Friday, July 30, 2010

Free will?

Does God ever invade the wills of men? If He can and does, then what does this say about so-called "Free will?" Maybe we aren't as free as we might think? Consider:

“YHWH said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. “Then a spirit came forward and stood before YHWH and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “YHWH said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ “Now therefore, behold, YHWH has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and YHWH has proclaimed disaster against you.
(1 Kings 22:20–23)

“So Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the advice that Ahithophel has given is not good.” Moreover, Hushai said, “You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people. “Behold, he has now hidden himself in one of the caves or in another place; and it will be when he falls on them at the first attack, that whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ “And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men. “But I counsel that all Israel be surely gathered to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that you personally go into battle. “So we shall come to him in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left. “If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the valley until not even a small stone is found there.” Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For YHWH had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that YHWH might bring calamity on Absalom.
(2 Samuel 17:7–14)

“The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! ‘Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, “Return to me on the third day.” The king answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him, and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from YHWH, that He might establish His word, which YHWH spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.”
(1 Kings 12:10–15)

5 comments:

bossmanham said...

At most, it says He's maybe adjusted the wills of a few men in history, but I think those passages can be interpreted successfully through a hermeneutic that includes free will.

The first one has a demon entering someone, so it is the demon influencing the will of someone. There are NT cases of demons completely taking over someone's will, though it's never without precedent.

The second need not be read as controlling a will, because that doesn't even seem to be implicit. God did something that thwarted the good counsel of Ahithophel to punish Absalom. We could either say that God influenced in some way the decision made, or that God, through His middle knowledge, knew what Absalom would freely do if he were in this situation, and then providentially ordered the world so that this choice would be made.

Note that it wasn't done arbitrarily either, but as punishment for Absalom's chosen way of life. God had ordained David

In the 1 Kings reference, it says that it was a turn of events from the Lord. It doesn't say anything about whether the king chose what he did under some necessitation or constraint.

bossmanham said...

I forgot to finish a sentence up there. God ordained that David would remain on the throne.

Mike Felker said...

I suppose what would be most difficult for me to consider would be a view that God is passively observing. I'm not saying that you believe this, but for me, either God is directly ordaining or He isn't. The middle knowledge view is certainly a possibility here. However, the emphasis that I wanted to make is that it is YHWH who is the primary agent in causing these events to take place in this way.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Hello, brothers. I agree with Mike. Even if God only manipulates circumstances we find ourselves in without changing our wills, I see no reason to claim that we have autonomous free will.God claims complete control and the ability to turn men's hearts and minds. This is why salvation is even possible - God transforming hearts and minds.

Anonymous said...

It is precisely because we have autonomous free will that we are made in God's image. That does not negate the fact that our wills to do good or evil, believe or not believe, can be influenced by anyone, bad or good, and most definitely by God. Ultimately faith is a Divine gift that can not be manufactured but faith does not compel one to act accordingly. Otherwise there would be no sinners, no falls.