Ben Witherington – The Freedom of God and the Free Will of Human Beings

Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Beliefnet website.

Here are some excerpts from his post:

One of the more interesting subjects to discuss is the freedom of God. What exactly is God free to do or not to do? Is God’s will the primary and controlling divine attribute such that even God’s knowledge is dependent on God’s will in the first place? Are there things that a sovereign God cannot do? For example, is God free to sin? Or is God’s behavior determined by the unalterable divine nature? That is, is God subject to the same sort of determinism some Christians believe applies to human beings? These sorts of questions and their answers all have a bearing on how we ask and answer the question about human freedom and its nature.

…….I assume that when human beings were created in the image of God this meant, among other things that Adam had libertarian freedom to either obey God or not. It is not appropriate to judge this matter on the basis of the attributes of fallen human beings who indeed in various ways can be said to be in bondage to sin or addicted to sinful behaviors. No the question is, how did God make us in the first place, and how in Christ does God restore us in Christ as we are renewed in the image of Christ? Does grace restore the power of contrary choice in redemption or not?

…..In short, the discussion of the freedom of human beings should never be undertaken in isolation from the discussion of the freedom of God, and the ways God has chosen to limit himself in order to allow us to be beings with a limited measure of freedom, and so a small reflection of the divine character.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.

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