Some thoughts on freedom of the will as supported by Christian theology:
Free will is based on the image of God:
Christianity teaches that man is made in the image of God. One of God’s characteristics is that he is free. He has a free will. Humans, therefore in some real sense have free will.
Free will is based on the supremacy of love:
- The highest principle is love, in that God is love and it is by his love that he conquers all. He does not conquer by his power. It is obvious on the face of history that God does not force man to obey him. It is clear from the actions of God as Jesus Christ, that he loved and took pity on mankind, and gave his life for us. Thus, God’s method in dealing with creation and mankind argues for love as the highest principle: not coercion.
- Love is and can only be a voluntary act. You can’t force some one to love you. Those that are forced only obey you. Their actions present a semblance of love. They may look like love, but as long as they are compelled by external force, they are not an expression of love. Hence the saying, that “if you love someone, you set them free; if they love you they will be back.” Free and voluntary are defined by Merriam-Webster as, “proceeding from the will or from one’s own choice or consent.” For someone to love you, they must have the choice to not love you. Love only exists in the presence of free will.
- The freedom to love is the highest form of freedom will, since love is the highest principle. Choosing love is the greatest calling of man. Jesus taught that to “love the Lord your God with all your heart,” was the primary commandment in his law. As demonstrated in the principles above, if man had no free will this would not be possible.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. (Luke 10:27, Cf. Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Deut. 6:5 and 11:1)
Free will now and later:
The bible teaches that we are only truly free in Christ. This freedom exists in two forms. It exists now in a proto-form (or seed-form); and it exists later in an eternal form (mature form).
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Cor. 15:54)
All creation is now in proto-form. It does not now exist in its permanent “heavenly” state. And it is fallen. The condition of man is described in the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve exercised their free will to disobey God, they and all all creation with them fell from their original pristine state. They fell into enslavement to Lucifer and his laws, which bound them to corruption and death. Unlike the laws of God, which are rooted in love and freedom, Lucifer’s laws are rooted in power and enslavement. The laws of God produce incorruption and life, but Lucifer’s laws produce corruption and death.
God came into this fallen creation to restore us from bondage to this fallen state, and we who have accepted this gift have been freed from it. But this is all still in proto-form: we have our being in the proto-form world. We “see through a glass darkly” the eternal form/eternal life that we have through Christ.
So during our time in the proto-form creation we are only free in Christ. To the extent that we interact with the world outside of Christ we are subservient to it. To the extent that we serve through our life in Christ we express free will. In that expression, we love the world as God loves the world, and we let free. If it loves God, and loves us, it will join us. If it hates God, and it hates us, it will crucify us.
The only way to live this way, I think, is through the power of the Holy Spirit. So we strive to acquire the life of and to live in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who is within us since we have been born again.