Calvinism and Free Will
The Bible says that:
- Salvation is through faith in the Gospel of Christ.
- We are accountable for our choices, therefore we have a free will.
- God loves us all and offers a gift to us, neither of which depends on us.
God has always known who would ultimately put their faith in him. He is sovereign and controls the parameters, but within those parameters we are free to make choices. And free will has no more difficulty with the question of why God bothered with all this human history than does Calvinism.
But the biggest question is this: what purpose is there in dogmatically teaching, sometimes with much hostility, that God chooses who will be saved? It has no bearing on what gospel message is given, nor does it produce better quality Christians. It does nothing to honor the sovereignty of God and in fact ultimately dishonors it by negating his justice and love. It cheapens the blood of Jesus and requires the skills of a tax lawyer to decipher all the invisible fine print required to make scriptures that refute it say what they do not. And it drives some away from the hope of salvation by presenting God as more like Satan or Molech who would throw babies into the flames of hell “for his good pleasure”. To be joyful that God chose us is like being relieved at not being picked out for torture by a sadistic captor. How could we eternally praise one who, while showing mercy to us personally, shows none whatsoever to many more?
The gospel as presented in scripture is quite simple: Jesus is God in the flesh who died for all sin and rose again. All who put their trust in this Jesus are given the Spirit as a guarantee of salvation, but need the nurturing of mature believers to learn how to live in gratitude for their Savior, turning daily from all that displeases him. We do not need complicated philosophies to grasp this simple and life-giving message. God’s ways are of course above our ability to grasp, but that is why He gave us scripture. And that scripture, if we grasp it at all, is about choosing the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.