Understanding the concept of freewill (see “Freewill and the Sovereignty of God, Part I”) makes it easier to comprehend why evil occurs in our world and to interpret God’s plan for our lives. If we perceive God before the beginning of time planning out every detail of every life, we are left with no other choice but to think that God plans and thus approves every atrocity that has befallen man. It then becomes impossible to reconcile a God who loves us beyond measure with a God who would allow barbarities such as the attempted extinction of the Jews by Hitler, the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan or the everyday abductions of children around the world. The best way I know of determining truth in a given matter is to compare it to the character of God. Therefore, since the thought that God would plan and approve of evil is in direct contradiction with the God we see revealed in scripture, we can reason that the teaching that God has preordained evil and calamity is simply not true.
There are verses in the Bible that some continue to use to support the theory of God controlling every action in life. However, all scripture must be read in light of the whole and not singled out to simply try and prove a point. The whole narrative of the Word of God must be considered as we seek to know Him better each day. It is a huge undertaking, one we would never be able to attempt without the help and guidance of His Holy Spirit. Learning to love and understand the character of God is a life-long mission, not something any of us will accomplish in a couple of weeks or by taking a weekend seminar. It’s important that we read books by other believers who have taken the time to delve into the subjects we have not had the opportunity to study ourselves. When you learn something from another Christ follower, be sure to always verify what they are teaching through scripture. On the subject of freewill, I recommend “Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views” for a very readable discussion of the four major theories that exist today on the topic. My personal view of Open Theism is extremely well explained through Scripture in Greg Boyd’s excellent book, “God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God“.
For some, the topic of freewill is a real hot button issue, with those who believe one way speaking disparagingly of those who believe another. We would do well to remember the command to live in unity (Ephesians 4:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-16) rather than battle one another over topics that are irrelevant to our salvation. Understanding freewill through the lens of Open Theism has answered all my questions regarding the problem of evil in the world. It has also led me to understand how incredibly awesome and powerful God is by wanting to collaborate with humans in the writing of history, despite all the risks that poses. I believe in the story of the Bible because it makes more sense than any alternative. I subscribe to the view of Open Theism for the same reason. If your understanding of freewill is different and you are comfortable with all its implications, then we can simply disagree on this point but continue working together to fulfill the mission of Christ.
Freewill is a big and complex topic and I encourage you to read the resources I’ve suggested above for a more in depth treatment of the subject. What I want you to take away from our discussion is that God is ultimately in control of the final destination of humanity. Between here and then, He has ceded some control of the details to humans while revealing the path we should choose. Our actions may surprise God, but they will never thwart His mission. He is all powerful and all glorious; none can compare to Him. Be thankful God has chosen to allow you the freedom of choice. Stand in awe at the realization that He chose to collaborate with you in the creation of history. Rest peacefully in the knowledge that no matter how badly humans mess things up, God has the ultimate power to reign in everything to fulfill His good and perfect plan.
Question: What additional questions do you have regarding the subject of freewill?