Edmund Opitz: Man’s Freedom & Responsibility
Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 23, 2013
A man born into freedom is responsible for his life. He cannot blame his father, mother, siblings, environment, partners, or anything else besides himself if he is unhappy with the results. Yes, bad cards are dealt to good people; however, if one keeps playing the game of life, eventually he will receive new cards and develop a winning hand. Man, in other words, must build his life upon the proper principles to reflect his love of God, by serving Him and mankind. People are free to reject what I just wrote, but not free to reject the consequences of living life with improper principles.
I am in the middle of reading a fascinating book by Edmund Opitz, the late Christian Libertarian minister, that is absolutely superb! I love books that make me think at a deeper level and all of Opitz’s books do this. He was an avid reader/thinker, servant of Christ, and lover of (economic, political, and spiritual) liberty. Over the years, I have read most of the classic Christian books like Calvin’s Institutes, Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Augustine’s Confessions, Jonathan Edward’s Freedom of the Will and many others. These books, and my personal leadership journey, led me on a three year study to determine how to explain God’s sovereignty and man responsibility. Since I knew both concepts to be true, I had to comprehend how I could explain this to my own satisfaction and others.
This study was crucial for me as I wanted to be a leader who led people to truth in all areas of life. Consequently, I knew I had plenty of homework ahead of me to get the answers to help others do the same. Mercifully, after hundreds of books read on the subject and thousands of hours of thinking, the breakthrough came. In sum, I do believe man has freedom of will, but, since man’s will is fallen, he wills against God until he is regenerated. I summarized these thoughts on man’s free will and fallen nature in a short quote, “Man is free to will what he wants, but, in his flesh, doesn’t want God.” Anywhere we see man desiring God we know the Holy Spirit has been at work regenerating the mind, heart, and will.
Everyone is free to agree or not agree with what I just wrote, I only share it to explain my three years of pondering one of life’s paradoxes as a lead in to Edmund Opitz’s thoughts on freedom. Think through his thoughts and share why you believe you are responsible to God and mankind and how you live this philosophy in your daily life?
Human beings are virtually without specific instincts. There is no servo-mechanism in men which automatically keeps the human organism or the species within the pattern laid down for human life. Men have to figure things out and, by enormous effort, learn to conform their actions to the relevant norms in the various sectors of life. This absence of instincts in man constitutes the ground for man’s radical inner freedom, the freedom of his will. . .
Men, however, vary enormously from each other at birth, and the differences widen as individuals mature – each into his specialized individuality. And each person has the gift of freedom so radical that he can deny the existence of the creative forces which produced him. This human freedom makes it not only possible but mandatory that man take a hand in the fashioning of his own life. No man creates himself, but every man makes himself, using the created portions of his being as his resources. This is what it means to say that man is a responsible being.
. . . Of all the orders of creation, only man is a responsible being, who can change; everything else, every horse, dog, lion, tiger, and shark is what it is. Only man is, in any measure, responsible for what he is. Man makes himself, and, therefore each person is morally responsible for himself.
Why did the LIFE Leadership founders start our leadership company? Because we want to teach people how to be responsible to their duties in life. Unfortunately, today, we live in a world today where it’s becoming popular to pass the buck. Reality TV shows spew gossip and finger-pointing in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves; radio shows are filled with child-like rants rather than thoughtful solutions to today’s challenges; and free market competition is scorned by Big Business, apparently only allowed on the sports field. Nonetheless, leaders have a responsibility to run against the current of decline, doing their duty by creating a LeaderShift. Whether a leader is recognized, rewarded, or even remembered, it is simply the right thing to do.