Captive Will

January 19, 2007

“Freedom is not the ability to act contrary to willingness – what we find pleasure in is dictated by our nature.”

Well, that’s his opinion. I think it’s balderdash, personally. Our nature dictates what things will be attractive to us, but it doesn’t dictate which we will choose. Life is a series of choices between different pleasures — delayed gratification and instant pleasure, sinful and godly desires, noble and ignoble means, etc. We need God’s help, surely, to ultimately succeed in our efforts to choose the good … but the statement “man has no ability to choose right and wrong” just doesn’t line up with scripture.

Honestly, if you had no choices and were only able to choose the right when God changes you to desire only good, Jesus would not say stuff like, “Go and don’t sin anymore.” He would say, “Hold on, I’ll zap you with special powers and then you’ll never sin again.”

The reformed tradition has given us many great things, but this idea — that human beings lack moral agency — is not only untrue, contrary to reality, and dangerous, but in the end no one really believes it. How many times have you counseled a person in sin thus: “Well, you don’t really have any choice except to beat your wife. We’re going to pray that God will make it so that you don’t want that anymore.” Obviously, this is something you want to pray for, but the first thing you say to them is, “Stop doing what you’re doing!”


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