Miracles and Free Will

How does divine intervention work with free will? Specifically, this pertains to Private revealation and altering people’s desires and lives to help others. Like, God hardening Pharoh’s heart in the OT or God willing a policeman to patrol by someone’s house and catch a would-be theif. Wouldn’t that violate free will? The reason I ask is, I always think of God as never breaking our free will directly, but these examples seem to contradict this.

IMO, God is not interring with our free will. The OT expression of “hardening Pharoh’s heart” is the understanding of the writer of that particular book of the OT. In reality, I would say that God already knows what is in Pharoh’s heart and ALLOWS this to be.
He rarely intervenes in the affairs of men except when He deems necessary such as the times He sent the prophets of the OT and Our Blessed Mother in more recent centuries. Consider how the prophets kept the Israelites in line and helped them to remember God’s gracious help. Of course, they prophesized, especially about the coming of the Messiah.

In the NT, we have St. John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, Himself. In recent times, God has sent Mary to give us help in the establishment of her Immaculate Heart, the Miraculous Medal, the Scapulars, the intervention of human sacrifice in Mexico with the miracle of her image on Juan Diego’s tilma, the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima to warn us about the spread of atheistic Communism. Nonetheless, we still have our free will to accept or reject the help God has sent to us.

Private revelation (which comes after the Apostolic age) is just that. It isn’t meant to interfere with free will. Private revelation normally affirms established Catholic truth, e.g., God’s mercy. Free will resides in the individual who chooses to seek God’s mercy or not.

Miracles are considered extraordinary phenomenon and as such do not affect free will even if the miracle includes healing the body. Please note that “miracle” is often used to indicate a change of heart, etc., One’s change of heart for the better comes first and then it is called a “miracle.”


Isaiah 55

Even when they have witnessed a miracle people have often refused to admit it is a miracle because it doesn’t fit into their scheme of things. It also has implications which would compel them to change their way of life. There is such a thing as wishful disbelief!

There is no evidence that God has ever miraculously altered a person’s** decisions**. Saul of Tarsus was presented with strong evidence that he was persecuting Jesus but there is no reason to believe he couldn’t have changed his mind subsequently. No one is immune to temptation…

I was going to ask a question about miracles, did a search and found this thread, so I’ll post it here as it’s kinda related:
As I understand it, God commanded his followers to heal the sick, cure the lepor and raise the dead.
There are examples - 2 I think - of God raising someone from the dead in the later Bible books.
But - are there any verified cases of someone being dead, properly dead, and being commanded by a priest or christian to come back to life, and them doing so. There’s plenty of examples of people being clinically dead, and recovering, and the phenomia is not unknown, if not too well explained medically. But there was no priest or pastor involved commanding it.
What do people make of that specific command - raise the dead.
And if it only related to his 12 followers, why is there not more examples of the dead being raised at the time?

Sarah x :slight_smile:

I think you have a point there. If I was presented with something, a miracle, I would first look for. or look to others for, a logical, scientific explanation. And if there wasnt one, I think I would probably say well, that just means we havent reached the point of being able to explain it yet. And for the most part,I would be right, because many so called miracles have been shown to be medical phenomina, unusual, but explanable, or delusion, or in some cases outright fraud.

Sarah x :slight_smile:

The policeman example is post-rationalization of a coincidence. If God willed cops to stop crimes, He’d surely pick far worse crimes than someone stealing a laptop.

Another example: we hear of people who get a premonition that a close one has died, phone home and low and behold the close one just died. What we don’t hear about are the far greater number of people who get the same premonition, phone, and no one died. In other words we need to overcome our tendency to draw conclusions from selective evidence.

If the policeman is open to God’s will, then why should that violate free will?
Wouldn’t it simply illustrate an exercise of it in the choice to follow God’s command?

I believe that no matter how radically free, our wills can never be as perfectly free as Gods. He certainly has the power to override our wills in any case. And the problem is our wills, after all; Adam & Eve willed wrongly. And now, in a weakened, fallen state, to will rightly becomes even more difficult.

So I think that grace, Gods initiative in His dealing with us, must necessarily act upon our wills, even if only in the minutest of ways, for the purpose of gently drawing rather than forcing. When the centurion prayed for faith, he was perhaps asking for help to do what he was otherwise unable-because unwilling-to do. Mans’ separation from God was an act of the will; man prefers himself to God according to the Catechism. We’re slaves to our own pride, which is probably little more than fear of what the rest of us think, truth be told. In any case, what can enter into this situation and begin to effect a change except for grace, acting on our wills?

The reason man can’t do it on his own, the reason we can’t fulfill the law by ourselves, is simply that, without Gods Spirit operating within-without the direct, intimate relationship with God that Adam & Eve rejected by rejecting His will, man is not strong enough to will rightly himself. And all of Gods revelation from Abraham to Jesus is His intervention-acts of grace- in some way or another with mans’ will for the ultimate purpose of his salvation.

I think Pope Benedicts’ statement from Spe Salvi fits in here:
Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope

Does a cafeteria restrict your free will by giving you options? Pharoh hardened his own heart in spite of evidence of the God of Abraham. Just like a cafeteria Pharoh was given choices and he made his.

They have? Geez, I knew some were naturally explainable, but “many” or “the most part”? Hardly, at least by my studies!

What has this to do with human free will? I can understand that this question is pecking at you but can you please focus on the question:
If miracles are authentic, do they disable or alter human free will?

OK, but that doesn’t really pertain to my question.

So one can just not change their wills as a result of revelation to them, in this age? And how about before the Apostolic age?

I’m glad you leave a loophole, Sarah. After all, there is not one jot of evidence that everything can be explained scientifically. For one thing, can science explain itself? :slight_smile:

What I said was that free will resides in the individual who chooses to seek God’s mercy or not.

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