To the question "what is free will?" most people would answer that it is the freedom to choose what to do in a given circumstance. This answer is not incorrect, even if it is only a bit of a summary of a concept that is so crucial to the history of humanity and the development of mankind.
In fact, the concept of free will predates the advent of Christianity, although it has found in the context of Christian philosophical and theological thought an infinitely fertile ground for discussion and debate over the centuries.
But what is free will?
Looking for the definition of free will in the Treccani's Philosophical Dictionary, an Italian reference, we read first: Capacity to choose freely, in deeds and in judgment .
Free will is, therefore, the condition of thought by virtue of which each individual can determine with complete autonomy the finality of his own actions . No external forces come into play, no superior entity that pulls the strings of fate. Every aspect of a man's action and thought comes down to an act of will .
But how is it possible to reconcile such a demand for freedom with the concept of an omniscient and omnipotent God present in the Christian religion? What is free will for a Christian?
Destiny or free will?
The problem is not only related to religion. The history of philosophical thought is crossed by the debate about what determines man's destiny, about the presence or not of supernatural factors, such as fate, or natural, and in this case we speak of determinism.
Not to mention predestination or fatalism. Many philosophers and thinkers have wondered throughout human history about the possibility that part of human life, if not all of it, could be or less predetermined before an individual even comes into the world.
Staying in the religious context, if we were to wonder about the existence of at least one deity, of a higher will that grants freedom of choice to its creatures, in an ethical context, we should wonder about the concept of responsibility, that is, whether or not, a man should answer for his actions, as long as they are determined by something external to him.
Or, in the scientific context, the analysis focuses on determining whether the human mind has any interference in events, or whether everything is left entirely to chance.
Free Will in the Bible
What is free will according to the Holy Scriptures? In the Bible, we read that God, in His omnipotence, however, chooses not to predetermine everything. In particular, He created man in His image and likeness, giving him the ability to transcend his instincts and choose in which direction to direct his actions.
On the contrary, it is the possibility to choose, free will, to make us complete humans, because it is up to us and only us to direct the thought and the work towards God and His will, without any constriction.
There are many biblical quotes that emphasize the importance of free will, which in the Old Testament is seen as a great responsibility, as well as being a great gift that God gave to his beloved children. Thus, free will in the Bible implies, on the one hand, the freedom to choose, and on the other hand, the responsibility to choose in the right way.
Bible verses that portray Free Will
Accept, O Lord, the sentiments which my mouth expresses, And teach me Your laws!
You can sacrifice as a voluntary offering an ox or a lamb with a very long or very short limb, but it will not be accepted for the fulfillment of a vow.
You will pull me out of the net that they have spread for me; Because you are my protector.
For it is God who works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.
With the hope that she too will be set free from the slavery of corruption, to participate in the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Brothers, you have been called to freedom, but do not make this freedom an excuse to live according to the flesh; but through charity make yourselves servants to one another.
If someone offers a sacrifice to fulfill a vow or as a voluntary offering, the victim will be eaten on the day he offers it, and what is left will be eaten the next day.
If, therefore, the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Having been freed from sin, you have become slaves to righteousness.
My name is Maria. I am passionate about theology and I have been writing about the religious world for 5 years. I am curious and research everything about the religions around the world. I love researching the curiosities that guide the most varied doctrines in different countries and languages. Today, I am an editor and love to share my knowledge on the portal Prayer and Faith.