Free Will Under Attack (Again?) – Part 1

Free Will-ismTo be (free will) or not to be (no free will), now that aint such a tough question after all, is it?

The question whether man has a free will to choose for or against God and decide for himself whether he wants to resist and reject or accept and receive the message of the cross of Christ as the only means for his salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18), has been a bone of contention for many centuries.

Calvinists in particular must of necessity and at all cost uphold their anti-free will doctrine because the slightest admission that God has endowed all men with the freedom of choice and the ability to choose between good and evil will immediately and permanently destroy Calvinism.

I had the pleasure of meeting a few eminent Calvinists at a debate between William Lane Craig and a so-called “Nuwe Hervormer” in Pretoria a few years ago, who are by far some of the most outspoken against free willism in South Africa today (They hate my guts for loving His Truth). Their extreme bludgeoning  ideas have incited them to associate free will with the beast in Revelation 13.

They believe:-

1) That man’s God-given free will (one of the main peculiarities of God and man, proving that man is made in the image of God) is a blasphemous and idolatrous belief system.

2) That man’s God-given free will is a fatal malady causing festering wounds to gnaw at the very fibre of the people who convene in a variety of denominations. These Calvinists readily agree that no man can destroy the supernaturally inspired beast called free willism; God alone can accomplish such a great feat, but, oddly enough, they also agree that mortal man’s simple preaching of the Gospel will put an end to the creature called free willism.

(Thomas says, and rest assured there is no copyright on this: What these honourable Calvinists mean is that the role free will plays in the salvation of sinners will be destroyed only by the free and sovereign grace of God.

In layman’s terms, it means that God Himself will have to remove at least two of the most conspicuous and remarkable verses from Scripture – Matthew 11:28 and Revelation 22:17 because they actually promote the cause of the ferocious beast called free willism.

If the simple preaching of the Gospel by mortal man contributes to the demise of this creature called free willism, then surely the conservancy of these passages, which are unquestionably part of the Gospel, will greatly undermine the destruction of the beast called free willism).

3) That detailed imageries of this repugnant beast called free willism who arose from the depths of barbaric pagan religions are found in several passages of the Book of Revelation.

4) That the main title attributed to him is “Blasphemy” for he honours man for the things God alone can accomplish

DTW comments: Here again there is an allusion to the role free will plays in the salvation of sinners. God must sovereignly and monergistically regenerate only the elect, without them having to believe and put their trust in Jesus Christ, lest they should boast that they [the elect] have contributed something [by faith] to their regeneration.

I am sad to say that Satan has a very tight grip on Calvinists in a Catch 22 situation. They dare not abort their anti-free will stance because it would compromise their position on the sovereignty of God. Henceforth, they dare not abort their stance on the the sovereignty of God because his sovereignty is, in their estimate, the very bedrock of their redemption.

They are not saved because they did not willingly and supplicatingly call on the Name of the Lord for their salvation. Instead, God sovereignly and monergistically zapped them into salvation, more or less in the same way Jesus resurrected Lazarus’ corpse to life, or Saul of Tarsus was was allegedly monergistically regenerated on his way to Damascus.

Dead men do not have a free will and either do men who fall off their horses. By the way, Saul of Tarsus was NOT, I repeat NOT saved on his way to Damascus when a bright light enveloped him and he fell off his horse.  He was saved in Ananias’ house in Damascus when he called on the Name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).

5) That this ferocious beast (free willism) will ultimately be wiped out by God Himself. Having associated free willism with the beast in Revelation 13, Calvinists deliberately attribute to the doctrine of free willism the mark of the beast 666, much like the Seventh Day Adventists who attribute to those who worship on a Sunday instead of the Sabbath (Saturday) the mark of the beast 666.

It is obvious that these Calvinists do not believe in a literal appearance of the man called Antichrist. Their enslaved or bound free will grants them the  free will to decide and declare that Revelation 13 is not a description or a metaphor of a man who will appear on the scene some time in the near future but of a system called free-willism.

The stark reality is that the beast in Revelation chapters 11, 13-17, 19, 20 cannot possibly be associated with free-willism because he, when he eventually appears on the scene, is going to exterminate man’s God-given free will and force mankind to worship him.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Rev 13:16-18)

Calvinists probably have already calculated the number of the beast and have come up with the following equation: free-willISM = 666 = REVELATION 13’s BEAST = ANTICHRIST. Those who refuse to relinquish their free will and to be forced to serve and worship the beast are going to be slaughtered.

Despite their avowal to destroy the beast called free willism, Calvinists believe that Adam and Eve were endowed with a perfect free will when God created them in his image, but that their wilful sin tarnished their total perfection and turned their free will into an imperfect will. God cannot accept anything imperfect, as Arminians want him to. The irony, however, is that some Calvinists seem to have adopted the idea that God does indeed accept imperfection, even an imperfect repentance. If God refused to accept any form of imperfection, including an imperfect free will, He would never have commanded everyone everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel.

The very fact that God created Adam and Eve with a perfect free will, proves beyond any doubt that He made them with the capacity to choose either for or against Him. If He hadn’t created them with a free will they could not have sinned. They would have been like machines doing robotically what God commanded them to do.

There would have been no need to plant a tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden. Similarly, there would never have been a Fall and Adam and Eve and their offspring would have remained locked in a condition of perfect sinless innocence for all eternity.

As such they would never have known how to obey and love God because they could never have known the difference between good and evil. They would have been like two programmed mechanical robots with no ability whatsoever to show forth love, affection, or obedience from the heart. One can only be obedient when you know what the opposite thereof, disobedience, is.

Obedience is the very bedrock of showing forth love. Love cannot be forced on a person. Coerced love is no love at all. That’s precisely why Jesus once said “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21).

I have often used the analogy of a marital relationship between a man and a woman to illustrate the indispensability of a free will. Someone has yet to show me a woman who would be content when she is forced to love and marry a man. She would be the most miserable of creatures for the rest of her life. Not a single Calvinist who rejects free will has thus far given a satisfactory answer to the question: “Did you force your wife/husband to love and marry you?”

William Lane Craig, one of today’s most brilliant Christian apologists and philosophers, explains:

“It is better for humans to have free will to choose between good and evil than it would be if we were causally determined to choose the good . . . It is better for human beings to be endowed with freedom of the will and, hence, to be moral agents than to be mere puppets or machines.”(Read here)

If God had made Adam and Eve to choose only good, their love for Him would have been a compulsory kind of love, enforced on them by Godly decree, which, as I said earlier, is no love at all. Love can only truly be love when it is reciprocal, mutual and communal.

Let’s do a little arithmetic to understand more fully what I had said so far. Is it true that God made Adam and Eve perfect? To answer the question we need to define perfection. Ultimate eperfection is to love and obey God with all your heart, all your mind (the seat of man’s free will) and all your strength for all eternity. No one can disagree with that.

Yes, it is true that God created Adam and Eve perfectly but their perfection was entrenched in their perfect innocence and not in any moral duties to God. In the period before the Fall their innocence was perfect but their innocent flawlessness was not yet brought to perfection in the morally, obedient and loving sense of the word.

They couldn’t have known what it meant to love and obey God with all their heart, mind and strength in their perfect innocent state before the Fall. Only if and when they had passed their probation test which was to obey the simple command “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” could they reach moral perfection and obey and love God perfectly.

Everyone knows what happened then. Eve, who by the cunning lies of Satan, ate of the forbidden fruit and gave to her husband to eat as well, plunged herself, her husband and the entire human race in the vice grip of sin and death (1 Timothy 2:14).

The question we need to ask is: Did Adam and Eve lose their ability to choose between good and evil after the Fall? Was their God-given free will obliterated by the Fall or did they still have some vestiges left to them that could only choose between two or more different forms of evil? Did they maintain their God-given free will, albeit a free will in bondage to choose between two forms of evil?

Note carefully, Calvinists does not say Adam and Eve became perfectly imperfect and therefore perfectly powerless to choose between good and evil. Such a statement would compromise their position on their belief that God gave Adam and Eve a perfect free will, not only to differentiate and choose between two or more different forms of evil but indeed between good and evil.

We know this because God Himself told them that the tree in the middle of the Garden was the “tree of knowledge between good and evil” and not ‘between different forms of evil or between two forms of work based self-righteousness.’Their fall into perfect imperfection did not rob Adam and Eve of their God-given free will to choose between good and evil.

There is therefore no reason to believe that their offspring and mankind as a whole lost the ability to make calculated choices between good and evil and ever since are only capable of making choices between different forms of evil and several work based self-righteous spiritualities.

Cornelius, the centurion, is an outright refutation of the Calvinist view that man, even in his fallen state, is unable to willingly make choices for or against evil. Allow me to remind you what God himself said of Cornelius.

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

‘And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.'(Act 10:22)

Unless the fear of God and prayers to Him are two different forms of evil, it is preposterous to say that fallen man is incapable of doing things that are pleasing to God or to choose between good things and evil things. I am not saying that these things are acceptable in the sight of God for one’s salvation. If that were so, it wouldn’t have been necessary for God to send Peter to Cornelius and preach the Gospel to him and his household (Romans 10:17).

It is absolutely astonishing that Calvinists ignore important passages in Scripture to substantiate their views on free will. If fallen man’s will was limited to a choice between two or more different forms of evil and works based self-righteousness, the Holy Spirit would never have inspired the prophet Moses to write the following:

‘I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.'(Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

One must either be completely ill-informed or unable to understand simple English to assert that life and death and blessing and cursing are two different forms of evil. Had this been true, God would be guilty of giving his people a choice between evil and a lesser evil or between something bad and something much worse. What do Calvinists make of the following?

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. (Joshua 24:15)

Again we must ask: Is serving the Lord and serving other gods both evil, albeit two different forms of evil? God doesn’t seem to think free will is idolatry, blasphemy and the abominable beast of Revelation 13.

In fact he encouraged and beseeched the Israelites to choose between Him and the idolatrous gods they served on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites. He didn’t choose for them or in their behalf. They themselves had to choose and to do so they must have been endowed with a free will to either choose God (the Perfect Good) or idols (the perfect evil).

Indeed, He is still doing so to this very day when He invites sinners who are willing to take his Living Water freely to come to Him for their salvation and not to the many other idolatrous ways of other religions.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost. (Revelation 22:17)

In conclusion, I would like to add the following observation I made. If man had no free will he would never have been able to reason that man has no free will. In order to be able to make a calculated choice between free willism and anti-free willism you must have the ability to choose between good and evil and not only between two forms of evil.

Furthermore, if free willism and anti-free willism were merely two sides of the same evil coin in stead of good (anti-free willism) and evil (free willism), you will never have been able to discern between good and evil, only between evil and evil.


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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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