Libertarian Free Will: It’s Not Biblical – Part 2

In last week’s post I ended on the fact that our wills are enslaved to sin, which can only be set free through the power of the Holy Spirit. The biblical data shows that natural man is enslaved to his nature, which is a fallen, sinful one.

When Paul says, “no one does good . . . no one seeks for God,” what does that mean?

Uh, what it says it means—We are not good; We don’t seek for God.

That is why God had to come save us.

Getting back to libertarian free will.

One of the problems with the Western world is this mantra that we can do whatever we want. “I can accomplish and do what I desire, and no one can tell me that I can’t.” The liberals are truly the ones who have adopted this mantra and have promulgated a narcissistic view of human entitlement. Unfortunately, this ideology has bled into the Christian faith, affecting many churches’ biblical anthropology. Again: We are to look at the Scriptures to properly understand the metaphysical framework of humanity.

Seminary professor Bruce Ware footnoted in his book God’s Lesser Glory a comprehensive study done by a doctoral student regarding divine foreknowledge documenting (divine foreknowledge is the open theist’s kryptonite) “1893 texts state predictively that God will do something or other in or through human beings; 1474 texts state predictively what human beings will do something or other, apart from God directly acting through them; 622 texts state predictively what unbelievers will do or have happen to them; 143 texts affirm God’s sovereign control of human choices; 105 texts of apparent counter-evidence” (n2., p. 100).

The open theist maintains that we must have libertarian free will in order to be rightly held accountable for our actions. There are no explicit verses in Scripture that demonstrate our wills are independent of God’s will. Libertarian free will is more of a philosophical assumption, failing to take into account one’s will and desires in choosing or not choosing, failing to recognize the role of causality in events that take place. So what they have done to ensure the Bible teaches that we have libertarian free will is they have removed God’s divine foreknowledge.

Those findings listed above are staggering and devastating to one who holds to libertarian free will. Now, obviously we cannot go through all of the verses demonstrating that God brings about human free actions that we are responsible for, so we will examine a few where we see this clearly, and I will list more Scriptures at the end.

Exodus 7:2-3; 11:9 – “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. . . . Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’” (God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to not listen to Moses, so that God’s wonders would be multiplied)

Deuteronomy 2:30 – “But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day.” (King Sihon did not let messengers pass by him—his choice—for the Lord hardened his heart, so that the Lord might give Sihon into the hands of Israel.)

1 Samuel 2:25 – “If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” (Eli’ sons would not listen to their Father; it was their will to not listen and though it was God’s will for them not to, he held them accountable for it.)

2 Samuel 17:14 – “And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom.” (Either the counsel of Hushai was thought to be better by Absalom, according to God’s will, or God in fact made Hushai’s counsel better so as to bring harm to Absalom in his choosing to follow Hushai.)

1 Kings 12:15 – “So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (Rehoboam did not listen to the people, and his failure to do so was God’s work in fulfilling his Word).

2 Chronicles 25:16, 20 – “But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, ‘I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.’ . . . But Amaziah would not listen, for it was of God, in order that he might give them into the hand of their enemies, because they had sought the gods of Edom.” (Amaziah’s failure to listen was of God, yet he received judgment for his actions.)

Ezra 6:22 – “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.” (the king was against this, but he changed his mind, but we see the Lord turned his heart—will—to give them aid.)

Daniel 11:36 – “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.” (Here the King does as he wills, as it was decreed that he should.)

1 Chronicles 14:8-11 – “When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went out against them. Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of God, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go up, and I will give them into your hand.’ And he went up to Baal-perazim, and David struck them down there. And David said, ‘God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood.’ Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim.” (This one is a bit different than the others, but quite telling of God’s involvement in human actions. Here David is inquiring of the Lord if he should fight the Philistines and to see if God will give them over to him in defeat. The Lord confirms he will, so David (carries out the action) strikes them down, then he attributes the defeating of them to God but then recognizes God carried it out by his hand.)

See further: Gen. 50:20; 1 Kings 8:58-61; Prov. 16:4-5; Isa. 10:5-15; Jer. 29:10-14; Luke 22:22; John 1:12-13; 6:37; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:48-14:1; Rom. 9-10; Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 3:1-3.

Here is a term that expresses the type of free will the Bible does teach: Compatibilism. Human free will is compatible with God’s sovereign will by which he determines what will come to pass according to his divine decree and ultimate plan. Our freedom is not constrained; rather, it is unconstrained within God’s decree, and our choices and actions are part of what he has ordained to take place.

We will get more into that next week

Oh, and I leave you with this interesting point to think about:

When it comes to a court of law, the pivotal piece of information needed in a murder case is to establish the motive behind it. If a person truly has libertarian free will, meaning no causes affect his will to do something, then his action to kill is ultimately without motive, and he would most likely be found insane because if there is no cause, no motive, then the prosecution cannot demonstrate he was ultimately responsible for his actions. His actions were really just an accident; he did not make a purposeful choice to commit the crime. If he murdered for no reason, he must be crazy! Just think about that for a second; our justice system would be chaotic if it held to a truly libertarian view of free will. (John Frame’s point here was so illuminating in his critique of libertarian free will; No Other God: A Response to Open Theism, p. 126)

—Romans 11:36

Augustine and ISIS: A Truism for Today

What are kingdoms without justice? They’re just gangs of bandits. – City of God

In celebration of the death of Augustine of Hippo (not that anyone is celebrating that he died), Relevant magazine posted an article with fifteen of his quotations, which have shaped Christianity. Augustine, theologian-philosopher ­par excellence, no doubt left his mark in Christian history, so much so that his thinking and understanding of God, Scripture, and humanity carried over generation-t0-generation, even providing a buttressing ideology to the thrust of the Protestant Reformation. His thoughts and teachings were so profound even secular philosophers, historians, and psychologists today look to his writings as a source of foundational knowledge for their prospective fields of study.

Much of his work has aided the church in areas ranging from deeply ethical matters to ecclesiastical and doctrinal matters, developing further our biblical doctrines of God, Christ, Scripture, and man.

One of his quotes, the one posted in the title, is truly relevant for us today in light of the recent events of the Islamic group known as ISIS. Their goal is to bring the doctrines of the Qur’an to the rest of the world, making it one Islamic state (rather, globe). Their methods of proselytizing are far from what is commonly seen in the US: door-to-door witnessing, church out-reaches, and/or open air preaching. These Muslims are not riding around on bikes like Mormon elders do; rather, they are driving around in stolen tanks and trucks, spreading their message through intimidation, infiltration, and merciless attacks on innocent men, women, and children. They are taking full advantage of the media outlets to spread their ideology, demonstrating that nothing will stand in their way. Beheading people on television, crucifying Christians for not converting to the Muslim faith, and reinstating the quranic law of pre-pubescent marriage (adult men marrying girls who have not yet reached puberty) to name a few of the horrific practices this group is doing.

Their actions are atrocious, lacking any care for human lives accept their own. Yet, we don’t hear any outrage from the moderate-Muslim community who have stressed to the world post-911 that these types of Muslims are not living truly to the teachings of the Qur’an. However, their failure to respond and denounce ISIS’ actions, I believe, reveals to us that what they are doing is in fact exactly what the Qur’an teaches. They have been doing this for the last 1400 years.

And while it is 1600 years later, Augustine’s quote still rings true:

ISIS does not know justice; they are nothing but bandits.

The Qur’an is a man-made religion, antithetical to Holy Scripture, rooted in the teachings of one completely depraved man, possessing a tyrannical and megalomaniacal ideology.

It is only in the biblical teachings—breathed out by the true, living God—of Christ and him crucified that we see the fullest expression of love, mercy, and justice. Christ—God the Son—came down from his throne in heaven (John 1:1-18), becoming one of his creatures to demonstrate the character of God, bringing restoration and redemption to the relationship that man broke with God in the Garden of Eden. Christ died for the sin of the world, for those living a life of depravity, and for those who would believe on him. The beauty of the Kingdom of God is that all who enter do so not by the sword or by works but by grace (Ephesians 2:9-10). Those who have denied the true God and exchanged him for their own god (Romans 1:22) can still come to him by faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ. This message is not brought by the sword of man; rather, those carrying the message of Christ-crucified come bearing the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), the Word of the living God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).

We must remember, no matter how disgusted we are with terrorist-type groups like ISIS, they are no different than you or I. Any fallen man is capable of such treachery. Those under the guise of ISIS are living in darkness as we once were and need to see the light of Christ, which, by the work of the Holy Spirit, will expose their sin, giving them eyes to see and ears to hear the glorious news of Jesus Christ. That is the power of the Gospel—it conquers all, without wielding the sword.


—Romans 11:36