Tuesday, October 16, 2012

7 Requisites for Freedom

It has been said that men have the freedom to choose, the freedom of the will. Particularly, this has been applied to the matter of salvation within the context of Protestant Christianity. In examining the action of man's free will, it occurs to me that the following 7 precursor requirements must be met, and be met by someone OTHER than the decision maker, before their will can be exercised freely and effectually:


The decision maker must be alive. Dead people don't make decisions for God, they don't choose anything relative to this life.


The decision maker must be conscious. Unconscious people are alive, and therefore better off than a dead person, but they still cannot make a decision or effect their "free" will, as they are unconscious. We don't decide on ice cream flavors, or when we'll leave for work, or who we'll marry while we're in a comma. Decision making - exercising "free" will requires us to be conscious - and like being alive - it is substantially beyond our own powers to make ourselves conscious. We don't decide one day to be alive (although we can decide to continue in that state) and we don't decide one day to be conscious (and we have less power over that continued state than we do living)


The decision maker must be conscious of the decision to be made - they must be aware. One can be alive, conscious and living in Iran and be completely unaware that a court in the US is awaiting their decision on whether to exercise their rights pursuant to a codicil in their great aunt's last will and testament. They have a few elements necessary to exercise their "free" will, but not enough - they lack awareness that a decision is required. Like life and consciousness, awareness is also something which the decision maker is completely powerless to generate. The decision maker cannot get awareness on their own - some one else must of necessity intervene to provide the awareness.


The decision maker must have information concerning the decision - its particulars, its parameters, its nature, what the decision requires, what the decision allows, what the entirety of the decision is. Receiving a letter from the Estate's Executor noting that the court is awaiting the decision of the beneficiary is insufficient for the decision maker. Indeed, the decision maker is now frustrated and the bubbling up of emotions contrary to the decision maker's will is evidence that the decision maker is now cognizant of his or her inability to fulfill the decision and possibly to miss out on the inheritance. He - the decision maker - needs more, and he - the decision maker - is incapable of meeting his own need. He must of necessity seek out the assistance of another - someone from whom the necessary information may be obtained. He is entirely dependent upon this other person. His "free" will is a slave to the whims of the information giver - to the life giver - to the consciousness giver - to the awareness giver.


The decision maker must have appropriate comprehension of the decision - it is insufficient that one receive the information if one doesn't comprehend and understand the information. If the explanation is in Swahili and I don't speak Swahili, I have the information but it is incomprehensible. Again, the decision maker is entirely dependent upon another for the necessary comprehension of the details of the decision and what the decision requires. Without sufficient comprehension, the decision maker's success in making the correct decision is entirely a matter of chance.


The decision maker must have an appetite for decision - a desire to decide - an inward favor towards making the decision. Assuming the decision maker is alive, conscious, aware of the decision, has obtained the requisite information and comprehends the nature of the decision - he or she must still have an innate desire to decide. This is no small matter. Psychologist have for centuries noted the inability to decide in certain circumstances among certain people. Put them in the seat of a bus driver with 10 seriously disabled children who will never recover on board the bus driving down a road in the Amazon jungle and coming around the corner where precisely in the middle of the road is a parade of 40 young nuns dedicated to feeding the starving villagers around the area - they cannot swerve to the right - an embankment will throw them back into the middle of the road - the brakes are useless on this incline, to the left is a 1000 foot precipice. They must decide - 10 innocent but permanently and lifelong disabled youth who will never contribute to society or 40 active, young nuns particularly useful to society... etc. etc. you get the idea - some people freeze and they cannot decide because they lack the desire to decide. Their "free" will is held captive to an emotional need to avoid the pain and consequences their decision will invariably produce. This is not hypothetical either. Many people live decades with a close family member in bondage to sin - never saying anything that will produce conflict because their emotional need for peace prevents them from either approving or disapproving of the family member's life choices. To decide, one must have sufficient desire to enter into the decision process, and that is not something that can be taken for granted, nor something that can be produced sufficiently by the decision maker. You either have the appetite for the decision or you don't. Sure, something may happen along the line to cure your refrain, but the decision maker is in bondage to their own appetites - their "free" will is a slave to their desires.


The decision maker must have the capacity to decide. It is insufficient to pretend to decide something when one does not have the capacity to actually decide. One may, for example, be alive, conscious, aware with sufficient information and comprehension that they are being asked to fly or not fly - and they deeply desire to decide. But their capacity has already answered the decision. No matter what their "free" will might suggest, their nature and capacity prevents them from flapping their arms and taking flight (unless the decision maker is a bird, in which case, that bird has more "FREE" will than a human). The decision maker is entirely dependent upon another - the one who provides capacity. This is so often taken for granted. We're asked to decide whom to marry - but if we're 6 our decision is ineffectual as the law prevents us from marrying here in the US. If we are 26 and we decide to marry, we may deceive ourselves that the decision was all ours, but marriage takes the consent of another.

Marriage Example Consider for a moment the 26 year old who marries. They believe in their mind that they have exercised their free will, but in reality here's the credit for the decision:
  1. God for giving the 26 year old life - after all, dead people don't get married
  2. God for giving the 26 year old consciousness - after all, unconscious people may not enter into marriage
  3. God for giving the 26 year old awareness - after all, you may not marry someone if you're unaware that marriage is an option
  4. God for giving the 26 year old the information - after all, you may not marry someone if you don't know how to marry, the process, the institution, what it requires, the ceremony, etc...
  5. God for giving the 26 year old the comprehension - after all, in most states, you may not marry someone if you don't understand and comprehend marriage. If you're of so simple mind that the idea of marriage escapes your comprehension, you may not marry - in order to give your informed and meaningful consent, you must comprehend the implications of the decision - the nature of the institution - the identity of the other partner, etc. etc.
  6. God for giving the 26 year old the desire - after all, not everyone desires to be married. This desire is hidden within their heart and while external factors give rise to the desire and appetite for marriage, nothing intrinsic to the decision maker can give life to that appetite in and of itself
  7. God for giving the 26 year old the capacity and the power to be married. If one attempts to marry a dog - they will lack the power to do so. If (in Texas or Missouri or a few other sane states) one attempts to marry another of their same gender, they will lack the power to do so. This power comes from without - from their maker. They cannot obtain unto the power themselves.
So lastly, the decision maker arrives at the alter, looks across at his bride (in the case of a Christian - across at the bridegroom - the very one who initiated everything - from life, to consciousness, to awareness, to information, to comprehension, to desire, to power, to the proposal itself) and pretends that the decision is one of their "free" will. Remarkably, this person looking across the aisle at God and gives himself credit instead of God.

Review and Conclusion Let's review - here's what I did:

  1. decide
Here's what God did:
  1. give me life (Psalm 139) before new life in Christ I am dead in my trespasses
  2. give me consciousness - more than alive, I am now no longer a sleeper, but awakened by the Spirit
  3. give me awareness - more than alive and awake, I now hear - and have become aware of a Savior, and a desperate death in my own life - I am the Pilgrim who has read the book and learned I am unwilling to die and go to judgment, unable to face the judgment and wrath to come - unable to face my maker
  4. give me information - the Gospel has now been shared with me - unlike 90+% of humanity that never and will never hear the Gospel, I have heard and that by the Gospel - information as to the requisite for repentance has come to my attention
  5. give me comprehension - but more than information, I now have comprehension - the dead in the world do not understand the things of the spirit - for they are of the flesh - but I have been become born again, and received the spirit and now I understand and comprehend the things of the Spirit
  6. give me desire - where before I loved sin and my master the devil, now my desires have been changed - suddenly I want to do something I cannot do, I hate doing the things I'm doing - my desires have changed, have become new - I am a new creation
  7. give me power - and according to Romans 8:1 I now have the power to choose, I am no longer condemned - if God has chosen me - I can exercise a choice, I can choose God - I now have that power that alludes all of creation in slavery to sin and the devil.. and according to 1 John 3:9 - that is the ONLY thing I have the power to do - I don't even retain the power to decide against choosing God, for I am become a son of God
  8. propose to me in the first place (John 6:37,44) No one comes to Jesus except that the Father call him first.
And I take the credit... funny in a sick sorta way.

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