Thursday, May 05, 2011

Augustine:  God's justice.

"And as for the goodness that we so admired in God's justice - his punishing sins and rewarding good deeds - how could it even exist if human beings lacked the free choice of the will?  No action would be either a sin or a good deed if it were not performed by the will, and so both punishment and reward would be unjust if human beings had no free will.  But it was right for there to be justice in both reward and punishment, since this is one of the goods that come from God.  Therefore, it was right for God to give free will to human beings." - On Free Choice of the Will, Book II.

I was struck by the symmetry between reward and punishment in Augustine's argument.  The modern discussion is only centered around one half of the question:  Why does God allow and punish evil?  What about God's blessings and rewards for doing good?  How many of us human beings would willingly accept all opportunity and credit for doing good being taken away?  How many of us enjoyed something good and believed we deserved it?  The atheist and the religious zealot seem quite the same in this.  The atheist is forever demanding praise, credit and honor for the intellectual elites.  But what is this other than an insistence that they have done good and deserve reward?  The religious zealot also either expects praise for himself or confers it to someone else.  All humans insist that there should be a reward for doing good and we demand credit for ourselves or others for having done good in our own power and of our own free will.  How is it that when we go on to choose evil through the same power and will that we suddenly want to give the credit to God rather than ourselves?  That wasn't Augustine's continuation of the argument.  Just my pontificating that the refusal of the modernist pseudo-philosopher to consider the entire problem suggests a bit of hypocrisy.

3 comments:

Delirious said...

I love this quote by one of our apostles, Neal A. Maxwell:
"Brethren, as you submit your wills to God, you are giving Him the only thing you can actually give Him that is really yours to give. Don’t wait too long to find the altar or to begin to place the gift of your wills upon it! No need to wait for a receipt; the Lord has His own special ways of acknowledging." (May 2004 Ensign)

Inklings said...

I think free will is actually only free as long as you choose good. It seems like when you choose evil you then become enslaved by it, and thus lose your free will. An example: drug addiction.

Looney said...

Both of those statements look quite good to me! The will is the only thing we can truly give to God, and failure to do it eventually leads to slavery.