The issue of man’s free will has been debated for centuries and just might be one of the most hotly contested issues. We could lower the debate temperature significantly if we but answer the question “What do the Scriptures teach? At the same time, I know many will tell me that this verse or that verse teaches the doctrine of free will when the passages they use have nothing to do with the state of the human will after the Fall of the first Adam. They assume that if their favorite verses are about “choosing’ they must be teachings free will. Clark Gallagaher wrote an excellent article asking the question that’s the title of this post. The article not only presents its case well, and answers the most common objections to the notion that man’s will isn’t really as “free” as the majority of evangelicals today assume it is. Here is a short excerpt from that article:
“Does the Bible teach free will? The importance of asking this question lies in the fact that the doctrine of free will is so widely taught by Pastors and ascribed to by their congregations. Because of this fact we are bound by Scripture to test this teaching (1 Th 5:21; 1 Cor 4:6; 2 Cor 10:5) by Scripture. We must not readily accept any teaching (regardless of who teaches it or what sense it makes to us), until it is demonstrated that it agrees with what the Bible teaches.
Several times in the Pastoral Epistles the Apostle Paul makes mention of sound doctrine. The Greek word most commonly translated as sound in the Pastoral Epistles is u`giainw (hugiaino). Sound doctrine is teaching that is free from error and that produces spiritual health and godliness. Therefore, using the Bible as our sole authoritative guide on doctrinal and moral issues, any teaching which is found in conflict with the Scriptures is in error and will lead to spiritual sickness, ungodliness, and possibly even damnable heresy.
How we answer the question of whether or not the Bible teaches free will significantly affects our view of the inspiration of Scripture, our understanding of God, man, evangelism, and salvation. This issue is not a dry academic discussion which is important only to theologians and philosophers. Rather, it is instead a vitally relevant issue which must be engaged by all who name the name of Christ. Those who neglect discussing and deciding the issue of free will (in the name that it is divisive or unspiritual), are anything but spiritual or mature, and need to get on track with what Scripture teaches.”
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“The final rule for answering the question of whether or not the Bible teaches libertarian free will is the Bible itself, and not human reason, nor the Greek philosophers, nor the humanist theologians and apologists of our time. As the Apostle Peter commands us to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts (1 Pet 3:15) so should the answering of the question of free will be an exercise in the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things. The word of God, not the finite sin corrupted reason of men, nor our own emotions, is to be the judge of free will.”
I highly encourage reading the entire article, no matter on which side of issue you find yourself.., but only if you have a teachable spirit. Enjoy!