Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Free Will" and the Problem of Evil

If you are interested in doing some follow-up reading on the topic of free will, mentioned briefly in my previous post on the doctrine of election, then I recommend starting with these two posts by Pastor Bret McAtee. Below each link are excerpts from each post. Click on the links to read each post in its entirety.

The Problem of Evil
Resolutions of the problem of evil that leave God less than good, or less than absolutely sovereign are answers that leave us with a god who is not God. I note this Freddy, because many of the answers to the ‘problem of evil’ that you find in the Church today reduces God to a being that men must pity due to God’s lack of ability of stopping that which He doesn’t want to happen.
For example, I remember going to a funeral once where the deceased had perished in a car accident and the first thing out of the minister’s mouth was “God didn’t have anything to do with this.” The implication was that, ‘God didn’t want the accident to happen but sometimes you got to feel sorry for God, because poor God doesn’t always get what He wants.’
So, whatever answer we come up with can’t end with some kind of sophistry that says that ‘God is sovereign enough to not be sovereign.’ No, our answer to the problem of evil must leave God to be that which the Scripture portrays Him and that is all good and all sovereign.

Yet another bad answer that many offer in the Church today to the problem of evil Freddy, is that God gave man free will and that God is sovereign right up to the point of fallen men’s free will. This ‘answer’ once again, limits God’s godness by suggesting that God’s godness is checkmated by man’s godness. God wants certain things or doesn’t want certain things but sometimes man is more powerful than God and so uses his free will to trump God’s free will.

Many people in the Church teach this idea trying to rescue God from from the lack of goodness and the perceived problem of God being charged with being ‘not nice’ for being in complete control of sin and evil. Often you will hear people using this kind of argumentation when they say things like, “Well, God didn’t want that to happen but He allowed or merely permitted it to happen. God gave man free will and so He can’t be blamed for evil.’ Free will in human agents has been put forth to clear God of the responsibility for sin and evil. It sounds so pious but it really is nonsense, and what is worse is that it doesn’t exonerate God in the least from the charge of being ‘not nice.’ Let’s examine why.

The Problem of Evil, Part 2
You see free agency teaches voluntary action and this every Biblical Christian believes. Every Biblical Christian believes that all men make choices wherein they consciously initiate and determine a further action. A choice is a deliberate and conscious volition on the part of the chooser even if the chooser could not have chosen differently. Biblical Christians believe that Judas acted voluntarily without the kind of compulsion by which a puppet acts, while at the same time believing that what Judas chose happened by necessity and was predestined from eternity past. Judas had a will. Judas used his will in a way to make a choice. Judas’ will however was not acting independently of God’s will, though it was acting contrary to God’s commands and as such Judas is responsible to God for his sin against God’s command because Judas was the sole author of his action — a action that in God’s sovereignty could not have been other than it was. Judas’ choice (like all human choices) was a deliberate volition on the part of the chooser, even if it could not have been different.
Similarly when we say that God is not the author of sin we mean that God is not directly responsible for the wicked actions of free human agents. Men themselves remain the immediate cause of their sins and so remain the author of their sin but all because men are the author of their sin doesn’t mean that there aren’t other causes and since God is the ultimate cause of everything and nothing could exist except that God caused it we must say that God is the cause of evil without being the author of evil.

*notes: the emphases are mine, also the original posts show comments that appear to be spam, just so you know.

1 comment:

  1. Heather,
    I am reading up on this very same subject at the moment. Warren gave me a huge stack of articles to read. It's been quite a mental workout.


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