Free will. Do we have it? Yes? No? About some things but not about others?
Where does your belief about that come from?
Were you explicitly taught, reasoned it out, or have you read scripture or theology that informed your thinking?
What are the implications about your beliefs about free will?
How does this belief interplay with beliefs about choice, blame (since people can/cannot choose/will themselves), fate/destiny/God's plan...
Furthermore, how does you belief about free will (or lack thereof)
OR are you just like - I never think about this at all!
Question - if you've been in Lutheran worship, about every time we worship together we start with confession, using these or similar words: "we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves." What does that mean to you?
Also informing or a part of the conversation - Martin Luther writes in the explanation of the third article of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel..."
Christians, generally, believe a wide spectrum of things about free will - from none at all and complete predestination and God's plan, to none at all and humanity has complete will/choice.
This is a topic on which there is a pretty specific Lutheran doctrinal position - however, as with other things, believing differently would not exclude anyone, and realistically there is a wide spectrum of belief about this among Lutherans as well.
Here is a succinct summation of the Lutheran doctrinal position on free will, as explained in the book, Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers.
However, if you'd like further reading, one of Martin Luther's most important (and debated, and still one of his most-read today) writings is The Bondage of the Will, which is a relatively short and digestible read... kind of, if you like that kind of thing.
This "Lutheran" position on the question of free will is actually a quite radical and impactful belief, if you think about it. Let's engage it, and your opinions, openly in Bible study, this Thursday, 6/4, at 7:30, on Zoom here: https://zoom.us/j/703956236
Here are a couple further texts to consider and possibly discuss:
Romans 7:14-25: For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
The Augsburg Confession (the Confessional Doctrine of the Lutheran Church), Article 18, Free Will:
Regarding free will, this is what we teach: Humans have a free will to a certain extent. They have the ability to live an outwardly honorable life and can make choices among those things that pertain to reason.1 But without the grace, help, and working of the Holy Spirit they are not capable of becoming pleasing to God, of fearing or believing God from the heart, or of expelling the innate, evil inclinations from their hearts. This rather takes place through the Holy Spirit, who is given through God’s word. For Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2, “The natural man understands nothing from the Spirit of God.”2
And so that it may be recognized that we are not teaching anything new and strange, we include here the clear words of Augustine on free will, from the third book of his Hypognosticon:3
We concede that there is a free will in all people, for all of them have natural, innate understanding and reason. We are not saying that they are capable of dealing with God in some respect, such as loving and fearing God from the heart; only in the outward works of this life do they have freedom to choose good or evil. By “good” I mean what their nature is capable of, such as working in the field or not, eating or drinking, going to see a friend or not, putting on or taking off a piece of clothing, taking a wife, pursuing a trade, and doing something useful and good of that sort. Of course without God none of these exists or continues; everything is from him and through him. On the other hand, man can also undertake something evil by his own choice, such as bowing down to an idol, committing a murder, etc.