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Free Will
This article agrees with free will.

God does not control someone's mind even though He is able to do so. He does not treat people like robots or puppets. He does not override someone's free will. It is almost useless to pray to God to directly change the mind of a person. God may use environment to compel a person to do something, but that person may still do it reluctantly (e.g. Pharaoh and Jonah). It is bizarre to recognize there is no free will, in which whatever people do, including evildoing, is not out of their free will. On the other hand, it is also bizarre to recognize there is free will but blame God of giving free will when there is evildoing.

People choose to believe or not in the gospel. Even if a person is raised in a Christian family, the person may not be a Christian. Even if a person is raised in a non-Christian family, the person still has the free will to believe in the gospel. Gospel, although a beneficial thing, can also harden some people's heart when it touches people's sin.

Satan, on the contrary, will control someone's mind by possession. Most people although do not like to be mind-controlled, dream to mind-control others. Some have been trying to find ways to harness this ability.

No contradiction

Foreknowledge does not contradict with free will. For example, just because a person knows there will be sunrise tomorrow, it does not mean that person causes the sunrise.

Limitation of own nature does not contradict with free will. It is weird to say that if a person cannot choose to fly then he has no free will. Of course he cannot choose to fly because he physically cannot fly and this does not affect the free will on things he can do. Unlike physical limitation, sinful nature does not rule out the possibility to avoid sin. This is because sinful nature co-exists with conscience. Just because a person has sinful nature, it does not mean the person completely cannot choose not to sin. That person may still be able to choose not to sin for example one out of ten times.

Free will

Prohibition for wrongdoing does not contradict with free will. Prohibition does not cause free will to seize to exist. Free will is not the right term to describe "to do wrong things freely without being asked to stop". The right terms are overindulgence, spoilage, unreasonable leniency or injustice. By having free will, people are responsible for the outcome of their choice. Our justice system is based on free will in which there is no reduced moral responsibility.

Biblical case study

God did not control Pharaoh's mind. God did say He would harden Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21). But Pharaoh had control over his own will and could still choose to stop what he was doing to Israelites. Even good course of action to stop someone from doing inappropriate thing can harden someone's heart. Have you ever tried reminding someone to stop smoking at the gas station? Some people will not stop smoking but punch you in the face. In this case although you are doing the right thing but you have hardened their heart until they assault you. When a police stops a robbery, the robber's heart is hardened to the extent that he may kill the police. There was an incident that a son killed his mother who tried to stop him from playing too much video game. Pharaoh was like them. God cannot be ungodly. God did try to show him what he was doing was wrong but he did not want to repent. All three statements are true: God hardened Pharaoh's heart; Moses hardened Pharoah's heart; Pharaoh hardened his own heart.

God opened Elisha's servant's eyes (2 Kings 6:17). That was just to let him see angels were protecting Elisha, not to alter his mind.

Jonah went to Nineveh according to God's word (Jonah 3:3). But he did that reluctantly. Jonah was still not convinced.

God appeared to Saul (Acts 9:3) but did not control Saul's mind to believe in Him. Saul could still choose not to believe in Him.

God opened Lydia's heart (Acts 16:14). But again God did not override Lydia's mind. This is analogous to how you say you will capture your customers' heart (by improving product quality). It does not mean you have telepathic power to alter your customers' mind. Your customers still are in control of their own mind. This is quite similar with Pharaoh's case, only it is on the positive side.

Although God has predestinated us to be holy (Ephesians 1:4), that does not mean He controls our mind. It is like a lovely father who has planned ahead for his baby son to be a useful person to society in future. But the son still has his own will to choose how he will be.

Holy Spirit also does not control someone's decision. He can affect conscience to let people know what is wrong but people can still quench Him. Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the Bible to complete the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). When a leader says he wants to give inspiration to his employees, it does not mean he is controlling their mind.

(The picture is from The New York Times.)
Posted: 2013-11-28; updated: 2015-06-19 by Ong Seng Aun.
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