[Posts in “fictional conversations” are sometimes (but not always) adapted and edited from non-fictional correspondence. They are usually lightly edited with intelligibility in mind.]
Atheist: If I recall correctly, you are the guy who believes in the Puppet-Master God who has pre-ordained our destinies leaving us no free will, except for the illusion of it. Right?
Christian: Well, Romans 9 does speak of God as the Potter and human beings as the clay. Methinks you are a bit muddled regarding the Creator-creature distinction. But about “free-will:
Man has no “free will” relative to his Creator in whom he lives, moves, and exists (Acts 17:28). God actively directs and causes all actions and events, including the sins of men and angels. I am not speaking out of my own supposed “free will”; I am speaking because God is actively causing me to speak. And when it comes to sin, men do not sin of their own “free will”; they sin because God actively causes them to sin. This is especially seen in the crucifixion. If the Jews had the “free will” to choose to crucify Christ or not, it is possible that they could have been convinced by Pilate either to let Jesus Christ go or to inflict some lesser punishment. Of course, this did not happen, because God caused them to do what God had determined beforehand would be done (Acts 4:27-28). God turns the king’s heart wherever He desires (Proverbs 21:1). God turns turns His people’s enemies’ hearts to hate His people and to deal craftily with His servants (Psalm 105:25). Everything is controlled by God. If there is even one action that is not controlled by God, then there is at least one will that is independent of God, and God is not God.
Atheist: Well then, if this be the case why are you bothering with your trivial little crusade? Certain Jews had no more choice in crucifying and killing with lawless hands than I have in being an atheist. Who can escape God’s predetermined plan for him? Your God made me an atheist, right? So why would I still be judged as a sinner?
Christian: Nay, rather, O man, who are you, the one answering back to God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, Why did You make me like this?
Atheist: Yes that is exactly the kind of belligerent backchat I am willing to engage in with your Cosmic Bully.
Christian: Does not the Potter have authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? But if God, desiring to display wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction…
Atheist: Of course He doesn’t have the right or authority to do violence to my inalienable rights. For me to receive praise or blame I must be the master of this game.