The Bondage of Free Will: Part Three

Having considered these two radically different definitions of the term “free will” in parts one and two, we now have to decide what to do with them.  Which definition has a better right to the term?  And more importantly, which definition, if either, describe an actual state of affairs?

Before we jump into the discussion, let’s recap the definitions for you.

Definition number one: Free will is the ability of a rational being to act upon his circumstances in accordance with his own character, without direct alien interference between his character and will.

Definition number two: Free will is the self-determining character of the will whereby without regard to motives, emotions, and previous character a rational being can under any given circumstances act in either of two mutually exclusive ways.

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The Bondage of Free Will: Part Two

Not too long ago we looked at a very specific definition of the term “free will” in The Bondage of Free Will, Part One.  Today, we have another, very different, definition to consider!

As we move on to the second definition of free will, instead of starting with the definition, we will start with the general position.  Succinctly put, it is “power to the contrary.”  This is free will in the most radical sense of the term.  What it means is that the same exact person in the same exact situation is perfectly free to choose either of two options.  And not just any two options, but even two mutually exclusive options – for instance, good or evil.

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The Bondage of Free Will, Part One

Free will.  If you’re ever looking for a can of worms to open, there’s one for you.  The subject is fraught with confusion, contradictions, and complications.  Do humans have free will?  If so, can their acts be predicted ahead of time?  Could an omniscient God know what a person with free will would do next?  Could an all-powerful God plan what a person with free will would do next?  And on the flip side, if a person has free will, doesn’t that mean that he is responsible for his actions?  If he doesn’t have free will, can he claim freedom from responsibility?

Does free will – the power of choice – mean the same thing as ability – the power of doing?  Is the human will self-determining, or is it determined by the person’s character?

These questions are not irrelevant or unimportant.  Our answers to them will define our ideas of God, of man, of life, and of death.  To be confused on this subject is to be confused about who you are, why you are here, and where you are headed.  Whether you believe that you’re a chance group of atoms, purposeless and without a destiny, or whether you conclude that you’re a human created in the image of God, set on earth for the purpose of glorifying Him and standing before a future of eternal life or eternal death, you had better evaluate both sides and make pretty sure that you’re on the right track!

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Language: An Ancient Puzzle for Modern Man

Where did human language come from?  To be clear, we are using the word language in the sense of the human ability to speak, not a particular language such as English or Spanish, German or Latin.  Obviously, the origin of language is outside the scope of repeatable, observable scientific experimentation.  But by studying current languages, one can see the puzzle pieces scattered across the board, waiting to be put together.  Of course, there are a lot of missing pieces.  Human language is very complex, and much more complicated than the gruntings of animals.  How did language –  how could language – begin?

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Should Everyone be Treated Equally?

Does justice always mean that people are to be treated equally?  This may perhaps seem to be the case.  If I were a judge whose job it was to try two people for murder today, and if the respective juries found both equally guilty, would it be right for me to give one person sentence of death and the other a life sentence in jail?  Certainly not!  However, if I were to give both the same sentence, would that mean that I am treating everyone equally?

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A Transforming Light: The Impact of the Reformation

                Over two thousand and five hundred years ago, Nebuchadnezzar, King of ancient Babylon, saw in a dream a stone cut without hands, destroying the proud image of the kingdoms of the earth, and then growing into a mighty mountain.[1]  That stone, thrown once again into the sea of society during the Reformation, has caused spreading waves of effect – waves reaching to the farthest corner of the globe.  Like salt,[2] which pervades the flavor of food wherever it is introduced, the Reformers’ new presentation of the old truths of the gospel has had, and is still having, a tremendous influence on this earth.  Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based on the Bible alone, to the glory of God alone, has left its mark on human culture in each of society’s three main branches – on the individual, on family, and on government.

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The Good Samaritan Tries Political Activism

A certain man set out on a trip from Washington, DC, to Greenville, South Carolina.  He was held up by terrorists, who stripped him of his raiment, wounded him, and departed, leaving him stranded on the side of the highway, half dead.

By chance, a certain pastor drove by; when he saw the man, he switched lanes.

A Red Cross worker, when he reached the spot, slowed down to take a look, but quickly hit the gas again and then took the next exit.

But a certain Mexican, as he drove his old banger on a visit to his relatives, reached the point where the man was lying, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.

He went to him, and bound up his wounds, applying Hydrogen Peroxide and Neosporin; then he helped him up into his own car, and brought him to a hotel, and took care of him.

The Mexican questioned the man as to what had happened, and was horrified to discover how long he had lain neglected by the side of the road.

The next day, when the Mexican left to continue his trip, he went to the hotel manager, and said to him, “Take care of him; whatever you spend, when the government realizes its duty to the victimized, it will repay you.”

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Righteousness Part Three: God’s Solution

“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9).  Each of us knows, that, however well we may do when compared to our own defective standards, when compared to the standard of absolute perfection, we fall woefully and willfully short.  And would it not be absurd to suppose that a perfect God would not hold all His creation to a perfect standard?  How could He do otherwise?  But does that mean that there is no hope for rebellious humanity?  Thank God, that is not the case!  Instead, He has provided a solution!

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Righteousness Part Two: Man’s Dilemma

Last week we saw the demand God makes of all mankind: perfect righteousness, perfect obedience to His holy law.  This demand is hardly surprising, since a perfectly holy God could not be expected to tolerate imperfection in His creatures, much less the high treason that takes place when any human being decides that he knows better than God and chooses to go his own way.  The question then follows: does mankind fulfill this demand?  Or does he daily, even hourly, break the law of God and act as a law unto himself?

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