What is assumed in this entire discussion in Love Wins is that the human will is free, autonomous, and able to choose between alternatives. The discussion assumes that the will is not fallen, that it needs no salvation, that it doesn’t even need help. It assumes that human beings are unbiased moral agents who stand above the fray and make independent decisions about the most important matters.
This is not the biblical picture of humankind but the Enlightenment picture, which turns out to be a fantasy.
This view depicts humankind as having unlimited potential and the ability to shape their ultimate destiny. The biblical picture of humankind is radically different—and utterly realistic. People are sinners who find it impossible to choose good consistently, faithfully. They are addicted to the fickle desires of their wicked hearts, so that they simply cannot choose what they want for it changes all the time, and in the end, they have no idea what they really want.
Humankind, in other words, is anything but free. Instead, we are trapped by our sin and trapped in our sin. We cannot even see the truth of God. As Paul argues, our minds “are full of darkness,” and we “wander from the life God gives” because we have closed our minds and hardened our hearts against him (Ephesians 4:18). We are not merely lost, but dead in our trespasses (see Colossians 2:13).
In short, the human condition is not full of potential, and it’s not simply up to us to choose the right path. No, without the intervention of God, we have about as much hope as a corpse.
And that’s the gospel. Not that we have an innate free will, but that God in his freedom came to us to rescue us from spiritual slavery. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, and through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, our wills are liberated. Then and only then can we actually recognize Christ, his love, his forgiveness, his grace. Then and only then can we finally respond in faith.
Adapted from God Wins by Mark Galli. Copyright © 2011 by Mark Galli. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.