Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
Yes. It is certain that man has freewill, and can choose what his eternal fate will be. If a man is in a state of serious sin and dies in such a state he will go to hell. But he need not have remained in such a state until death look him. At any moment he could have turned to God, repented of his sins, got forgiveness and chosen a line of conduct which would result in the salvation of his soul.
That is to deny a fact of which we are all quite conscious. I know quite well that, if I am answering these questions for you, it is becauseI have freely chosen to do so. Had I wished, I could have thrown your letter aside, and simply ignored it. At any moment whilst answering, I am free to cease, and turn to the next letter. To tell me that I haven't freewill would be about as intelligible as telling me that I don't exist. The denial of freewill is absurd, and any position which can be reduced to absurdity collapses by the very fact.
Therefore, since He has planned that we should act in many things according to our free choice, we have no option but to admit the existence of freewill.
That we are free is according to His positive will; if we exercise that freedom in an evil direction, it is in accordance with His permissive will. I do not mean that He gives us permission in the moral sense to do evil, for He forbids that. But He permits us to be physically free in the sense that He will not compel us to be good in spite of ourselves.
No. For example, God wills that I should not commit murder. But He has also willed that I should possess freewill, and be master of my own destiny. That necessarily carries with it the possibility of either obeying God's law, or of rebelling against it. And by the very gift of freedom, God must will to permit my defection from duty, even though He forbids it. In His very omnipotence He does not use His omnipotence to prevent my crime. I see many things done which I feel that I would certainly prevent if I had only half God's power. I feel sure that I wouldn't be strong enough to restrain myself. To be able to do it, yet not to do it, would be too much for me. But if I were God, and absolutely omnipotent, and had His wisdom, then just what God does and permits, I would do and permit. All that happens therefore is in accordance with God's will insofar as that will includes all circumstances, and conditions, and interdependent secondary agents, and the many influences which provide a problem ever bewildering to man.
In the passion and death of Christ many things were due to God's positive will, but many, on the other hand, were due to God's permissive will. That God merely permitted Judas to indulge an evil will, and did not positively inspire his action, is evident from the Gospel itself. Had Judas been compelled to act as he did against his own will, he would not have been morally responsible. Yet the very Gospels which tell us of the fact that he did betray Christ, tell us also that he was morally guilty in doing so. Therefore he was free not to do so. Thus Christ reproached him, "Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?" Our Lord did not say, "Judas, you have to do this, so I can scarcely blame you." So, too, in Acts I., 25, we are told that "Judas hath by transgression fallen." It is obvious,therefore, from Scripture, that Judas was responsible for his action. A difficulty might arise in your mind from the fact that God had predicted through the prophets that Judas would betray Christ. But that does not prove compulsion. It was not predicted that Judas "must" betray Christ. The prediction was based on the fact that he "would" do so by his own free choice. Judas did not do so because it had been predicted. More expressly we are certain that God's will was not impelling Judas because we are clearly told by God's word that "Satan entered into Judas," and that he then went to the chief priests. Lk. XXII., 3-4. Now the will of Satan is radically opposed to the will of God. But this leads to a second possible difficulty. If not compelled by the will of God, was Judas compelled by the will of Satan? It is obvious that he was not, since the Gospels hold him to be personally responsible. If Judas did the will of Satan it was because he freely consented to do so. There was no need for him to do so; and if he obeyed the suggestions of Satan, he did so voluntarily. We know, too, of our Lord's own efforts to win him to better dispositions prior to the crime.
You are confusing man's will as a radical power of choice with its exercise in a given direction. The two things are not the same. God made man's will, but He did not "make it up" for man, so that it was determined independently of man in a given direction. Man makes the choice his will enables him to make, though he need not make that choice. If man exercises his power in a wrong way, it is not the power that causes him to do so; it is man's own soul and personality which uses its will wrongly. The murderer does not make his own hand; but he makes that hand throttle his victim. There is a difference between the possession of a power and the use of that power.