Friday, September 07, 2007

Sunrise and Sunset on Free Will™

I want to talk about our perspective as humans. But I want to travel back in time several hundred years. I want to talk about our common sense and what that sense tells us about astronomy. When we watch a sunrise we see the sun coming up over the horizon. Then, later, it goes down beneath the horizon. This is a common experience we all perceive. Clearly, the sun goes up and down. This is common sense.

Ok. Now we can come back to our current time. (Unless you are reading this in the future, in which case only set your time machine to 2007.) Our common experience of the sun rising and setting remains the same. The commonsense mechanic is incorporated into our parlance. We don't call it 'Earth rotation'. We call it 'Sunrise'. But we have been told by those scientist folk that the sun doesn't actually go up and down. Most of us believe these scientist folk despite the overwhelming appearance that our senses receive. They tell us we are rotating at 1000 miles per hour. My common sense disagrees. They say our planet is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. I've held my hand out a car window that was going 70 miles per hour. My common sense says we can't possibly be spinning at 67,000 miles per hour. I have to repress my common sense with these ideas about gravity and atmosphere and other such theories. It seems the more advanced our science gets, the more I have to repress my natural observations. What this teaches me is that there are times where we have to suppress our instinctual, observational sense, and go with a theory that accounts for more than our perspective on things can account for. If we insist that the way things appear to be from our vantage point is the way things must be, we will not be able to explain a great many things. If we in the northern hemisphere insist that the winter is always cold, we can't explain how the southern hemisphere gets hot in the winter. If we insist that the sun must go around the earth we just can't account for any number of astronomical occurrences. We say that - despite all appearances to the contrary - the truth is different than we thought.

When I try to contemplate the sovereignty of God I have two options. I can put limits on it to account for the things that I see that don't seem to jive with the concept. Or I can accept that, like the sun "rising", my perspective on the situation may not be the definitive watermark that I'd like it to be. My common sense may be commonly wrong. I was brought up in a family and denomination that is adamant about Free Will™. The term is bandied about as though it were a biblical phrase. As though Paul had written a book about it, or David made a Psalm about it. It's our fallback position when we have to defend our religion from heathens who use the Problem of Evil attack.

Well I don't advocate using that defense any more. It doesn't hold up, and worse, it degrades God. However, I have no qualms with speaking as though we do have Free Will™. Why? The same reason I don't correct people when they use the word "sunrise". It's common parlance. It speaks to our perceptions and makes sense in our context. In that sense, we do have Free Will™. That is, our thinking takes place within the suppositional framework of Free Will™. Paul writes about our choices and the results of them. David sings about his will, the freedoms and responsibilities he has. What do I care if most people erroneously slip the word "free" before "will"? Just like the sunrise, it is our intended perception. Intended by a sovereign God. Only by reasoning beyond our 'common sense' experience (What act can we do that is totally un-caused? How can an omniscient God create beings who can surprise Him? -and no, saying "Free Will™" doesn't actually answer the question.) can we determine that our wills are not free from every possible cause and effect. And when we come to that conclusion we have to defy our contrarian disposition that screams about control and love and robots and puppets.

So will the sun ever "set" on this mental construct we call Free Will™? I don't think so. It's the way God designed us to think and to interact and most importantly, to love. It's how we process responsibility, good and evil, etc. I think it's just an oversimplification. The same way Darwin thought that cells were just little bags of fluid. And the way geologists pictured the inside of the earth until recently. When a thing is uncertain or hard to study we make overly simple interpretations of it. Microscopes showed us the incredibly complex machinery and variety of cellular life. And new studies of the earth are showing us that the simple onion-layer model of the planet is woefully insufficient to explain our findings.

And so it is with Free Will™. The billions and trillions of factors that go into making our decisions are simply too complicated to mentally digest. So we have made a working model of what we think drives us and our wills. We say, "Death is the only inevitability. Everything else is a choice." And I agree with this. I just say that there is a far more complicated explanation for our choices than a Free Will™. But that ultimately it can be traced back to a very simple explanation: God's will. We may not perceive it. It may befuddle our small minds. But those factors can't make it any more or less true. The fact that we still call it a sunrise doesn't change the course of the heavenly bodies. The fact that we think our wills are free doesn't change God's omniscience or our predestination.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

All = Some (Sometimes)

Here are a two examples:

Mat 4:24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

(I don't think every sick person in the entire province of Syria was brought to Jesus.)

Mat 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

(I'm assuming the writer meant all the cities and villages in the area, not all the cities and villages in the entire world.)

This is brought up when rebutting the universalist take on many of Paul's writings that seem to plainly state that all will be saved. I've seen these verses go through many a theological chop-shop and come out looking radically different afterwards. But ultimately it comes down to 2 simple choices. 'All', or 'some'.

I love this... I don't know who wrote this up, but it's very interesting to see the stark contrast between these options. Do the following (slightly revised) verses ring true in your spirit?:

1 Cor. 15:22

"For as in Adam some die, so also in Christ some shall be made alive. But each in his own order; Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished some rule and some authority and power."

Rev. 5:13

"And some created things that are in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and some things in them, I heard saying, To Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb, be blessing and honour and glory and dominion and power unto the ages of the ages."

Col. 1:18-20

"He too is that head whose body is the Church, the Firstborn from the dead, he is to the Church the Source of its life, that in some things He might occupy the foremost place/ to be in some things alone supreme.

For it pleased the Father that in him the divine nature in some of its fulness should dwell.

And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by him to reconcile some things unto Himself; by him, I say, whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven. And you that were sometimes alienated..."

Acts 3:20,21

"And He will send Jesus, your destined Christ, yet heaven must retain Him, until the restitution of some things. (when some things are put right)"

1 Cor. 15:28

"And when some things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put some things under Him, that God may be some in some."

1 Cor. 15:25,27

"For He must reign until He hath put some enemies under His feet...For He hath put some things under His feet. But when He saith some things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put some things under Him."

Romans 11:32

"For God has consigned some men to disobedience that He might have mercy upon some."

Eph. 4:10

"Yea, He who came down is the same who is gone up, far above some heavens, that He might fill some things with His Presence."

John 5:28

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which some that are in the graves shall hear His voice. Those who have done good will to live and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."

1 Timothy 2:4

"For this is good and pleasing in the eyes of God our Saviour; who will have some men to be saved and come to an increasing knowledge of the truth."

1 Timothy 2:6

"For there is one intermediary (One who brings God and men together) who gave Himself a ransom in behalf of some to be testified in due time."

Cor. 5:15

"For the love of God overmasters us because we judge that if one died for some, then were some dead; And that His purpose in dying for some was that men, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves, and should live for Him who for their sake died and was raised to life."

Col. 1:16

"For by Him were some things created, of things in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen (angels or archangels and some of the powers of Heaven)....some things were created by Him, and for Him (some were made by Christ for His own use and glory.)

John 3:35

"The Father loves the Son, and has given some things into His hand (has given Him control over less than everything). Whoever trusts on the Son possesses eternal life and he who does not obey the Son, God's displeasure hangs over him continually."

Gal. 3:20

"But the Scripture has concluded/consigned some without exception to the custody of sin, in order that the promise by faith in Christ Jesus might be given to those who believe in Him."

Heb. 1:2

"God...hath in these days spoken unto us in His Son who is the predestined Lord of the universe. (whom he has appointed heir of some things)"

2 Cor. 5:14

"For the love of Christ constraineth/overmasters/compels/controls us, and this is the conviction we have reached; if one man died on behalf of some, then some thereby became dead men. Christ died for some, so that being alive should no longer mean living with our own life, but with his life who died for us and has risen again."


"And they shall not teach some men his neighbor, and some his brother, saying get to know the Lord, for some of them shall know me from small to great. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness..."

Acts 10:36

"The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of some.

Rom. 11:36

"For from him some things come; through Him some things exists; and in him some things end." (Potential Source, potential Guide, potential Goal of some things.)

Eph. 4:6

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of some, who is over some, and works through some, and dwells in some."

Heb. 12:23

"To the festal gathering and Church of the first-born, enrolled as citizens in heaven, and to God the Judge of some men and unto the spirits of righteous ones made perfect."

James 2:10

"For whomsoever shall keep the whole law, but fails in a single point, has become guilty of violating some."

Romans 3:22,23

"..the righteous of God which comes by believing in Jesus Christ. ...For some have sinned/ none have attained the glorious likeness of God/lack the glory that comes from God/ are deprived of the Divine splendour."

John 17:2

"As thou has made him sovereign over some of mankind that he should give aeonios life to as many as thou hast given him."

Romans 9:5

"The patriarchs are theirs and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. May God who is supreme above some, be blessed throughout the ages."

2 Peter 3:9

"The Lord is not slack/does not loiter/ is not dilatory concerning his promise, according to some people's conception of slowness; but He bears patiently with you, because it is not His will for any to be lost, but for some to come/reach repentance."

In order that in adoration of the Name of Jesus some knees of worshippers will bow themselves and openly acknowledge with joy, in celebration and praise, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. This profession and confession of His lordship shall be open and freely proclaimed, acknowledged joyfully by some beings in the heavens, by some beings on the earth and by some beings in the underworld. - Phil. 2:10-11-

Labels: , , ,