Puppetry?

The Catechism has this to say about Providence and the natural powers of the creatures that God has made:

God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. the way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence. (§1884; emphasis added)

We are not mere puppets on strings. God’s Providence is far greater than that. His will is always done, to be sure; but it is not done in ways that destroy or contravene the natures of the creatures He has made. Dogs chase cats because it is part of their nature to do so. They are man’s best friend because that is how He made them (sorry, cat lovers!). Sharks eat whatever they can; lions eat gazelles; and human beings exercise free will because that is part of what it means to be a rational creature as God made us.

This does not mean that we can thwart God’s will. Far from it! Rather, it means that God works out the mystery of His purposes for man through the exercise of man’s free will. How can He do this? I have no earthly idea. God knows all and is all-powerful; it is sufficient to believe that He does this because He tells us so.

There are consequences to what we believe about this that are genuinely inescapable. If we are puppets on a string lacking the genuine exercise of free will, then it would be unjust of God to punish us for our sins. Why? Because we would have no choice in the matter! This seems rather obvious to most people, maybe, but there are others who insist that it would not be at all unjust for God to punish us for something we did not freely will ourselves. This view is a mistake on their part, as the Catechism implies in our quotation for the day.

I am responsible for my own choices. I cannot blame them on others, least of all God. He does not force me to do evil, and no principle of human nature compels me to do so either. May God have mercy on me, because I sometimes choose to do evil things even though I say I love God and despite the fact that I know my choices are sometimes sinful. Thanks be to God that He offers forgiveness to us in Christ, or I would be without hope in the world. That is how great His love for us is!

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Posted in Apologetics, Aquinas - Theology, Augustine, Calvinism, Free Will, Natural Law, Sin
2 comments on “Puppetry?
  1. Bryn Ralph says:

    Robert Louis Stevenson once said, ” Everyone, soon or late, will sit down to a banquet of
    consequences.”

    Bryn

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