Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How is God free if He cannot sin?

James 1:13: "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone"

How can God have free will, and be all-powerful, if He cannot do evil?

I think the answer is that there are actually two kinds of 'cannot':

Cannot 1: 'I cannot throw a rock into space from my backyard'.
Cannot 2: 'I could never rob a bank and kill people. That's evil'.

Cannot 1 is physical impossibility, cannot 2 is the inability to be tempted by something - usually evil. When the Bible says God cannot do evil it's referring to 'cannot 2' rather than 'cannot 1':

Cannot 2 is fine for free will, otherwise no one could make a statement like the one above associated with 'cannot 2'.

So God is 'physically' able to do evil, it's just that He can never, ever find it worth doing. Evil is inaccessible to God because He can't be tempted to do it.

How so? I think it has something to do with the way God can never 'forget' the truth, or be tempted to forget the truth. When we do the wrong thing we often have a period where we 'umm' and 'ahh' about doing wrong in our mind, and then if we do the wrong thing we somehow 'forget' what we should do. We come up with an excuse that doesn't make sense to someone else. Because God is always truthful, He can't be tempted to do that. Hence God is never tempted to do evil.

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Blogger Matt Wade said...

Thank you so much! I was discussing this in my philosophy of C.S. Lewis class the other day. You articulated that thought very well. We reached that same idea but did it in many more words. I like your version better.

Blogger Will G said...

Thanks for the feedback.

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God Bless

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