Free will: God is unjust?

Hey guys

Right…I’m a bit ashamed to be asking this question, I mean it sounds like such a basic point but I found myself absolutely stumped.

Earlier today I was giving a lecture at a high school about Christianity in general (not just Catholicism) and just brushing the surface about basic beliefs and differences between denominations. Well when it came time to take questions this girl asked a very simple question about free will and choice.

Obviously I can’t repeat it word for word since it wasn’t written down or in english but it went something like this…


"We’re told that the Abrahamic God is both good and just, and he gave us free will to reject or accept his message. If we accept and obey, and indeed forsake our free will we are rewarded in the next life.

If we decide to exercise our free will, we are punished eternally. If I give a boy a bar of chocolate but tell him he can either give it back to me or I’m going to punch his teeth out that’s not a choice, that’s blackmail. A choice can have consequences, but all of the consequences for sin are made up by God. If I trip and fall onto a sword by accident that us one thing, it’s something else entirely if someone forges a blade specifically to slide under the trajectory of my fall juwt because they can.

If God is omnipotent, he can remove sin any time he likes and free souls from it…He doesn’t. God cannot be just because he blackmails us into submission by fear, to burn or obey is not a choice, that is barbarism. A God that resorts to blackmail for obedience is not good. “Love me or I’ll hurt you” is crazy, and the crazy is only doubled when we’re told “Belive in this obscure event with thin to no verifiable evidence outside of sycophantic scripture written two generations after it took place out of all the other myriad of religions in the world older than it or I’ll burn you forever”.***

The second point wasn’t so hard to speak against, I explained the Catholic perspective on that matter but I ended up stalling so I didn’t have to respond to the first one.

I’ve been pondering it since, and I did check a series of short videos the girl mentioned youtube.com/watch?v=aUtSM2oVy_E . You’d think I’d know better at my level of university study but for such a basic question…I don’t know what to think, I’d hate to think of it in the terms of “love me or suffer”, because that certainly does look like blackmail, and Catholics are told the ends never justify the means.

Does anyone have any thoughts? I’m sure this isn’t the first time a question like this has been asked but it totally threw me today.

The proper term is extortion rather than blackmail. The problem of evil has been discussed for centuries.

Each human is given a gift which may be rejected or accepted and either choice is an exercise of our free will. God does not oppose our choice to reject that gift. When grace is received it is sufficient to ensure salvation. The reward in heaven is not fixed but variable depending on the merit.

God is omnipotent. God does remove sin. God grants free will and through that there can be an expression of love, rather than only a predetermined outcome.

Except that’s not exactly how it works. A great misconception in the secular world is that God is some punishing, avenging abusive entity just waiting, and rubbing his hands with maniacal glee for when we screw up just so he can then damn us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Free will works both ways, for a start. It is my will that I love God, as he loves me (actually, since I’m a finite human, and he is an infinite God, I’m loving him in a pale reflection of the way he loves me). It is not God coercing me or “blackmailing” (to use the term in the example) me into loving him. God would not do that, because that is not love. Love is a free will exchange and cannot be forced. When a person uses their free will to love something ultimately other than God, God respects and ratifies that choice. He is sorrowful at having to do it, but even in his omnipotence he will not force someone to do something they do not want to do.

The consequence for sin, Hell, is eternal separation from God. If a person desires ardently, fervently, not to be with someone, the loving thing, even as painful as it is, is to honor that request. If a person says at the last moment of life “I hate you, God, and wish to be apart from you forever,” God, in his infinite love will honor that. It’s not so much a judicial punishment so much as it is the ratification of a person’s life choices.

God DOES remove sin – but since sin is, at its core, a willful rupture in a person’s relationship with God, God cannot, without controlling someone’s very thoughts, reconcile that relationship unilaterally, without the person’s consent. That’s why we have Confession – the confessional is not an arcane torture chamber meant to debase and humiliate a person for no other reason than to drag them through the mud. No! It is a place where a person hurting from breaking their relationship with our Father in heaven can go to say “I love you, and I’m sorry for what I have done, and wish to walk with you again.” And God then says in return “I love you, and was waiting for you to return,” and through the ministry of the Church says “…and I absolve you of your sins.”

I also would like to add that true love is only found in free will. No one can make you love someone or God… As it is our free will to love each other, it is our free will to love God. I also believe it is only thru scripture that we can know God and then to love him.

hello neko,

The CCC#1807 says that “justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice towards God is called the virtue of religion.”
Now since God is our creator who brought us out of nothingness to existence, who preserves us in existence at every moment, who watches over us at every moment by His providence, and who has called us to a life of eternal beatitude with Him, it is only just that we give God due honor and subjection. I’m afraid that the girl you mentioned does not have a proper idea of justice especially towards God.
Since God is our creator and Father and is infinitely just, it is only right and just that we honor Him by submitting ourselves to Him as children honor and submit to their parents. If God didn’t demand this of us, in what sense can we say that He is just for justice is to give to each one their due?
Now God does not force us to love Him or submit ourselves to Him as it is written:

“God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.
If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
loyalty is doing the will of God.
Set before you are fire and water;
to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.
Before everyone are life and death,
whichever they choose will be given them.” (Sirach 15: 14-17).

If a person does not want to honor, love, and submit to God, that is what they will be given, i.e., an eternity without God which is an eternity of unhappiness because in God alone is our beatitude and happiness. As Sirach says, “Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them”. Life with God on high in whom there is only true life or spiritual death which is a life without God.

As other posters have already mentioned, God’s proposition is not “love me or burn.” He doesn’t send anybody to Hell; they go there because they want to be there. They would rather be there than be in Heaven. To force them into Heaven against their will would be unjust and cruel. We all seek what is good, but the people in Hell rejected their objective good, God, and are seeking after some lesser good that cannot satisfy their rational nature. God is omniscient and knows what we need to make this choice fully. He is omnibenevolent and desires to give us these circumstances. He is omnipotent and hence makes it happen. If someone still ends up in Hell, it was their choice. Nobody winds up in Hell by accident.

Why would anybody rather be in Hell than Heaven? Well how many times a day does every one of us assert self over God? I presume that in Heaven you are emptying yourself completely in a relationship of love with God. I think there’s probably a lot of us that would still want to cling to something over God. We would have to let go of all pride, all vanity, all selfishness, no matter how small. C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce sheds some light on this (although it is only a story and so it is obviously highly debatable whether the afterlife is the way Lewis depicts, but I think it gets an important spiritual truth across nonetheless). I have heard a theory that Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are all really the same thing: being in the unveiled presence of God Himself. However, the people in Heaven embrace God in joyous reception of His love while the people in Hell are constantly suffering due to His presence because they eternally refuse to let go of sin, similar to how we flourish naturally in the light but when the light is suddenly turned on from darkness we recoil in discomfort.

Also, to answer her critique that God should just forcibly remove all sin and force us to do good, thereby eliminating our free will, how exactly would that be good for us? There would be no “us” if He did something like that. A human being has an intellect and will. Deprive us of that and we are no longer human in any relevant sense. Would we rather have animal life, which is incapable of knowing and loving? And no, I don’t think it would be like being a human with animal body. There would presumably be no interior mental life that is anything like what we currently experience. I suspect asking whether God can make “us” to only be good and still be human is like asking whether He can create a stone that is so heavy He cannot lift it. It is a logical impossibility. I hope this helps (and I hope I didn’t relate any erroneous theories :blush:).

It is obvious that such a person is in need of love. Here are some points that I would bring up:

  • God loves each of us. (Wisdom 11:25)

  • Love wills the good of the other.

  • Our greatest (and only true) good consists in union with God, the Source of all good.

  • God desires our love, which unites us to Him (1 John 4:16). (The commandments, grace, chastisements, suffering - everything - is ordained by God for our greatest good.)

  • The object of the intellect is to know God; the object of the will is to love Him. We fulfill our purpose as rational creatures - and therefore attain happiness and perfection - to the extent that we participate in the divine life i.e. submit to the workings of grace, which makes us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), thus making us capable of growing in love, peace, joy etc., as a result of our union with God, from Whom these - and all good things - come.

  • Without God we can do nothing; from Him comes our being, free will, intellect etc.

  • When we turn away from God, our final end, we deprive ourselves of His grace. Knowing infallibly what will come from this, God warns us, and in His eternal love He has ordained everything so that we will not lose Him forever. Jesus suffered excruciating agonies for 33 years so that we might believe in His love, and love Him in return. His will is love itself; it always produces union with Him, and is therefore necessary for us if we wish to attain such an elevated end (eternal life). As Bl. Dom Columba Marmion says: "The will of God is not distinct from Himself; it is God intimating to us His wishes; it is as holy, as powerful, as adorable, as immutable as God Himself.” Conversely, our will lacks substance and being; it is a negation of God’s love (more or less); it is imperfect by nature, and has the self as its end. Subsequently it separates us from God, and produces destructive consequences, such as damnation, which are to unrepented mortal sin what lung cancer is to smoking i.e. they follow inevitably from the perverse nature of the act.

The only truly rational and profitable use of our free will is when we seek God and love Him. Surely God knows and wills what is best for us; we can hardly call Him unjust when we refuse to embrace His loving designs.

First of all, why were you giving this lecture, given your status in the Church and what kind of high school was this, secular, Non-Catholic religious, Catholic? And I assume you are not " Non Stamp Collector " out trolling.:wink: I will answer point by point.

  1. The videos were highly biased and one sided, demonic actually. Anyone watching these without sufficient theological training would possibily endanger their salvation.

  2. God is good, there is no malice in him, he created us freely to show forth his glory, so that we may know, love, and serve him in this life, and share eternal happiness with him in the next.

  3. He gave us perfect freedom of choice. And he has given us plenty of time to recognize his goodness and love. He gave us a universe of beauty and order by which we may recognize his wisdom, beauty, and goodness. And he gave us his specific Revelation by which he made these things explicit.

  4. It is true that he created hell as a place of eternal punishment for those who reject his love and goodness. The chief punishment of hell is the knowledge that we intentionally, and willfully rejected God and would not, even while in hell, retract that rejection.

  5. God, in Paradise, amply demonstrated to Adam and Eve his goodness and beauty. He also warned them of the consequences of sin. But they sinned anyway, in spite of the fact that God had given them the gift of integrity and a terrific amount of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge - much more than we have been given…

  6. We inherited their sin, not as a personal sin, but as an absence of supernatural grace.

  7. In this we are following the law of nature. No creature is born with greater potentialities than its parents. The parents can give only what they have and our original parents did not have the gifts of grace and integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to pass on to us.

  8. God knows this, and in spite of what No Samp Collector says, God makes adequate allowance for all this, though we do not know how he does it, it is one of those mysteries by which we simply trust in God’s genuine justice and mercy.

  9. At some point in our life, perhaps at the last moment, we will recognize the absolute beauty and goodness of God and we will either reject God or accept him on that basis.

  10. Given that fact, God does not force us us to accept the love we know he is. The reason for our rejection is the reason Satan and the Devils gave, " I will not serve…" or, in other words, " I hate you and reject you. " Our choice is really that bold, it is an response of hatered.

  11. The objections of No Stamp Collector and the young lady in question are those of Satan. You have to remember God is the Creator, he creates us out of love, we do not have to accept him. And we do not reject him without knowing how good and beautiful and loving he is. How can we blame God for giving us what we demand? To get upset at that is to act like a spoiled child stamping its foot and screaming out vituperations. But that is exactly what we will do, in this life when we sin, and in the next - forever.

My final remark for the young lady would be to pray patiently for wisdom, understanding and love.

Now you have to realize that Devils are walking this earth everywhere and are very prominent today, you see them everywhere on Youtube and every kind of media, even in these forums…
Linus2nd

Hi NekoNerco.

Next time it comes up, I would suggest pulling them up and saying* “When you reject God, what do you think you are you rejecting?”*

I would say “So God is Love and by rejecting Him, you are saying that you do not want Love, so why are you cursing God for giving you exactly what you asked for?” :confused:

I have also really enjoyed these quotes -

Please continue to next post -

Continued from above post -

And for anyone who doubts an all loving God, who doubts God’s infinite goodness, his infinite love and mercy, I would say “Can faithless, rebellious, atheistic, unbelieving men and women possibly say that Jesus Sacrifice at the hands of His executioners was not true, so that they could unleash their rage against Him? No one can possibly deny it and prove their denial. And why do you believe that He did so? no one dies for anyone who is not intensely loved.”

God loved the world so much that he gave his only son and in turn the son loved the world so much that he gave his own life for us (the love of agape confirmed through works by the father and the son). I believe actions speak louder than words, and such actions I believe speaks volumes for an all loving God.

Is there anyone who has suffered as much as Christ to prove their love? and all he is asking us for is love.

The Diary of St Faustina -

"My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy" (Diary, 1485).

"Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy. Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust! Such a soul professes that I am Holy and Just, but does not believe that I am Mercy and does not trust in My Goodness. Even the devils glorify My Justice but do not believe in My Goodness" (Diary, 300).

"Oh, if sinners knew My mercy, they would not perish in such great numbers. Tell sinful souls not to be afraid to approach Me; speak to them of My great mercy" (Diary, 1396).

I Hope I have helped :slight_smile:

Thank you for reading
Josh

The Passion - loveandmercy.org/Eng-TP-Reg.pdf

**11) For love of souls, I remain a prisoner in the Holy Eucharist, so that in their sorrow and grief they are being consoled by the most tender of Hearts, by the best of Fathers, by the most loyal friend. But that Love, which is consumed for the good of mankind, is not going to be returned.

  1. I live amongst sinners to be their salvation and their life, their doctor and medicine; yet they, in return, in spite of their sick nature, distance themselves from Me. They offend Me and scorn Me.
  1. My children, poor sinners! Do not distance yourselves from Me. I wait for you night and day at the Tabernacle. I will not reproach you for your crimes; I will not throw your sins in your face. What I will do is to wash you with the Blood of My wounds. Do not be afraid; come to Me. You do not know how much I love you.

**

I would like to paint it this way:

Hey listen up guys! This is God speaking. I know some of you don’t believe this, but I actually created this world. I gave this thing called freewill to my angels, and some of them decided that it is better that they are their own boss. So I created a place for them called Hell just for them. After all you wouldn’t want to mix your clean stuff together with the dirty ones ,correct? Like you wouldn’t want to mix your clean laundry with your dirty ones.

To be fair to you, I need to let you know that if you choose wrongly, you may end up there too. Even if you don’t think I exist, it is only fair to let you know the consequences if in fact I do exist. No, I am not forcing you to believe me. You have the freewill to choose to believe me or not. You may even think I am bluffing you! But seriously, if you believe in me, you will have everlasting life! I will always be there for you if you repent! Come on! I am waiting!

How is this deemed extortion? Just like the IRS says you’ll be punished if you evade taxes. Anyone called IRS an extortionist? Or the government says if you break this law, you will be punished. Is that extortion? Were you forced to break the law?

I believe the problem was in her logic. She says that God threatens us with hell, that we should “obey or burn.” She fails to understand the difference between free will and Freedom.

Free will is the God given ability to make any choice with any amount of information about that choice, good or evil. God was then generous enough to give us information on good choices, wise choices, a faith that we can follow so that we don’t end up in a bad way because of simple lack of knowledge. That we still choose evil, choose the road that will lead us astray, is not any fault of God’s. He does not threaten us to do as he says, he begs us not to make an unwise choice or sinful action like a father begs his daughter not to date a drug addict.

Free will is the ability to make that choice, whether foolish or wise. But freedom, true freedom, is found in making the wise choice.

I can assure you people who end up in Hell have chosen themselves and pleasure in this life, they didn’t choose to be tortured and in despair for eternity. Who in their right mind would choose such a thing? No one. There isn’t a single human soul who is that depraved.

Heaven is a place or state where God wipes away every tear and no misery exists. How then, could such a place or state, even if force upon them, be unjust or cruel? When you take a kicking and screaming child to the doctor because it’s good for them and ultimately they will appreciate and be thankful that you did in the end, is that unjust and cruel?

Which goes back to my first point. People who assert themselves over God aren’t choosing damnation and suffering, they’re choosing their pleasure and their perceived earthly individuality.

I heartily disagree. God removing sin and forcing us to do good would be for our own benefit and for a better eternity.

Eliminating free will would arguably be impossible in this instance. Humans are hardwired for God and created to do His Will. Only then, when a human does the will of God, does such a human become truly free and truly individual and complete. So, God forcing a human to do His Will is essentially forcing freedom upon them, and I don’t think anyone dislikes the idea of true freedom and eternal happiness and would argue that such things are not good for us.

The Christian message from God is this: Choose for yourself what makes you happy. But the natural and right order of things is for man to be willingly subjugated to God. Only there will you find your wholeness, your peace, your happiness. But you can choose instead to remain apart from Me. You decide.

Disobeying God is indirectly choosing hell.

It would be unjust because if they don’t want to be with God (follow his commands) then they should be aloud to be separated from him (go to hell) instead

There’s a very simple answer: accepting God’s grace is not forsaking free will, it is using it properly and being fully free. When we use free will to choose sin we choose enslavement.

Although unaware of the consequences, we still have a conscience, and opposing that conscience, it is self-exclusion through service to mammon.Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
CCC 1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
CCC 1033 … To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

CCC 1035 … The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, …

There are so many things that cloud a person’s conscience and decision making that it would appear very hard to nearly impossible to choose hell. Also taking into consideration that nobody knows first hand what the horrors of hell are really like, so it would seem that a person’s full knowledge in committing an act and full knowledge of the following consequences are incomplete.

I know this isn’t an excuse by any means, but this is one possibility of a person who “gets sent to hell accidentally.” A person who otherwise loves God, the Church, the teachings, but finds it very difficult to live up to all of the teachings and their intricacies due to profound human weakness, didn’t directly choose to worship Satan or intend to spend eternity in hell, but ended up there anyway.

You have brought up some great questions, I have asked myself this alot recently too.

It seems to me that if we had true free will, there would be NO wrong choice, but with our free will, there is a wrong choice, in which you will suffer for eternity, and not because you happen to be a bad person or someone who delights in evil, but simply because you exercise your free will and decide to live your life without God in it…but that does not mean that person is bad, they have made a choice and that is their right, but in Gods eyes, ANY choice that does not involve his worship is somehow wrong and that person suddenly deserves eternal damnation…??? What kind of screwed up logic is that? LOL

Plus, Ive always wondered why God seems to be fixated on being worshiped? The bible says he is humble, just and forgiving, this does not sound like someone who greatly desires and demands his worship…it sounds a bit like a ‘god complex’ but with the real God. However the image I get of the God in the bible is one that does not worry or desire such things, demanding worship sounds more narcissistic to me, but the way the bible describes God, that does not sound like him at all, at least in the NT anyway.

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