From C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, book 2, chapter 3: The Shocking Alternative
Why, then, did God give them (us) free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.
Lewis here is disappointing to me, and I hope so to you as well. Though if you, like thousands of well-meaning Christians do, believe in free will, I’m sure you love this quote. Let me explain why I don’t.
Lewis clearly states above that love, goodness, or joy can only exist in any worthwhile form if free will exists also. This implies that God cannot be, or pass onto us, love, goodness, or joy, if we’re merely robots (not free). This has a big problem. In eternity past before man was created God existed perfectly in all His attributes, one of which was His love. Right. This creates a problem for Lewis because if God is only loving when free will exists, how could God be love before man was created? He couldn’t in Lewis’ view. Even more, Lewis’ view creates a false view of God’s attribute of love by making it not possible to exist if man does not exist at the same time.
This leads to a bad end. For God to be loving two things must be true for Lewis: man must exist, and man must be free. If these two are absent, God is not love – therefore God is not love before man was created. That is the implication of this reasoning.
I think this is wrong and dishonoring to God because God was God before man came to be. This means God was perfect in love (and all other attributes) before man came to be as well. How so? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit lived together in unity, in community, and in diversity, loving one another before ever came on the scene. Lewis’ idea of God’s love and free will cannot agree with this.
I wonder, can you agree with this? I hope so.
Now, I would be just rambling if I were to say this and not give you a good definition of God’s love in response. This ALSO comes from Lewis (he is wonderfully inconsistent, just like us!). Lewis said in Reflections on the Psalms (page 97):
The Scotch Catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.
You see it? God is love because He invites us to do that which we were created to do forever, glorify Him. He is made much of while we are satisfied to the full! Amen.