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Author Topic: Are We Really Free To Choose?  (Read 3004 times) Average Rating: 0
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #45 on: February 24, 2011, 11:10:42 AM »

To me at least, this starts with the assumption that your life is your own. Though we are granted free will in certain areas we are creatures designed and created with a certain role, which is to fulfill God's plan. The pot doesn't ask the potter why he chose to make it into a pot and not into something different. Some objects are created to show the wrath of God and others to show His mercy. As a Christian I don't think I have a "right" to choose my destiny; that choice belongs to God. I have no issue with the Creator willing Himself upon another. If He sees it fit then who am I to question?
Irresistible grace is only irresistible because we were made not to resist it. A fish swims because that is his nature; it doesn't wonder what it may be to walk on land. We just dream of the 'what ifs' and 'could bes' because we're fallen.
It is that person's choice to accept or reject the idea of hell. If he accepts it then he must make a decision weighing the pros and cons. The fact that there exists a gigantic con doesn't mean the choice is made for him.

If people dream about what ifs and could bes because they’re fallen wouldn't the next logical question be to ask how seriously the Fall impaired human ability to choose that which is good?  I believe that’s what Erasmus and Luther debated, wasn’t it?
I believe the fall did impair our ability to choose good. Our conscience became dulled and we could no longer hear it as clearly. We need God's help and grace. The 5th century heresy of Pelagianism stated that man on his own could choose God without the help of God. That our nature wasn't as damaged by the fall as others would say. But this was obviously rejected.

When you write, “Our conscience became dulled and we could no longer hear it as clearly,” what do you mean, exactly?

Well as I understand it, when adam and eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they basically chose to take the world and all its knowledge on, on their own and become separated from God. Due to this separation the God-placed guide inside us (conscience) is dulled out by the open attack of demons on the mind and passions (not to mention genetic curses and what not). This inhibits us to discern good and evil without the guidance of God (and some to a greater degree than others). As we grow closer to Him through prayer and fasting we can better block the mental attacks of demons therefore better receiving and understanding God's will. This is why stillness, quiet, and hesychasm work so well in connecting us with God. In the stillness of the mind and eventually the heart, we can weed through the confusing bombardment of thoughts and hear our conscience how it was originally created.
These are things I've pieced together a bit so pardon me if there is something that seems inaccurate, and please set me right.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to rule on correctness but what you’ve typed doesn’t seem unreasonable.  How deeply do you think your ideas impact the main question?  Do you consider for example, that what you’ve pieced together should be applied as a general principle to every human being?  Or do you think it is possible that God might see fit to set apart certain individuals and give them extra help or special treatment in order that they would be empowered to serve as an example or as a guide to others?  If that were the reality, might it be that the guide inside people (their conscience) would be more acute in some than in others?  And wouldn’t that greater spiritual insight mean in effect that they had more freedom to choose right than those who had not received from God so great a calling?
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CBGardner
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« Reply #46 on: February 24, 2011, 12:18:37 PM »

To me at least, this starts with the assumption that your life is your own. Though we are granted free will in certain areas we are creatures designed and created with a certain role, which is to fulfill God's plan. The pot doesn't ask the potter why he chose to make it into a pot and not into something different. Some objects are created to show the wrath of God and others to show His mercy. As a Christian I don't think I have a "right" to choose my destiny; that choice belongs to God. I have no issue with the Creator willing Himself upon another. If He sees it fit then who am I to question?
Irresistible grace is only irresistible because we were made not to resist it. A fish swims because that is his nature; it doesn't wonder what it may be to walk on land. We just dream of the 'what ifs' and 'could bes' because we're fallen.
It is that person's choice to accept or reject the idea of hell. If he accepts it then he must make a decision weighing the pros and cons. The fact that there exists a gigantic con doesn't mean the choice is made for him.

If people dream about what ifs and could bes because they’re fallen wouldn't the next logical question be to ask how seriously the Fall impaired human ability to choose that which is good?  I believe that’s what Erasmus and Luther debated, wasn’t it?
I believe the fall did impair our ability to choose good. Our conscience became dulled and we could no longer hear it as clearly. We need God's help and grace. The 5th century heresy of Pelagianism stated that man on his own could choose God without the help of God. That our nature wasn't as damaged by the fall as others would say. But this was obviously rejected.

When you write, “Our conscience became dulled and we could no longer hear it as clearly,” what do you mean, exactly?

Well as I understand it, when adam and eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they basically chose to take the world and all its knowledge on, on their own and become separated from God. Due to this separation the God-placed guide inside us (conscience) is dulled out by the open attack of demons on the mind and passions (not to mention genetic curses and what not). This inhibits us to discern good and evil without the guidance of God (and some to a greater degree than others). As we grow closer to Him through prayer and fasting we can better block the mental attacks of demons therefore better receiving and understanding God's will. This is why stillness, quiet, and hesychasm work so well in connecting us with God. In the stillness of the mind and eventually the heart, we can weed through the confusing bombardment of thoughts and hear our conscience how it was originally created.
These are things I've pieced together a bit so pardon me if there is something that seems inaccurate, and please set me right.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to rule on correctness but what you’ve typed doesn’t seem unreasonable.  How deeply do you think your ideas impact the main question?  Do you consider for example, that what you’ve pieced together should be applied as a general principle to every human being?  Or do you think it is possible that God might see fit to set apart certain individuals and give them extra help or special treatment in order that they would be empowered to serve as an example or as a guide to others?  If that were the reality, might it be that the guide inside people (their conscience) would be more acute in some than in others?  And wouldn’t that greater spiritual insight mean in effect that they had more freedom to choose right than those who had not received from God so great a calling?

I think you're right on. Some people are more inclined to good from the get go, as you say, that God gives them special help. This came out of my study of predestination when I was a protestant. I have a friend who 100% thought God chose everyone's salvation. Through my study of the subject I came to the conclusion it was more that some have a higher predisposition towards light and some towards evil. Like the parable of the sowed seeds; some fall in fertile soil, some among the thorns, some on hard ground etc. So we may be inclined one way or the other but ultimately God will honor our free will if we choose hell or the Way to heaven.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 12:20:31 PM by CBGardner » Logged

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CBGardner
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« Reply #47 on: February 24, 2011, 12:26:05 PM »

And some say this is not fair that one be more inclined or what not. But God offers us equal opportunity, not equal outcome. The price of heaven, of following Jesus, is the same for everyone regardless of where on the 'ladder' you start. 
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Authentic zeal is not directed towards anything but union in Christ, or against anything but our own fallenness.

"Beardliness is next to Godliness."- Asteriktos
UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #48 on: February 24, 2011, 01:42:02 PM »

To me at least, this starts with the assumption that your life is your own. Though we are granted free will in certain areas we are creatures designed and created with a certain role, which is to fulfill God's plan. The pot doesn't ask the potter why he chose to make it into a pot and not into something different. Some objects are created to show the wrath of God and others to show His mercy. As a Christian I don't think I have a "right" to choose my destiny; that choice belongs to God. I have no issue with the Creator willing Himself upon another. If He sees it fit then who am I to question?
Irresistible grace is only irresistible because we were made not to resist it. A fish swims because that is his nature; it doesn't wonder what it may be to walk on land. We just dream of the 'what ifs' and 'could bes' because we're fallen.
It is that person's choice to accept or reject the idea of hell. If he accepts it then he must make a decision weighing the pros and cons. The fact that there exists a gigantic con doesn't mean the choice is made for him.

If people dream about what ifs and could bes because they’re fallen wouldn't the next logical question be to ask how seriously the Fall impaired human ability to choose that which is good?  I believe that’s what Erasmus and Luther debated, wasn’t it?
I believe the fall did impair our ability to choose good. Our conscience became dulled and we could no longer hear it as clearly. We need God's help and grace. The 5th century heresy of Pelagianism stated that man on his own could choose God without the help of God. That our nature wasn't as damaged by the fall as others would say. But this was obviously rejected.

When you write, “Our conscience became dulled and we could no longer hear it as clearly,” what do you mean, exactly?

Well as I understand it, when adam and eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they basically chose to take the world and all its knowledge on, on their own and become separated from God. Due to this separation the God-placed guide inside us (conscience) is dulled out by the open attack of demons on the mind and passions (not to mention genetic curses and what not). This inhibits us to discern good and evil without the guidance of God (and some to a greater degree than others). As we grow closer to Him through prayer and fasting we can better block the mental attacks of demons therefore better receiving and understanding God's will. This is why stillness, quiet, and hesychasm work so well in connecting us with God. In the stillness of the mind and eventually the heart, we can weed through the confusing bombardment of thoughts and hear our conscience how it was originally created.
These are things I've pieced together a bit so pardon me if there is something that seems inaccurate, and please set me right.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to rule on correctness but what you’ve typed doesn’t seem unreasonable.  How deeply do you think your ideas impact the main question?  Do you consider for example, that what you’ve pieced together should be applied as a general principle to every human being?  Or do you think it is possible that God might see fit to set apart certain individuals and give them extra help or special treatment in order that they would be empowered to serve as an example or as a guide to others?  If that were the reality, might it be that the guide inside people (their conscience) would be more acute in some than in others?  And wouldn’t that greater spiritual insight mean in effect that they had more freedom to choose right than those who had not received from God so great a calling?

I think you're right on. Some people are more inclined to good from the get go, as you say, that God gives them special help. This came out of my study of predestination when I was a protestant. I have a friend who 100% thought God chose everyone's salvation. Through my study of the subject I came to the conclusion it was more that some have a higher predisposition towards light and some towards evil. Like the parable of the sowed seeds; some fall in fertile soil, some among the thorns, some on hard ground etc. So we may be inclined one way or the other but ultimately God will honor our free will if we choose hell or the Way to heaven.

I don’t think a sane person could knowingly choose hell and I shy away from thought patterns and conclusions based upon such a foundation so I would rather say that inasmuch as a person cannot help himself or herself (as we see in the case of people who have fallen into addictions) we may easily trust that God will take that into account since He and He alone knows exactly how “free” individuals are and He has no favorites.
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #49 on: February 24, 2011, 01:44:13 PM »

And some say this is not fair that one be more inclined or what not. But God offers us equal opportunity, not equal outcome. The price of heaven, of following Jesus, is the same for everyone regardless of where on the 'ladder' you start. 

What about those that never get anywhere near the ladder e.g. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and children born into atheistic environments who are indoctrinated from an early age?  How do you fit them in?
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CBGardner
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« Reply #50 on: February 24, 2011, 04:32:43 PM »

And some say this is not fair that one be more inclined or what not. But God offers us equal opportunity, not equal outcome. The price of heaven, of following Jesus, is the same for everyone regardless of where on the 'ladder' you start. 

What about those that never get anywhere near the ladder e.g. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and children born into atheistic environments who are indoctrinated from an early age?  How do you fit them in?


I'd have to disagree, people do choose hell when they don't choose God or choose good. I had a roommate who when I asked him, would laugh and say yeah I'm going hell. Especially when they've done evil to a point they allow satan to take over and reign in them. Those people i don't think are honest with themselves about the "call' they hear. Instead of addressing the emptiness of their life they try to fill it with other things. Our conscience is God's call imprinted on everyone's heart. Romans 2:14,15 says "14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them". It just matters if you seek out that call inside you.
Muslims and Hindus etc, in my opinion, have a greater head start because they are at least taught that there is a God, their understanding is just flawed or incomplete. That is someone sowed in the thorns; they have the ability to grow but will be choked by the weeds of incorrect truths. They fill their call with a wrong religion rather than sex, pride, pleasure etc like a non-believer may. Someone raised up hearing there is no God is one sowed on hard ground where they can't take root.
It can be hard to think that someone is born into a house, hears that there is no God their whole life, and then goes to hell because they haven't followed Christ. But, idleness is no excuse. I believe at one point everyone wonders if there is a God; this is why religion is a shared concept across all peoples and times. Either they think there may be a God and don't seek it out due to sloth, they have a hard heart and choose to reject the idea of a God, or they seek it out but fall victim to false teaching. But the path to heaven is open and the same to all. It is ironic that in a time when information concerning Christ is the more readily available than ever, we've seen such a falling away. But I suppose that means there are more distractions and misinformation as well.
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Authentic zeal is not directed towards anything but union in Christ, or against anything but our own fallenness.

"Beardliness is next to Godliness."- Asteriktos
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