Post Author: Bill Pratt
Let’s define free will first. I define free will as the human ability to make contrary choices or decide between multiple options. Free will is the power of self-determination. It gives human beings the power to make real moral decisions.
Some Christians deny that humans have free will because they say it diminishes God’s sovereignty. If humans have the ability to choose, then God cannot be in control of human choices, they argue. But this is just not so.
God could have created humans with the power of free will, and also have known from the beginning of time exactly what humans would do with their free choices, because everything that humans will do pre-existed in the mind of God “before” it was actualized by God. God wrote us in as characters in a cosmic drama, but as characters who make real choices. We are not rocks or robots, but people with free will.
Since God is the cause of free will in humans, then he absolutely has complete control over it in the sense that nothing has happened or will ever happen without his knowledge and determination. God knowingly determines and determinedly knows every choice we will ever make. Does this take away free will?
No. Throughout church history, the majority view has been that God is sovereign over everything and that man is free. During the Reformation, some of the reformers took the position that man cannot be free because it necessarily follows that God is not sovereign, but as we’ve seen, that is not true. God is still in control, even with free creatures wandering around. Even today, most Christians still hold that man has free will.
How exactly does God have control over everything, but humans possess free will? Bottom line: we don’t know exactly how this works because we are dealing with a being, God, who exists outside of time and space. God’s interactions with humans will necessarily remain mysterious, but the Bible clearly teaches both the sovereignty of God and man’s free will. A sound Christian theology will retain both of these teachings.