I received a question about how people can be held responsible for circumstances that God has arranged. God brought about each person’s circumstances, and God knew that they would reject him in those circumstances. Why are they responsible, then, for what God has brought about?
Suppose that God makes Dale, knowing that Dale will accept God in circumstances A but reject him in circumstances B. Why is Dale responsible if God, knowing what will happen, brings about circumstances B?
My response is below:
You raise a common question that we can look at from a few perspectives.
First, let’s point out that in each of the feasible worlds in which we are considering Dale’s eternal destiny, many more people than just Dale exist. You set up a scenario in which Dale comes to faith in feasible world A but not in feasible world B. It may be, however, that more people come to faith in feasible world B than in feasible world A despite the fact that Dale will not be among that number. In such a scenario, God has to consider more than just Dale’s fate and those additional considerations may cause him to prefer feasible world B despite the fact that Dale will not ultimately come to faith.
Second, let’s be clear about what is going on in these feasible worlds. In each of these scenarios, Dale is responding to or rejecting the revelation he has access to. God’s election to create one or another world does not entail forcing the decisions of the characters therein. In feasible world B, Dale still freely chooses to reject God’s revelation despite what he may have done in other circumstances.
Thirdly, presumably in feasible world B there are people who put their faith in God despite Dale’s rejection. Should Dale hold the destiny of such people hostage through his own rejection of God in feasible world B? Shall those people, for Dale’s sake, be damned? Surely God is not so constrained and is thus justified if he chooses to bring about feasible world B even though this means Dale will ultimately reject Him.
At the end of the day, we don’t know what God’s reasons are for bringing about the actual world in which we know that some people will freely reject God. Even so, we do not have any good reason to think that God is without a morally sufficient reason for doing so.
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