The freedom of God

We all wish to maintain 'the freedom of God' in our theology but what exactly might we mean by it? My worry is that the notion of divine freedom is often wheeled in to get people off the hook of universalism.

So the argument goes like this: Well
1. God is love and he does desire to save all people; and
2. God is sovereign and he is able to save all people. But
3. we must not embrace universalism because this would be to compromise God's freedom - i.e. to tell God that he has to save everyone. But if God has to show mercy to all then it is no longer mercy. God loves in freedom - he does not have to love people.

Try as I might I find myself unsympathetic to this line of thought.

What notion of freedom is operative here? To me it looks like the freedom for God not to be himself. Consider this example: "God is truth but we must not say that he cannot lie because this would compromise his freedom." Biblical writers did not think in this way. They maintained that it was impossible for God to lie. And it is impossible for God to be tempted or to sin. For God to do these things would be for God to act in ways that are contrary to who he is.

It is the same with divine love. God is love. For God not to love would be for God to act contrary to who God is. Why would anyone consider such freedom a virtue?

So is God not free? God is free. The freedom of God means (at very least) that God is free to be who God is and that nothing external to God determines who God is and how God acts. To put it a little simplistically: God's being and actions are not dependent on creatures.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Gregory says:

"The freedom of God means (at very least) that God is free to be who God is and that nothing external to God determines who God is and how God acts."

I say:

That's perfect and in a nutshell. Don't copyright it, 'cos I want to use it.
Celestial Fundy said…
Yes, it is a naff argument.

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