Freely choose life’s limitations?

By Dave Henning / February 25, 2024

“You don’t really freely choose most of these necessary limitations in life.  You are just recognizing the limitations that are actually there in the world, that are independent of you desires and choices. . . .  Then [you are] not free to do whatever you choose.  That is an impossible idea and not the way freedom actually works.”- Timothy Keller

In Chapter 5 (“Why Can’t I Be Free to Live as I See Fit, as Long as I Don’t Harm Anyone?”) of Making Sense of God, Timothy Keller notes this discovery about freedom.  It’s become possibly our culture’s only publicly shared and acknowledged moral value.

However, late-modern secularism no longer viewed us as free because of:

  • the belief that we are God’s creations.
  • our rationality and free will.
  • unfolding historical processes involving the human race toward inevitable progress.

Hence, today freedom is ultimately important.  Because it serves as the one truth, it relativizes all other doctrines and beliefs.  And in the minds of many people, that includes Christianity.  Above all, much of our society sees the Christian faith as the archenemy of freedom.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller asserts, some truth exists in what modern culture says about freedom.  But in the way culture defines freedom, it is ultimately false.  Thus, Timothy explains:

“True — the idea of individual freedom in Western society has done incalculable good.  It has led to a far more just and fair society for minorities and women. . . .  But false.  Freedom has come to be defined as the absence of any limitations or constraints on us.  By this definition, the fewer boundaries we have on our choices and actions, the freer we feel ourselves to be.  Held to this form, I want to argue that the narrative has gone wrong and is doing damage.”

Today’s question: Do you agree with Pastor Keller that we don’t get to freely choose life’s limitations?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Numerous freedoms conflict”

About the author

Dave Henning

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