Friday, December 29, 2017

The Sovereign God and the Free Will of Man - John Lennox

John Lennox is one of my favorite scholars. He's a mathematician. He's a philosopher. He's a Christian Apologists like no other. He's one of the few Christians who have debated Richard Dawkins and is one of the reason why Dawkins doesn't debate Christians anymore in scholarly debate. Dawkins is scared. There are very few things that I have heard John Lennox say that I disagree with. The video below one of them. In it Lennox answers and audience question about Human Free will and God's sovereignty. The question is an old one: If God is sovereign over everything, then how do humans have free will? How is it that we make choices between doing right and wrong if we are not running our lives? Many philosophers like John Lennox argue that we have free will- that ability to choose to do right and wrong and the freedom to choose to accept or reject Jesus.

John Lennox is far from the only one who looks at this from his point of view. I know I used to see it his way. Many other great Christian thinkers agree with him. For example, William Lane Craig would argue this way as well. Fortunately there is no anathema to be be seen on this issue. It is important but it won't keep you away from God if you agree or disagree with them. One of the powerful reasons why people hold this view is because it is an answer to the the "Problem of Evil". We can say that people do evil things to each other because people choose to do it and God holds us responsible for our deeds. This is why bad things happen to good people. Problem solved. I thought that this was wrapped up in a nice little bow until I realized:

1.This does not explain why natural disasters happen to people.
2. If we are enslaved to sin and nothing good is in the unregenerate sinner, as the Bible says, then how did I get saved? I mean I'm no less evil or better than the next person who hears, understands, and rejects the Gospel.

This is why I don't think the "free-will" defense is viable. If we truly had libertarian free will we ought to be able to choose not to sin and we all know we stand guilty before a holy God is we use God as the standard of how we should act, think, and speak. We all sin - intentionally and unintentionally. This is why we need rescue. That is why Jesus died for us. So this leaves us in an uncomfortable position. This does not mean that we cannot make choices. We do. I just don't think we can say that we have all the options to choose whatever because without God's grace we cannot choose to do the right thing even if we don't recognize that God gave us the opportunity and the experience to do right. Do we have to argue that God holds us accountable for things that is not in our power to change? Given the following what else can we say?


14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f]

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

I want to end this with Jesus' words on this:

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” - Luke 13:1-5

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