son “John”.
God did not force Zacharias’ mouth to say “John”, and Zacharias could have still named John something else (presumably). But Zacharias weighed his options and preferred naming his son sensibly. God used power to fulfill His will.
This is how God can easily deal with an uncooperative agent. Because God is powerful, He can capture fleeing prophets in the mouths of fish and polymorph arrogant kings into wild beasts. What Calvinism does is downplay God’s power. God can only know things because He mystically sees the future, but that is not at all how the Bible depicts God. God knows things because He is powerful to achieve them. God can make these things happen in spite of human free will. When Ware assumes otherwise, he demeans God.
In preparing for a Sunday School a few weeks back, I realized that the story of the Tower of Babel is evidence for Open Theism. The Bible states, “And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.'”
But wait, isn’t their every action already predetermined? What is there to worry about? If nothing they propose will be withheld from them, their future MUST be open. So what does God do? He makes a change. He actually changes His own design. His original design was one language and one speech on the entire earth. But now that has become problematic. So God changed His original plan and created multiple languages.
God was moved to change His own design due to man’s freedom. This story makes no sense if Calvinism is true..
I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating as by this constitution of his nature… you will find that when He puts before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God’s calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than that man is free with a will either for obedience or disobedience or resistance.
For context, click here.
From Facebook group Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, Wesleyanism, Finneyism, Lutheranism:
It is impossible for an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God to create beings with free will. Free will is incompatible with those attributes, the only way for it to be compatible is to dumb down God’s attributes, and I refuse to do that!
From Jacob Hunt of Jacob’s Blog:
When characterizing the powerlessness of God in process and open theology, he is probably comparing them to the power of his God. And while it is certainly true that the God of process theism is not all powerful, you simply can’t say that about the open theist God. In open theism, God is all-powerful, he’s simply decided to use more restraint than the Calvinist God because he wants to share that power with His creatures. To illustrate, a bodybuilder who isn’t currently lifting weights could be much more powerful than one who is. Somebody not using their power doesn’t mean they don’t have power to use. Similarly, there’s no reason to think that an open theist God is less powerful than a Calvinist God.
For full post, click here.
Economics teaching platform, LearnLiberty has a great video on Free Will:
From Christopher Fisher:
Because prophecy is primarily about power, God does not mind when prophecy fails. God is not concerned about what people think of His “prediction” ability. Every time God speaks about true predictions, it is in this context. Every prophecy just assumes the future is not set, and God is actively working to bring about the prophecy. In this sense, each prophecy can be viewed as a blow against traditional omniscience. If God did know the future, His claim would take the form of “I know it will come to past because I see the future”, not “I know it will come to past because I will do it.” But the Bible is devoid of the former and filled with the latter.
For full post, click here.
Best selling author and RightNerve blogger Greg Perry tells us about love and free will:
Those who don’t want to be with God are never going to be forced to be with Him. Forced love is not love; it’s something else.
You see, if God forced put everybody who didn’t want to be with Him in Heaven, Heaven would then be like a prison with people hating where they were.
Consider the downside to free-will (I suggest there is no downside but stay with me here): If, in the 6,000 years of human history, if man’s free-will resulted in only one person choosing to love God and only that one person ended up in Heaven, the perfection of love freely given would be no less than if the majority chose to be with Him.
Love freely given is love. If a man forces his love onto a woman, we’d consider him sick. God isn’t sick.
For full post, click here.
Jesse Morrell gives a short scriptural defense of Open Theism followed by a well written defense. Here is the first part:
* God speaks of the future in terms of what may or may not be: Ex. 3:18, 4:9, 13:17; Eze.12:3; Jer. 36:3; 36:7
* God changes His plans in response to changing circumstances: Ex. 32:10-14, Jer. 18:1-10; Jonah 3:10
* God’s willingness to change His plans is considered one of His glorious attributes: Jonah 4:2; Joel 2:12-13
* God tests people to see what types of decisions they will make: Gen. 22:12; Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:2, 13:1-3; 2 Chron. 32:31
* God has had disappointments and has regretted how things turned out: Gen. 6:5-6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 15:35
* God has expected things to happen that didn’t come to pass: Isa. 5:1-5; Jer. 3:6-7, 3:19-20
* God gets frustrated and grieved when he attempts to bring individuals into alignment with his will and they resist: Eze. 22:29-31; Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30; cf. Heb. 3:8, 3:15, 4:7; Acts 7:51
* The prayers of men have changed the plans of God (God changes the future: Ex. 32:10- 14; Num. 11:1-2, 14:12-20, 16:16:20-35; Deut. 9:13-14, 9:18-20, 9:25; 2 Sam. 24:17-25; 1 Kin. 21:27-29; 2 Kin. 20:6; 2 Chron. 12:5-8; Jer. 26:19; Isa. 38:5
* God is said to have repented (changed His mind) multiple times in the Bible: Gen. 6:6-7; Ex. 32:12-14; Num. 23:19; Deut. 32:36; Judges 2:18; 1 Sam. 15:11, 15:29, 15:35; 2Sam. 24:16; Ps. 90:13, 106:45, 110:4, 135:14; Jer. 4:28, 15:6, 18:8, 18:10, 20:16, 26:3, 26:13, 26:19, 42:10, Eze. 24:14, Hos. 11:8, 13:14; Joel 1:13-14; Amos 7:3, 7:6; Jonah 3:9-10, 4:2; Zach. 8:14
* Prophecies are often God foretelling what He Himself will later bring to pass. So they often have to do more with God’s omnipotence to bring about His plans then merely foreseeing the future: Gen. 3:15; 1 Kin. 8:15, 8:20, 8:24, 13:32 (with 2 Kin. 23:1-3, 15-18); 2 Kings 19:25; 2 Chron. 1:9 (1 Chron. 6:4; 10, 15); 2 Chron 36:21-22; Ezra 1:1; Isa. 5:19, 25:1-2, 37:26, 42:9 (with vs. 16); 46:10; Jer. 29:10, 32:24, 32:28, 33:14-15, Lam. 3:37; Eze. 12:25, 17:24, 33:29, 33:33; Dan. 4:33, 4:37; Acts 3:18, 27:32-35; Rev. 17:17. This type of prophecy includes the prophecies of the Messiah. So His birth, the location of His birth, the miracle of His birth, were not accidents or merely foreseen events, but were the deliberate plan of God (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 9:6; 53:6; Acts 2:23, 4:28)
* The future is partly open (undetermined, uncertain): Ex. 3:18, 4:9, 13:17; Eze. 12:3; Gen. 22:12; Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:2, 13:1-3; Jdg. 2:20-22, Jdg. 3:4, Ex. 33:2, Ex. 34:24; 1 Sam. 2:30, 2 Chron. 12:6-7, 2 Chron. 16:9; 2 Chron. 32:31; Ps. 81:13-14; Isa. 5:1-5; Jer. 3:6-7, 3:19-20; Matt. 24:20; 26:53; Mk. 13:20.
* The future is partly settled (determined, certain): Gen. 3:15; 1 Kin. 8:15, 8:20, 8:24, 13:32 (with 2 Kin. 23:1-3, 15-18); 2 Kings 19:25; 2 Chron. 1:9 (1 Chron. 6:4; 10, 15); 2 Chron 36:21-22; Ezra 1:1; Isa. 5:19, 25:1-2, 37:26, 42:9 (with vs. 16); Jer. 29:10, 32:24, 32:28, 33:14-15, Lam. 3:37; Eze. 12:25, 17:24, 33:29, 33:33; Dan. 4:33, 4:37; Acts 3:18, 27:32-35; Rev. 17:17; Gen. 3:15; Isa. 9:6; 53:6; Acts 2:23, 4:28.
* The future can be changed: Gen. 19:17-22; Ex. 32:10-14, Jer. 18:1-10; Ex. 32:10-14; Num.11:1-2, 14:12-20, 16:20-35; Deut. 9:13-14, 9:18-20, 9:25; 2 Sam. 24:17-25; 1 Kin. 21:27-29; 2 Kin. 20:6; 2 Chron. 12:5-8; Jer. 26:19; Isa. 38:5; Matt. 24:20; Mk. 13:20;
* Scriptures that say God has a past, present, and a future: Jn. 1:14; Rev. 1:4, 1:8, 4:8; 5:12;
* Scriptures that say God’s eternity is endless time, that is, time without beginning or end: Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 57:15; Job 36:26; Dan. 4:34; Hab. 1:12 Ps. 23:2; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 102:24; Ps. 102:27; Lk. 1:33; Heb 1:12; Rev 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 5:14;
* Scriptures that say man’s eternity is endless time: Isa. 45:17; Eph. 3:21; Rev. 14:11;
* Scriptures that say eternity is endless time for Heavenly creatures: Rev. 4:8
* Eternity is time without end (endless time instead of timelessness): Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 57:15; Job 36:26; Dan. 4:34; Hab. 1:12 Ps. 23:2; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 102:24; Ps. 102:27; Lk. 1:33; Heb 1:12; Rev 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 5:14; Isa. 45:17; Eph. 3:21; Rev. 14:11
Read the entire post, click here.
Matt- I think Open Theists should say that the free decision of any individual is incalculable, inscrutable, and cannot be known in advance with absolute certainty. But I do think the One who knows all previous moments and decisions can predict with uncanny accuracy, at least sometimes, what a person will freely choose. But predict is different than foreknow with certainty.
George H Smith from Atheism: the Case Against God:
The first problem with omniscience is that it cannot be reconciled with any theory of free will in man. If one believes in an omniscient being, one cannot consistently hold that man has volitional control over his actions. If God knows the future with infallible certainty, the future is predetermined, and man is impotent to change it.
Some theologians (such as Calvin) have enthusiastically embraced predestination, but most theologians, sensing the enormous problems entailed by this doctrine, have attempted to defend some theory of volition. Without volition, morality becomes meaningless: we cannot blame or praise a man for an action over which he has no control. Without volition, the Christian scheme of salvation is a farce; men are predestined for either heaven or hell, and they have no voice in the matter. Why does God create men only to save some arbitrarily, and damn others? Why does the Christian bother to proselytize, since men cannot help what they believe anyway? The problems that arise for theology if it affirms predestination are unsolvable, but they necessarily ensue when omniscience is attributed to God.
Christopher Fisher talks about 1 Kings 22 and lists some key things the text teaches us about God:
God hated king Ahab and sought to kill him. God wanted Ahab to die in Ramoth Gilead. But God was not controlling Ahab. God does not use human beings as puppets. Instead God needs to convince Ahab to actually go to Ramoth Gilead to die. He crowdsources the angels to figure out how to do this. The text reads that various angels proffer ideas. We can imagine what they say: “We can get his wife to nudge him”, “We can make him angry at his enemy”, “We can get a neighboring King to pledge support in the battle”, “We can appeal to his pride”. But God finally listens to one angel that outright says to use lies to promote the idea that Ahab is going to win in battle. God likes this plan and endorses it.
Sure enough, King Ahab takes the advice of his prophets and ignores God’s prophet who clues Ahab in on the plot against him. King Ahab then dies at Ramoth Gilead.
Some take-aways from the text.
1. God does have plans, and those plans can be achieved through a multitude of routes.
2. God does not predecide all avenues and sometimes consults others for ideas.
3. God is not opposed to deception to further specific goals. This does not mean deception is always used by God, but in some cases He believes it is acceptable.
4. God’s prophets are allowed their own judgment in how to communicate God’s plans. Micaiah was allowed to even reveal God’s deception before the event took place.
5. Although God could have struck Ahab dead (we learn from other parts of the Bible), God preferred a more natural cause of death and sought to create circumstances to affect it. God does not always prefer the most direct and miraculous route.
6. Human beings are not directly controlled by God. In order to motivate human beings to act, God uses persuasion and events.
7. Angels are in heaven, advising God and helping God affect God’s plans.
For full text, click here.
Jacob Hunt explains why Determinism and Responsibility are mutually exclusive in a recent post. Here is his overview of the subject:
The nature of the debate between compatablism and incompatablism centers around the fact that (1) determinism and human freedom seem to contradict each other (2) some sort of human freedom seems necessary for moral responsibility, and (3) most everybody, including most determinists, want to retain their belief in moral responsibility. Such determinists have therefore advocated for a modified kind of freedom which they see as compatible with determinism, in an attempt to save their belief in morality. This special kind of freedom is often called “compatablistic freedom” or “soft determinism.” The idea here is that someone is free if and when they can act as they desire, rather than against their will. Now, clearly this concept of freedom is compatible with determinism, for external causes (i.e. God, ones’s neurons, one’s environment, etc.) could easily determine somebody to desire something and achieve the goal of that desire. Nobody really disputes that. But the compatablist wants something more than just any kind of freedom: she wants a freedom that allows for moral responsibility. And lots of people think you can’t get moral responsibility unless determinism is false. I am one of those people.
For full post, click here.
Openness as Future Contingencies. From Tom Belt:
Open Theism’s defining claim: divine epistemic openness regarding future contingents.
The defining claim of open theism is pretty simple: divine epistemic openness regarding future contingents. Now, that’s a mouthful, so let us break it down. Some aspects of the future are presently ‘settled’; that is, given everything at present which has anything to do with influencing or bringing about the future, some things about the future are determined to be. The causes and influences (divine and created) that presently exist limit the future to a single possibility with respect to some particular event or state of affairs.
For full post, click here.
Openness as God being free. From Bob Enyart:
Openness is based on God as the Living God. The five most fundamental attributes of God are that He is Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving. These faithfully represent God the way that Scripture presents Him, and starkly contrast with the Greek and Roman philosophical construction of God. The Openness attributes are heavy on scriptural influence, and light on man’s philosophy. Children can understand the most important aspects of God. For “out of the mouth of babes… You have perfected praise” (Mat. 21:16) for “of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 19:14). Whereas adults wrestling with the metaphysical conjectures of intellectuals must first learn even how to pronounce omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, immutability, and impassibility. Thus Scripture warns us against human philosophy over substance (Col. 2:8), and who can deny the Calvinist emphasis on the writings and traditions of men.
Bob Enyart is hosting the introduction to his “Predestination and Free Will” seminary. Download now at kgov.com.
From the site:
…the question of whether or not God has planned out each person’s life affects us. Does God have a plan for your life? Does a blueprint exist for your future? Did God predetermine whether or not you would get married, and to whom? Did God plan whether you would be wealthy or poor, happy or sad? If God does plan your life, does He do so in minute detail or in general themes? If God has a plan for your life, are you able to alter that plan? This topic directly influences people concerning how they live their lives. As Christians, we must seek God to accurately portray the LORD to others. For any misrepresentation of God will dishonor Him and perhaps bring harm to those misled.