Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

So, about that doctrine of free will…

Reading The Irrational Atheist really caused me to think about the doctrine of free will, and whether or not we are indeed involved in our own salvation, and if so, to what extent. It seems to be the nature of mankind to want to “do” something. Buddhism is a very active sort of religion, as is Islam, and just about everything. Furthermore, our religious beliefs tend to be tainted by our political beliefs. For example, someone with socialist leanings will find a calling in the charitable work of Christianity. Someone with social conservative leanings will find activism defending what is right. Someone with libertarian leanings will find freedom in choosing to follow Jesus and an explanation why people aren’t saved.

There is, I believe, nothing wrong with having a “mission.” And I don’t necessarily think being mission sighted has to involve spreading the gospel to the forbidden corners of the 10-40 Window. I also don’t think being mission minded means social or political activism. I’m married to a mission minded man. For some reason beyond my comprehension, he finds satisfaction in his mission through military service. And, his particular MOS involves blowing stuff up, which is certainly not what one would call socially or politically constructive. (And as his MOS no longer involves jumping out of airplanes to do the blowing up of stuff, it is at least less personally destructive.)

So, back to free will… it is foreign to our human nature to have someone “do” for us. We want to do for ourselves. This is what I have a problem with in what is popularly called “decision theology.” People often say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Not that I know a great deal about farm animals, but it seems to me some instincts may need adjustment. A baby calf has a sucking instinct and its cow has the nursing instinct. But what of calves who lose their mom? Certainly, for a while, a farmer or rancher’s wife will bottle feed the calf, but eventually, they need to learn to drink from a bucket. The stuff in the bucket may smell like milk, but it doesn’t have the proper equipment a calf is used to receiving milk from. So, a farmer will push the calf’s nose in the bucket to get the calf to lick its nose clean and discover a new way of drinking.

When regarding free will, we need to discover a new way of thinking about spirituality. Is it possible that there is nothing we can do to actively participate in our salvation? Is it an acceptable thought that we are just receivers? Is there anything wrong with receiving?

And more food for thought… ever wonder if the phrase, “I lead them to the Lord,” is inappropriately removing credit for salvation from God? More on that another time.


  • At 3:31 PM , Anonymous Alden said...

    "we need to discover a new way of thinking about spirituality"

    You'd probably really enjoy Robert Webber's last book, "The Divine Embrace," which deals specifically with the erosion of the Biblical concept of spirituality.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head. An emphasis on our "decision for Christ" or anything of that nature is a shift from faith in what Christ has done, to what we did. As both Luther and Augustine emphasized, the best we can do by our own will is to sin.


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