Free Will? Free from what?

May 16, 2009

I was ruminating on a quote I heard last Sunday. Pastor John Piper, the guy who made Calvinism cool again, was once asked “What do you think about Free Will?” to which he answered something like “I know that there is Free will – in hell!”

So before you get all riled up, ask yourself: how do you define free will? What is this will exactly free from?  If one defines ‘free’ as in free from God’s will (the libertarian free will), then yes, of course there’s free will in hell – that’s the very definition of hell, to be free from God.  That’s why John Milton’s Satan chooses hell over heaven – to be his own king.  Everyone in hell will be their own king and their own sovereign, just as every mentally insane lunatics who claim to be god or Jesus or Buddha is a king in his own little pathetic world.  As Chesterton points out in Heretics, every circle, no matter how small it is, can be a perfectly round circle.

So then, can you have this libertarian free will outside of hell as well? It definitely cannot exist in heaven – I hope you can agree on at least that much.  Hopefully your view of heaven and God high enough to recognize God’s total sovereignty in His own kingdom.

But what about here on earth?  Is there this libertarian free will here?  Is there some sort of will, particularily in human agents, that can be said to be outside the will of God?  I think the answer is yes, only in the sense that we experience glimpses of hell here on earth.  But the prayer of “Thy will be done” – think of what that is doing! Why, that’s bringing the Kingdom of God here on earth!

So every Christian should seek to not have free will, but rather submit, attune, and rejoice in the will of our Father.  For if our wills are free of God’s, we are freed from that foretaste of heaven.

But if we just leave it at that, we’re forgetting the first half of the puzzle.  When we are saved, our wills are freed from the bondage of sin.  For the marriage of Christ and His bride, the Church, will mean that there will also be a divorce. This divorce will be The Great Divorce – His elect from the World.  So yes, we do have free will in Christ – free from sin, from death.


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