“Man…. I think I’m a compatibilist”

January 16, 2009

My roommate is a Methodist.  He is a son of a Methodist pastor.  He and I have gotten into numerous discussions (that have sometimes strayed into less than pleasant arguments) about the nature of free will and predestination.  Couple days ago, he came into my room; he had just come back from a long trip with his fiance.  After catching up a bit he said these unforgettable words “Man… I think I’m a compatibilist.”

My first instinct was to shout “VICTORY!” And I promptly did so.  But what made him change his mind?  His views were pretty entrenched on the side of Weslyian theology; how could he have come to consider that compatibilism might be true?  He’s a pretty smart guy who likes to read different sides of the argument, so that might have had something to do with it.  But I think the greatest factor must be the fact that he’s been so occupied with thoughts of marriage.

What do I mean by this?  Romantic love has that sense of fatalism to it.  “You and I were meant to be together!” it claims.  Even those who have tens and hundreds of different lovers say to each one “You are the first true love”, and even as they part “I shall never forget thee!”  The very nature of romantic love demands exclusivity, that there be only one lover in all of eternity.

I can never deny the sense of free will that humans all experience except in the most dire circumstances.  And even in these circumstances, it is the knowledge of the sovereignty of God that restores this sense of freedom to us.  The very knowledge that God is in control frees us.  I cannot deny that we have this free will; but I believe even strongly that our wills are freed even more in Christ.

Finally, if the Church is the bride of Christ, we must not forget that His love for us, and our love for Him, must have in some way this notion of fatalism.  We were meant for Him!

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