I was discussing the issue of free will yesterday evening with Pauline, a contributor here, and I believed I might have caused her some stress, for which I sincerely apologize. The discussion was public, so my apology is public.
Nevertheless, I still ask the question, not because I want to win an argument or make a theological point, but because it’s a good question, but perhaps the wrong question to be asking.
The answer is of course a resounding yes, if we define “free” as meaning fallen men have the ability to choose whatever they want to choose whenever they are given options that require that they make a choice between those options.
The right question we should be asking is “What do fallen men ‘’want”? In the context of the Christian faith, we might ask “Do fallen men want God?” Does scripture provide answers? I think it does.
I suggest only three passages of scripture:
The first passage is from Romans 8:7-8:
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Is Paul talking about the ‘natural’ mind that we are all born with? Such a mind is hostile to God and unable to please God. If the ‘natural’ mind is in view, that mind can do nothing that pleases God.
The second passage is from 1 Corinthians 2:14:
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Paul here tells us that the ‘natural’ person does not and in fact is incapable to accept the things of God because they are spiritually discerned and he cannot even understand them.
The third passage (I didn’t mention it in the discussion with Pauline yesterday) is from 2 Corinthians 4:3-4:
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. “
In this passage we’re told that unbelievers have blind minds and cannot even see the light of the gospel!
There are many other passages that speak to the natural human condition, but I just wanted to share a few that are dear to an old man’s heart. I only want to add one short tidbit from Jonathan Edwards, a great mind from the American past:
“The will is the mind choosing”
Yes Virginia, we have “free” will. We can choose whatever we want to choose. And I ask again: How “free” is the will of fallen men?
It’s just a question for serious consideration.