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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Free will in Scriptures

A Baptist I encountered online from years ago had once challenged me on his allegation that the notion of free will has no basis in Scripture. Here are a few verses from Scripture which are in today's Liturgy of the Hours that I think presuppose it:

  Mid-morning reading (Terce) 1 Peter 1:13 - 14
 Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth, but make a habit of obedience.
 Noon reading (Sext) 1 Peter 1:15 - 16
 Be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you, and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy.
 Afternoon reading (None) James 4:7 - 10
 Give in to God: resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

I think that Calvinist hearts are well-meaning when they seem to devalue human will while raising up the supreme majesty of God's will, but it backfires in the end since devaluating humanity ultimately devaluates its creator, which is God himself. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging the incredible creation of God, including humanity. What goes wrong is when we end up treating it as a substitute or something better than God himself. Otherwise, putting things in perspective, we cannot but wonder and echo the Psalmist who exclaims, "you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor!" Among the wondrous works that the Creator wrought unto man is choice, which unfortunately cuts both ways: in our ability to choose life, we also have the ability to choose death. But God does not abandon us. As he invites us to begin with, he offers us his own Spirit, and by grace, he raises us up as a Father raises up his child: teaching, correcting, nurturing. As his child, he has the same aspirations for us as any father would: that we would truly grow up unto the fullness of our being. As he had planned from the very beginning.

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