Monday, August 18, 2008

What is Free Will?

After posting a blog about free will and Calvinism or Reformed theology I received the following question:

Hey Pastor John,
I just read this post and I don't quite understand it. You say you believe in free will, but yet you say that people can't become a christian unless God extends an "irrisistable grace" to them. So if that is the only way that one can choose God, then how is that free will-if God has to choose you first?
By the way, my name is Tina and I met you up at Big Sandy this past week. :)

This is a great question, but it does make a fundamental mistake in its assumptions.  First, I do not believe in what is known as "Libertarian Free Will"  Those who believe in that kind of free will would say that when a person choses something they could just as easily have chosen something else.  This may be true when it comes to breakfast serial or even more important things like what college we go to.  Is it true of salvation, or choosing between good and evil, sin and goodness, etc...  I would say it is not.  I think I have good reason to believe this. 

  • My own struggle with sin
If Libertarian Free Will was really at work I would be able to easily choose good instead of sin when I am tempted.  I don't know about everyone else, but I know the Apostle Paul and I both struggle with doing what we don't want to do (Romans 7)

  • Scripture
Again the Bible tells us that in our sin nature we slaves to sin (where is the free will in that?).  It tells us that no one choses God on there own, and that there is no one righteous.  When left to ourselves or our own free will we always choose that which we perceive to be best for ourselves.  According to our will which has been severely tainted by sin we "will" not choose God or salvation.  It is not that God does not allow us to choose Him, we are all "free" to choose Him.  Instead it is that we won't choose God because our "will" is tainted by sin. 

In the end God has chosen to overcome the resistance of some by extending an irresistible grace.  I believe God has chosen to extend extra or more grace to some causing them to in essence change their will or to put into common language "change their mind."

It is not that God does not allow some people "come to Jesus."  If it were possible (I believe it is not) for a person to come to Jesus apart from an irresistible grace I believe that God would certainly allow that.  Both because of scripture and because of experience I do not believe it is possible. 

I hope this helps clarify what I believe and what I think scripture teaches.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why Theology

Over and over again I hear crazy things like "theology is not that important" or "we want to focus on living out the Christian life rather than theology." I understand the intent behind these statements, but over and over again this kind of an approach to ministry falls short.

Recently I spoke at Big Sandy Camp in Minnesota. It was a great time. The theme was Christmas. My goal going in was to ruin Christmas for all of those students so that they saw something much more than a baby in a manger. For the most part I think I succeeded. The funny thing is this. All I did was teach how Christmas fits in with all of redemptive history from a theological perspective. That sounds complicated, but really it boils down to telling the story of the Bible (the whole thing) with a special emphasis on how a baby in a manger fits in with that. In so doing we tackled some really important theological issues like propitiation, atonement (not the same thing), imputation, the depravity of man, and so on. Two hundred Sr. High students totally absorbed it. They loved it. They loved it because it helped them understand what Christianity is all about. They even learned some of these "theological" words. They learned what hypo-static union is and what imputation is.

The reason for this blog is to attempt to help students understand the foundational truths of the Christian faith. It is to challenge them to understand more fully the gospel story and how theology can positively affect their lives in areas like sex, self esteem, living for Jesus, and so on. Though the content of this blog will be focused on High School students it will not be dumbed down. The goal here is to raise students up. It will be theological in nature with an emphasis on application. Sometimes it will be theologically controversial but always orthodox.

In the end this blog is for students, but may be helpful for everyone.