ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

If God is in control, how can we have free will?

Updated on November 19, 2014
Source

I’ve heard the problem of free will discussed countless times in my life. The dilemma goes something like this: How can God be in control of the universe, knowing our every thought and action with the omnipotence to stop it if He wished, and yet hold us accountable for our actions? If He is in control, why are we punished for the choices we make?

I’m not a trained theologian, and I will not try to entangle myself in the higher complexities that that study entails. But the question warrants an answer, and it is one that Christian are probably going to face often, educated or not. That being the case, I will not give a systematic answer (that would be beyond my capabilities) but I will give an analogy that I think will put the issue in new light.

Let us take a story, say, Shakespeare’s Macbeth (for our purposes let us assume that Macbeth was indeed written by one man named William Shakespeare and not someone else or several other persons, as some scholars may claim). Macbeth betrays and murders his king, thus ascending to the throne himself. He ultimately dies for his treachery, his forces broken. I think it safe to say that, while Macbeth had admirable qualities such as intelligence and strength, Shakespeare thought him worthy of death. We as readers certainly see Macbeth as deserving of his fate, as he betrayed a man who was good to him. Yet why? After all, it is really Shakespeare that chose to have Macbeth commit the heinous crimes he did. If he had wanted Macbeth to be a good man, he could have easily done so. What choice could Macbeth actually have? Yet I have never heard anyone berate Shakespeare for writing what he did.

The fact is, when an author creates a story, he is in control of everything that happens. All the events, the choices that his characters make, are up to him in the long run. Yet in the context of the story, the characters choices are legitimate. Macbeth chooses to kill Duncan; it is decided by Shakespeare who is making up the story, yet the choice is no less Macbeth’s. And while Shakespeare could have made him act differently, I think, and I believe Shakespeare would have thought, that the man would no longer have been Macbeth. Divine will can interfere, but it seldom does when doing so would destroy our identity.

I rather think this is what Paul meant when he told us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). The question in discussion—“Do I have free will, or is it really God just acting through me?”—is almost a misnomer. We cannot even have will to begin with if God does not bring us into being and sustain us. Macbeth would not have existed if Shakespeare had not imagined him into being. Macbeth’s exercise of his will is itself an exercise of Shakespeare’s will. But it is still Macbeth’s will.

In the end, we cannot stop acting because we think that God controls our actions, and there would be no sense in God giving us commands if we were incapable of choosing to obey them. We must act as if the will were ours, while always remembering that it is God who empowers us to will.

Source
Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)