Most people define “free will” as having a genuine choice between multiple options. For example, in a given situation it would be possible for a truly free being to have a genuine choice between (a) telling a lie or (b) telling the truth.
Yet God, per the formal philosophical definition and the Bible, cannot lie, “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18)
It seems to follow that if God cannot have a genuine choice, but *must* act in accordance to his nature, he cannot have genuine libertarian free will. This point is eloquently argued by the influential philosopher William Rowe in his book ‘Can God Be Free?’ I’ve outlined three of the most popular responses to this dilemma, are there any others?
OPTION 1: “God can act contrary to his nature, he just chooses not to”
RESPONSE 1: The universal consensus of philosophers and theologians is that it’s impossible for God to choose imperfection. If a perfect being could genuinely choose to be imperfect, then its perfection would be contingent upon circumstances, there would be a real possibility of God becoming not-God in the future, or Good-God becoming Bad-God. In any case, even Bible itself says “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18) not “it’s possible for God to lie, but he chooses not to.”
OPTION 2: “God isn’t constrained by his nature, he is characterized by his nature; thus he freely chooses that which he wants. In other words, God would never even desire to lie.”
RESPONSE 2: First, God did not determine or select his nature in the past (this would mean that he previously had a different nature). Second, God cannot change his nature in the future (for he is “immutable” or unchanging). Thus it seems that God is, a “prisoner” of his nature: (a) he did not choose it, (b) he cannot change it, and (c) he cannot act contrary to it, even if all this is willingly accepted, it precludes God from having genuine free will, but only the illusion or feeling of free will.
OPTION 3: “God has the freedom to act within the constraints of his nature. It’s impossible for him to tell a lie, but he can tell many different truths, or the same truth many different ways. Since he is perfect he does not require the option for imperfect choices.”
RESPONSE 3: Certainly this describes a limited form of freedom, but this is a concession that God does not have libertarian free will, but only a limited freedom. The irony with this response is that it means that Satan and humans have a greater amount of freedom than God.” Yet, in my opinion this is probably the best answer to this dilemma.