Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Free Will or No Free Will - That Is The Question
The Myth of Free-Will Exposed
There was a time when I too was hoodwinked into believing that man has a "free will." I believed free will to be man’s ability to make choices, change his mind, learn from experiences, etc. And since it is a fact that man can indeed do these things, it seemed evident to me that man has free will. But then I learned that these are not the definition of free will at all.
Free will does not actually and literally mean that one can make choices, create, change his mind, or reformulate ideas and data, etc., but that those choices and thought processes must themselves be free thoughts and free choices. "Free will" is only true if our choices are also free. But free from what? Why, free from being forced upon us against our will, or free from being caused by anyone or anything except our OWN will. And so, yes, man can think, process data, make choices, change his choices, etc. But none of these activities are free from internal or external CAUSES.
That man has a will, there is no debate. It is the teaching that man himself determines his own will, FREELY, without anything causing his will or his choices to be what they are. The idea of free will or free moral agency is that man can by himself unaided by anything else, originate his own choices of his will.
But does man actually possess such a power? And if he does, where is the proof? Now for all who have no confidence in the Scriptures, let me say that there is absolutely no scientific proof that man has a "free will" or the ability to make "uncaused choices." If such a freedom of the will existed, it should be possible to demonstrate it. But there is no such scientific demonstration that man can formulate thoughts and actions to which absolutely no cause whatsoever can be attributed.
And for all who do have confidence in the Scriptures, let me say equally dogmatically that there is absolutely no Scriptural proof for man having a "free will" or the ability to make "uncaused choices." In every case Scripture shows that it is God Who is behind the scene of all circumstances that influence and cause a man to make the one and only choice possible under any given circumstance. This law of "cause and effect" is stated and demonstrated time and again in Scripture. Ignorance of these behind the scenes causes does not disprove the fact that they are the actual and literal cause of our choices
There are laws of science that men do not wish to carry over into his private and spiritual life. Why? Well, because he doesn’t like the ramifications of these laws. He does not want to admit that he is bound and controlled by laws. He wants to be "free"—free to be his own god, free to determine his own destiny, free to override the rule and dominance of God, free to rebel or free to obey, but freedom of the will at all cost.
I will admit that it is a real shock when we first come to understand that of ourselves we cannot make one "free" choice to do good. Something must cause that choice, but the carnal mind hates to be "caused" to do anything. "God gave all men free will," he shouts. God gave man no such thing. Free will is a phantom illusion that has deceived the whole world.
But how could most of the population of the entire world for the whole history of the world believe something as fundamental as "free will," if such a thing does not even exist? Well, that’s a fair question, and before I get into dozens and dozens of specific proofs that free will does not exist, let me just show you two very broad and Scriptural statements that would certainly be indicators that maybe what is popularly believed and taught is generally not true:
1. Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait [narrow] is the gate, and narrow [cramped or difficult] is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it [Gk: ‘are finding it’]" (Matt. 7:13-14).
2. "Where is the wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the disputer [debater] of this world? Has not God made foolish [Gk: ‘stupid’] the wisdom of this world?" (I Cor. 1:20).
Notice that it is not the "foolishness" of this world that God says is stupid, but rather it is the "wisdom" of this world that is stupidity to God! And one of the most profound philosophical and theological pieces of wisdom that is universally agreed upon in this world is the belief that man possesses free will or free moral agency. Virtually everyone in all ages have believed this teaching of free will, and yet not one of them has ever seen it proved either Scientifically or Scripturally.
WHY ALL THE FUSS OVER FREE WILL?
Why does it matter one way or the other whether man possesses free will or not? Would the future of the human race be changed somehow if man did or did not possess free will? Here’s how much it matters: If the basic free will doctrine and the eternal torture in hell doctrine taught by Christendom are both true, then man himself, and not God, is ultimately responsible for where he will spend eternity.
If man possessed a will that is free from internal or external causality, then it would be possible for all humanity to decide to choose God and be saved. Or all humanity could decide to not choose God and all would be lost. Or part of humanity could choose one way and part the other. It is the latter that is believed and taught by Christendom.
I receive emails on a regular basis stating that: "God doesn’t send anyone to hell. Man himself chooses to go to hell." Oh really? And do we have a chapter and verse on such heresy? I think not.
Statistically speaking, there has been relatively few of the world’s population that have ever heard of the name of Jesus Christ (which name is admittedly the only name under heaven by which men "must be saved," Acts 4:12). So what happens to all of the billions upon billions upon billions of boys and girls, men and women, who have never heard the name of Jesus? Let Dr. James Kennedy (probably the greatest Christian theologian alive on earth today—sporting six doctorates) answer this question for us:
"It is the light of Christ. It is the light of grace, and it is not incumbent upon God to extend it to everyone. Let us make it very clear that it is not incumbent upon God to extend it to anyone."
"But because God extends it to some does not mean He must extend it to any other. He must be just. He doesn’t have to be gracious or merciful to any guilty sinner…."
"So the idea that God owes to anyone some offer of mercy is totally foreign from [to] the Bible."
(Above quotations taken from a printed brochure of the sermon What About Those Who Have Never Heard? By D. James Kennedy. A.B., M.Div., M.Th., D.D., D.Sac.Lit., Ph.D., Litt. D., D.Sac. Theol., D.Humane Let. From the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida).
Is this the way that God would have Christians believe that He cares and provides for billions upon billions of His creatures? By burning their flesh in some terrorist torture chamber for all eternity? For absolutely no redeeming reason or purpose? Dr. Kennedy says: "Hell is fair." Now I don’t mean to be unkind to Dr. Kennedy, but such sermons as this desperately need exposing. Millions are being deceived by such unscriptural nonsense and evil.
Let’s have a little sensibility in this matter: Even if man had a free will, in what possible way would he be free to choose Christ and choose heaven, should he be one of the billions of unfortunate people who has never heard of Jesus or heaven? But we are told that he does choose hell even if he never heard of heaven or hell, and doesn’t even know that there is a choice to be made in the first place. And so, the idea of a free will would be of no value to the salvation of the majority of humanity even if they did possess such a God-defying power.
DOES MAN REALLY CHOOSE TO GO TO HELL?
Maybe we should examine for a moment this idea of Christendom that man "chooses to go to hell."
Just how does man choose to go to hell, anyway? First a definition:
"choose v 1. To select from a number of possible alternatives" (The American Heritage College Dictionary).
How does one "select from a number of possible alternatives" unless he is presented with a number of possible alternatives? But then again, world famous preacher, John Hagee says, "You send yourself to Hell for rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ." How one actually rejects something that they have never heard of, however, presents its own set of problems.
My dictionary tells me that the word "reject" means: "To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of." Can anyone give me an intelligent explanation as to just how one would do all of those things with regard to something they have never ever even heard of?
Is there a place and time in every man’s life when he is presented with, and given an opportunity to select from either a place called heaven or a place called hell, where he will voluntarily live for all eternity? Such a proposition is absurd. People have lived and died by the billions not having heard of Jesus and Heaven or Satan and Hell.
In this life, most of humanity has had no firsthand knowledge of a place of eternal torture called hell. Neither have they had any firsthand knowledge of a place of eternal bliss called heaven. If you try to pin down a theologian on just how this choosing of heaven and hell actually occurs, their arguments become extremely fussy and unscriptural. No one can make an intelligent choice of anything without proper information on alternatives to be chosen. How many of my readers have actually thought more than a few minutes on any of these grand teachings of Christendom?
THE MAN OF SIN IS A BEAST WHO THINKS HE IS A GOD
Last Installment we learned that "the man of sin," spoken of by Paul in I Thes. 2, resides not in a physical temple of stone and mortar in Jerusalem, but inside of each and every one of us. This man of sin sits in "the temple of God whose temple ye are." And we learned that God calls this man of sin, "a beast".
What possible power does man believe that he possesses which causes him to
"…oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God [‘as a god’] sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God [‘is a god’]" (II Thes. 2:4)?
As long as this phantom god rules one’s heart, Jesus may only be "with us," but not really "IN us." For Jesus our King to sit in the heart of our temple, the man of sin must be put out, seeing that, "no man can serve two masters," and "what fellowship has light with darkness?"
EVEN THE DISCIPLES DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE BEAST WITHIN
Before the true spiritual conversion of Christ’s disciples, we read this:
"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but ye know Him; for He dwells WITH you, and shall [at a future date when they are converted] be IN you" (John 14:16-17).
After years of following Jesus daily the apostles were not as yet converted. In the evening of the last Passover Jesus tells Peter:
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; But I have prayed for you, that your faith fall not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:31-32).
Yes indeed, "…when you are converted…." And just when might that be?
Up until the very last day with their Lord, the apostles all believed that they possessed the power of free will, which could enable them to choose their own destiny, and that they could and would have the strength of self determinism and free will to maintain that course. But Jesus told His disciples that they would all forsake Him. In other words, Jesus was foretelling of events that would cause (even ‘force,’ if you will) them to change their wills, against their previously stated wills. They of course, all denied that Jesus knew what He was talking about.
"And Jesus said unto them, all ye shall be offended because of Me this night; for it is written, I shall smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (Mark 14:27 & Zech. 13:7).
The disciples all said that they would remain loyal. But Jesus said that they would all be offended because of Him. Was there a reason for God causing the disciples to will loyalty to Jesus and then in the same night to will to deny Jesus? Does God do anything in vain without a reason? This was all part of their conversion process. God totally humiliated them by proving to them that their own will was not free to do what they wanted, but that
"…it is God [not man] which works in you BOTH TO WILL [God causes us ‘to will’] and TO DO [God causes us ‘to do’] of His good pleasure" to bring about His intentions (Phil. 2:13).
In just one night God smashed the presumed free will of all the disciples. They lost confidence in their flesh after that night. James later shows us just how well he learned this lesson of so-called free self determinism:
"Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, which appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (James 4:13-15).
Free will? Where?
James certainly agrees with Scripture and Science that man has the ability "to will." But he also fully recognizes that there are two things that constantly oppose and change the will of man, so that it cannot be said that the will is free to will its own destiny for even a day or an hour.
What are these two factors over which man has absolutely no control whatsoever?
1. Factor number one--CIRCUMSTANCES: What did the Holy Spirit of God inspire (cause?) James to explain as a major factor in what determines the true outcome of man’s will? Answer: "Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow."
God changes the minds and wills of mankind around the world, a billion times a minute, through circumstances that "you know not" are actually the cause of your choices and your changed choices. We are often if not most of the time completely unaware of what actually caused us to do or say or think as we do.
How did all the disciples will to remain loyal to Jesus no matter what, at one moment in time, and in the next moment in time, they all changed their will to forsake Him? What changed their wills? Circumstances. One moment they were at ease and safe in the upper room, and at a later moment they were in the garden surrounded by Roman Soldiers! Fear was the circumstance that caused their (un-free) wills to change.
So it was the presence of certain circumstances that caused the disciples to will as they did. But what caused the circumstances to be as they were to ensure that they would will appropriately to fulfill Christ’s prophecy concerning their denying and forsaking Him?
2. Factor number two—GOD’S WILL: Notice the second thing that the Holy Spirit inspired James to write regarding what will or will not happen on any given day to any given person. "…if the Lord will…"
Who was in charge of all these circumstances, which caused the disciples to change their wills? Why God, of course. They did not want to change their wills. They did not desire to deny their Lord and Saviour. They did not wish to make liars and fools of themselves. They did not want to be shown that they were all cowards. Well then, why did they change their wills if they did not wish to change their wills? Were they free to not change their wills? No, they were not free.
The fear inside of them caused and made (and yes, FORCED, if you will) them to change their will. And Jesus Himself told them that they would change their wills, so how pray tell could it have been otherwise? Yet I suppose that some are so spiritually stubborn that they will still insist that the apostles did not need to change their wills, that their wills were yet free to stay loyal in the face of these fearful circumstances.
When we argue with God like this, we demean Him. God has a plan, and God brings about His plan. God is not stupid. God knows exactly how to cause man (all mankind) to do exactly as He plans for them to do.