Warning: Theology ahead

Most days, I'm not a sanctimoniously motormouthed, aimlessly inane, woefully underinformed theologian. In fact, it only happens on the fourth thursday of every prime month. So bear with me. This post was inspired by this essay by Alex Jordan Harris.

It's easy to be able to predict the reactions of certain people in certain situations; a mother rescuing her endangered child is an excellent example. Why is that such a sure, safe prediction? Because the mother doesn't really have the "free will" to choose to abandon the child.

Free will is not a vast expanse of possibilities which we may roam at random; rather, it is the no man's land between the forces of good and evil. The human character is in a state of war; it is partly occupied by evil, and partly occupied by good. This hypothetical mother has enough good in her character that she does not even consider abandoning the child; it's not even an option to her. However, let's say she also has enough evil in her that she doesn't hesitate to gossip about her neighbors; she doesn't even consider refraining from gossip; perhaps it doesn't even occur to her that it's wrong.

Where is her free will, then? It's the battlefront; the space between the extremes. There are certain decisions that make her stop and think; certain decisions that give her the opportunity to award a victory to righteousness, or give the upper hand to sin. When she chooses righteousness, evil must retreat. The territory occupied by sin shrinks. The battlefront shifts Choices that she previously would have had to consider carefully are now answered immediately with a righteous response.

God knows where the battle lines are drawn. He knows what choices we'll make without thinking twice. But he can't see the future laid out as a chain reaction of predictable decisions made by robotic "free agents", because there are some choices that do make us stop and think, and in those choices, our free will can't be predicted.

"Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided." (If you don't know who said that, I'm not going to tell ya :p)


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