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A Request For Free Will Support

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 16 comments

I know most of us have exhausted the topic of free will verses election/predestination, but whenever the topic is discussed it seems that those who side with predestination are always on the defense. I think this is because it is natural for us to comprehend man choosing and God not choosing. However, the Bible is full of support for predestination. I am not saying that we do not have any free will, I actually lean towards a view that there is a balance between the two.

With that said, I found a verse in the gospel of John quite interesting and making me think less of the free will. Do you think it denounces free will?

John 1:12-13

"But as many receive Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

The purpose of this post is not to start another debate between free will and election, but rather interpret this text in John and give free will supporters the chance to provide scriptural support for their position.

16 comments: to “ A Request For Free Will Support so far...

  • Timm June 18, 2008 at 9:50 PM

    I've been looking for that verse for the last week. I got nothing for you. You know what I think that passage says.

  • layneh June 19, 2008 at 9:33 AM

    what version of the Bible are you using?

    NIV reads "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

    Its like saying, Because your American, you have the right to have a driving license.

    Because we believe, we have the right to be children of God. Just because you believe in something, doesn't always mean you follow your belief, but those who do, can become children of God.

  • Timm June 19, 2008 at 11:07 AM

    I'm actually glad you asked this question Craig.

    Layne, the structure of sentence is as follows: the colon tells us that what John is about to say applies directly to his previous statement. So the question is who did he give the right to become children of God?

    Those "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (KJV) or "children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (NIV)

    In other words, those who were chosen by God/born of God's will and not their own.

    Here is why I'm glad you posted this Craig. I've been struggling with a question that j razz posted on my site a while back. I understand that there are a number of people who believe that both exist. I would be included in this camp, but is the doctrine of free will REALLY supported by scripture?

    Even the passages that seem to suggest it are logically trumped by the doctrines of Election and God's sovereignty. I can find verse after verse after verse that state definitively that God chooses, but none that leave no doubt in my mind that it is our choice. This has been a struggle of mine lately.

  • j razz June 19, 2008 at 12:12 PM

    I think free will needs to be defined.

    Free will implies that our will is not bound. This is both unscriptural and just not true. Scripture tells us that we are naturally opposed to the things of God and that is the whole reason God gives us new hearts so that we can believe. Plus, we are subject and influenced by all that is around us that stimulates our senses- whether that is the smell of food, a good looking woman, etc. etc.

    On the other hand, free agency is plausible and supported scripturally.

    Here is a great retort to J. I. Packer from John Piper that took me about 3 times reading through it (it is short) to grasp what he was saying, but it completely quells the issue concerning God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. I would really encourage you to read it until you understand it. By the way, notice the date on the article.

    j razz

  • Craig June 19, 2008 at 1:01 PM


    I use the New King James Version.


    I think we share the same thought and that is why I posted this topic. I want to believe that we have free will, but cannot find support and that is why I opened this for people to provide support. The more I look into it the less I believe in free will.

    Thanks for the link. I like the reference they make to Romans 6. Jesus tells us He will deliver us from the bondage of sin. Where is the freedom in bondage. This illustration really makes it clear for me.

  • Timm June 19, 2008 at 1:07 PM

    You're a Calvinist. :P

  • Craig June 19, 2008 at 1:29 PM

    Calvinist in training

  • layneh June 19, 2008 at 11:10 PM

    How many Biblical authors would you say support your argument?

    Just curious.

  • Timm June 20, 2008 at 1:37 PM

    I can think of three off the top of my head.

    Mathew, John and Paul.

  • McQ June 21, 2008 at 5:35 PM

    I don't think this verse refers to free will/predestination, rather it refers to savlation, and becoming adopted children of God. The passage in its entirety actually says:

    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent,nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

    It's just like when Jesus said we have to be born again in spirit. I believe this passage to be a reference to the same idea. When we believe in His name, we become God's children, not simply children of this world.

    Timm, you said
    "In other words, those who were chosen by God/born of God's will and not their own."

    Im not sure if this is what I get from the passage we're discussing. It doesn't say here that we were chosen by God, more that we chose God through belief in His son. "Those who received him, to those who beleived in his name". To me that sounds like a choice made by us, not by God. He didn't force belief on any of us.

    Earlier in the passage it says, "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him". By referring to them as "His own" isn't the author telling us that they already belonged to God? Yet many rejected God out of a decision, while others accepted Him.

    I think the passage here may be getting used a little bit out of context to argue a point of view.

  • MikeT June 21, 2008 at 9:06 PM

    Honestly, I don't know of any verses that really support free will per se. I think it is more of a philosophical dichotomy, as even the majority of Calvinists do not believe that God chooses our actions for us except WRT salvation. I think the best way to interpret predestination is to consider it like a maze made for your life, with multiple pathways to explore, but with your ability to reach the exit (to heaven) entirely determined by how the maze was configured.

  • Kinggame June 22, 2008 at 3:39 PM

    Hell is worse than life on Earth, and Heaven is far better. We can all agree on these points. So if it is determined where we are going, and we are locked in direction, what is the point of the gray area in between that we call life? If God expected us not to make decisions and choose for ourselves, it seems he wouldn't have made his greatest mortal gift our minds.

    I use my mind. Not to would be an insult to He that gave it to me, and ungrateful to boot. Opening the Bible doesn't involve shutting the mind.

  • McQ June 22, 2008 at 11:16 PM

    Using your mind doesn't negate the possibility of predestination. You can think for yourself and make decisions, but ultimately if you believe in predestination- it wasn't necessarily those choices or thinking that led you to where you are/will be.

  • Timm June 23, 2008 at 11:39 AM

    "Opening the Bible doesn't involve shutting the mind."

    You're exactly right. Opening the Bible should open our minds to the truth. I once fiercely fought the doctrine of Pre-Destination. That is, until I saw the overwhelming scriptural support for it. Now My mind has been opened to the idea and I fight to prove it correct.

    Actually, I think what Craig is looking for is Scriptural support. Those of us in the pre-destination camp have heard all of the logical arguments.

  • MikeT June 26, 2008 at 9:21 PM

    To add to Timm's point, the doctrine of predestination is basically just that you cannot choose God. God must choose you. In other words, it does not mean that you are a robot, it means that your brain is just wired so that the synapses that would allow you to say the "Sinner's Prayer" with even just mental conviction aren't there.

  • Timm June 26, 2008 at 10:34 PM

    This is off topic, but I could have sworn that you used to be dead set against the doctrine of Election.....

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