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Theological Forum discuss The cause of Lucifer's rebellion in the Theology forums; I have been trying to develop a theodicy regarding the existence of evil (as opposed to regarding the persistence of evil, which I believe I ...

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    The cause of Lucifer's rebellion

    I have been trying to develop a theodicy regarding the existence of evil (as opposed to regarding the persistence of evil, which I believe I have covered), and the most difficult topic by far is the cause of Lucifer's rebellion and fall. Although God, insofar as He is the cause of everything, is the ultimate cause of evil (Isaiah 45:7), it is wrong to charge Him with being the proximate cause of any sin or being the author of sin.

    By keeping consistent with a compatibilist view of free will (as espoused by Jonathan Edwards and others, where our moral characters determine our actions), I have been wondering how Lucifer's character could be affected to the point that he would choose disobedience. Is it permissible to say that God could lower Lucifer's moral character, or that God created Lucifer as less than morally perfect?

    I'm just trying to figure out how Lucifer could be morally tainted (if ever so slightly) without disparaging God's goodness. Some help would be awesome.

    If anyone wants passages of Scripture relating to Satan's fall, here are the ones I know of:
    Isaiah 14:12-14
    Ezekiel 28:12-18

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    If moral character is the boundaries of one's actions, then imperfect moral character has to be the boundary of disobedience.

    If only imperfect moral character is the boundary of disobedience, then Adam and Eve were necessarily created thus with those same boundaries.

    The conundrum of Lucifer's rebellion is resolved in the same way as one resolves Adam and Eve's.

    Edited: To include Mr. Todd's corrections.
    Last edited by Zenas; 07-12-2008 at 03:06 PM.
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    John Piper had, what I believe to be, an excellent sermon on the topic here.

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    Lucifer thought (said in his heart, Isaiah 14:13) he could be like God. As to not disparaging God's goodness, we need to relate to the problem of evil. This is an idea I've been thinking on. Now evil is not a force in itself. Like when we say Hot/Cold. A thermometer only measures heat, cold is a relative term and heat is what we measure objectively. When we say it's cold outside, it really means there's no heat outside. In the same way, evil is just an absence of good. ie, God withdrawing Himself and His goodness. Lucifer problem wasn't rank sin and deed's, but saying in his heart that he could be like God. And that lead to him trying to do it. Because any created being could not be created morally perfect, because only God is morally perfect. Even 1/3 of the angels followed him, and not God. And they could see God. hmmm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zenas View Post
    If moral character is the cause of one's actions, then imperfect moral character has to be the cause of disobedience.

    If only imperfect moral character is the cause of disobedience, then Adam and Eve were necessarily created thusly.

    The conundrum of Lucifer's rebellion is resolved in the same way as one resolves Adam and Eve's.
    This is well put. I would be careful not to say that one's moral character is the CAUSE of one's actions, but that it places BOUNDS on one's actions - this is closer to what Edwards and others have said. That is, we are free to choose that which is compatible with (bounded by) the limits imposed by our moral character.

    As Andrew has said, the mere fact of imperfection (i.e. the fact that Lucifer, as Adam, was created posse peccare, posse non peccare - able to sin, able to not sin) of Lucifer's moral character means that he could fall, since morally he was able to do so. If you have resolved the reasoning behind Adam's fall, then applying the same reasoning to Lucifer solves the "problem" of his.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zenas View Post
    If moral character is the cause of one's actions, then imperfect moral character has to be the cause of disobedience.

    If only imperfect moral character is the cause of disobedience, then Adam and Eve were necessarily created thusly.

    The conundrum of Lucifer's rebellion is resolved in the same way as one resolves Adam and Eve's.
    I understand that much. And I understand that the answer will be the same for Adam and Eve. My only question is how the moral character of a being created by God can be imperfect. Is it possible for God to create unfallen beings who have a capacity to sin, or is that an attack on God's goodness? Is it possible for Him to lower others' characters from original perfection to another state that would allow for sin?
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zenas View Post
    If moral character is the cause of one's actions, then imperfect moral character has to be the cause of disobedience.

    If only imperfect moral character is the cause of disobedience, then Adam and Eve were necessarily created thusly.

    The conundrum of Lucifer's rebellion is resolved in the same way as one resolves Adam and Eve's.
    This is well put. I would be careful not to say that one's moral character is the CAUSE of one's actions, but that it places BOUNDS on one's actions - this is closer to what Edwards and others have said. That is, we are free to choose that which is compatible with (bounded by) the limits imposed by our moral character.

    As Andrew has said, the mere fact of imperfection (i.e. the fact that Lucifer, as Adam, was created posse peccare, posse non peccare - able to sin, able to not sin) of Lucifer's moral character means that he could fall, since morally he was able to do so. If you have resolved the reasoning behind Adam's fall, then applying the same reasoning to Lucifer solves the "problem" of his.
    Well, seeing as God's decretive will is carried out to the last minute detail, our characters would have to predetermine our every decision, so, while it might not be best to call them the cause, our moral decisions are absolutely contingent on our characters and only our characters. If we had libertarian freedom of choice regarding anything, God would cease to have a decretive will.

    Also, are you saying that it's permissible for God to create creatures with an imperfect moral character (the ability not to sin rather than the inability to sin, which we will possess in heaven)? That is the key question I have.
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    Ben, I think you've answered your own question. If God created Lucifer/Adam or whomever with an inability to sin then they wouldn't have sinned. So they were created with the ability to sin, but were placed under no external compulsion or given any internal impulse to do so. I think W.G.T. Shedd well observed that we are baffled when we look for the ultimate reasons for sin, because sin is irrational. Why would Lucifer do this? There is no reason. Sin is absurd.
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    Hmmm, I think an examination of the other option is in order.

    Could God create another being morally perfect and unable to sin, like Himself? No, this would be outside of the character and nature of God to do so. It is logically impossible for this to occur.

    Man is a lower being, as are angels, and the immutable perfect nature of God is not a communicable attribute God, by nature, can convey to a creation from what we know about Him. Both man and angels are necessarily lower than God in moral ability. What I mean by moral ability is the boundaries, as Mr. Todd pointed out earlier, one is constrained to. God cannot sin, we (angelic and human beings) can and have and do. While propensity to sin was absent in the Garden and with Lucifer, the ability to do so was as a necessary condition.

    From there, as Mr. Ruben has so aptly noted, the irrationality and absurdity of the choice is brought into full view
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    I don't think our ability to sin was a necessary condition tied to our human nature. The Lord could have created us without the ability to sin, but He didn't for reasons only known to Him at this point.

    Jesus has a human nature as well as a Divine; therefore He's a case in point of the fact that God could have created us without the propensity toward sin.

    Also, in the final state, we will not have the ability to sin... We will still have a human nature, but we won't have the ability to sin (praise the Lord!).

    Just more to think about in light of the subject.

    By the way, see the following post for more information about the fall of Satan, etc. Also note the arguments about the reference to Lucifer in Is. 14 as referring to Nebuchadnezzar rather than Satan... Why was Lucifer created?
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    Jesus has a human nature as well as a Divine; therefore He's a case in point of the fact that God could have created us without the propensity toward sin.
    I'd have to disagree with this proposition. Jesus was not created, but is an eternal Person within the Godhead. This does not therefore serve as evidence to prove the assertion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad View Post
    Jesus has a human nature as well as a Divine; therefore He's a case in point of the fact that God could have created us without the propensity toward sin.
    I'd have to disagree with this proposition. Jesus was not created, but is an eternal Person within the Godhead. This does not therefore serve as evidence to prove the assertion.
    I'm referring to His human nature; His human nature is not something He had in eternity past. He became human. Continuing to be what He was--God, He became what He was not--human.

    See WCF 8:

    WCF 8:2 WCF 8.2 The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon Him man's nature,(1) with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;(2) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance.(3) So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.(4) Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.(5)

    (1)John 1:1,14; 1 John 5:20; Phil. 2:6; Gal. 4:4.
    (2)Heb. 2:14,16,17; Heb. 4:15.
    (3)Luke 1:27,31,35; Gal. 4:4.
    (4)Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Rom. 9:5; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:16.
    (5)Rom. 1:3,4; 1 Tim. 2:5.
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    Quote Originally Posted by packabacka View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zenas View Post
    If moral character is the cause of one's actions, then imperfect moral character has to be the cause of disobedience.

    If only imperfect moral character is the cause of disobedience, then Adam and Eve were necessarily created thusly.

    The conundrum of Lucifer's rebellion is resolved in the same way as one resolves Adam and Eve's.
    This is well put. I would be careful not to say that one's moral character is the CAUSE of one's actions, but that it places BOUNDS on one's actions - this is closer to what Edwards and others have said. That is, we are free to choose that which is compatible with (bounded by) the limits imposed by our moral character.

    As Andrew has said, the mere fact of imperfection (i.e. the fact that Lucifer, as Adam, was created posse peccare, posse non peccare - able to sin, able to not sin) of Lucifer's moral character means that he could fall, since morally he was able to do so. If you have resolved the reasoning behind Adam's fall, then applying the same reasoning to Lucifer solves the "problem" of his.
    Well, seeing as God's decretive will is carried out to the last minute detail, our characters would have to predetermine our every decision, so, while it might not be best to call them the cause, our moral decisions are absolutely contingent on our characters and only our characters.
    I'm not sure it's fair to say that your character predetermines your every decision (or nobody would ever be inconsistent - unless inconsistency is the hallmark of everyone's character)

    If we had libertarian freedom of choice regarding anything, God would cease to have a decretive will.
    Note I never said that we had libertarian free choice. We are constrained by our characters - the regenerate, as posse peccare, posse non peccare, and the unregenerate by non posse non peccare.

    Also, are you saying that it's permissible for God to create creatures with an imperfect moral character (the ability not to sin rather than the inability to sin, which we will possess in heaven)? That is the key question I have.
    Well, it's permissible for God to create whatever He wanted to, so long as it is consistent with His perfect character, but what He did do was create Adam and Eve (and the angels) with both the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. (but not such a perfection of character that they were unable to sin)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zenas View Post
    Hmmm, I think an examination of the other option is in order.

    Could God create another being morally perfect and unable to sin, like Himself? No, this would be outside of the character and nature of God to do so. It is logically impossible for this to occur.

    Man is a lower being, as are angels, and the immutable perfect nature of God is not a communicable attribute God, by nature, can convey to a creation from what we know about Him. Both man and angels are necessarily lower than God in moral ability. What I mean by moral ability is the boundaries, as Mr. Todd pointed out earlier, one is constrained to. God cannot sin, we (angelic and human beings) can and have and do. While propensity to sin was absent in the Garden and with Lucifer, the ability to do so was as a necessary condition.

    From there, as Mr. Ruben has so aptly noted, the irrationality and absurdity of the choice is brought into full view
    As Steve said, in our final, heavenly states, we will have the inability to sin. However, God created Adam and Lucifer with the ability to sin, although probably a significantly high moral character. We have a couple options resulting from this:

    1. God is capable of creating a being with moral perfection, but He can raise their moral characters later, through some kind of supernatural action (sanctification).
    2. God is capable of creating a being with moral perfection, but He chose not to do so.

    Which one of these (if any, or both) is consistent with God's character?

    Also, how does moral imperfection (seeing as Adam had the ability to sin at the point of creation) coincide with the belief in a perfect creation?
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    I'm not sure it's fair to say that your character predetermines your every decision (or nobody would ever be inconsistent - unless inconsistency is the hallmark of everyone's character)
    Well, inconsistency can be innate to a person's moral character. I'm sure it cannot be represented by one linear model, and I'm also sure that it is not static.

    Note I never said that we had libertarian free choice. We are constrained by our characters - the regenerate, as posse peccare, posse non peccare, and the unregenerate by non posse non peccare.
    And my point is that if we are not constrained by our characters to the point that only one decision is possible (and thus we can make libertarian choices) in every single choice that we make, then God can not ordain events to the last detail.

    Well, it's permissible for God to create whatever He wanted to, so long as it is consistent with His perfect character, but what He did do was create Adam and Eve (and the angels) with both the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. (but not such a perfection of character that they were unable to sin)
    Please see my two options in my most recent post and tell me which one you think is preferable, or if I have presented a false dichotomy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by packabacka View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zenas View Post
    Hmmm, I think an examination of the other option is in order.

    Could God create another being morally perfect and unable to sin, like Himself? No, this would be outside of the character and nature of God to do so. It is logically impossible for this to occur.

    Man is a lower being, as are angels, and the immutable perfect nature of God is not a communicable attribute God, by nature, can convey to a creation from what we know about Him. Both man and angels are necessarily lower than God in moral ability. What I mean by moral ability is the boundaries, as Mr. Todd pointed out earlier, one is constrained to. God cannot sin, we (angelic and human beings) can and have and do. While propensity to sin was absent in the Garden and with Lucifer, the ability to do so was as a necessary condition.

    From there, as Mr. Ruben has so aptly noted, the irrationality and absurdity of the choice is brought into full view
    As Steve said, in our final, heavenly states, we will have the inability to sin. However, God created Adam and Lucifer with the ability to sin, although probably a significantly high moral character. We have a couple options resulting from this:

    1. God is capable of creating a being with moral perfection, but He can raise their moral characters later, through some kind of supernatural action (sanctification).
    Are you lumping us (all of humanity, after Adam) into #1 above? Our character, tainted by Adam's sin from the moment of conception, is not at question - only Adam's. We derive our character from him, and as such questions about how God can create creatures with our characteristics deviates from the main point. I'm not sure I'd call Adam's transition into a heavenly state of non posse peccare "sanctification", but rather "glorification".

    2. God is capable of creating a being with moral perfection, but He chose not to do so.

    Which one of these (if any, or both) is consistent with God's character?
    It is apparent from Scripture and history that God has attributes of mercy and of justice to demonstrate, unto His own glory. He would have been unable to display His attribute of mercy if He only created morally perfect, impeccable creatures who were unable to sin.

    Hence 2. is inconsistent with His character.

    Also, how does moral imperfection (seeing as Adam had the ability to sin at the point of creation) coincide with the belief in a perfect creation?
    Where does Scripture say that creation was perfect?
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    Quote Originally Posted by packabacka View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Note I never said that we had libertarian free choice. We are constrained by our characters - the regenerate, as posse peccare, posse non peccare, and the unregenerate by non posse non peccare.
    And my point is that if we are not constrained by our characters to the point that only one decision is possible (and thus we can make libertarian choices) in every single choice that we make, then God can not ordain events to the last detail.
    Every decision we make is according to our strongest wish at the time. This is what Edwards (correctly) teaches. Since we have only one strongest wish at any one time, then at the time at which a decision is made, in effect only one decision is possible. I'm not sure where you're going with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by packabacka View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Well, it's permissible for God to create whatever He wanted to, so long as it is consistent with His perfect character, but what He did do was create Adam and Eve (and the angels) with both the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. (but not such a perfection of character that they were unable to sin)
    Please see my two options in my most recent post and tell me which one you think is preferable, or if I have presented a false dichotomy.
    see my response.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Are you lumping us (all of humanity, after Adam) into #1 above? Our character, tainted by Adam's sin from the moment of conception, is not at question - only Adam's. We derive our character from him, and as such questions about how God can create creatures with our characteristics deviates from the main point. I'm not sure I'd call Adam's transition into a heavenly state of non posse peccare "sanctification", but rather "glorification".
    No, I'm just referring to Adam. Although, he still could have been sanctified (or glorified, I'm not sure which is the right word in this context) -- he could have been given the inability to sin -- had he obediently fulfilled the covenant of works. This still would have ultimately been an act of grace for God, since God was never obliged to condescend and institute the CoW in the first place, so my point that God could have created an unfallen yet morally imperfect being and then graciously sanctify him later is still solid.

    It is apparent from Scripture and history that God has attributes of mercy and of justice to demonstrate, unto His own glory. He would have been unable to display His attribute of mercy if He only created morally perfect, impeccable creatures who were unable to sin.
    Here, you mean "unable" in the sense that it would have not been preferable, since it would not have maximally glorified Himself. However, do you think He would be capable of creating morally perfect beings, in terms of His abilities. Say, for some reason, that He would be more glorified in the creation of morally perfect beings; would He be capable of creating such beings then?

    Where does Scripture say that creation was perfect?
    I guess this just establishes my ignorance. For some reason, I thought there was some confession or something that claimed that creation was "perfect." My mistake.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Every decision we make is according to our strongest wish at the time. This is what Edwards (correctly) teaches. Since we have only one strongest wish at any one time, then at the time at which a decision is made, in effect only one decision is possible. I'm not sure where you're going with this.
    We are in agreement, then. I guess I just had a problem with your saying that our characters constrained our choices, for I thought that this implied that we had some range of choices rather than only once choice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by packabacka View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Are you lumping us (all of humanity, after Adam) into #1 above? Our character, tainted by Adam's sin from the moment of conception, is not at question - only Adam's. We derive our character from him, and as such questions about how God can create creatures with our characteristics deviates from the main point. I'm not sure I'd call Adam's transition into a heavenly state of non posse peccare "sanctification", but rather "glorification".
    No, I'm just referring to Adam. Although, he still could have been sanctified (or glorified, I'm not sure which is the right word in this context) -- he could have been given the inability to sin -- had he obediently fulfilled the covenant of works.
    Well, I think glorified is more appropriate since sanctified implies a change to greater holiness (and what would have occurred in Adam would not have been such a change, had he remained obedient).

    This still would have ultimately been an act of grace for God, since God was never obliged to condescend and institute the CoW in the first place, so my point that God could have created an unfallen yet morally imperfect being and then graciously sanctify him later is still solid.
    This is a point for another discussion. The CoW was still a works/merit covenant - whether its institution was an act of grace is a different question, but the terms were thoroughly merit-based and "do this and live".

    It is apparent from Scripture and history that God has attributes of mercy and of justice to demonstrate, unto His own glory. He would have been unable to display His attribute of mercy if He only created morally perfect, impeccable creatures who were unable to sin.
    Here, you mean "unable" in the sense that it would have not been preferable, since it would not have maximally glorified Himself.
    What I mean is that if God (and He does) desired to maximize His own glorification and display all His holy attributes, then, yes, His own character and purpose for creation would constrain him NOT to create Adam as a morally perfect being.

    However, do you think He would be capable of creating morally perfect beings, in terms of His abilities. Say, for some reason, that He would be more glorified in the creation of morally perfect beings; would He be capable of creating such beings then?
    Sure, if He did not possess attributes that required the creation of a NON-morally perfect pair of first humans.

    Where does Scripture say that creation was perfect?
    I guess this just establishes my ignorance. For some reason, I thought there was some confession or something that claimed that creation was "perfect." My mistake.
    All the confessions do is reiterate Scripture's statement that creation was untainted with sin and "very good". But that ain't moral perfection.
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    Quote Originally Posted by packabacka View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Every decision we make is according to our strongest wish at the time. This is what Edwards (correctly) teaches. Since we have only one strongest wish at any one time, then at the time at which a decision is made, in effect only one decision is possible. I'm not sure where you're going with this.
    We are in agreement, then. I guess I just had a problem with your saying that our characters constrained our choices, for I thought that this implied that we had some range of choices rather than only once choice.
    We do have a range of choices in any given instant that are compatible with our character as imperfect, fallible beings. The choice we make is the one that we most want to make... e.g. I go to an ice cream shop. Any of the flavors is perfectly consistent with my character. The one I make is the one I want most at the time. Did my character constrain the choice for dark chocolate? No more than if I had made the choice for espresso chip. You shouldnt' see a contradiction between God's predestination of all things and our ability to make real choices between real alternatives that are compatible with our characters. We aren't automatons, driven by animalistic impulses. This is NOT to say that we have libertarian free will - that's different.
    Todd K. Pedlar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Well, I think glorified is more appropriate since sanctified implies a change to greater holiness (and what would have occurred in Adam would not have been such a change, had he remained obedient).
    I thought this was the general Reformed belief, that Adam would have been sanctified had he kept his end of the bargain. I thought Lutherans were the ones that believed he could not increase any further. I guess this is another point of discussion as well as the next one.

    This is a point for another discussion. The CoW was still a works/merit covenant - whether its institution was an act of grace is a different question, but the terms were thoroughly merit-based and "do this and live".
    I understand the merit-based nature of the covenant, but my point is that, ultimately, if God were to "repay" Adam for Adam's good works, the "repayment" would have been an act of grace. There is no natural connection between merit and reward for the Creator and His creatures other than what the Creator establishes of His own good pleasure.

    What I mean is that if God (and He does) desired to maximize His own glorification and display all His holy attributes, then, yes, His own character and purpose for creation would constrain him NOT to create Adam as a morally perfect being.


    Sure, if He did not possess attributes that required the creation of a NON-morally perfect pair of first humans.


    All the confessions do is reiterate Scripture's statement that creation was untainted with sin and "very good". But that ain't moral perfection.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    We do have a range of choices in any given instant that are compatible with our character as imperfect, fallible beings. The choice we make is the one that we most want to make... e.g. I go to an ice cream shop. Any of the flavors is perfectly consistent with my character. The one I make is the one I want most at the time. Did my character constrain the choice for dark chocolate? No more than if I had made the choice for espresso chip. You shouldnt' see a contradiction between God's predestination of all things and our ability to make real choices between real alternatives that are compatible with our characters. We aren't automatons, driven by animalistic impulses. This is NOT to say that we have libertarian free will - that's different.
    I think we are just having a disagreement in semantics. If I were to get ice cream, and if I were predestined to choose chocolate, then God would have molded my character so that chocolate ice cream would have been my deepest desire at the point of choosing. My character still would have allowed me to consider other flavors, but in the end I would have desired most for chocolate. I understand what you are saying, though: our character constrains our options to a given amount, and our deepest desires constrain our options to only one choice.

    Again, I know we are in agreement; we are just not completely agreeing on the articulation.
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