A Theodicy for Christians
The Great Irony
This paper takes the form of a theodicy and attempts to specify a morally sufficient and satisfying reason for and Omni-perfect God permitting evil in this world, and it attempts to do so from a traditional conservative Christian perspective. Furthermore, the morally sufficient reason specified may plausibly and fairly be considered the principal reason, if not the only reason, for God doing so.
Many theories and models of theodicy have been proposed, among them The Free Will Model. The main idea behind The Free Will Model is that and Omni-perfect “God wanted us to freely love him, which meant allowing for the possibility that we might choose against him.” See: http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/theodicy.htm
This paper draws upon and extends the main idea of The Free Will Model. In addition to accepting the main idea that an Omni-perfect “God wanted us to freely love him”, this paper attempts to specify the way God has provided for us to freely love him. Moreover, it does so by specifying what may plausibly and fairly be considered the principal way that God has provided for agents to freely and conclusively demonstrate their love for him, and attempts to do so chiefly for Christian believers.
That is, we conclusively demonstrate our love for God by freely asking him to remove our ability to disobey him. Moreover, God accomplishes this one-time event by irrevocably removing the attribute of ‘morally free will’ from us in the life to come, following death to life in this world; that is, in Purgatory.
Thus we have the great irony. And the great irony is that the very attribute that agents have for choosing to disobey God must be used by agents to choose to have it removed from them so that they can never choose to disobey him again.
Therefore, the purpose of this theodicy is to provide Christians with a plausible Biblically based understanding of the ‘why’ and ‘purpose’ of and Omni-perfect God permitting evil in this world, and thereby provide them with great hope for the future.
Definition of Terms and Concepts
Theodicy is defined by Alvin Plantinga, as the “answer to the question of why God permits evil.” An important distinction is often made between a defense and a theodicy. A theodicy is intended to be a plausible or reasonable explanation as to why and Omni-perfect God permits evil. A defense, by contrast, is only intended as a possible explanation as to why God permits evil. A theodicy, moreover, is offered as a solution to the evidential problem of evil, whereas a defense is offered as a solution to the logical problem of evil. See: http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-evi/
An agent is understood to be a creature created by God, who is either human or angelic and who has been endowed with the attribute of a morally free will.
This paper holds to the claim that morality is ultimately determined by the commands and character of God as revealed in the Bible and understood by a large majority of Christians, among them Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Mennonite, and Evangelical Christians.
Evil or Sin
Evil sinful acts are those that disobey the commands of God or go against the character of God as revealed in the Bible. And all evil acts in the world are a result of the complex interaction of the consequences arising from the abuse of moral freedom by all agents, human and angelic, past and present; like ripples caused by pebbles hitting the surface of a pond. Moreover, the consequences of all these evil acts have the purpose of revealing to agents that the abuse of their morally free will is the cause of all evil and that an agent must give up their morally free will to be free from committing and contributing to acts of evil.
The attribute of free will provides an agent with freedom in a libertarian sense. That is, a free will is the motivational capacity or power of an agent to act in a way that is morally neutral, and therefore not evil or sinful. An action is morally neutral when it is an action that is not in conflict or agreement with the character or commands of God; for example, scratching an itch or taking a drink of water. Moreover, the attribute of free will is something an agent has throughout their existence.
Morally Free Will
The attribute of morally free will provides an agent with freedom in a libertarian sense. That is, a morally free will is the motivational capacity or power of an agent to either obey or disobey God and to disobey God is the definition of evil or sin. And where the attribute of a morally free will exists then the possibility of evil necessarily, by definition exists. Further, given that neither evil nor the possibility of evil can exist in Heaven, agents with a morally free will cannot inhabit Heaven. Furthermore, God does not have a morally free will since it is logically impossible for God to either obey or disobey himself.
This paper holds to a libertarian view of free will and morally free will, meaning that an agent’s actions are not determined by past events or by any external force including God.
The evidential argument from evil as advanced by William L. Rowe and others states that “There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.” See: http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-evi/#SH2a
The instances of intense suffering described by Rowe, such as Bambi suffering an agonizing death in a forest fire, are often referred to as horrific or gratuitous acts of evil for which there is no conceivable justification. However, from my perspective, there is a conceivable morally sufficient reason for which an Omni-God would permit the existence of all evil acts and their consequences, including those acts Rowe might consider to be horrific or gratuitous.
Rowe’s view presupposes at least two classes of evil. That is, there is one class of evil acts that God should prevent while not preventing other acts of evil. However, it is my understanding that the Bible supports the view that God condemns as evil any and all acts of disobedience to him. Therefore, it would seem from God’s perspective, that there is only one class of evil actions, which range from the most commonplace and seemingly harmless to the most egregious and destructive. Of course, from a worldly perspective, there is a wide range of consequences resulting from minor and major acts of disobedience to God, but all are harmful in some way.
Therefore, I advance the argument that the consequences of all acts of evil, from the least harmless to the most destructive, serve the purpose of bringing agents to repentance. Moreover, this repentance includes bringing them to the place of understanding that they must voluntarily offer up their morally free will to God. That is, they must voluntarily request God remove their power to disobey him so that they can abide in with him Heaven. Further, the more extreme the consequences of evil acts are experienced or witnessed, then the more these consequences serve the purpose of bringing agents to repentance. Therefore, the notion that the more extreme consequences have no conceivable justification is to miss the purpose served by all consequences resulting from disobedience to God.
Therefore, the terms horrific or gratuitous or unnecessary acts of evil as understood and defined by Rowe and others are a misnomer.
Natural evil events are usually thought of as destructive events occurring in Nature and which are not caused by human agents; for example, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and lightning strikes. However, this paper holds the view that what has often been thought of as evil arising from natural causes has its root in the disobedience of Adam and Eve. That is, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, God declared “Cursed is the ground because of you;” (Genesis 3:17) And, from this it seems that fallen angelic agents were permitted by God to cause these kinds of destructive events in nature. Also, if Jesus can calm the wind and the waves, then maybe Satan and his cohorts can stir them up.
An agent’s character is fundamentally different from the attribute of morally free will. An agent’s character helps them determine how they will use their free will and morally free will to respond to a given set of circumstances. And how an agent will respond to a given set of circumstances is always unknown and unknowable, even by God.
A great good is defined as a good of great value which by itself is a morally sufficient reason for God permitting evil throughout the world.
Purgatory is thought to be the place of residence for all human agents following death to this world. It is where agents have the opportunity to have their morally free will purged from them by God. In Purgatory an agent can choose to continue to exercise their morally free will, and thereby experience the painful consequences arising from it, or they can choose to have their morally free will removed from them and go to Heaven. Alternatively, having enough of pain and suffering in Purgatory, but not wanting to be with God or God’s people in Heaven, agents could choose to use their morally free will to request and receive annihilation.
Annihilation of an agent is to make the agent into nothing, whereby the agent ceases to experience anything and ceases to exist in any way, shape, or form.
The idea here is that the words and actions of all agents, past and present, have an influence on all other agents existing today, be it ever so small. Moreover, the concept is derived from quantum theory, a fundamental branch of physics.
“Open Theism is the thesis that, because God loves us and desires that we freely choose to reciprocate His love, He has made His knowledge of, and plans for, the future conditional upon our actions. Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future. Though omnipotent, He has chosen to invite us to freely collaborate with him in governing and developing His creation, thereby also allowing us the freedom to thwart His hopes for us. God desires that each of us freely enter into a loving and dynamic personal relationship with him, and He has therefore left it open to us to choose for or against His will.”
Hell is the place of eternal separation from God and is reserved for Lucifer and the fallen angels, not for human agents. However, in Purgatory agents are exposed to the influences of Hell and the pain and suffering that arises from it. It is thought that eventually, having enough of pain and suffering, all human agents will choose either to go to Heaven by having God remove their morally free will, or they will choose to be annihilated. That is, at some point, Purgatory will be empty of human agents.
It would seem that such a view magnifies what Jesus accomplished in that there is nothing a human agent could ever think, say or do that can change what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. And therefore nothing can change the Grace the Father has extended to us based on what Jesus accomplished. Consequently, the door to heaven remains forever open to us. Moreover, it seems that a God who never gives up on us is greater than one who does.
The following proposed theodicy is intended to meet the following criteria:
a) It should leave one with one’s sense of reality intact; i.e. it tells the truth about reality;
b) It should leave one empowered within the intellectual-moral system in which one lives; i.e. namely, it should not deny God’s basic power or goodness;
c) It should be as intellectually coherent as possible; i.e. it is an answer that is both coherent and life-satisfying. See: http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/theodicy.htm
Furthermore, this theodicy attempts to answer two other questions:
a) What exactly is the ‘greater good’ which comes from God permitting evil?
b) Could this ‘greater good’ have been provided some other way?
A Theodicy for Christians
The Great Irony
Throughout all of human history humankind has endeavored to understand and answer the question of why pain and suffering exist in the world and what can be done to alleviate it. This question has been simply stated by many as The Problem of Evil. In today’s world, it has primarily taken two forms. One form addresses the logical problem of evil, and the second form the evidential problem of evil.
The logical problem of evil asks the question as to whether or not it is ‘logically possible’ that an Omni-perfect God can exist given the amount and kinds of evil that have existed in the past and continue to exist in the world today. In recent times the answer to this question seems to be that ‘yes’ it is logically possible that an Omni-perfect God and evil can coexist. That is, it is logical to think that it is possible that an Omni-perfect God may have a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil, even if we may not know now what that reason is, or even if it may not be possible for us ever to know the reason.
The evidential problem of evil states that it may logically be possible for God to permit evil, but given the evidence of the amount and kinds of evil that have existed and continue to exist in the world, it is highly unlikely that an Omni-perfect God does exist.
Responses to the logical problem of evil take the form of a defense, whereas responses to the evidential problem of evil take the form of a theodicy. And a theodicy is more ambitious than a defense in that it attempts to specify a morally sufficient reason for an Omni-perfect God permitting evil.
This paper takes the form of a theodicy and attempts to not only specify a morally sufficient reason for God permitting evil but also to specify what might be the primary reason, if not the one and only reason, for God doing so. And it attempts to do so for a particular audience; that is for Christian believers.
A Proposed Version of The Greater Good, Morally Free Will Theodicy
In the traditional version of the ‘greater good, morally free will’ theodicy, the great good that comes from agents having a morally free will is that these agents can freely choose the great good of having a loving relationship with God. However, this meant God had to allow for the possibility that agents would choose not to love him, in that true loving relationships must be entered into freely.
Providing agents with the attribute of a morally free will was the only possible way God could provide them with a means whereby they could freely and conclusively demonstrate the deepest and most meaningful kind of love for him.
This proposed version of the ‘greater good, morally free will’ theodicy agrees with the traditional version in this respect. However, in most traditional versions, it is also given that human agents can inhabit Heaven with their morally free will intact. And they can do so because God will somehow make perfect their character so that they will no longer have any inclination or desire to abuse their morally free will by disobeying him. And this process of making a human agent perfect in character will likely take place gradually, in concert and agreement between God and the agent, both now in this life and later in the life to come. And, after the perfection of the human agent’s character has been achieved, the agent will enter Heaven. This approach is a solution to what has sometimes been referred to as the ‘Heaven Dilemma.’ The Heaven Dilemma asks how can an agent with a morally free will, along with the attendant possibility of evil, exist in Heaven?
In the proposed version I take exception to this solution of the Heaven Dilemma. And I do so because the traditional approach seems to render it impossible to develop a clear definition of what is meant by an agent having ‘a morally free will.’ It is proposed that if an agent has a morally free will, then by definition, they can disobey God. To say that somehow an agent, even in concert with God, can achieve a state whereby they have a morally free will and that they will also with absolute certainty never disobey God in Heaven is a non-sequitur, in my opinion.
And that is the case because it is impossible for anyone to know, even God, how an agent will respond in all possible situations and circumstances that might confront the agent in Heaven. Moreover, if something is impossible to know then it is impossible to achieve. Therefore, in this theodicy agents with a morally free will cannot inhabit Heaven.
However, as mentioned, this version of the ‘greater good, morally free will’ theodicy agrees with traditional versions in that a great good proceeds from agents having a morally free will in that having such is the only way an agent can freely and conclusively choose whether or not to demonstrate their love for God by obeying him.
The question arises as to the ‘way’ God has provided for agents to demonstrate their love for him. That is, not what do agents think is the best way for them to demonstrate their love for him, but what is the way God has provided for agents to demonstrate their love for him?
I suggest here that the way God has provided for agents to demonstrate their love for him is for them to deny ourselves and ask him to remove the attribute of a morally free will from them so that there is no chance of them ever disobeying him again. And making this choice is the primary purpose for an agent having a morally free will, to begin with.
If that is accepted, then the attribute of morally free will would have served its purpose of providing a way for agents to freely choose to demonstrate their love for God, after which it is of no further use
That is, in the proposed version of this theodicy, the morally free will attribute must itself come to be hated and rejected by agents, and ultimately and voluntarily be removed by our omnipotent Heavenly Father. It would seem that there is no other way in which an agent can freely, deeply, and conclusively demonstrate their love for God except by voluntarily asking him to remove the attribute of morally free will from them.
I consider the act of an agent asking God to remove their morally free will to be a greater sacrifice than an agent sacrificing any other God-given attribute, including the physical body. It is suggested that the most valued and cherished attribute of our life is the power we derive from our morally free will; that is, the power in our life to do things our way, rather than God’s way, which is the power to disobey God.
When agents sacrifice any other attribute of their life to God, they do not eliminate the possibility of disobeying him. It is only when agents lay down their morally free will that they eliminate themselves as a source of evil.
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life [morally free will] in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:25
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life [morally free will] for his friends.” John 15:13
Therefore, in the proposed theodicy agents must come to the realization that their morally free will is only good in that it provides the means by which they can demonstrate their love for God. Other than that, it is the cause of all evil in the world, both moral and natural. Moreover, an agent must come to the realization that they do not have the self-control to use their morally free will to choose only good and never choose evil, no matter how hard they may try and no matter how much help is available to them from God via the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, it is a good thing to try hard and to receive help from the Holy Spirit to obey God, and thereby reduce the amount of evil in the world to make our sojourn here as pleasant as possible. However, agents with a morally free will carry within themselves seeds of destruction, and they sow these seeds wherever they go. And agents can only truly and conclusively demonstrate their love for God by asking him to remove their morally free will from them so that they can never disobey him again.
Therefore we have the great irony. And the great irony is that the very attribute that agents have for choosing to disobey God must be used by agents to choose to have it removed from them so that they can never choose to disobey him again.
Furthermore, it is thought that the removal of an agent’s morally free will can only take place in the world to come following life in this world, that is, in Purgatory. It is only in the life to come that God will be able to completely remove an agent’s morally free will, and then only with the agent’s sincere, heartfelt request based on a firm, clear understanding of what it means to no longer have a morally free will. It also might be the case that some agents in the life to come will use their morally free will to choose annihilation, which God would also grant under the same conditions.
Therefore, it is suggested that all human agents in Purgatory will eventually choose either Heaven or annihilation. That is, everyone will eventually have their fill of experiencing and witnessing pain and suffering as a result of having a morally free will, and either give in to annihilation or give up to God and have their morally free will removed from them so that they can enter Heaven.
C. S. Lewis wrote, “The gates of Hell [Purgatory!] are locked on the inside”, in which case those who are locked in Purgatory can choose for themselves when to leave.
It is further suggested that it may be necessary for some agents to witness and experience even the most extreme kinds of horrific evil before they come to the realization that their morally free will must be abandoned. See: Section 5.4 – Natural consequences theodicy – Here: http://philpapers.org/archive/HOWGEA.pdf
Therefore, what is often referred to as ’horrific’ or ‘gratuitous’ or ‘unnecessary’ evil is a misnomer, in that all evil serves the morally sufficient purpose of eventually bringing all agents to the realization that the attribute of morally free will must be abandoned. And, generally speaking, the more horrific the evil, the more it serves that purpose.
What may help some agents come to this realization is the understanding that everyone may contribute in some way to all the evil actions taking place in the world, be it a contribution ever so small and remote. That is, due to ‘entanglement’ it may be that no agent is without complicity in all the evil actions and interactions taking place in the world today in that everyone may have an influence on everyone else.
These ideas might inspire us to seek God’s provision in this life to minimize our contributions to the occurrences of evil across the world; and in the life to come, to ask him to remove from us our ability to commit evil acts by removing our attribute of morally free will.
Out of death comes life; out of Jesus’ voluntary death comes new life for himself and all human beings. One of the overarching themes in the Bible is the voluntary laying down of present life so that new life may emerge.
John 10:17,18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
John 12:24,25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
John 15:13,14 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
Matthew 16:24,25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
In conclusion, this version of the ‘greater good, morally free will’ theodicy posits a morally sufficient reason for an Omni-perfect God to permit the existence of evil in the world, including the most horrendous kinds of evil that can be imagined. That is, the primary purpose of all evil is to bring agents to the realization that the attribute of ‘morally free will’ is the cause of all evil in the world. And agents must implore God to remove this attribute from them in order to remove themselves as a source of evil and enter Heaven.
And this removal is a one-time, irreversible event which takes place in Purgatory. In this way, by having God remove their morally free will, the agent has demonstrated conclusively what may plausibly and fairly be considered the principal way that God has provided for agents to freely and conclusively demonstrate their love for him, if not the one and only way.
Also, it is proposed that this theodicy has the value of encouraging agents to seek Gods help to resist the temptation to abuse their morally free will in this life and to prepare them to give it up in the life to come.
One objection to human agents not having a morally free will in Heaven is that they would be like robots or automatons, or that Heaven would eventually become boring, with either case being undesirable.
However, that may not necessarily be the case. It may be that even when an agent’s ‘morally free will’ has been removed, they will retain their ‘free will’ along with all of the other faculties and capacities of spirit, heart, mind, and soul given to them at birth in this world. And it may be that these faculties and capacities will grow and be enhanced in Heaven, and be directed and empowered by the agent’s free will to choose among and enjoy the myriad of goods available in Heaven.
If this is the case, then agents in Heaven will have all the satisfaction and pleasure that comes from finding their place and purpose in the Kingdom of God. And in this way agents will be able to thrive and work in Heaven in all the splendor and fullness for which they were created.
In this approach, the key to understanding life in Heaven is that once God has removed the agents ‘morally free will,’ per their request, God will still be able to influence and inspire the agent’s remaining ‘free will.’ However, even in Heaven God will not overrule an agent’s free will or impose his will upon them.
And most importantly, agents in Heaven will retain the memory of what life was like in this world where they and others had a morally free will, and hence never come to regret their choice of having it removed from them.
There are a number of sayings of Jesus that indicate believing in him ensures humans of eternal life in Heaven with God, without any further decision or action required on their part. This would seem to conflict with the main idea of the proposed theodicy which states that eternal life in Heaven with God will only come to the agent following the decision to request removal of the attribute of morally free will from the agent in Purgatory.
However, this conflict can be resolved if the following propositions are accepted:
a) Believing in Jesus includes more than mental understanding and agreement.
b) It also includes obedience to him by laying down our life for him.
c) The most meaningful and valued attribute of our life is our morally free will.
Here are a few of these sayings of Jesus:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life;”
John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life;”
John 20:31 “… but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name”.
If the above three propositions are accepted then we can arrive at the following:
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life [morally free will] in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:2
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life [morally free will] for his friends.” John 15:13
Mark 10:21 “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Some Related Thoughts
What has been stated in the body of the proposed theodicy may be more plausible if there is any credence to the following thoughts.
Having the attribute of ‘morally free will’ leads to selfishness, and to the illusion of being self-sufficient, and that we can save ourselves and others. That is, it provides agents with an illusory sense of personal power, self-worth and pride. When agents exercise their morally free will, they are attempting to be like God.
If the attribute of a morally free will were removed from an agent involuntarily, or restricted or limited by God in some manner, then it would be seen as coercive to the agent. Moreover, then the ability of the agent to choose to love God freely would be compromised, as would the ability of the agent to come to the realization that their morally free will must be removed from them.
“Does this mean that God can do nothing to prevent us from making choices that he abhors? Of course not. God can do a myriad of things to influence us in a different direction or to influence other people to help prevent, or at least minimize the evil someone intends. But the one thing God cannot do, by definition, is meticulously control or unilaterally revoke a [morally] free will once given. God has sufficient power to do anything he pleases, but the constraint free agency places on God is not about power; rather, it is about the metaphysical implications of the kind of world God decided to create.” See: http://reknew.org/2016/02/why-you-have-free-will/
It is not sufficient for an agent to proclaim their love for another by simply announcing a willingness to die for them. For an agent to conclusively demonstrate their love for another they must literally and voluntarily die for them in the most meaningful of ways. It is thought that in no other way is the death of someone as meaningful as when they offer up the attribute of their morally free will for God to remove it from them. For an agent to sacrifice their morally free will for the sake of God and others is a far greater and far more meaningful sacrifice than for them to die in any other way.
In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will. See: Philippians 2:7, and See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosis
Freedom, the kind of freedom described in the Constitution of the United States, i.e. the Blessings of Liberty, and cried out for by William Wallace in the movie Braveheart, is in fact the attribute of ‘morally free will,’ and is, in the minds of most people, the most cherished and valued attribute that can be possessed.
The defense of this kind of freedom is a bedrock reason for all personal and national pride, and for all personal conflicts and wars between nations. We love this kind of freedom so much that in the name of freedom we are willing to kill and even die for it, and when we do are considered the bravest and heroic all people. However, physical death for this kind of freedom is not to be rid of it but is rather in defense of it.
And death to the attribute of morally free will cannot be executed on oneself, but only by the One who gave it to us, to begin with. This voluntary act of asking God to remove it from us is the ultimate, conclusive, and irrevocable demonstration of our obedience to, and love for God, which will finally set us free to obey and, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
Before the Fall of Adam and Eve — A Highly Speculative Narrative
What is included in this appendix is a highly speculative narrative of Adam and Eve and the good and bad angels, before The Fall.
Before the Fall, Lucifer, and the other angels were created by God in Heaven with the attribute of morally free will. And God knew there was a possibility they would sin by abusing it, but abusing their morally free will was not inevitable, it was avoidable.
However, Lucifer and some other angels chose to abuse their morally free will and began to rise up and rebel against God, and were therefore expelled from Heaven by God.
However, most other angels, witnessing the Rebellion and fearing the same fate would befall them, implored God to remove the attribute of morally free will from them so that they could not then or ever disobey him. And He honored their request and they were permitted to remain in Heaven.
As a result about two-thirds of the angels remained in Heaven without a morally free will, and therefore without the ability to disobey God. In this way, the good angels demonstrated their love for God by denying themselves and voluntarily sacrificing their morally free will.
Then after the Rebellion Adam and Eve were created in the Garden with the attribute of a morally free will. And like the angels before them, it was not inevitable that they would abuse their morally free will and disobey God.
It is conjectured that Adam and Eve knew of the Angelic Rebellion, and of the actions of the good and bad angels, and the consequences that followed. And when temptation to disobey God began to overtake Adam and Eve in the Garden, they could have followed the example of the good angels and demonstrated their love for God by denying themselves by asking God to remove their morally free will. And like the good angels God would have granted them their request.
Then they would have remained in the Garden in an uncorrupted state without the ability to ever disobey God. If Adam and Eve had denied themselves, then their progeny, generation by generation, would have faced the same decision to either chose to have their morally free will removed and thereby remain in the Garden in obedience to God in an uncorrupted state, or chose to disobey God and experience expulsion from the Garden.
However, Adam and Eve chose not to deny themselves and chose to disobey God. And this sin not only caused them to be expelled from the Garden, but it also caused them to be completely changed by becoming thoroughly corrupt in spirit, mind, body, and soul, and it caused the entire world to be corrupted as well.
Upon becoming aware of their fallen corrupted state, it is conjectured that Adam and Eve implored God to forgive them, and then even implored God to remove from them their morally free will, and so be returned to their original state in the Garden.
However, it was too late. First, atonement for their sin would have to be made, and second, they would have to await their new uncorrupted nature available only in Heaven.
It is conjectured further, that their corrupted state of spirit, mind, body, and soul was incompatible with a ‘free will’ that was incapable of disobeying God. God knew that being in such an incompatible state would have been a horrible existence for Adam and Eve. And that would be because their corrupted nature would be demanding to be satisfied in ways that could not be satisfied by an uncorrupted ‘free will.’
Therefore, it would have been cruel for God not to permit them the ability to satisfy their ungodly desires, even though such satisfaction would only be temporary, and that the pull of ungodly desires once experienced would only increase. That is, corrupt agents must learn the lesson that the attribute of a morally free will is the cause of all pain and suffering in the world.
And so from the time Adam and Eve sinned, all their progeny, that is all humankind, have been born with this same corrupt human nature. However, God did not leave humankind alone in this fallen state without providing help. He provided for them a Helper, the Paraclete to come alongside and strengthen them in their struggle to obey God and to help lighten the burden of having a morally free will.
Therefore, the removal of the attribute of a morally free will from fallen humankind would have to wait for the new nature, spirit, mind, body, and soul available only in Heaven. Only in Heaven can an uncorrupted creature have a ‘free will’ that is unable to disobey God.
And this new creature with a ‘free will,’ but without a ‘morally free will’ would then be able to enjoy choosing from among all the many goods in Heaven, and enjoy choosing from among the many places to work in the Kingdom of God for all eternity in the presence of God.
Last updated: October 18, 2016 at 17:11 pm ET USA