Christianity’s Concept of Free Will

free_will

https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

By: William Jackson

Did you ever notice how the New Testament is riddled with passages about demon position (Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; 17:18; Mark 5:1-20; 7:26-30; Luke 4:33-36; Luke 22:3; Acts 16:16-18)?  Yet in the Tanakh when an evil presence came over anybody it was from God (Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 13, 22, 9:12, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10, 14:4, 8, 17, Deuteronomy 2:30 , Joshua 11:20, Judges 9:23, 1 Chronicles 5:26, 1 Samuel 16:14-15, 23, 18:10-11; 19:9-10).  The Tanakh is very clear about saying there is only one God and He is responsible for ALL things; good & bad (Isaiah 45:6-7, 46:9-10, Amos 3:6, Ecclesiastes 7:13-14). So when did the shift of power leave God and go to Satan?  It appears to be at the birth of the Christian messiah.  Think about it, in the Tanakh Satan works for God (Job 1:6-12 and Zechariah 3:1-2) but in the Gospels Satan is a free-lance agent who challenges the Christian messiah (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:13-15, Luke 4:1-13).  When you get right down to it, it is the New Testament that has established Satan as the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 John 5:19, Ephesians 2:2). Sadly this is in violation of the Tanakh since we are not to worship idols (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37).  Remember acknowledging a Satan and giving him status is part of worship.

temptations 9

In the pages after the Old Testament (Tanakh) Demons and Devils have become a crutch, instead of man being responsible for his own actions.  Through the theology of Christianity we have become a tension point between dueling powers.  My wife, Danielle, said it best years ago.  At that point we were still Christians.  We were talking about Satan and she posed what if Satan is “self”?  Looking back on her comment, she made more sense than all those Christian sermons about Satan put together.  Other great people have revealed this truth,

agatha-christie

There’s too much tendency to attribute to God the evils that man does of his own free will.” – Agatha Christie

cs-lewis

Why did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”

-C S Lewis

Common sense implies that there cannot be these superpowers making decisions for us.  However, if we consult the Christian Hand book (NT) the assumption is that we are being pulled in either direction like a rag doll. There is Satan who is pulling us into evil (1 Peter 5:8, 1 John 3:8, 2 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 4:27) and the Christian messiah who appears to be recruiting us for “team virtuous” (James 4:7, Romans 16:20, 1 John 5:19, Ephesians 6:11).  Actually Paul the Apostle letter to the Ephesians does a nice job in summing it all up;

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

If one subscribes to these ideas, you then need to ask yourself “where is our personal accountability in this equation?”

life_after_death

Jumping to the big picture we all know what the “end game” is, it is having a worthy continuation after our physical deaths.   In order to have this, the Bible tells us we must be righteous while we are here on earth (Numbers 23:10, Ezekiel 18:9, 22, Psalm 37:27, 29, Proverbs 2:21),  One of the challenges that makes Christianity work is their definition of “righteous”.  Christianity makes righteousness sound unachievable (John 16:8, Romans 9:31, 11:7, Galatians 5:4). So the answer becomes the Christian messiah who is the only source that can extend righteousness (Romans 10:4, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 2:21, Galatians 5:5, Philippians 3:9).  Thus the Christian messiah becomes like the only vaccination shot of “righteousness” that saves lives.

abraham_journey

As beautiful as this might sound to some, it is problematic.  There is about 4,000 years’ worth of righteous people that the Tanakh accounts for and that the Christian messiah cannot;   Noah (Genesis 6:9, 7:1), Abraham (Genesis 15:6), Lot (Genesis 18:25), Job (Job 1:8), King David (2 Samuel 22:21, Psalm 7:10-11, 18:23-24), King Asa (1 King 15:11, 1 Chronicles 14:2), King Josiah (2 King 22:1, 23:25, 2 Chronicle 34:1),…etc.  Yes I have also sat through those sermons that tried to explain this away.  They usually try to fit in a time and place where the Christian messiah could evangelize these people, as if God having a relationship with them isn’t enough.  Nevertheless, these teachings are not scripturally sound, they are just a Pastor’s opinion.

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The problem sometimes when we see “righteous” we think perfection but the bible is specific about the righteous battling with sin and sometimes losing (1 Kings 8:46, 2 Chronicles 6:36, Isaiah 53:6, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 143:2) It is us turning to God and changing that makes us righteous, Psalm 51:19, 147:3, Ezekiel 18:21, 27.   Ezekiel 18 goes into painstaking details about our personal contributions in being righteous.  The challenge is not somebody else’s, the challenge is ours.

freedom

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