Monday, December 05, 2005

Free Will

In Sunday's adult formation class we covered the first part of Christ's Passion. As we discussed things the subject of free will came up. This was in talking about Judas' choice to betray Christ. Certainly Satan entered into Judas as it is indicated in scripture and had influence on him, but ultimately it was a matter of his free will. In the same way God may inspire or influence us, but He does not make us do anything. Our choice to turn to Him or away from Him is ultimately our will. I think the in same way, Satan attempts to influence us, but if we choose sin, it is still a matter of free will on our part. We have the choice to avoid those things that are sinful, but many times our desires get in the way. Believe me. I know. I think the example of Judas is a way to look at the criticism of those Catholic priests that made bad choices. Many people blame the Church as a whole, but the Church cannot be responsible for the decisions of those men. In all likelihood, similar to Judas, Satan played a role in their demise. And ultimately, they made very bad choices of their own free will. Just as any sinner does - even those in other faiths and those with no faith.
The concept of free will is difficult to understand when Christians believe that God is all-knowing. If He knows everything that is going to happen and the choices we're going to make, how can it really be free will? The fact is that, one may know how a person will choose something, yet still leave it as their choice. For example. I can give an extra-credit assignment in my classes and I can know that a particular student will not do it because of their past choices. But I don't tell that student to not do it, but I let he or she make that choice. In the same way, God may know how we'll end up when we die, but He still ultimately lets us make the choices as we journey through our lives. Sometimes He influences or provides for us to perhaps get us toward the right path, but He never makes our decisions for us. Allowing us free will means that we can be held accountable for our actions when it comes to His judgment. After all, He made us this way as rational humans that has freedom to choose. The more we choose good, the freer we become and the more we can progress in virtue and goodness. Even though it can be difficult to understand all of this in additional to God's omniscience, I think it's simply one of the mysteries of God's being that we will never be able to fully understand.. at least while we are here on Earth.
But the good thing is that despite our bad choices we may make, God is still there and forgives us when we ask for it. But that is the key... acknowledging our failures and asking for His forgiveness. Not always an easy thing, but what a relief when we do!


Bret Capranica said...
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Bret Capranica said...

The concept of free will is a very interesting bird. What Scriptures would you point to that specifically teach free will. How does the idea of free will keep God from being the puppet of human free agency? How can God be sovereign while still captive to the whims of humanity. This is a very invovled subject - an interesting one to dialogue over.