I had a thought tonight regarding possible implications of Boyd’s Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy, and I need work them out. Please bear with me.
Boyd asserts that the reason that God allows Satan to continue to choose evil in the world is because it is required by the nature of true freedom. If God gave us free will, but revoked that will as soon as we made the wrong choice, we didn’t actually have free will at all. Further, he claims that for us to be truly free we must have the same ability to influence the world for evil as we do for good: the more good someone is capable of, the more evil they must also be capable of. And further still, he claims that for our freedom to be genuine we must also have a duration or span of time over which we can exercise our influence that corresponds to the amount of influence that we have.
To make this more concrete: Satan was supposedly God’s second-in-command, the most beautiful and powerful of all of the angels, given authority over the entire earth (as he himself claims when tempting Jesus). He has unparalleled ability for good (next to the triune God, of course), and therefore he also has unparalleled ability for evil. He was created with this incredible ability, and creating creatures with free will is a gamble; in this case, Satan went bad and we’re all feeling the effects. If God were to retract Satan’s freedom, or more directly, simply kill Satan, the free will that God bestows upon his creatures would be a sham, and all real relationship between God and his creatures would fall apart.
Now, Boyd claims that Satan fell long before human beings were created, and that we were created as a part of God’s plan to take back creation from Satan (without violating Satan’s free will). Satan was given dominion over the earth, abused it and rebelled against God (and perverted creation as a part of this rebellion); God fought against Satan and his forces, decimating the earth in the process of subduing Satan, and then re-creating the earth out of the ashes and creating humans as his new representatives to rule over it (see my previous post for a brief discussion of Boyd’s tentative support of the Gap Theory of creation in support of this view). But Satan returned, corrupted human beings, and resumed his dominion over the earth. Now, on to implications and speculations!
This view implies that human beings were plan B (or XYZ, for all we know). Open Theists are okay with this notion, holding that by allowing for the free wills of his creatures, God inherently allows for multiple ways for us to enact his plan, and that even God cannot (or need not) know exactly how everything will happen even if he knows how it will end. I for one am okay with the notion that God might not know how long it will take for his desired ends to occur; it might take a few billion years and a few million “plan B’s” for people to come around, but eventually God’s plan for the earth and perfect relationship with humanity will come about in such a way that it does not require the overriding of his creatures’ free wills. I don’t feel like this makes God any less sovereign, only more patient!
But here’s the other implication: if God originally created angelic beings to represent his dominion and authority over the earth, and then later gave that role to human beings after the fall of those angels, this particular “plan B” seems to imply that God is working in a specific way, namely, investing moral agency and dominion in creatures of lesser power and influence.
Satan was given dominion, and had incredible and unmatched power among all created beings. His fall means incredible levels of evil in the world, and so his freedom entailed a bigger risk than, say, my freedom. If God created human beings after Satan fell, and gave us dominion as he had previously given Satan dominion, this implies that God has replaced Satan with a far less risky type of steward. Rather than one incredibly powerful creature, God has created billions of relatively puny and powerless creatures who can only match Satan’s power when acting collectively. Is this divine risk management in action?
Then, seeing that we have incredible power when acting collectively, Satan corrupts our systems (the Powers), using us (to amplify his power?) for collective evil. So we have our God-given power to choose good or evil and a relatively small amount of influence either way, but Satan is empowering us for collective evil. God, seeing this, breaks Satan’s power through the cross and empowers us with his own Spirit, so that collectively we might have not just the power of the agency that he gave us, and not just (or not even, when we are set free from sin) the empowerment of Satan for collective evil action, but we now have the power of God himself for collective good action (i.e. the power to be the Church, the collective embodiment of Jesus Christ on the earth).
The implication, then, is that God is managing his risks by investing his dominion in less powerful creatures, diffusing the power for evil over many free agents rather than a few more powerful ones. In so doing he has also diffused the power for good over many agents, lessening the effectiveness of his agents.
When God created humans, he created democracy.
Or bureaucracy. Probably both.
In this way, he could maintain the free will of his creatures while still safeguarding his creation. Human beings depose or kill monarchs or autocrats who abuse their power; God gives us irrevocable power and the ability to use it freely, but created a system in which the fallenness of a few will not destroy the whole. Meanwhile, our dignity is not less than that of an angel so long as we are able to act collectively, as collectively we embody Christ himself, and collectively we are adopted as children of God, and collectively we hold dominion over the earth.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, as my own are only half formed. It seems to be a strong call to the Church, leading to a robust ecclesiology. It seems to apply ethics, something that is usually applied to individuals, at a collective level. I should note that I didn’t get the notions of collectivity from Boyd; it just seemed to arise from the implications of what Boyd was saying about levels of influence, and the implied notion that we are plan B for God’s dominion on the earth. What do you think?