What About Free Will? Available Soon!

Cover_Amazon

My book, What About Free Will? Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty is to be released on February 29. It was 2 years ago that I began working on this book and the day of its publication is finally here! You can order the book from Amazon here. The book also has its own website here. If you sign up on the website you will begin receiving a number of resources connected to the book that are not available elsewhere.

Book Review: The Problem of Evil

Evans_PoE

Trying to reconcile the notion of a good and powerful God with the existence of evil has been a perennial problem that Christian theism has had to face from its inception. The matter has been taken up in earnest over the last several decades. One contribution is The Problem of Evil by Jeremy A. Evans, an associate professor of philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Evans is part of the thriving resurgence of Christian philosophers that have proliferated the field of philosophy for some time now.

Serious Christian responses to the problem of evil are dominated by philosophers and I find this unfortunate. That is not because I think philosophical responses are problematic, rather they are inadequate. In other words, I believe they are necessary but not sufficient.  Comprehensive theological, biblical and exegetical responses are wanting. It seems that a great deal of those who engage in systematic and biblical theology have conceded the problem to the philosophers and this is not helpful to the church at large.

Having said that, Evans’ contribution is a worthy effort, but overall, it is not entirely satisfying. First of all, because of the philosophical approach, this volume will be tough sledding for most readers. Although he does not get bogged down with standard scholarly philosophic/ logic notation and complicated syllogisms, there is enough philosophical language to keep non-specialists on their toes. The bottom line—only those who are conversant in at least moderate levels of philosophical discourse will be able to benefit from Evans’ work. However, there are many places where his argumentation is clear and pithy, making those sections more accessible and profitable for us neophytes. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 9)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of several few weeks, I am blogging about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

time-bomb 

Libertarians say we are only held liable for our actions if we could have acted otherwise.  In some cases, this may be true, but that is not principally where liability lies. Compatibilism holds that we are held liable for our actions in direct proportion to the degree that we voluntarily (intentionally) engage in such actions. Let us consider this proposition. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 8)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of several few weeks, I am blogging about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

CaptainCrunch

Scripture affirms that the heart of our wanting, desiring and choosing in a particular direction stems from acting in what we perceive to be in our best interest. This is the fountainhead of all other desires, motives and preferences (see Part 7). I will consider these corollary causes in this post. They form the next layer down in the cause-effect paradigm of human choosing as indicated by our next proposition. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 7)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of several few weeks, I am blogging about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

 on Maiden Voyage

In the following posts I am shifting gears. After surveying the broader forest of divine sovereignty and compatibilism as a whole, I focus now on the narrow set of trees that concern the strictly human side of the compatibilistic equation. I will begin in this post with the immediate act of choosing which lies on the surface of human actions and then uncover successive layers of reasons why people make the choices they do. As we eventually uncover the core source of choosing, a picture will emerge that explains in what ways humans are both free and not so free. To achieve all this, I will set forth a series of propositional statements about the nature of human choosing. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 6)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will. Over the course of several few weeks, I am blogging about the issue. I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

1280px-1872_Lawrence_Alma-Tadema_-_Death_of_the_Pharaoh_Firstborn_son

In the last post I considered categories of compatibilism that harmonize God’s decretive and preceptive wills. Today we look at patterns of compatibilism that highlights disharmony between God’s two wills where He superintends that which He does not command. In these instances, although human actions match precisely what God decrees, God’s intentions and man’s intentions are diametrically opposed. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 5)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of several few weeks, I am blogging about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

Paul_Writing_His_Epistles

Today I will begin providing some examples of compatibilism from Scripture that fit two basic categories. In order to understand those categories it is important to draw some distinctions in the will of God. Scripture indicates at least two senses in which the “will” of God is spoken. First, God’s decretive will refers to His sovereign will in which He decrees or determines what will most certainly happen. Secondly, consider God’s preceptive will. This is the revealed will of God in Scripture which declares or instructs us what God has established as righteous, wise, good and true.  Some call this God’s moral will, instructive will or will of command. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 4)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of several few weeks, I am blogging about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

John_Calvin

In this fourth post, I will lay out the basic parameters that define compatibilism. In the next post I will explore some Biblical examples of compatibilism.

Biblical compatibilism reflects the position on the human will of most of those who identify as Calvinists. Certainly Calvin himself was a compatibilist as was Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards, all of whom wrote important works on the subject.

Biblical compatibilism is concerned to demonstrate one simple reality. Every human action in the course of history has a dual explanation, one divine and one human. This juxtaposition is expressed simply and clearly by Solomon: “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Prov. 16:9). People deliberate and articulate their plans to pursue the paths that define their lives. Then they act upon those plans. Yet, God secretly stands behind them all directing each set of footsteps along the specific course He designed. Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 3)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of several weeks, I am blogging about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

Gavel

In this third post, I present the most common reasons libertarians give in support of their position and show why these reasons are flawed.

Libertarianism Establishes a Meaningful Relationship with God

According to libertarians, only if we are free to accept or reject God can we have a meaningful relationship with Him.  If our love for God is determined it must mean it is either mechanistically programmed or coerced against our will.  If either notion is true then love would be stripped of its value.  Greg Boyd says, “If love is the goal” of God’s creation of us then love “must be freely chosen. It cannot be coerced. Agents must possess the capacity and opportunity to reject love if they are to possess the genuine capacity and ability to engage in love.” Continue reading

What About Free Will? (Part 2)

I am writing a book on the ever thorny, controversial, misunderstood topic of free will.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I plan to blog about the issue.  I invite your feedback, as this will help me fine tune the contents of my book.

Arminius

In this second post, I present the position on free will known as libertarianism. Libertarians are generally associated with Arminians and Open Theists.  However, most people, Christian or not, generally have some notion of free will that is akin to libertarianism although few could articulate what they mean by free will.  The libertarian concept of free will teaches two fundamental ideas.

Contrary Choice

First of all, libertarianism teaches that humans are fully capable of making choices contrary to the choices they actually make.  This is called the power of contrary choice.  Arminian theologian Roger Olson states, “Free agency is the ability to do other than what one in fact does.” A person can choose to do what they want to do, but they can equally choose to do what they don’t want to do. Continue reading