Do you like straight Vanilla ice cream, French Vanilla, or that kind that has the little flecks of Vanilla bean mixed in. At the end of the day it’s still Vanilla.
I am tired of people harping about the importance of voting and how we the people have so much ability to effect change through the political process. Recently I heard a friend say that next November we will have a choice between two rich white guys. What? Obama and Romney are both rich, but Obama is black. But wait–why is he “black?” He is half white and half black. On that basis alone one should be able to claim him as white. Add to that the fact that he was raised in Hawaii by white grandparents and attended an all-white prep school. My friend refers to him as a rich white guy who is playing the race card for political reasons–and he maintains that if you think that is a racist statement then you have been drinking too much Kool-Aid.
Both Romney and Obama claim to be Christians. If we define what a Christian is by strictly biblical criteria, then I have grave doubts about both men. Both appear to be unbelieving pagans to me. No, I do not believe Obama is a Muslim. I know Romney is a Mormon, and I am not sure what Obama is. But his political philosophy and policy decisions do not reflect Christian values in my view.
So you have two rich white guys who say they are Christians. There you go: exercise your free will and vote for your favorite. Make no mistake, I intend to do just that. (Yes, I do believe in free will, rightly defined).
About a week ago there was some heat in here about the whole issue of free will. One person commented that their bottom-line is that: I believe that God created free will by the act of creating love, the second being impossible without the first. I have been meaning to take a deeper look at this statement ever since it was first posted, but haven’t had the time until now.
I have heard several variations of this view over the years. If I understand it correctly it goes something like this: God created love, but in order to create love He also had to create free will because you cannot have love without free will. Of course God by nature is love and he is eternally free, so what I take this to mean is that God created love and free will in humans as part of His divine image. Some have expanded this argument by saying that God wanted creatures who would love Him as He loved them. But for the love to be genuine it must be voluntary, which implies they could choose not to love him. Only if they had the ability of contrary choice (Libertarian Free Will) could the love be real.
In other words if choice A is loving God and choice B is not loving God, my choosing of option A is a free choice only if I can also freely choose option B. And here is where we get to the real meat of the matter. Those who hold to a Libertarian form of free will insist that if our choices are predetermined they cannot be free. If God has determined from eternity that I will choose option A, then I cannot not choose A. In other words I am not free to choose B, so that B is not really an option. I am a robot, and my love for God is programmed, coerced, etc. It can in no way be considered free or even real.
It does no good here to appeal to God’s foreknowledge–you know, the idea that God looked down the corridors of time to see what I would freely choose and then based His decree on that sneak preview. First of all, God’s knowledge is immediate and innate, since he is the fountainhead of all wisdom and knowledge–all truth is God’s truth. God does not learn anything. Secondly, for God to know for certain what I will do from all eternity means my choice has been rendered certain. God is the first cause of all things, and in eternity only He existed, so that He is the only one who could have rendered my choice certain. So the argument from foreknowledge is really just another shade of determinism. The only solution to this “problem” is to opt for an open theism which says God really does not know what our choices will be–we determine them spontaneously at the very instant we choose. Of course even the staunchiest Bible-believing Arminian would reject such a notion.
I said earlier that I believe in a form of free will. Scripture does not teach libertarian free will as I have outlined it above. Nor is the assumption biblical that freedom of contrary choice is necessary for genuine love to exist. Most Arminians believe God loves everyone because God is love. Does God the Father have freedom of contrary choice to not love God the Son? If not, how can His love be genuine? Mind you, I do not believe Scripture teaches that God loves everyone, but that is a side issue to be bantered about at a future date.
If you go strictly by Scripture you will hold to what is called Compatibalist Free Will. Our choices are predetermined by God and yet free. According to Scripture the ability of contrary choice is not what makes our choices free, but rather the ability to do what we want to do within the confines of our nature with no sense of coercion. Let’s start with God. Choice A is that the Father loves the Son, and there is no choice B. It is impossible for the Father not to love the Son because it is not within his nature to want to do anything else but love Him. No one makes Him love the Son–it’s what he wants to do.
What would happen if you took a pig from wallowing in the mud, scrubbed him pink, doused him with perfume, put a ribbon on his tail and a gold ring in his nose, and set before him two choices. First, a beautiful table setting with fine linens and china, and a smattering of delicacies from around the world. Second you offer him a mud hole and the slop he is used to eating. Does the pig have a free will? It depends on what you mean. If you mean does he have the ability to choose the fine spread over the slop hole? then the answer is no. But if you mean does he have the ability to do exactly what his nature as a pig wants to do and craves? then the answer is yes.
The bottom line is that the Bible does not teach libertarian free will. My belief is that most Arminians start with this unbiblical assumption and approach the Bible with it, and thus it governs how they understand and interpret God’s Word. If you simply read the whole Bible and let it speak for itself you cannot help but hold to a compatibalist view of free will.
So come November do what you want. Vote for either one or none of the two rich allegedly Christian white guys running for president. Pick your favorite flavor of Vanilla! Just remember that Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth. Obama and Romney are no different than Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander, or Pilate. They have no power but what God allows them to have. And He can take them down as quickly as He raises them up.
God’s election carries infinitely more weight than ours!