“IngoB” om fridom og val i klassisk og moderne tankeliv

God is as much in your choices as He is in anything else in the universe, your freedom is one of participation in his freedom and creativity. Your choices are not “independent” of God. So it’s more like you are getting carried along in this big river and your destiny is being washed into the sea. Your good choices, for A in the example above, are part of that getting carried along passively by God’s grace. It’s only when you grab an overhanging branch and hold tight, when you resist grace by picking B, that you become active. If you refuse to let go of that branch, you will ultimately miss being washed into the sea. (…)

[The problem in modern thought] is that after centuries of Ockhamite indoctrination we cannot fathom anymore how personal freedom could be anything but making a totally independent choice.

An ideal life of non-Ockhamian freedom would be one where we always follow that inner urge to do the “right thing”. We all know this sort of instinctive and instantaneous judgement in us, and we all know how we often go against it. And in that ideal life this urge would both get continuously stronger and more competent, more refined as we grow older and develop wisdom. Clearly there are easier and harder “questions” asked of us, and while nearly everybody knows in his heart that in principle one should avoid killing other people, there are many problems in our lives which are much more difficult. So there’s in this ideal life a steady improvement of the “habitus” of leading a good life.

Assume you see the final, ideal product of this, the perfect saint. From an Ockhamian perspective, this perfect saint has no freedom at all. For she never hesitates on any choice, it is always clear to her what to do, what is right and good, and there’s not the slightest temptation left to do anything else. However, practically speaking that saint is fully engaged with her entire person in constant and rapid decision making as life throws up one question after the next. And it’s not as if the individuality of that saint is destroyed. A different perfect saint may well proceed down a somewhat different decision tree which is right and good for him. Nor for that matter do such saints not suffer, for just because one chooses for example martyrdom without hesitation does not magically remove pain and death. But for Ockham and us moderns these perfect saints are mere grace robots, since they do not “really have a choice anymore”.

That’s the tragedy of our times: If we are honest, then saints appear less than human to us for their “lack of choice”. And indeed, Jesus Himself is then decidedly subhuman…


“Will God allow anyone to go to hell?” (#000742) (Ship of Fools, 16.01.2006), s. 15

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s