Some time ago a Calvinist angrily said that there is no such thing as free will in the Bible. He was seriously wrong.
Free will is found throughout the Bible. Every time God gives a command, that command speaks to our free will. Every time Scripture says receive, repent, turn, believe, trust, have faith, call on the name of the Lord, it is speaking of man’s free will.
If man does not have free will:
1. Then men are robots and puppets, doing only what they are instructed, or hard wired, to do.
2. Then God is the author of sin. Some actually openly agree with this statement.
3. Then God does not love everyone; some people God wants to go to Hell.
4. Then God is mocking man, who has no ability to choose, when He commands him to choose, repent, believe, accept.
Without free will, this world becomes a fatalistic puppet show.
I recently told a fellow pastor of how two strong Calvinists had now become atheists. The pastor replied, “There’s not much difference between the two.” I would not go that far, but some have noticed the similarity between hard determinism (man has no free will) and atheistic fatalism. As Kenneth Keathley, author of “Salvation and Sovereignty,” said, “Most determinists are not Calvinists, but atheists and Muslims.”
A few quotes on free will:
“I just happen to believe that God is sovereign enough that He can make a man totally free if He wishes to do so.” -Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX, SBC president.
“Now, if you say that only certain people are elect and only certain people, therefore, can be saved, you take all the ‘whosever’s’ in the Bible and make them a lot of mumbo jumbo. The Bible is full of ‘whosoever will.’”
On Matthew 23:37, “Now, friend, if they could not rather than they would not, this is the biggest charade in history. Jesus is weeping salty tears, and He said, ‘I would, but you would not.’ That’s not unconditional election.”
-Adrian Rogers, SBC president and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, TN.
“Indeed, it is manifest that every call, every threat, every expostulation, every exhortation in the Bible supposes that man is a free agent. If he be not free, if he be the passive victim of inexorable, irresistible destiny, the Sacred Volume is a compilation of glaring inconsistencies--of sheer downright falsehood and mockery...
If we attempt to explain and reconcile the doctrines of predestination and free agency, we find impassable barriers hemming us in, and sharp adamant striking us back. Their harmony we must leave with God.”
-Richard Fuller, Predestination; 1885. Quoted by Peter Lumpkins at SBCTommorrow. Fuller was president of the SBC. He was a strong Calvinist who also believed in the free will of man.
“And yet, and yet, with us down here in this world, there's no violation of our moral integrity, or our free choice, or the sovereignty of our own lives. The two go together. The great decree of Almighty God leaves me absolutely and perfectly free. I am not bound; I am at liberty. The decree of God has in it my own free choice, and the two are not antagonistic. They go together in the will of God.”
-W. A. Criswell, SBC president, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX.
“Reasons that make free will important:
* Without free will, how can we be truly responsible for our actions?
* Without free will, what truth is there in words of praise for another’s efforts, courage or creativity? If the person is simply reacting chemically and has no choice in his or her actions, then such praise is meaningless.
* Without free will, we cannot have any measure of dignity over any other aspect of nature. There is nothing special about being just another cog in a machine.
* Without free will, what value is there to the love we have for another? Similarly, what value is there in friendship? Love is simply one set of chemical reactions to another’s chemical reactions.”
“Scripture has revealed that people are bearers of God’s image. God did not make us mere machines. We have the ability to choose that makes us morally responsible.”
-W. Mark Lanier, Christianity on Trial, IVP; 2014.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 16, AD 2014.
You may be interested in these brief books:
“Predestined for Hell? Absolutely Not!” by Adrian Rogers
“An Examination of TULIP” by R. L. Sumner
“What is Calvinism?” by Peter Lumpkins
Books on Calvinism, Predestination
Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died For All
Adrian Rogers on Predestination, Calvinism
Paige Patterson on Calvinism
Roy Fish on Calvinism; part 1 of 2
10 Commandments for Christmas
More articles in lower right margin.