By the time I got to the second chapter, I was asking who was afraid of free will (as defined psychologically, not theologically)? What’s to be afraid of? Isn’t free will obvious? But he points out how much our culture and media are opposed to the idea of free will by searching out root causes for destructive behavior. A violent crime is committed because the perpetrator’s past as a victim of child abuse or an alcoholic – well, the explanation of whether or not an alcoholic has free will boggles my mind. The author says, “It would help if the media would stop affirming all the excuses and send the message that the person acting destructively is responsible for the bad consequences.”
He goes on to say that he estimates that 30 percent of our behavior is not free, but determined. “We need to know when we are powerless and have to rely on outside help; we need to know when we have the power and responsibility to act on our own, without making excuses.”
Finally he approached the theological argument in the latter part of chapter 3. He claims that Jonathan Edwards and R.C. Sproul resist the importance of free will and rely so intently on emphasizing God’s sovereignty that they leave no place for human faculties. When the creature is diminished, the Creator is more glorious. The author says, “Taking this to its logical conclusion, we have to say that it is more glorious of God to create a creature with little or no free will than to create a human with authentic free will.” This isn’t the logical conclusion for me! He further accuses them of making so much of the irresistibility of grace that there is no place for free will.
This book is very academic and requires complete concentration. It’s deep. I confess I skimmed the parts that didn’t interest me (a couple entire chapters). The biggest thought that I take away from this book is how often do I rely so much on the sovereignty of God that I fail to acknowledge my own responsibility or even take action? In a seminary or college setting, there is much material here for students to discuss and argue.
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