BY: JOHN GAVAZZONI
This is John Gavazzoni at his best in a discussion about free will – what it is, how it functions, who has it and who does not. Profound. [Comment by: Jan Antonsson]
Never has there been a subject so misunderstood and so abused by men’s treatment of it as the subject of “free will”. I suppose if we wanted to thoroughly discuss it, we ought to define terms first, because I think we’d find that people understand such words as “choice”, “will” “free,” and how they are interrelated quite differently. But, maybe we can do that at another time. But, for now, even putting off that laborious process till later, we can still reach some valid conclusions. Theologically, most folks mean, by “free-will,” basically, the capacity of human beings to make a choice for or against God’s will.
Immediately, we encounter a problem if we pursue that assumption, for it claims that freedom lies at the heart of bondage, and that we can “use” freedom for the purpose of disobeying God and becoming bound by sin, whereas the Bible presents freedom as antithetical to bondage. According to scripture, if we are free, we are free from sin, free from choosing sin, free from the bondage of sin. According to the Bible, man, in himself, is in bondage to sin, bound to sin, until Christ sets Him free from sin in order that he will not sin.
In conventional theology, that’s reversed. It affirms that God gave us freedom (of will) so that we might be “able” to sin if we choose to. Hear this, if we sin, we sin not from an ability, but from a disability. No one chooses sin because he’s free to, but because he’s bound to. The doctrine of “free-will” provides theological support to a delusion, that delusion being of the sort where a person feels “free” to try drugs, “free” to cheat on his wife, “free” to gamble away his mortgage money. It’s part of the notion that freedom means to be able to do whatever a present passion pushes you to do, while not realizing that it’s not even native to what you are as a human being.
There is no such thing as freedom without out freedom of will. Freedom of will is at the heart of freedom itself. So, what did Jesus mean when He said that if the Son therefore shall set you free, you shall be free indeed? Did He mean that His ministry was one of capacitating people to sin? According to the conventional doctrine of free-will, the freedom that God gave to Adam and Eve was the freedom to sin or not to sin. But that’s not freedom. It might semantically be called a choice, but if it capacitates a person to sin, it’s not freedom; it’s not freedom of will.
True freedom of will is the ability to choose to do something and then go and do it with out anything or anybody being able to stop you, plus having done it, the end result is that you are fulfilled in your being and have not been drawn into a process which ends in you becoming the slave of the thing you chose to do—-that’s free-will. Guess what? Only God has that capacity, a capacity that we can share only as He chooses to grant us participation in His freedom. “Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Now that is free-will. Allow me to express it in childlike terms: God says to His will, “Will, what do you want to do?” His will tells Him what “it” wants to do, and then God does it. He goes out and does it, and hell and high water can’t stop Him. Not only is that doctrine unsupportable theologically, it is unsupportable physiologically, psychologically, sociologically, or any other “…logically.” Each of us is penned in by any number of intellectual, physical, emotional, cultural, societal, and familial factors that hedge us in, that bring to bear powerful influences and forces that we have never chosen to be subject to, but which are always, to some degree, determinative factors in our behavior.
For instance, I have never had the least temptation toward alcohol or drug abuse. That sort of thing just doesn’t compute with me, they don’t tempt me in the least bit and they didn’t tempt me in my wildest (I ran with a pretty rough crowd) pre-Christ teen-age years. I’d have a couple of beers, and then I was the gang member that saw to it that the others who were drinking themselves into oblivion would get home safe. To be sniffing stuff up your nose or drinking yourself into a stupor was simply stupid to me. BUT, much more than most, I had a very low threshold for putting up with jerks, especially insulting jerks, and the temptation was ever present with me, if you insisted on continuing to be insulting to me or a friend, after a first warning, of sucker-punching you into the next county. I’m talking temper – big time. I’ve known countless individuals who have not had to cope, as I have, with that volcanic factor in their makeup.
The notion that people make their choices out of some place of independent sovereignty inside themselves -where they are free to choose and do as they desire is ideological nonsense. Tell me about a crack-baby’s “free-will.” Tell me about the woman sexually abused as a child, how “free” she is from the feelings of revulsion at the very thought of a sexual relationship, even to a loving man within the context of marriage. Tell me about the young man or woman who, from their earliest years, felt no attraction for the opposite sex, but were powerfully attracted to illicit same-sex relationships, and then try to tell me that their situation came about entirely as a matter of their “free will.” I had one brother in Christ that I counseled who told me, “John, I fight that urge every day of my life.” He loved the Lord, and he never chose to be subjected to that constant monkey on his back.
Well, as I’m inclined to, I’ve rambled on a bit, but that subject can get my dander up.
In His grace,
FREE WILL – THOUGHTS ABOUT [John R. Gavazzoni] February 2004 1