As long time readers know (and more recent readers who have delved into my early writings on this blog), I used to write a lot about my struggles with what we'd call "free will." Some of my questions and doubts I shared back then about "free will" were (and continue to be) quite alarming to some readers.
I haven't written about this topic for many years so a brief note to update you on where my thinking is currently on this subject.
Perhaps surprisingly, my view of human freedom has become quite Augustinian. Specifically, my view of human freedom is nicely summarized by the famous lines at the start of Augustine's Confessions:
"Our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
It's not that we aren't free. It's just that with our disordered and broken affections our freedom doesn't move us forward, doesn't bring us anything but more sorrow and frustration.
That is to say, I think the discussion about "freedom" and "will" is missing critical and essential parts of human nature. We might be "free" but what do we want, crave, desire, love or care about? The discussion about "free will" is a thin, hollowed out discussion which misses these critical elements.
So it's not that I don't believe in free will. It's that I think a discussion about freedom and will separated from a discussion from affections and desires isn't a conversation that truly reflects human experience. A debate about "freedom" doesn't address what we love and the restlessness that disorders our desires.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about an old and perhaps unfashionable metaphor for sin:
Sin-as-sickness is a metaphor that really preaches out at the prison. The men in the prison know they have made mistakes. They know they have made bad choices. Note how the language of mistakes and choices focuses upon the will, the free will.
But what the men really, really struggle with is this deep sense that sin is a sickness, that deep down their desires are disordered and broken.
Yes, the men in prison want forgiveness for their crimes, for the wicked choices they have made. But what they really, really want is something much, much deeper...
What they long for--what I long for--is healing.