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Is there a Biblical Basis for Free Will?
The free will argument for god has become prevalent in modern christian theology. While I've studied the meanings of this argument, I'm a little less certain of it's origins. I know that various church fathers penned it - but where did the idea come from? Is there an obscure biblical reference that I'm missing?
The term "free will" is not used in the bible, however, I believe the concept is biblical. The idea that God doesn't force humanity to serve him is seen through out its pages. We must exorcize our wills to some degree. For a biblical picture, read Genesis 3. The tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was placed in the garden to give humanity a choice.
Further the relationship between God and man has been described in intimate terms: father-son, Husband-wife, friend, the church is the "Bride of Christ". John 3:16 says God so LOVED the world that he gave his son to die for us and in John 14:15 Jesus makes the point that our love for God is seen in our obedience to his commands. Paul speaks of his great love for God through out the knew testament as do many others. The way I see it, intimacy requires a free will, without it we are are nothing more then slaves.
I think the concept of free will is one of those self-evident truths, like gravity, that the bible doesn't devote much explanation to. We simply have free will. Knowing it to be so, we wonder why and whether God could have achieved his purposes any other way. But, unlike the animals who operate instinctively, man operates, like God, by his will.
I think Michael Ramsden spoke of free will well when he said, "We must also ask the question: what it would take to create a loving world void of evil? A world in which love is capable of meaningful expression and experience would also imply a world in which there is choice. If someone tells you that they love you, those words mean something because they are freely given. If you learned that someone had told you they loved you but that they had been forced to say it, their words would not mean very much. Thus, if we want to speak of a loving world, we must also speak of a world in which choices are exercised. And in such a world, there is also the possibility of choosing a course of action that is not loving, i.e. evil."
Free will, or choice, explains much.
The only logical explanation for ever thinking that free will is wrong is one of control over others. 'Free will', logical thinking, critical thinking, rationality, and common sense are gifts from our creator.
These concepts are hated by religious groups because they tend to take the fear and guilt out of the control factor that they have over the masses.
Only people of limited intelligence believe that free thinking is wrong, or those who have been so completely indoctrinated into their sects that they are afraid to actually think for themselves.
We have become a society of pathetic sheep who follow religious rhetoric in fear. Not a very good legacy for mankind to pass down from generation to generation.
This is a really good question and one that I have discussed and studied to an extent due to my own questions about it. This is what I have discovered:
As far as the actual words "free will" appearing in the bible, they are in the OT and refer only to sacrificial offerings.
The idea that we can choose to commit evil or righteous acts and that for the most part (except in certain rare circumstances) God does not directly intervene in our day to day affairs constitutes what most Christians believe is free will.
One scripture that highlights this idea is Deuteronomy 30:19 when Moses spoke before the congregation of Israel and said (on God's behalf) "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live..." Thus underlying the idea that we have the freedom to do good or evil, in the sense that some invisible hand will not physically stop us, but the actions we choose will have consequences.
Great question! Let me first point out that the KJV biblical account of GOD’s intents is not the sole source of the Universal Father’s purpose concerning our existence here on earth
In fact, the definition of bible is any book, reference work, periodical, etc. The quote below is derived from my bible The Urantia Book. Please note that we on earth are free will creatures living in a time and space environment.
1:1.2 The Universal Father never imposes any form of arbitrary recognition, formal worship, or slavish service upon the intelligent will creatures of the universes. The evolutionary inhabitants of the worlds of time and space must of themselves — in their own hearts — recognize, love, and voluntarily worship him. The Creator refuses to coerce or compel the submission of the spiritual free wills of his material creatures. The affectionate dedication of the human will to the doing of the Father’s will is man’s choicest gift to God; in fact, such a consecration of creature will constitutes man’s only possible gift of true value to the Paradise Father. In God, man lives, moves, and has his being; there is nothing which man can give to God except this choosing to abide by the Father’s will, and such decisions, effected by the intelligent will creatures of the universes, constitute the reality of that true worship which is so satisfying to the love-dominated nature of the Creator Father.
There is much more that The Urantia Book has concerning the act of free will. Very few people understand what the original sin consist of. It was Lucifer’s attempt to deprive the will creatures of our universe of free will. Hence, we are where we are.
Peace, Love and Light I send your way...
As the other replies have shown, it depends on who you ask and what they believe. I believe God gave us free will. I cannot prove it or cite a reference. However, if we did not have free will, it would seem there would be fewer people doing bad things in the world.
I have to agree: excellent question and very thought-provoking.
For me, the most important answer is to be found in Genesis 1:26 -- that man was created in God's image and likeness.
Does God have free will? Of course He does. So do His children.
Genesis 2:7 shows man being created again -- a second time, but this time from the dust of the ground. God's image and likeness is not dust (chemicals). This second "man" is not so free, but more deterministic -- a cog in the machine of physical reality.
The combination of this Genesis 1:26 "man" and the Genesis 2:7 "man" is reinforced by Genesis 6:3 where it somewhat cryptically tells us that man is "also" flesh. If he is "also" flesh, then he is something else, too. That something else was created in the image and likeness of God. And the Heavenly Father will not always strive with the flesh, because once his children are saved, there is no longer any need to dwell on or near Earth.
We have free will, because we are creators like the Heavenly Father. This is why Jesus would tell us that we can do the things he did and even greater. This is why Jesus repeatedly said that it was the victim's faith that healed them and nothing that he had done for them. And this is why Peter could walk on water, if only for a moment, before doubt set in.
Now, when I say that "we are creators," I am talking of the true self (Holy Ghost, immortal soul, spirit), within. Too many confuse this with ego, the selfish and separate false self which is the blindfold on our spiritual eyes.
When Jesus said that salvation was for the sinner and not the righteous, he was revealing a wonderful truth -- that only through humility can we claim salvation. We have to forgo ego in order to find true righteousness. Those who think they have it made will discover that they have been left behind. Such are the wages of the lazy and arrogant.
You can only discover true free will by replacing ego with humility and by assuming perfect confidence, unconditional love and 100% responsibility.
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