This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.
Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on Chapter 1! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on this subject matter.
My main take aways were that rejecting God leads to slavery rather than freedom and that free will is necessary for morality.
Questions for Discussion
- What are the two types of determinism we will be addressing in this book? What are their implications?
- In what ways is free will critical for the existence of morality?
- Do you think free will is compatible with determinism?
- In what ways does rejecting God diminish human freedom?
Yet one of the key questions for any of us is: how free am I, if at all?
how can I be free, since the universe is completely responsible for my existence?
how free am I, if at all, when God is completely responsible for my existence and behaviour?
two kinds of freedom – the liberty of spontaneity and the liberty of indifference.
I can choose either course of action indifferently; and having chosen the one course of action, I can, on looking back, know that I could equally well have freely chosen the other course…In this book when I use the term “free will” I shall understand it in this sense.
some philosophers think that freedom of spontaneity is compatible with determinism – a view called compatibilism.
Oxford Handbook of Free Will says: … debates about free will in the modern era since the seventeenth century have been dominated by two questions, not one – the “Determinist Question”: “Is determinism true?” and the “Compatibility Question”: “Is free will compatible or incompatible with determinism?” Answers to these questions have given rise to two of the major divisions in contemporary free will debates, between determinists and indeterminists, on the one hand, and between compatibilists and incompatibilists, on the other.
An essential part of what it means to be mature human beings (so discounting here both infants and the severely mentally ill) is the freedom to choose between A and not-A, such that we are morally responsible and hence accountable for our actions.
To be a moral creature, one first of all needs moral awareness.
Secondly, if one is going to behave morally, one must not only be aware of the difference between moral good and moral evil; one must have sufficient freedom of will in order freely to choose to do good or to do evil.
Jean-Paul Sartre captured this idea well: The man who wants to be loved does not desire the enslavement of the beloved. He is not bent on becoming the object of passion which flows forth mechanically. He does not want to possess an automaton, and if we want to humiliate him, we need try to only persuade him that the beloved’s passion is the result of a psychological determinism. The lover will then feel that both his love and his being are cheapened… If the beloved is transformed into an automaton, the lover finds himself alone.
The potential of evil thought and act to produce evil effects cannot be annulled without simultaneously removing the necessary condition for free will to function. This is a moral universe.
This is the heart of contemporary humanist philosophy: A humanist has cast off the ancient yoke of supernaturalism, with its burden of fear and servitude, and he moves on the earth a free man, a child of nature and not of any man-made gods.
Far from increasing human freedom, it is the rejection of God that actually diminishes it and leads to a pseudo-religious anthropocentric ideology, whereby each individual man and woman becomes a prisoner of non-rational forces that will eventually destroy them in complete disregard of their humanity.
We shall focus instead on the increasing emphasis on determinisms of various kinds, both among atheists and theists (mainly Christians).