Free Will and then Obeying God? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Lots of personal discussions have come up lately and this one is one of them. I think God gives us Free Will and says, "if you want a BETTER life, trust me and make me an intricate part of your life". I don't think that means "follow all these rules or I'm gonna send you to hell".

So, any thoughts?
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#2 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 12:23 PM
 
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I definitely believe in free will. God doesn't want us to be slaves, He wants us to obey Him because we love him.

It's up to Him who goes to Hell, so I refrain from condemning people to the place. God is perfectly just, though, so unfortunatley Hell won't be empty.
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#3 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 04:34 PM
 
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Lots of personal discussions have come up lately and this one is one of them. I think God gives us Free Will and says, "if you want a BETTER life, trust me and make me an intricate part of your life". I don't think that means "follow all these rules or I'm gonna send you to hell".

So, any thoughts?
Well, actually the Church teaches it's more like, "follow these rules because I know what's good for you, or you'll be sending yourself to Hell."

Those who are condemned at their Particular Judgment are actually fleeing His Justice.
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#4 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 05:38 PM
 
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Sorry, but I have to entirely disagree. One, I don't believe in free will, and two, Christianity (if that's the religion we're discussing) is about salvation, not about having a better life. Jesus didn't say 'Follow me and your life will be swell'; He said 'All men will hate you because of me'. The Bible is full of promises (and examples!) that Christians will be tortured, persecuted and suffer hardships for the sake of their faith. For the early church, obeying Christ meant a one-way ticket to the arena. Even today, in many parts of the world, becoming a Christian, and particularly being baptised, is effectively signing your own death warrant. If Jesus had said 'Obey me and have a better life', He would have lied.

Which is not to say that following Christian morality won't often result in a better life--someone who 'follows the rules' is less likely to contract STDs, become an alcoholic or a gambling addict, lose custody of her children etc, just because many of the 'rules' are based on common sense. But you're conflating two things--'obeying the rules' with salvation. God doesn't send people to hell for 'not obeying the rules', but for rejecting Him.

Again, if you are talking about the Christian God, I'm afraid Scripture simply doesn't support your position. And if you're not talking about the Christian God, which God are you talking about?

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#5 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 05:38 PM
 
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Well, actually the Church teaches it's more like, "follow these rules because I know what's good for you, or you'll be sending yourself to Hell."

Those who are condemned at their Particular Judgment are actually fleeing His Justice.
: Well said. We definitely have free will. And, you are allowed to break the commandments, but you will be making the the choice through free will to distance yourself from Him. For instance...in the Catholic church if you feel that it is OK to use birth control, but it is against Church law and you continue to do so...you are commiting a mortal sin. This is a sin, that according to the Catholic church, would leave you out of God's graces if you do not repent and change your ways. It is not left up for question. It is black and white - no shades of grey.

A lot of religions teach a "feel good" way of being a christian. If it makes you feel good, then it must be good. That's not how the Catholic church is. The fact of the matter is, there are things in life that will send you out of God's grace. You have free will to choose those things, or follow His laws and stay in God's good grace.
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#6 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 05:40 PM
 
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God doesn't send people to hell for 'not obeying the rules', but for rejecting Him.
But, if you don't obey His rules you ARE rejecting Him.
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#7 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 05:49 PM
 
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But, if you don't obey His rules you ARE rejecting Him.
Correct. As His first law was, "If you love me, keep My Commandments."
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#8 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 05:50 PM
 
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Sorry, but I have to entirely disagree. One, I don't believe in free will
Say what? :

Then who is making your decisions for you??
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#9 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't believe in sin or feeling the need to be saved. I have a relationship with God that's simply "me and God". I was raised Catholic and that didn't get me near as close to God as I am today.

So, the general thought so far is "you can have free will, but choose wisely?" I can "kinda" see that from a christian perspective, but still not from my own perspective.

For example: to a Catholic, using birth control pills within a marriage is wrong and a sin (as was stated earlier)....to be in another religion, using birth control pills isn't wrong.... So, that becomes things that each religion decides is a sin or wrong...not God.

So, for me, my original statement about how I see things still stands.
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#10 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 06:39 PM
 
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Say what?

Then who is making your decisions for you??
Um, I'm making them in accordance with God's sovereignty. Just because I'm not making them freely doesn't mean I'm not making them. I'm about to head into town, but I'm happy to debate free will or the lack of it when I return. If you want to, you can make a head start while I'm gone by giving me some Bible verses which prove free will.

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But, if you don't obey His rules you ARE rejecting Him.
Yes and no; Christians disobey God's rules all the time, and they don't get sent to hell for it (because their sins are covered by the blood of Christ). There's rejecting and rejecting...

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#11 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 06:59 PM
 
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For example: to a Catholic, using birth control pills within a marriage is wrong and a sin (as was stated earlier)....to be in another religion, using birth control pills isn't wrong.... So, that becomes things that each religion decides is a sin or wrong...not God.
This is what I struggle with. I totally agree with you! I don't see how my husband getting a vasectomy or us using condoms is wrong. We make that choice as a couple. We aren't harming anyone when we do this. The Catholic church teaches that it is wrong and a sin. So, if I'm a Cathlolic, I'm commiting a mortal sin (or would it be venial because I don't think of it as a sin?? not sure how that works). BUT...the Catholic church is very clear that their "laws" are there by God, and if you break a law (sin), then you are setting yourself up to be out of God's grace (hell). There is not supposed to be a separation between God's laws and Church laws. However, I see them as completely different. I see the "do not use contraception" as a man-made church law. But the Church teaches it as one in the same.
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#12 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 07:14 PM
 
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Um, I'm making them in accordance with God's sovereignty. Just because I'm not making them freely doesn't mean I'm not making them.
:

Seriously, what you wrote I do not understand in the least bit...???
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#13 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 10:19 PM
 
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Seriously, what you wrote I do not understand in the least bit...???
Okay, let's back up a bit. When you say 'free will', what do you mean? Freedom is a relational concept--for example, you can't just be 'free', you have to be free from something, and to something. For example, 'freedom to homeschool my children', or 'freedom from slavery'. So when you say your will is 'free' in a theological context, you mean it is free from what, and to do what?

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#14 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 10:25 PM
 
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I think it depends on who you are talking to.

I personally belive that when we are doing what gives us peace, we are doing the will of God-and when we are outside of God's will, we are not at peace.

I think that the 2 don't clash-but coencide.
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I'm not getting what you mean either, Smokering. Are you talking about predestination?
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#16 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 10:27 PM
 
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I'm not getting what you mean either, Smokering. Are you talking about predestination?
Predestination, Calvinism, TULIP... you know, the 'other' point of view if you're not Arminian. Yes.

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God doesn't send people to hell for 'not obeying the rules', but for rejecting Him.

?
OR:

Rejecting the will of God (the one I mentioned gives you peace) is actually Hell.

God isnt "sending" you anywhere. You are just unable to connect with God so you ARE there.

I know several people who I think are actually in Hell...right now....on earth....because they just cannot find the peace of God.
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#18 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 11:35 PM
 
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Is this thread just about Christianity and it's (varied) approach to divine rules/guidance/behavior or is it about any approach? Just a quick check before I wade on in....

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
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#19 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 11:38 PM
 
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When you say 'free will', what do you mean?

This is not a difficult concept.

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free will
–noun 1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
2. Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.
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#20 of 98 Old 11-28-2007, 11:40 PM
 
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Is this thread just about Christianity and it's (varied) approach to divine rules/guidance/behavior or is it about any approach? Just a quick check before I wade on in....
Good question, because it's not totally clear in the OP since Christianity isn't mentioned specifically.
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#21 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 12:50 AM
 
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2. Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.
Okay, that's a pretty good definition to work from. So, freedom from physical or divine forces, to make uninfluenced decisions.

I have a problem with free will on two levels--behavioral and theological. I'll deal with them in order.

From a behaviorist point of view, free will simply doesn't make any sense. Every choice we make is decided by countless external and internal factors, over none of which we have any control! Let me illustrate: a simple example, you offer me an apple and an orange. Now, almost certainly, I will choose the apple. Why? Because I don't like oranges. This isn't because I freely decided 'I will enjoy the taste of apples, but not the taste of oranges'; of course not. My taste buds decided that for me. But of course, there's a slight possibility that I might choose the orange, in which case I would be being influenced by another factor--say, a desire to up my vitamin C levels, or a desire to try something new. Again, either of these reasons would be based on a vast body of experience, education, information, societal pressure, my doctor's advice, hormones... which are also completely outside my control. There will always be a reason for me to choose either the apple or the orange, and as long as that reason is based EITHER on external or internal factors, it is outside my control--it is not 'free from physical forces'. And of course, this is the way it should be! If my will wasn't guided by any reason, it wouldn't really be a choice at all--it would be chaotic, random, and I might very well end up eating an orange, which I dislike. Which would be most unusual!

Or let's take a more complex example. I love my husband; we recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary. As none of our friends or family were pressuring us into marrying each other, one could say we 'freely' chose to marry each other. But did we?

If I'd been born ten, 100 or 1000 years earlier or later, I wouldn't have met DH at all. My time, place and fact of birth, our two families' migration to NZ, were both events entirely outside my control. Similarly, if my parents had been richer I probably wouldn't have ended up at my local university. If I hadn't been bullied at a taster course for a diploma in catering some years previously (certainly an event outside my control!), I probably would have become a chef, and my path would simply not have crossed with DH's. If DH hadn't (again, outside my control) developed an interest in swordfighting and started up a swordfighting club, he would never have been at the University campus; and if my Uni hadn't decided to host a cultural hour every Wednesday at lunchtime, I probably wouldn't have been sitting overlooking the Clubs area and noticed the swords. And so on, and so on. I haven't even listed one thousandth of the things which could have kept DH and myself from even MEETING... and none of them were anything I could do anything about.

And what about internal factors? DH and I clicked (eventually, this wasn't love at first sight, I should probably add) because we're both Aspergic. We didn't ask to be Aspergic; we didn't deliberately decide to equip ourselves with personalities which found crowds annoying, change frightening, logic appealing, grammar important, or any of the thousand quirks that Asperger's gives us. Similarly, we were certainly influenced by our families in terms of viewing marriage highly. And I can't even begin to list all the things about us that make us work--a love of music, certain hangups, tiny neuroses, senses of humour. And on a biochemical level, of course, hormones! And how about the weather? Or the Western diet we were both brought up eating, with all the specific nutritional advantages and disadvantages that gives us?

I'm sorry to belabor the point, and I know this post is getting extremely long--but do you see where I'm getting at? I did make the choice to marry DH, but to say it was 'free' seems nonsensical. It was based on innumerable factors beyond my control, of which I'm probably only aware of a small percentage. The choice was real; but it was not 'free' in the sense you described.

I mentioned having a theological objection to free will as well. I'll try to keep this brief. Basically, if God is truly sovereign (in control of everything), upholding and sustaining all creation (Colossians 1:15-17), it follows that he is also in control of human thoughts, decisions and reasoning. Romans 8:28-30 confirms this specifically in regard to salvation--that God predestined those who would believe in Him. Romans 9:18-24 goes into this in more depth. Then the Bible gives specific examples of God 'interfering', if you like, with a person's will--He hardened Pharaoh's heart repeatedly in Exodus. 2 Thessalonians 9:11 is another example of God causing unbelief.

So God must be in control of people's thoughts, decisions and actions logically, and the Bible shows Him to be so in both general principles and on specific occasions. Furthermore, and this is rather important, there is nowhere in the Bible which teaches free will! When pressed, advocates of free will tend to bring up verses in which God commands people to choose, repent, perform certain tasks etc; but of course, this is a red herring, as God saying 'Do such and such' in no way necessitates or even implies free will.

And *that* was the longest post I've made in a while! Hope it clarifies my position some.

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#22 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 01:45 AM
 
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I actually agree with you Smokering, even though I am not Christian.

For example, let's say a person is horribly abused as a child. They then grow up to commit crimes and eventually end up murdering someone. I think that all of us, as mothers, would say that the person's childhood was a HUGE factor in why they ended up doing such bad things. It doesn't excuse what they did, but did they really have free choice?

In terms of the law, we have to treat them as though they did. But in reality? I'm not sure they did.

Or to get back to the OP's question, which was specifically about how free choice relates to the Christian doctrine of hell. If a person is raised, say, Native American, and the conception of God that they have learned from their loved ones and has satisfied them their whole life is the Native American conception, and in addition the Christians have traditionally oppressed their people (taking NA children away from their parents to give them a "proper" Christian education, taking their land, etc), then if that person rejects the Christian God, is that a free choice? To me it seems to be a choice dictated by the person's experiences. I mean, sure they could choose to become Christian instead of Pagan (is that the right descriptive word?) but they would basically have to be nuts to make such a choice in view of thier experiences; any rational person, based on their experiences, would stick with the concept of God taught to them by their loved ones.
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Is this thread just about Christianity and it's (varied) approach to divine rules/guidance/behavior...
Mainly...other views are welcome though.

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And *that* was the longest post I've made in a while! Hope it clarifies my position some.
I understand where you're coming from and I do get the "conditioning" idea; however, I don't see everything as a condition decision. I do believe I make concious decisions every day.

My own husband example: My husband is everything I'm not. By my own conditioning growing up, he doesn't fit what I would have married had I followed the way that I was taught.


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any rational person, based on their experiences, would stick with the concept of God taught to them by their loved ones.
I left the catholic religion to find myself an intuitive reader/teacher several years later. There is nothing in my conditioning to have gotten me where I am today.

To everyone, thank you for your responses so far. This thread really is interesting.
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#24 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 08:32 AM
 
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I left the catholic religion to find myself an intuitive reader/teacher several years later. There is nothing in my conditioning to have gotten me where I am today.
Do you mind me asking what an intuitive reader/teacher is? Is that Catholic or more just a personal walk with Jesus, not connected to any organized religion? Are you saying that you believe your past experiences had nothing to do with why you came to this view of God?
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#25 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you mind me asking what an intuitive reader/teacher is? Is that Catholic or more just a personal walk with Jesus, not connected to any organized religion? Are you saying that you believe your past experiences had nothing to do with why you came to this view of God?
An intuitive reader is a psychic basically, really don't like using the term psychic though because of the perceptions of it. I don't have a walk with Jesus. I have a walk with God, no organized religion whatsoever.

That's exactly what I'm saying. I was raised catholic with rules, perceptions, and the ritual of that religion. What I longed for was a deeper walk with God. ~So, I searched for it and found it. I found it by looking for him within my spiritual self. From then on, it's a relationship that grew and thrived and is one of the best parts of my life.
~The path that God and I have now isn't one I would have found by staying on the course of a catholic person. I wouldn't be as helpful to people as I am today. I would have simply been a person going through the course of a life...not feeling alive...not feeling the closeness I feel with God now.
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#26 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 03:49 PM
 
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I understand where you're coming from and I do get the "conditioning" idea; however, I don't see everything as a condition decision. I do believe I make concious decisions every day.

My own husband example: My husband is everything I'm not. By my own conditioning growing up, he doesn't fit what I would have married had I followed the way that I was taught.
I think you've somewhat missed my point. I did not say that decisions were not conscious; that's an entirely different thing from being free. And, unless you married your husband for absolutely no reason (in which case it was a chaotic, random decision in which 'choice' played no relevant part; and I assume it wasn't!), then your decision to marry him was based on internal and external factors. They needn't have been as obvious as 'what my parents wanted'--not all children follow exactly the way they were brought up, clearly! Nevertheless, your choice to marry him was influenced by something. Hormones, the time and place of your births/dwelling places, societal values (whether they were 'normal' societal values or not, and whether they influenced you to do the 'normal' thing or the reverse is irrelevant), health... If you can think of a single factor which influenced your decision to marry your DH, and which was out of your control, then your choice was not 'free' according to the definition of 'free will' given earlier in this thread. And frankly, it's hard to argue with the fact that you were both born within the same lifetimes! If he'd been born 500 years later, you wouldn't have married him... period.

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#27 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Smokering
I think I'm starting to understand what you're saying. That's alot of intricacies in there...obviously.... And I still think we are free to choose whatever we want. lol
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#28 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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Okay, so what definition are you using for 'free'? And how would you define the concept relationally?

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#29 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so what definition are you using for 'free'? And how would you define the concept relationally?
My whole basis when this started was "free will" in relation to then having all these rules laid out. Meaning, how can God give us free will, then say, "oh, but...to be right...you have to follow my rules". So, what's the point of allowing us our freedom if there's forever hell lingering over your head. I just don't see that as right at all.

My definition of being free is to do have choices and make choices. Relationally: same thing. We have a right to whom we want to hang out with or not. Obviously, there are reasons why we hang out with someone as opposed to someone else. Everything we are is a combination of everything we've experienced, saw, learned, observed, etc...even from past lives...
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#30 of 98 Old 11-29-2007, 05:33 PM
 
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My definition of being free is to do have choices and make choices. Relationally: same thing.
I'd just call that will. I believe we have choices and make choices, yet I don't believe in 'free' will. Why? Because our choices are influenced by external and internal factors, as I discussed earlier. But it seems we're coming at this from completely different points of view (if you believe in past lives and intrinsic rights), so we're unlikely to find common ground on this issue.

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