Free Will Debate Antony v. Windsor

Free Will Debate

Scott Windsor

Opening Statement

Does man have Free Will?  Does man play a role in choosing to serve God?  The alternative is that man does not choose to serve God or serve Satan (or merely serve himself), for God has predestined everyone, and if you’re not part of “the Elect” then you will not be saved.  It will be my goal in this debate to demonstrate, by necessity, that man indeed has Free Will and that this Free Will does not negate, in any way, the sovereignty of God.

Let us begin with a definition which my opponent, Mr. Micah Antony, and I have agreed upon, and it comes straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hereafter “CCC”).

God conferred on man the dignity of being able to initiate and control his own actions. He willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord, seek his Creator. Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his own acts."

Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.(CCC #1730-1731).

Now of course my opponent flatly disagrees with this definition, however, man must be the “master over his own acts” and have the ability to “reason and will, to act or not to act,” and for these acts man will be held accountable.  Scripture is quite clear on this matter:

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jer. 17:10 KJV)

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27 KJV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10 KJV)

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Rev. 20:12 KJV)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Rev. 22:12-14 KJV)

When the Son of man shall come in his glory...  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.  (Matt. 25:31-46 KJV)

Clearly Scripture is telling us that we will be judged, and will be judged according to what we have done - or what we have not done.  Our God is a just God and Savior, and justice is not prejudice!  We will be judged on the basis of things we have “done.”  Now to be “judged” at all, to be a “just” judgment necessitates responsibility - for both good and bad “doings” or “choices.”

When we look to what is sometimes called “the Golden Chain of Salvation:”

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  (Rom. 8:29-30 KJV)

We see the terminology of “predestination” here, but the key comes prior to the statements of predestination... it is based in the foreknowledge of God that there is predestination.  It is not as if God is a Great Puppet Master, and mankind is merely His puppets, doing only has He has predestined us to do.  No, God KNOWS ALL, that is part of his Omniscience and Sovereignty.  Mankind is created in the image of God, and is given the ability to reason and to decide for himself.  This is precisely why man will be held accountable for his actions - God gave him the ability to choose right from wrong, and we will be judged according to our works whether they be good or bad.  God is eternal; He is the same today, yesterday and ever will be.  God is not bound by our mortal view of time.  The past, present and future are all seen by Him at once.  His foreknowledge is how He already knows who is destined for Heaven or Hell - but He does not force anyone in either direction.

Also indicative of the will of man is found here:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  (Matt. 6:24 KJV)

The choice to serve, God or mammon, is left to the man - and he cannot serve both of them, thus the choice he makes is what he will be judged upon.

Then we have the basic verse that nearly every Christian knows:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

By believing in Him we come to Him, and to come to Him we must first be drawn:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  (John 6:44 KJV)

And those who are drawn are all men:

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32 KJV)

Then, in the same context, the theme of John 3:16 is repeated:

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46 KJV)

So all men are drawn to Him, and that happened when He was lifted up on the Cross.  God does not fail, but men can and do - thus those who do not come to Him (by faith/believing in Him) have failed, and this is a failure in the will.   All men are free to accept Jesus Christ and all men are drawn to accept Jesus Christ - but we all know that not all men will be saved.  Those who choose NOT to believe in Him will be lost - by their own choice, or Free Will.

Let’s say you were to write a book, and you really loved the book - you might read it over and over again.  You know how the story will end, you wrote it!  There may be things in this book which give you great joy, and perhaps parts which cause you to mourn, but overall - you love this book.  The book would not be the same without all the parts, both the things which make you feel good - and those which brought you sorrow, so you cannot just leave out the parts which were painful - it’s just not the same story anymore.  Plus, the characters in your book who persevered and brought you great joy were developed, at least in part, by their interaction with other characters which caused suffering.  So you need to leave the book, as it is, and let the characters be who they are - both good and bad - so that those whom you connect with are who they are in the end.  This is what makes your book so fulfilling to read!  If the story were nothing but the “good stuff” - it would not reflect the reality of life.  Mankind is God’s “book” - we are His creation - and even though He knows how the story will end, He also knows that those whom He has foreknown to persevere would not be the same person(s) without those whom He knows will fail and will have to suffer the eternal consequences of their failure.  He loves who they are because of the choices they made and that they ultimately chose Him.

So we have seen that it is necessary for man to have Free Will, for without it our God would not be a Just God, but a tyrant and at least partially evil puppet master.  If man can do nothing, has no choice in serving God, Satan or self - then this “god” is not a God of love and/or justice.  This “god” must have an evil mean streak if the eternal pains of Hell are anything close to what one can imagine.  No, our God has, in His sovereignty, created mankind in His image - with the will to choose Him and love Him that He might choose us and love us - and the greatest part of the Gospel is that He didn’t wait for us to love Him - for He first loved us, sent His Son to die for us and all He asks of us is to know, love and serve Him in this world so that we might be happy with Him in the next (Baltimore Catechism Part 1, Question 6).  God is love, and true love is not forced upon anyone - but is something freely given.  To take away Free Will is to remove justice and love from the picture.

Scott Windsor<<<

Word Count: 2000
Thesis Statement in BLUE
Documentation in RED
Closing Summary in PURPLE

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