The Best Thing in Life is Free: The Compatibility of Divine Freedom and God's Essential Moral Perfection

In Hugh J. McCann (ed.), Free Will and Classical Theism: The Significance of Freedom in Perfect Being Theology. Oxford University Press. pp. 133-151 (2016)

Kevin Timpe
Calvin College
A number of scholars have claimed that, on the assumption of incompati- bilism, there is a con ict between God's freedom and God's essential moral perfection. Jesse Couenhoven is one such example; Couenhoven, a com- patibilist, thinks that libertarian views of divine freedom are problematic given God's essential moral perfection. He writes, \libertarian accounts of God's freedom quickly run into a conceptual problem: their focus on con- tingent choices undermines their ability to celebrate divine freedom with regard to the essential divine nature. For an Augustinian [i.e., a compat- ibilist], by contrast, God's freedom is not at odds with the necessities of perfect love but ful lled by it."1 Others who argue for similar conclusions include William Rowe and Wes Morriston. Michael Bergmann and Jan Cover have recently argued that divine responsibility and moral perfection are compatible with the absence of divine freedom. In this paper, I argue that the arguments which hold that divine freedom con icts with essen- tial divine moral perfection fail. I develop an account of divine freedom which not only doesn't con ict with God's essential moral goodness but shows that such goodness is a necessary part of perfected freedom. I then show how this understanding of free will takes away a major motivation for Bergmann and Cover's apparent willingness to reject divine freedom.
Keywords Compatibility  God  Freedom  Moral Perfection
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