Click HERE for Part One.
The very thing that makes love so romantic, mercy so tender, compassion so endearing, marriage so enchanting, and commitment so noble is the reality that the person could have chosen to do otherwise. The groom could have loved another, but chose this woman; mercy could have been withheld, compassion denied, marriage rejected, and commitment forsaken. Defining free choice in a manner that excludes otherwise choice in the actual moment of decision is almost indistinguishable from animal instinct. The only differences are concepts like the experience of deliberation, which in reality does not affect the choice set by determinative antecedents any more than if one compares it to determined instinct.
I would contend that the Scripture teaches and humans quotidianly act in concert with libertarianism and not compatibilism, a truth that is even inconsistently pervasive in Calvinists’ writings that are reticent to lucidly display the essence of compatibilism. Similar to the aforementioned question, some then ask, why did God not create man so he could not sin? The answer is because to create man in such a way so as to guarantee that he would not sin (so long as sin was within the range of options), or could not sin means that God would not have created man as man.
There are many reasons that the possibility to sin does not exist with God, but suffice it to say, the Scripture teaches this truth (James 1:13), and God’s nature makes such an actual impossibility. To wit, if God sinned, He would not be God, and if God can cease to exist, He was never God; dissimilarly, man can sin and still be man, albeit unrighteous man. God has no part in creating sin, creating a past that inviolably predetermines a desire to sin from which man will freely choose to sin, creating sin’s eternal necessity, or an environment conducive to sin, but rather always desires righteousness (Habakkuk 1:13; Hebrews 6:18; James 1:13 and 1 Peter 1:15–16).
God created man as a free moral agent, in His image, with true freedom to choose righteousness or sin. Therefore, God created freedom, and by every measure, freedom is good. It is the misuse of freedom that birthed sin. That does not make freedom evil or the One who gave it responsible for evil, or even desirous of such eventuality in light of other actual possible eventualities. Man is the efficient cause of sin, which means that from a libertarian perspective it is nonsense to ask who caused man to sin; however it is highly relevant in light of a compatible perspective. Geisler says, “God made the fact of freedom; we are responsible for the acts of freedom.”[i]
Therefore, unlike Calvinism, under the terms of which God must have in some regard desired man to sin, Extensivists would argue that God desired to create man as a truly free moral agent, with otherwise choice as God has; desiring only that he would choose to live righteously. God never did nor does He now desire sin. He is holy and only and always desires holiness. God’s choice to permit sin temporarily was not God’s true desire for man any more than it is His desire for man to continue in sin, but God’s desire for righteousness is not thwarted or overcome by man’s sin.
In God’s desire to create a true holy man, He knew that free otherwise choice was required; to wit, holiness and sin are the result of a choice between two accessible options rather than a consequence of a predetermined free choosing in which man could not have chosen differently. Accordingly, God knew man would sin, although He did not desire for man to sin then nor does He desire him to sin now. However, what He did and does desire for man is that as a free moral agent, man would choose to live righteously rather than sinfully, which is the only real kind of righteousness, i.e. deterministically controlled or merely instinctually driven beings do not choose righteously or sinfully since they have no actual otherwise choice. Therefore, God created man with an eternal redemptive plan in mind that affords fallen man a real free choice between accessible options, whereby man may choose by faith in Christ to be truly righteous, loving, and worshipful or remain in his sin.
Part Three Coming Soon!
[i] Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1999), 23.