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Do we have free will, or is everything already planned for us?

Re: Joseph and free will

Postby dreamcoat » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:02 pm

The GPS analogy hits it right on the head. And technically, although, God allows free will in this scenario, it still feels like "forced free will". If we as people don't have control over where the GPS is taking us, and we can go in whichever direction we so choose, but the GPS always gets us back on course, we in a way never really had the control over which way we were going in the first place. God "charts a new course to still get us to the goal." Our destination is set, and we can head out in any direction, but we will ultimately find our way to where He wants us to be. Can't that be construed as predestination, though? Our destination is to do XY and Z, although how we get there isn't set in stone, we will arrive in XY and Z. And to this degree I see free will as a subset in predestination.

I understand that God's people don't get a special pass. But some people are deserving of the blessings that God bestowed upon them, and others I struggle to see. Sure, when people disobey they are subject to His wrath. Some biblical figures, like David, seem to have an abhorred character, yet still are blessed tremendously in life. I'm not going to get into the age old question of why do good things happen to bad people, but to the point of free will and predestination, David was not a good person (in my humble opinion he was an arrogant jerk from what I know of him). Yet David was chosen to be King and God chose Jesus to be apart of his lineage.

Re: Joseph and free will

Postby jimwalton » Sun May 05, 2019 2:21 pm

I'm glad you wrote back. I know we're getting pretty deep in the conversation and dipping a little too much into speculation, but I was still enjoying the conversation and hoping it would continue at least a little while longer.

> Can't that be construed as predestination, though?

The destination is set: A relationship with God. That's everyone's destination. Since we all always have a choice whether to follow the GPS or ignore it, it's never forced free will or determinism. I'm not a 5-point Calvinist. I see "predestination" (particularly in Ephesians and Romans) as "God recruiting salesmen." The idea isn't that some have been predestined to salvation and others therefore left out in the cold, but that some have been predestined to salvation so they could, in turn, become agents of reconciliation to win as many as possible. Each person still has a choice whether (1) they will be such an agent (or a slacker), and (2) whether they will respond to the message of any said agent and join the team.

If I were in a room full of people, and I invited two to the front and gave them candy bars (and no one else), that would seem to be predestination, but it would seem so unfair. Now, instead, suppose in that same room I invited two to the front and gave them candy bars (it's undeniably true that I selected them out from among the others), but then commissioned them to give out for free as many candy bars as possible to whoever would take them. And whoever takes them can come to the front and get a box of candy bars to hand out to as many as they can, etc. Yes, some are "predestined to salvation", but it's not an exclusive club. What it is is an exclusive calling.

I see it in Scripture. The purpose of election is so that the knowledge of God can be brought to the world.

    * Abraham – so that the world through him might be blessed (Gn. 12.2-3)
    * Why was Israel chosen? (Gn. 22.18)
    * Why were the apostles chosen? To be sent out. (Lk. 6.13; Mt. 28.19-20)
    * Why was Paul chosen? To bring the gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. 1.16)

> Some biblical figures, like David, seem to have an abhorred character

Yes! I was always taught that David was this shining paragon of godliness, except for his big slip-up with Bathsheba. When I did a detailed study of his life about 6 years ago, I was aghast and my opinion distinctly changed. What a screw-up! Just about every chapter another mistake. His life is a testament to the grace of God, for sure.

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