Is Free Will Involved in the Commission of Sin?

Some theologians over magnify God’s decree. Some make the presumption that certain people are bad so that when they turn around and become good, God’s mercy is glorified. But when the bad guy remains bad, the explanation offered is that Satan rules over him and it is the guy’s fault that he allowed Satan to come into his life. And if pressed further why the bad guy is bad, the explanation given is “he was predestined that way.”  If further pressed who predestined him that way, the answer, “Don’t ever question the decree of God.”  Just as a pot should not and could not question the potter, an inquisitive mind should stop being inquisitive.  This pot and potter illustration of the prophet Isaiah is a limited illustration. It doesn’t satisfy our inquiry because a human potter is not an absolute moral person while God is an absolute moral person. God is good and righteous. God cannot be ungood and unrighteous. Also a potter would not rage and curse and create an ever-burning kiln to punish pots that are acceptable. If a potter rages and curses and creates an ever-burning kiln and announces the punishment of his unacceptable pots, that potter would be brought to the mental ward of a hospital. On the other hand we read that God rages and curses and has created hell to burn the unacceptable, disobedient souls. God could not be a crazy God.

May be we have to expand our understanding about good and evil. We begin with Satan by asking the following questions based on Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:

  1. Did God create the person of Satan before he became Satan?
  2. Who was Satan before he became Satan?
  3. Was Satan a good person before he became bad?
  4. Did Satan will to become bad or did God will that Satan becomes Satan?
  5. If Satan was not created as bad Satan, who willed that Satan became Satan?
  6. Do we ever fault God that Satan became Satan?
  7. Did God have the power to stop Satan become Satan at the time that Satan willed to become evil?
  8. If God had the power to stop Satan at the time Satan willed to become Satan, why did not God stop him?
  9. If we say that God allowed Satan to exercise free will, that proves the permissive decree of God.
  10. So what if we call the non-stoppage of Satan in his becoming evil “God’s permissive decree”? Giving a theological name to what happened doesn’t answer the question, “Why didn’t God stop Satan when Satan willed to become Satan?
  11. Why did God will for Satan to exercise free will which God knew before hand that Satan would become evil?
  12. To say that “It’s just the will of God to permit Satan to exercise free will” and call that God’s permissive decree doesn’t confront the question of “Why didn’t God will that Satan wouldn’t will to become evil?”

To me the better explanation about this argument in a circle is to focus our reflection on “free will.”

John Calvin offered the idea of “predestination.” That before creation of the angels, certain angels were already listed as destined to be evil and destined for destruction. Calvin’s theory is not acceptable because his idea when analyzed through logic and common sense it would lay the blame on the lap of God for the existence of evil. The better explanation, therefore, is free will. That God gave “free will” to the angelic host which He created. That the angels had sufficient capability to choose what is good and what is bad. That God gave the warning on the consequences of choosing evil. The exercise of free will removes the conclusion that the author and determiner of evil is God. The author and determiner of evil is free will.

And since angels were created as autonomous moral agents with free will, Lucifer the perfect archangel was responsible for his own will and actions. Free will demands responsibility because the Creator God is a God of justice.

(Eusebio Tanicala)