Do people have free will?

Andrew Naselli takes a long look at the question of free will over here. Fascinating stuff. take some time this weekend to explore it.

Here is the introduction to get you started:

Non-Christians and Christians alike often give the same answer to difficult questions like these: Why did God allow sin in the first place? Why does God save some people and not others? Why does God send people to hell? Why can living like a Christian be so frustrating? The immediate solution often suggested is simple: “free will.” To many people, it’s a satisfying answer: “Oh, that makes sense. Yeah, God does x because he has to preserve my free will. Yeah, OK. Next question.” I’d like to suggest that we re-think this important issue. 

The title of this short essay is a question: “Do We Have a Free Will?” That question may be jarring to you because it asks if something exists that most people assume exists. My short answer to that question is that it depends on what you mean by “free.” The longer answer is the rest of this essay.

ok and just because I can’t let it go, here is another section to tease you over there for all of it.

Is libertarian free will the reason for the origin of sin?

Short answer: No. 

When addressing this hugely difficult question, it is helpful to consider the following: 
1.  God is not the author or agent of evil, and he is not culpable for evil. 

2.  Satan is not God’s equal opposite (i.e., a God-versus-Satan dualism). 

3.  God, who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, ordained that sin would enter his universe. (See the short essay in this series entitled “How Could a Good God Allow Suffering and Evil?”) God sovereignly works through secondary causes (such as humans) such that he is not culpable for evil but the secondary causes are. 

4.  Satan and then Adam and Eve sinned because they wanted to sin, and they are morally responsible to God for it. (The ability of humans to sin has four historical stages. First, Adam and Eve were initially able to sin. Second, after their fall, all unregenerate humans [i.e., those who are spiritually dead] are not able not to sin. Third, regenerate humans [i.e., those whom God has given spiritual life] are able not to sin. Fourth, glorified regenerate humans are not able to sin.) 

5.  Tension remains because compatibilists cannot explain exactly how God can ordain all things without being the author or agent of evil. It is at places like that that your head will start spinning if you try to put all the puzzle pieces together (we don’t have all the pieces!). Rather than deny explicit statements of Scripture that support compatibilism, a far better option is to acknowledge that this is a mystery that we finite and fallen humans simply cannot comprehend exhaustively.

6.  There is no easy answer to explaining why God ordained the origin of sin in the first place. John Piper offers a helpful pastoral perspective in Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). (This is available online for free as a PDF: http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bss/bss.pdf. See esp. pp. 39-64.) Why doesn’t God simply wipe out Satan? Piper concludes, “The ultimate answer . . . is that ‘all things were created through [Christ] and for [Christ]’ (Col. 1:16). God foresaw all that Satan would do if he created Satan and permitted him to rebel. In choosing to create him, he was choosing to fold all of that evil into his purpose for creation. That purpose for creation was the glory of his Son. All things, including Satan and all his followers, were created with this in view” (p. 48).

emphasis added.

I read Spectacular Sins earlier this year. it was really very good indeed.

Now it is on sale for 5.00

Do yourself a favor, and if this stuff interests you, spend five dollars on Spectacular Sins and read it too. Then you will see why I was so offended by Wm Paul Young on page 165 of The Shack.

Hat tip to Challies who says this one is not for skimming so set aside a few minutes to read it.

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