Sovereignty vs Free Will – A Wretched Discussion with Todd Friel

I’ve seen some of Todd Friel’s videos. He’s the host of Wretched Radio and is VERY Calvinistic in his theological approach to salvation. He begins a short video on determination (noted below) by responding to a letter from a viewer who’s confused as to whether God controls one’s desire for a favorite kind of breakfast cereal. Well, Christan determinism 101 per Todd Friel:

“God does rule the ‘whole business’ including your taste buds. That means, if God has predetermined what my tastes are going to be, do I have genuine tastes? And the answer is – have you tasted anything lately? Of course, you do. You still have preferences. You have preferences and dislikes. But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t sovereign over your taste buds. It is not an either-or, it is a both-and. God controls everything and everything includes you and me, our tastebuds, our sense of smell, everything that we think, everything that we do. Now when we do the sinful stuff, we get credit for that even though God ordains it. But everything that happens in our lives is under his sovereign control. Evil goes into our column and all that is good goes into [God’s column].

So, God isn’t sovereign over taste buds, but God controls our taste buds. How does one make sense of those apparently competing interests?

Friel goes on to also state,

“That does not mean that you are not genuinely making decisions. But God predetermined that I was to go left when I should have gone right. Correct. But you still chose to go left instead of going right.

“God sovereignly reigns, and you make genuine decisions and that means you have genuine responsibilities.”

So, Mr. Friel – which is it? Is God controlling “everything and everything includes you and me and our tastebuds, our sense of smell, everything that we think, everything that we do … or do we, as individuals, have free will with which to make ‘genuine’ decisions?

This is disappointing. It’s almost as though Friel is easily talking out of both sides of mouth. The comments are turned off for this YouTube video which is perhaps not surprising. If given an opportunity, some questions that I’d ask Todd Friel or those on what I would perceive to be on the “hard-deterministic” perspective of Christian faith include:

  • Is it accurate within Calvinistic determinism to affirm that God desires the killing of unborn children? After all, abortion is legal in this country. So, God must have done that. God therefore wants abortion, right?
  • Is it accurate within Calvinistic determinism to affirm that God brought about every specific disease, heartache, disappointment, financial difficulty, divorce, crime, yada yada yada – and who would be ‘gifted’ with those issues, right?
  • Is it accurate within Calvinistic determinism to affirm that any attempt to alleviate or eliminate some “God-given condition” would be a direct violation of God’s intent?
  • Is it accurate within Calvinistic determinism to affirm that God desires entities such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness? Would God cast people committed to LDS or JW beliefs to hell? After all, didn’t God cause Joseph Smith ~1830 (LDS) and Charles Taze Russell ~1870 (JW) to initiate these variants of Christian faith? And since then, hasn’t God brought forth millions of people into their fold?

Determinists such as Todd Friel make nice sounding proclamations as to how they believe God to be all-controlling of everything that happens in this world. Fine and well. But I have yet to find a determinist who’s willing to affirm that God desires the killing of unborn children. Perhaps then it’ll be easier to believe that they really do believe in determinism. Until then, I submit that determinists talk a ‘big-game’ and, of course, give God all the glory. But, in reality, I doubt they actually believe what they proffer. And their statements are little more than just ‘playing church’.

Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who recently entered the "Buick stage" of life given my present eligibility for senior discounts. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

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