FREE WILL – COMMENTS
BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI
OCTOBER 17, 2008
A contribution I made to a dialogue where a few of us are working with a dear brother whose heart the Lord is beginning to open to the truth of the final salvation of all. It’s on a subject that always cocks my hammer, and pulls my trigger. JG
Pardon me, dear brethren, if in my following observations, I come across as infuriatingly pedantic, but I just have to put something in its proper place; that something is the notion of “free will” as understood and defined by pseudo-Christian orthodoxy: The place I put it in is the category of junk theology.
Just what does the evangelical community mean by the doctrine of free will? I’ll boil it down for you: The doctrine essentially insists that God sovereignly ceded over to man a core element of divine sovereignty, that being the determination of our eternal destiny.
In effect, the doctrine of free will proposes that God decided that man should have the autonomous right and capacity to have things his (man’s) way, and that God Himself would be bound to respect man’s decision, even if it went against His desire, will and purpose for man.
Every, even somewhat healthy-minded, evangelical would affirm that it is God’s will that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, YET, without taking a breath in between, they would go on to insist that
most of mankind will thwart that will and block the will of God by the sovereignty of its independent will.
Isn’t it interesting that this issue is almost always, in both academic and pew levels, discussed under the heading, “the sovereignty of God, and the free-will of man.” What, I ask you, happened to the free-will of God? Is not God’s will free? Is not God free to carry out His will? Not according to pseudo-orthodoxy. As I pointed out above, God’s will is presented as bound (rather than free) by man’s will.
Here’s the guiding principle out of the morass of such idiocy: No one ever acts against God by the exercise of free will. When one acts against the will of God, one does so by the exercise of a will in bondage. Conversely, no one ever acts in concert with the will of God except as God, by His grace through Christ, has freed that will to do so.
At least in one respect, the Calvinists have it right. God’s grace is irresistible, but it makes them nearly froth at the mouth at the thought that such grace will be applied to all men in due season; that, the Calvinists simply cannot stomach. Why should it be so repugnant to the evangelical mindset, that perfect love, operating in the modes of pure grace and truth, will draw (Gr. drag) all men to itself? Why is it so difficult for that mindset to accept that our essential nature (being created according to God’s likeness) should finally win out over the contrarianism that it is temporarily subjected to?
That’s the truth, work, and message of the cross and the resurrection of Christ: Subject true humanness to the absolute contrarianism of sin and death, and that true, all-inclusive Man will arise out of the depths of that subjugation with His glory intensified by the process. Anyone out there want to shout Glory with me!
I know enough about human psychology to recognize what energizes the insistence that man’s will is self-determinative. That’s the energy of egotism gone wild and irrational, insisting that, “even if I go to hell, I will have done it my way.”
Let me repeat the seminal principle: If you attempt to resist the will of God – the ultimate act of futility – to have your own way, you do so, not from freedom of will, but from the bondage of the will. (Read Luther). Jesus description of where the men who were representatively embodying mankind’s enmity toward God in crucifying Him was, “…they know not what they do.”
That’s the bondage of darkness and ignorance that only the sovereign grace of God can deliver us from, and deliver us TO true freedom, the freedom to be who we really are in Christ. We need to rethink all the suppositions that we’ve been schooled in. It’s so wonderfully humbling to discover that ultimately, we determine nothing.
FREE WILL – COMMENTS [John R. Gavazzoni] 10-17-08 1