Does God have free will?

by Matt Slick

In order to answer the question of whether or not God has free will, we first need to define what free will is. Not everyone agrees on exactly how to define it, but basically, free will is the ability to make choices without being coerced. Certainly, God is not forced to choose something by anything outside of Himself when it comes to making decisions. So from this simple definition, God has free will.

Others say that free will necessitates being able to choose between good and bad options. However, this fails with God because though God knows what is bad, He does not have the ability to choose what is bad because God can only do that which is good. His nature is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He cannot sin. He cannot do that which is sinful. So, we could modify our definition of free will to say that a person is free, without coercion, to choose whatever is consistent with His nature. In the case of God, because He is holy and cannot sin, He is completely free to choose to do only those things which are good because that is what is consistent with His essence.

This is important because we have to realize that when we want to define something like free will, knowledge, perfection, holiness, etc., we need to start with God as a standard and not man. When we start with a people as a standard of what is right and wrong, or what free will is, then we will probably end up in error. So if we were to define free will from the human perspective (being able to freely choose right and wrong), then God would not have free will. But since God is free, perfect, and holy and since He cannot choose to do bad, we must conclude that the free will He possesses is that which can only work in concert with His holiness. Therefore, God does have free will, the free will to choose whatever is consistent within His holiness and goodness.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.