A. Requirements for a free-moral agent:
In order for one to be a true free-moral individual there are three things that must exist: (1) We must have the ability to make choices. (2) We must live in an environment in which the choices can be made. (3) We must have the freedom to make the choices.
If one had the ability to make choices, but did not live in an environment wherein he could make choices, then certainly he would not be a true free-moral individual. If he could make the choices, and lived in an environment in which he could make choices, but was prevented from doing so, then he would still not be a truly free-moral individual.
- Ability to choose: If we are to make choices in relation to revealed law in order to maintain a covenant relationship with God, then we must have the mental ability to make choices. God first placed man in the garden of Eden. He also placed in the garden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In relation to the tree, there was law. “Don’t eat of it” (Gn 2:17). It would have been senseless to state the law concerning the eating of the fruit of the tree if Adam did not have the ability to make a rational choice concerning the law.
Adam was given the law not to eat of the tree because God had already given him the ability to make a choice. Because Adam had the ability to make a choice in reference to law, he was truly free, and thus, would be held accountable for his sin if he violated the law. Therefore, in order for all men to stand in judgment and be held accountable for their choices, all of us must have been created with the ability to make choices concerning good and evil.
Condemnation of anyone would be unjust if any individual did not have the ability to make choices by which he or she could be saved. The justice of God will stand in judgment because we have been given the ability to make choices. And because we have this ability, we will be held accountable for the choices we make.
2. Environment for choice: A man with the ability to choose, who is not placed in an environment wherein he can make choices, is not truly free. Therefore, God had to place choices before Adam and Eve in order to produce an environment wherein they could function as true free-moral individuals. For this reason, man was placed in a world where Satan is allowed to deceive. The reality of deception by Satan is evidence that we must make choices in relation to truth. As free-moral individuals we are capable of making decisions in the environment in which we live.
In order for God to stand as a just God in judgment, those who are judged must have had an opportunity to make choices of good or evil. If the condemned did not have the choice of making bad choices, then God could not be just to condemn them to hell. Therefore, the fact that we will be held accountable for making evil choices, assumes that we now live in an environment in which those choices can be made.
3. Freedom to choose: It would have been useless for God to create us with the ability to make choices, and then place us in an environment wherein choices could be made, but without giving us the freedom to make choices. God’s creation of man with the ability to make choices assumes that we have the freedom to do so.
Placing us in an environment wherein we can make choices also assumes that we can make the choices. Therefore, in order for man to be a true free-moral agent, he must have the privilege of making choices of either good or evil in an environment wherein such choices can be made.
If God had pre-programmed us to behave in a certain manner, we would be robots. But it is difficult to love a robot. Therefore, in order for God to relate to a being upon which He could truly pour out His love, man of necessity had to be created truly free to make moral decisions. And when God did pour out His love through His Son, then the recipients of the love could free-morally respond to the Father with the words, “We love You, too!”
To be truly free, however, God could not create man with a programmed nature that would incline him to either good or evil. We were created pure. Babies are born pure of sin. We were brought forth into this world with an unbiased nature. Therefore, we are not programmed (predestined) to good and heaven—Calvin was wrong. We are not programmed (predestined) to evil and hell.
If we were programmed to do good, then we would not deserve heaven. If we were programmed to be disobedient, then we could not justly be condemned to hell. Therefore, of necessity we had to be created pure and free, and then allowed the opportunity to live in an environment wherein freedom of choice was possible.
Without freedom of choice, we could not be justly given heaven as a “reward.” A reward can be given only to one who freely chooses to do that which was necessary to receive to receive the reward. Neither could we be justly condemned to hell if we were not true free-moral individuals with the freedom to rebel against obedience to the gospel.
What type of a fiendish god would condemn to hell one who never had the freedom to make a choice concerning his or her eternal destiny in heaven? This is the insidious nature of the doctrine of Calvinism. It is an attack against the justice of God, as well as the free-moral choice of each individual person who has and will live on the face of the earth. It is an attack against our opportunity to respond to the gospel, and our walk of gratitude to God for sending us His love offering.
[Next in Series: May 11]