Re: Can there be free will in a world where pre-destiny exists?
Stumbled across this thread.
Did anyone mention Jonathan Edwards yet?
He gives the clearest Christian viewpoint on the subject from a reformed perspective, which is my perspective FYI.
The trick is how you define free will.
If free will is the ability to make choices within your desires, limited abilities and existence, then great. But the limits are legion, enough that none of us are truly "free" in the sense that you might think. We are bound to our desires and to our natures. We also cannot actualize every choice we might want to make. Only God is truly free in that He can do anything He wants.
To answer bobrush's questions:
To God, we are evil, already condemned, destined for Hell, all of us. The infinite holiness of God demands this. Implying that God owes all people a chance to be saved is missing the point entirely.
This planet is a holding cell for a condemned race already on death row. We are all born evil, opposed to the things of God from day 1 of our existence, the fact that we can't act on this evil until we develop our faculties a bit is somewhat irrelevant to the sentence. Somewhat in the sense that as we accumulate more crimes, our punishment increases.
The logic Paul uses in Romans is simple, we are all under the sentence of death, and the fact that we die is the proof. So the fact that people of any age and capacity can die, is proof of the judgement of God on everyone. Remember that Adam and Eve were conditionally immortal before the fall.
You may think you don't deserve to die, but your opinion isn't the one that matters if God is real.
God is under no obligation to save, or even offer the opportunity to be saved to anyone at all, any more than a governor is obligated to pardon all (or any) condemned criminals in his jurisdiction.
But God in His mercy decided to save some, and in no way did He make an effort to provide all people the option to be saved. That only occurs at the very end when the Gospel is preached to all nations.
However, children and others with limited capacity are generally believed to go to Heaven if they die, but God again is under no obligation to do it that way - it is an act of mercy, not of obligation.
And if all this seems bizarre to you, remember that is how you self-declare yourself to be His enemy, a rebel, from a race of rebels, living on a planet where an insurrection is in progress, one that will be dealt with eventually, God in His mercy is staving it off a bit, but not necessarily for your benefit.
And if you truly want the ultimate answer as to why, again Romans tells us directly, God created the world to put Himself on display, to show both His mercy by saving some and His holiness by condemning the rest. You really want to be on the side of mercy. Notice that nobody will escape serving His purposes, you have no freedom whatsoever in that respect.
But in a sense, the Bible teaches that limited "free-will" and predestination coexist, anticipating this question by a few millennia.