The Scriptures vs. Free Will: Which is it?

I was sent this yesterday by Matt, an author and old friend of mine. It’s pretty interesting (and funny) if you’re into theology/philosophy: definitely something to think about. Read it over and tell me, what do you think?

————- Bulletin Message ————-
From: Matt
Date: Oct 18, 2006 12:57 PM

Hi, boys and girls! I just had this funky fresh conversation with some dude who randomly sent me a message, trying to sell his book or something. He picked the wrong guy to send this message to, or the right one, depending on how you look at it. Cause, you know, I’m self-righteous and everything. But he couldn’t help it; apparently, he has no control over his own actions. Hmmmm…

Disclaimer: I don’t necessarily agree with everything I said to him. I tried to phrase everything in a way that would keep the conversation on track and provoke his thought process.

Enjoy!

————- Original Message ————-
From: OC Church
Date: Oct 17, 2006 5:36 PM

“Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.” Ecclesiastes 6:10

Have you ever read Romans 9:11-24? It absolutely targets and refutes free-will.

But it comes down to the question, “Is there only one Creator?”

“The Lord has created all things for Himself, yea even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4

Free-will is self-righteousness, the idea that there is some good in you apart from God.

Look on my blogs for more,

J

————- Original Message ————-
From: Matt
Date: Oct 17, 2006 3:35 PM

Of course Christianity refutes free-will. That’s part of what makes it the single most effective method of mass-manipulation in the history of the world. What better way to control people than to make them believe that they can’t control themselves?

————- Original Message ————-
From: OC Church
Date: Oct 17, 2006 7:44 PM

Actually, why manipulate anyone if you believe that only those to whom it is given will come to Christ? We just preach and God gives the increase.

If it were up to man’s will, I would be manipulating all day long. I would pray to free-will and not God for man to turn.

As it is, some will, some won’t, so what.

J

————- Original Message ————-
From: Matt
Date: Oct 17, 2006 5:08 PM

You misunderstand me. The believers are not the ones doing the manipulating. They’re the ones being manipulated.

————- Original Message ————-
From: OC Church
Date: Oct 17, 2006 8:39 PM

So who is doing the manipulating if believers are not the ones doing the manipulating?

Why were you born? Did you deserve to be born? Were you born by chance? Or was there a greater purpose that placed you here?

I prefer the third explanation. The first seems self centered, the second provides no meaning to the value of life. The third places God’s sovereignty above the will of man (your parents).

I would agree that Christians believe themselves manipulated by God because they believe themselves His creation. He has rights as God.

They also believe those who do not give God all the credit, self-righteous.

Are you saying that self-righteousness is good, vital and important to distinguish you from numb headed people? What makes you different, better? Must you be in control?

————- Original Message ————-
From: Matt
Date: Oct 18, 2006 6:12 AM

The manipulation is done by nonbelievers who use the religion to bend believers to their will.

Why was I born? Given those three choices, I’d say the explanation is a combination of the second and the third. I don’t think that they’re necessarily mutually exclusive.

But I don’t agree with your premise that having a greater purpose “places God’s sovereignty over the will of man”, or your premise that “those who do not give God all the credit” are “self-righteous”.

God has blessed us with free will. I do not think that I am different or better than anyone. I’m not ‘self’-righteous. We, all of us, are righteous beings. And we do have control, if we choose to use the gift that God has given us.

That’s what I mean when I say: “If you refuse to use the gift of free will, you choose to lose.”

————- Original Message ————-
From: OC Church
Date: Oct 18, 2006 10:57 AM

M,

If we are all righteous beings, then none of us can lose. a tree produces fruit after its kind. Righteous people are known by their fruit and so on. I have never seen an apple tree produce watermelons.

You say that “God has given” and this is where you begin with free-will. But somewhere in the mix, you have made an intellectual disconnect.

If all comes from God, including as you say, free-will, then all is dependent upon Him. i am not saying that we do not choose freely. But we choose out of what is already inside us at any given circumstance. We are creation. And who made us?

Somehow, you see yourself as higher than simply God’s creation. Because you are able to create your character, identity, and destiny apart from God through free-will. This gives ultimate glory to you, not to Him.

You are an unmoved mover and not God’s total creation. And yet, you look to God for this “gift” or “ability” He has given you. If He gave you this ability, does He also give inability? Or can you be omnipotent as He from this gift?

I believe that God by definition is absolute, the Source of all. This would include destiny, human goodness, and the will. The will is simply a manifestation of the heart’s condition. Who created your heart?

To say that you can do a little good apart from God is to say by definition that you are self-good, self-righteous. It’s ok if you feel this way, but don’t disconnect on apparent logic. “I’ll take it from here God” theology is self-righteous. It’s what you ultimately look to in order to distance yourself from losers or “those who lose.”

J

————- Original Message ————-
From: Matt
Date: Oct 18, 2006 8:37 AM

I said we are righteous beings; I did not say we are gods. I did not mean to imply that we are infallible. We all have our failures and our losses. This is because of our free will, the choices we are able to make.

You say that you are not denying that we choose freely. But that’s the definition of free will. If everything is predestined, if God pulls the strings and controls everything according to a predetermined plan: we’re not making choices at all. We merely have the illusion of such. I don’t believe that to be true.

I’m finding some of your language toward the second half of your message a little unclear, so forgive me if I misunderstand. You say that I think I’m something higher than simply God’s creation. That’s true. A rock is simply God’s creation. I believe that I’m higher than a rock. I possess the ability to think and to reason and to make choices. So do you. That’s what makes us righteous beings, because that is the way in which we are created in the image of God. Not with God’s physical appearance (God has no physical appearance), but with a taste of God’s righteousness.

You say that I claim “ultimate glory” for myself. Honestly, I’m tempted to dismiss that as Christian rhetoric. But I’ll just say that, yes, I pride myself on the decisions I make, and I thank God for the ability to make them.

I have no idea what you mean by the sentence: “you are an unmoved mover and not God’s total creation.” You can explain that to me if you want to. You ask if God gives ability, does He also give inability? Inability does not need to be given; it is innate. But, to reply to your next question, the gift of free will alone does not render us omnipotent.

“The will is simply a manifestation of the heart’s condition”? The heart is an organ that pumps blood through the body. If you’re referring to the soul, then I agree. The will is a manifestation of the soul. And the soul was created by God. So free will was given to us by God. Unless I misunderstand you, you’re agreeing with me.

You finish with the claim that my self-righteousness is what I “ultimately look to in order to distance yourself from losers or ‘those who lose.'” I already told you: I’m not trying to distance myself from anyone. We’re all righteous beings, and we all make some bad choices.

————- Original Message ————-
From: OC Church
Date: Oct 18, 2006 12:25 PM

M,

When I say that we chose freely…let me give an example…

Martin Luther was approached by a nun. And the woman said to him, “Dr. Luther, you are such a good man. It must break your heart when you sin.” Luther looked at her and said, “Woman, when I sin, I do it with all my heart.”

His point was that whether there was conflict or not, when he did sin, he was in forward motion all the way.

So, when we choose, we are not outwardly forced to do it. We do it with all our hearts. In this sense, we do it freely.

But who made us? Who made the soul?

You still go to God in your response for giving you all, especially free-will. And yet, you somehow disconnect when it comes to your destiny.

It is my belief that from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet, you are nothing more and nothing less than creation, made in His image, but made none the less.

Look down and you will most probably find a belly button. That should give you a hint that you came from something, all of you.

Now to all being righteous who make some mistakes: Was that what WWII was all about? Was Hitler a righteous being? How about the guys that flew that plane into the world trade center? Would you not want to distance yourself from them? Are you telling me that you could sit in a concentration camp watching the systematic death of the Jews and say, “I don’t want to distance myself from anyone.”?

Ultimately, I think you don’t really know what you believe. And that’s ok as long as you believe in yourself, kind of message.

The difference between you and I is that I don’t trust myself. I trust in Christ and believe in God’s absolute salvation through Him, to see me through.

This has been fun. And thanks for the banter.

(By the way, if you enjoyed this and you’re looking for a good read — or even if you didn’t enjoy this, but are looking for a good read — check out Matt’s latest novel, Nova. I recommend ordering 10 copies and giving 9 of them out as Diwali, Eid, Channukah, and/or Christmas gifts, or maybe giving them out to all those people who have birthdays in November. Get your copy today!)


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