Friday, June 20, 2014

Did God will sin?

There are some scrupulous Christians who think the very effort to develop a theodicy is unseemly or even blasphemous. To justify the existence of sin makes evil disguised good. And it makes God complicit in sin. By the same token, freewill theists wax indigent when Calvinists say there's a qualified sense in which God willed sin. 
Now imagine if Adam never fell. Imagine if Lucifer never fell. Imagine having a scholastic debate about whether God would allow evil into our morally pristine, unfallen world. The same people who revile theodicies, the same people who revile Calvinism, would consider it unthinkable, indeed sacrilegious, to suppose a holy God would ever permit evil to exist. God is too pure to allow impurity to sully his world. They'd carry on like Abdiel lecturing Lucifer in Paradise Lost. We'd be regaled with inspiring speeches.  
But, of course, that train already left the station. So freewill theists can't fall back on a priori arguments about how a holy God would never let evil happen. For we confront the a posteriori reality of evil everyday.  
Hence, every Christian philosopher and theologian must begin with that unsavory starting-point. Every Christian philosopher and theologian must take that as a given. We commence with the factuality of evil, and work back from there. Indeed, evil is a presupposition of Christianity. Like it or not, you can't avoid saying that, in some sense, God willed sin. It's too late in the game to shout "Sacrilege!" "Blasphemy!" The very existence of moral evil means God has taken certain theological options off the table. We must deal with what's left. Seek the wisdom in what is–or will be. Not what might have been. 


  1. I wonder if many people ask how God would reveal his eternal nature in its fullness, including wrath, without sin.

  2. Do theologians besides "Open Theists" say God did not will sin? Don't most all who are not Calvinist say that He willed it in the sense that He allowed it to occur?


  3. Good luck trying to extract that admission from Roger Olson.