Free Will and Evil

Free will is often described as the ability to choose one thing over another without coercion. The problem with that definition is that that type of choice would always have to be arbitrary. Why did you choose A instead of B? No reason. I chose A just because I could. I could have also chosen B. No matter. But, is that how we make choices? Of course not. There is always a reason you chose one thing over another, and that reason is the result of factors which are most often beyond your control. Why is a man attracted to one type of woman instead of another? Why do you enjoy certain kinds of food and hate others? Why are you drawn to this career and not that one? A man cannot simply will himself to be attracted to blonds instead of brunettes.

People who hold to the above definition of free will also tend to believe that the opposite of free will is no will. You either have free will or you are a preprogrammed robot. But, what is the opposite of freedom? It is slavery. Therefore, it is better to say that the opposite of free will is not “no will”, but rather “enslaved will”.

If we are created beings, then our Creator gave us certain desires. God did not create blank slates with arbitrary free wills. Rather, God created beings with a specific design and purpose. We were never created to be anything other than what we were created for. Therefore, free will, rather than being the ability to arbitrarily choose whatever, is best defined as the ability to freely be what God created us to be. Defined that way, the opposite free will is enslaved will–the inability to be what God created us to be. If we were created to be good, loving, and perfect, then our inability to be those things shows that our wills are enslaved to some fallen and corrupt condition. Welcome to planet Earth.

Any salvation plan then, would have to be one which frees us from our enslavement and once again place us in a condition where we can exist exactly as God intended. This is the claim of Christianity. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, destroys the old world of enslavement, and creates a new world of freedom. Humanity finds its freedom through union with Christ.

But, why and how did this fallen condition occur in the first place? If humans were originally created perfect and with a disposition toward God and the good, why did our first parents willfully sin? Were they deceived into doing so? By the devil? How and why did the devil fall?

The problem of evil is a perplexing one. How can an all powerful good God be reconciled with the existence of evil?

Related reading… Predisposed to Rule

What is Hell? (Part Two) ~ The Valley of Hinnom and The Outer Darkness

Valley of Hinnom

Old Testament

And he hath defiled Topheth [A place in the SE end of the valley of the son of Hinnom south of Jerusalem – BDB Hebrew definition], that [is] in the valley of the son of Hinnom, so that no man doth cause his son and his daughter to pass over through fire to Molech.
~2 Kings 23:10 (YLT)

A son of twenty years [is] Ahaz in his reigning, and sixteen years he hath reigned in Jerusalem, and he hath not done that which is right in the eyes of Jehovah, as David his father, and walketh in the ways of the kings of Israel, and also, molten images hath made for Baalim, and himself hath made perfume in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burneth his sons with fire according to the abominations of the nations that Jehovah dispossessed from the presence of the sons of Israel, and sacrificeth and maketh perfume in high places, and on the heights, and under every green tree.
~2 Chronicles 28:1-3 (YLT)

And he hath caused his sons to pass over through fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and observed clouds and used enchantments and witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and a wizard; he hath multiplied to do the evil thing in the eyes of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger.
~2 Chronicles 33:6 (YLT)

For, arranged from former time is Tophet, Even it for the king is prepared, He hath made deep, He hath made large, Its pile [is] fire and much wood, The breath of Jehovah, As a stream of brim stone, is burning in it!
~Isaiah 30:33 (YLT)

And they have gone forth, And looked on the carcases of the men Who are transgressing against me, For their worm dieth not, And their fire is not quenched, And they have been an abhorrence to all flesh!
~Isaiah 66:24 (YLT)

And have built the high places of Tophet, That [are] in the valley of the son of Hinnom, To burn their sons and their daughters with fire, Which I did not command, Nor did it come up on My heart.
~Jeremiah 7:31 (YLT)

Thus said Jehovah, ‘Go, and thou hast got a potter’s earthen vessel, and of the elders of the people, and of the elders of the priests, and thou hast gone forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, that [is] at the opening of the gate of the pottery, and hast proclaimed there the words that I speak unto thee, and hast said, Hear a word of Jehovah, ye kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel: “Lo, I am bringing in evil on this place, at which the ears of every one who is hearing it do tingle, because that they have forsaken Me, and make known this place, and make perfume in it to other gods, that they knew not, they and their fathers, and the kings of Judah, and they have filled this place [with] innocent blood, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons with fire, burnt-offerings to Baal, that I commanded not, nor spake of, nor did it come up on My heart. Therefore, lo, days are coming — an affirmation of Jehovah — and this place is not called any more, Tophet, and Valley of the son of Hinnom, but, Valley of slaughter.”‘
~Jeremiah 19:1-6 (YLT)

And thou hast broken the bottle before the eyes of the men who are going with thee, and hast said unto them: Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, Thus do I break this people and this city, as one breaketh the potter’s vessel, that is not able to be repaired again, and in Tophet they bury — without place to bury; so I do to this place — an affirmation of Jehovah — and to its inhabitants, so as to make this city as Tophet; and the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, have been — as the place of Tophet — defiled, even all the houses on whose roofs they have made perfume to all the host of the heavens, so as to pour out oblations to other gods.’ And Jeremiah cometh in from Tophet, whither Jehovah had sent him to prophesy, and he standeth in the court of the house of Jehovah, and he saith unto all the people: ‘Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel: Lo, I am bringing in unto this city, and on all its cities, all the evil that I have spoken against it, for they have hardened their neck — not to hear My words!’
~Jeremiah 19:10-15 (YLT)

And they build the high places of Baal, that [are] in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come up on my heart to do this abomination, so as to cause Judah to sin.
~Jeremiah 32:35 (YLT)

New Testament

Matthew 5:22: “….whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into Gehenna.”
Matthew 5:29: “….it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna.”
Matthew 5:30: “….better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.”
Matthew 10:28: “….rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul [Greek: ψυχή] and body in Gehenna.”
Matthew 18:9: “It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than with two eyes to be thrown into the Gehenna….”
Matthew 23:15: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you… make one proselyte…twice as much a child of Gehenna as yourselves.”
Matthew 23:33, to the Pharisees: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you to escape the sentence of Gehenna?”
Mark 9:43: “It is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into Gehenna into the unquenchable fire.”
Mark 9:45: “It is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into Gehenna.”
Mark 9:47: “It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into Gehenna.”
Luke 12:5: “….fear the One who, after He has killed has authority to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, fear Him.”
James 3:6: “And the tongue is a fire,…and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by Gehenna.”

The Outer Darkness

And Jesus having heard, did wonder, and said to those following, ‘Verily I say to you, not even in Israel so great faith have I found; and I say to you, that many from east and west shall come and recline (at meat) with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the reign of the heavens, but the sons of the reign shall be cast forth to the outer darkness — there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.’
~Matthew 8:10-12 (YLT)

Then said the king to the ministrants, Having bound his feet and hands, take him up and cast forth to the outer darkness, there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth; for many are called, and few chosen.
~Matthew 22:13-14 (YLT)

[A]nd the unprofitable servant cast ye forth to the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.
~Matthew 25:30 (YLT)

Calvinism is Pantheism

499198-John-Calvin-Quote-By-predestination-we-mean-the-eternal-decree-ofJesus was not created; He was begotten. He proceeds forth from the Father, and He does so eternally. There was never a time when Jesus did not exist. (The terms “time” and “exist” I use lightly when talking about God.)

The universe, however, was created by God, not begotten. The universe is wholly separate from God — the universe is not God, and God is not the universe. Nor is God the “prime-mover” of the universe, for to be the prime-mover of a system is to be a part of that system. God is not a part of the universe even if it’s the first part. He is the creator of the universe, not the begetter.

Deism teaches that God created the universe wholly separate from Himself and afterward had, and has, no interaction with the universe. Pantheism teaches that God is inseparable from the universe as He is the universe and the universe is Him. The proper teaching, in my opinion, is that God did create the universe wholly separate from Himself, but does indeed interact intimately with the universe, even to the point of entering His creation as the man Jesus and continuing with the Holy Spirit.

Calvinism teaches that God’s will is so intertwined with the universe, predestining every detail of what happens from before creation, being the first cause of every event, that God becomes inseparable from creation. How can creation be separate from God when God has already decided exactly what will happen before any event took place and then ensures from moment to moment that all plays out as He predestined?

Some Calvinists would argue with this assertion, “You’re taking things too far!” But these Calvinists aren’t thinking their theology through to its logical conclusions. If God predestines a few things, He predestines all things. If God is sovereign, as the Calvinist defines that term, nothing occurs which is opposite to His will.

What we end up with is a kind of Christian Pantheism where it becomes impossible to imagine any event happening without being directly caused by God. We end up with a universe where only God is real and everything else is illusion. A universe in which there is only God playing out a story of unreal characters in His mind.