Does True Love Require Libertarian Free Will? A Response to Greg Koukl



(The FreeThinking Theist)


August 15, 2018

Greg Koukl is one of my favorite apologists and theological thinkers. I have been reading his blogs and listening to his podcasts for years. His book “Tactics” is one that all Christians who care about evangelism should own. In my professional opinion, Koukl’s ministry, Stand To Reason, is one of the best resources available to the Body of Christ today.

One thing I love about Greg is that he affirms humans possess limited libertarian freedom — even though he also affirms TULIP Calvinism. Although I disagree with Greg regarding the “I” of TULIP, he and I have found common ground by both affirming the limited libertarian freedom of humanity. In fact, I have gotten a lot of miles out of some of his quotes on the issue. For that, I am grateful.

In a recent STR Podcast (click here), however, Greg made some comments in which I adamantly disagree. The problem of evil is the greatest objection raised against the knowledge of God, and the free will defense is the greatest weapon to “destroy” the objection (as Paul states in 2 Cor 10:5). Specifically, as I have argued at length (See Divine Determinism and The Problem of Hell), the ability to love requires libertarian freedom to resist one’s advances or not to resist one’s advances. If this libertarian free will really means free will — and we are not playing word games — then this ability to freely love is the same ability, when used in a backwards manner, that also allows humanity to commit evil. I always say that this is easy to remember because love spelled backwards is “evol.”

Greg Koukl, however, shoots the Body of Christ in the foot by taking away our greatest weapon against the greatest objection raised against Christianity. Koukl is clear that he “does not argue the free will defense from the perspective of love.” I believe that this is a big mistake on his part, but he disagrees. In fact, he says, “I think this [free will defense from the perspective of love] is completely wrong-headed.”

Why does Greg think such a thing? He says:

“It doesn’t seem that God has the freedom NOT to love (for example), because goodness — and therefore, love — is essential to His nature and love comes from His nature and if love requires freedom, then God doesn’t truly love.”

Koukl is conflating the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) with libertarian freedom (See Freethinking Needs the PAP). That is to say, one can still possess libertarian freedom even if they do not possess the PAP. So, even if God did not possess the ability to NOT love humanity, it can still be said that He possesses the libertarian freedom to love humanity since nothing external to God is causally determining God to act in this manner. God is the source of His own actions.

With that said, however, God is love (1st John 4:8), and is essentially loving. He desires the best for all people and also desires to be loved by everyone whom He loves — which is all people! With God’s omnibenevolence in mind, deductive conclusions are reached when one is focused on what logically follows from God’s perfect love and the reality of an eternal hell. Accordingly, the argument runs as follows:

(1) If divine determinism is true, then, if God wants all people to go to heaven, then all people go to heaven.

(2) Not all people go to heaven.

(3) Therefore, if God wants all people to go to heaven, then divine determinism is false.

(4) If God is all-loving, then God wants all people to go to heaven.

(5) God is all-loving.

(6) Therefore, God wants all people to go to heaven.

(7) Therefore, divine determinism is false.

(8) God is completely sovereign and predestines all things.

(9) Therefore, divine predestination and divine determinism are not to be conflated.

(10) The best explanation of the data is Molinism.

God is perfectly-loving (by nature) but we are not. . . at least not yet! God might love all who actually exist by nature, but He possesses the libertarian freedom to take the first step and create specific persons — or not (this is a PAP ability). Moreover, God might not have the “PAP ability” when it comes to loving those who actually exist, but He still possesses libertarian free will in the “source sense” of the term (See What is Libertarian Free Will) as nothing external to God is causally determining God to love. God has libertarian freedom to love, and He creates us with libertarian freedom to love. With this in mind, however, if God gives humans the libertarian ability to love, then it must be in the sense of the PAP — otherwise it is compatibilistic determinism (which raises many problems).


Koukl continues to discuss the “love issue”:

“I have always thought that was wrong-headed because this would mean that it is impossible for God to love, because God can’t NOT love; God can’t sin.

At least two problems arise:

Problem #1: Greg is clearly conflating libertarian freedom with the PAP (or at least assuming that libertarian freedom always entails the PAP). It does not follow that God does not possess love in a libertarian sense if God does not have it within His power to do otherwise.

Problem #2: As I have explained elsewhere, I believe it is a mistake to say that “God IS the good.” In fact, I contend that God is not “the good,” rather, “God IS love” (1 John 4:8). Humans are “good” when we choose to approximate to God’s nature. That is to say, to a degree that one approximates to God’s perfectly loving nature and to the objective purpose in which we were created (to love all persons all the time), then to that same degree one is objectively “good.” To a degree that one fails to approximate to the nature of God (and to the objective purpose of life) to that same degree one is objectively “evil.”

Now, it does make sense to say that God is “perfectly good” in the sense that He always acts in perfect approximation with His loving purpose (grounded in His loving nature) for humanity. The salient point is that love comes first, goodness (and badness) come next.

Side note: I am not willing to die on this hill, but it is pertinent to raise a question: Can God sin? Some theologians would say that this is an example of an incoherent question. After all, who would God be sinning against? The better question is this: Can God do something un-loving to a creature?

I once had a conversation with the late (and great) Dallas Willard. He mused, “Perhaps God could sin. . . but why would He want to? He’s too smart for that.” After all, God is omnipotent and can do all things logically possible, but given His other omni-attributes, He never would choose what He could choose. That is to say, there is no feasible world that could actually exist in which God freely chooses to be un-loving. Perhaps that is a great-making property and adds to the reasons as to why God is worthy of worship.


Greg Koukl continues:

“Love is not based on freedom. That is, love is not based on choosing. . . Now, I’m setting aside, for the moment, the fact that we are to act loving towards people we don’t feel loving towards at the moment, which means our enemies–we still show them good will. Or our spouses or children. . . when we’re having a hard time, love is a choice! I agree with that entirely. But that is not what people are talking about when they are talking about us loving God. They’re talking about us loving God from our hearts. . . not exercising the “choice: to treat God in a loving way. They are talking about the feelings of love.”

And when you think about the genuine emotional passion of love. . . that’s NEVER chosen! It’s not related to choice at all!”

What is odd, as I noted above, is that Koukl affirms that humans have libertarian freedom to engage in the process of rationality leading to inferential knowledge claims. He has told me this much in two face-to-face conversations. He has made it clear that without libertarian freedom, then we could not make rational choices about what to believe and what not to believe (at least regarding issues unrelated to soteriological issues). With that in mind, it seems impossible for one to be able to choose to believe any old belief. Perhaps our beliefs do “just happen” . . . but they can “just happen” because of the libertarian free choices we make along the way. This is referred to as indirect doxastic voluntarism (See Can We Choose Our Beliefs?). This idea can be applied to the “feelings of love” as well. After all, if we can freely choose our beliefs in an indirect sense, why can we not freely choose whom we love in an indirect sense? 

Koukl continues by noting that he often engages parents in the following dialogue:

Greg: “Do you love your children?”

Parent: “Yes, of course.”

Greg: “When did you start loving your children?”

Parent: “When my child was born or sometime before birth.”

Greg: “When that happened did you make a decision to love them [or did it just happen]?”

Greg thinks this supports his case, but I think otherwise. There are several different types of love (agape, eros, storge, philia) that Koukl seems to be conflating. Be that as it may, I can personally offer a counter-example. If Greg were to ask me when I started to love my son, I can answer “Sometime in late 2004 when Ethan was two years old.” How can this be? Because Tia was a single mom when I first met her. Tia introduced me to her son, Ethan, in August of 2004. Did I feel emotional feelings of love for Ethan at that first moment? Of course not. However, I made some libertarian free choices along the way to put myself in a position to have proper emotional dad feelings for my only son — who I often forget is not my biological son. Perhaps these feelings “just happened” — but they “just happened” based on libertarian free choices I made to put me in a position to gain these feelings.

This is not an “either/or” it is a “both/and.” I love Ethan more than my own life. I have freely chosen to love him and I possess loving feelings for him too (now that he is a “rebellious teenager” those “warm fuzzies” are not always there, but I always choose to love him — no matter what)! I would die for him, I desire the best for him, I truly love my son!


Greg said,

“Love happens in virtue of a set of appropriate circumstances that cause it to happen.”

I disagree with his assertion. However, for the sake of argument, and to reiterate my above comments, I would simply counter by noting that humans sometimes have the libertarian freedom to choose to put ourselves in a set of appropriate circumstances (or not) that would then cause “warm fuzzy love feelings” to happen.

Love is primarily a choice — not a feeling. However, as Koukl seems to agree, if the “feelings” are not there, we can — and should — still make libertarian free choices to put ourselves in a position or “appropriate circumstances” to get those “warm fuzzy love feelings” we are supposed to have.

Koukl continues and says that, Westerners get married only because they “fell in love.”

That is great for Westerners, but 50% of these marriages end in divorce. With this in mind, should we really equate love with mere “feelings?” (This seems to be what culture and the LGBT community tells us, not the Bible!) Perfect love — true love — never fails according to Scripture. Since all of this so-called “love” based on mere feeling is constantly failing, perhaps Koukl’s philosophy of love should be reconsidered.

It seems to me that Koukl is looking for love in all the wrong places. He says that love just “happens,” but then tacitly and inadvertently seems to affirm the libertarian freedom to love by noting that individuals can choose to follow their passions or morality. If we choose to follow morality, when our passions are screaming otherwise, then we can choose to say “no” to the “passionate fuzzy feelings” we often confuse and conflate with love.


Koukl continues:

“It doesn’t make sense to argue that if we don’t have freedom of choice, then our love for God is like robotic love.”

What exactly is “robotic love?” It is not even a “thing” in the first place. It is a metaphysically impossible and incoherent concept when one thinks about it deeply. At most, “robotic love” is an inconsistent combination of words.

Be that as it may, we have good reason to think that genuine love requires libertarian freedom. In fact, comic book characters can help illustrate why libertarian freedom is necessary for genuine love relationships. Consider a relative newcomer to the DC Comics universe named, “Harley Quinn.” Some have described the love she has for the Joker (Batman’s arch nemesis) as unmatched. In fact, many think the love Harley has for the Joker is the epitome of love. This relationship was portrayed in the recent movie “Suicide Squad.” Indeed, Harley longs to be with the Joker and seems to be willing to do anything to be in his arms. Harley Quinn demonstrates that she lives for the Joker, she is willing to die for the Joker, and she is willing to kill for the Joker. Her life revolves around the Joker and she is devoted to following him no matter the costs.

Many guys can only imagine what it would be like to have a beautiful woman willing to do anything to be next to them. Most would love to know what it is like to know the kind of love the Joker knows.

Or does the Joker know?

Although it has been said that Harley Quinn and the Joker are a great example of true love (lots of “warm fuzzy” emotional feelings), I think this relationship is the farthest thing from it. In fact, this relationship makes me sick to my stomach! I contend that this relationship is not true love at all; rather, it is the epitome of evil.

You see, according to the Suicide Squad movie, the Joker kidnapped and brainwashed Harley against her will. The Joker forced himself upon her and causally determined her to be unable to resist him by changing her nature. Left to Harley’s own devices, she would always reject the Joker if given a choice, but the Joker took any ability away from her to choose otherwise. She has been manipulated, she has suffered psychological trauma, and she has been raped against her will (even though the Joker has forced her to “voluntarily” think and act in accords to his will).

You see, the Joker has no idea what it truly means to be loved. All he has is a kidnapped woman who has no genuine choice but to follow him. Although Harley “voluntarily” follows the Joker, she literally has no ability to do otherwise — she is basically no more than a programmed robot.

Now, I’m sure the Joker would have preferred it if Harley Quinn would have freely chosen to love and follow him as that would have brought him more glory, but since she would not freely choose to be with the Joker, he had to force himself upon her against her will. The Joker simply became “irresistible” as she had her ability to resist stolen from her. Now she has no ability but to follow him and “voluntarily” utter the words “I love Mr. J.”

This relationship is not the paradigm of love as many comic book junkies imagine. No, true love requires a legitimate and genuine choice. A person must freely choose to enter into a romantic marriage relationship for it to count as true love (at the least, they must have the ability to resist or not to resist one’s advances). Otherwise, the most one could hope for is something akin to Stockholm Syndrome. But that is not true love; rather, Stockholm Syndrome is psychological trauma! This is not true love — this is pure evil.

Surprisingly, many Christians (not to mention Muslims) have a view of God like that of the Joker. They contend that you and I have no choice in regards to if we will love and follow God or not. Many theologians incorrectly think that God does something to certain individuals in which these people then become incapable of anything other than following Him. Indeed, they refer to this as “irresistible grace.”

However, we have theological reason (supported by biblical data) to resist irresistible grace. See The Relevance of Irresistible Grace).

Some Christians suggest that humans still possess something called “compatibilistic free will” (not the real thing) and are still responsible for their beliefs and behaviors even though God causally determines their wants and desires which guarantees certain actions. Some would say this is exactly what the Joker did to Harley Quinn, and that Harley “freely” loves and follows the Joker “voluntarily” although she is incapable of doing otherwise. On this view, however, God is worse than the Joker because God is ultimately responsible for every person’s nature, which causally determines each person’s wants and desires which determines and guarantees every person’s thoughts and actions. Then, God holds everybody eternally responsible and accountable for the things in which He was actually responsible for causing.

God is not like the Joker. God is a Maximally Great Being, the paradigm of love and is perfectly loving to all people. God wants a true love relationship with each of us and invites us to freely love and follow Him. Unlike the Joker, you see, God is a gentleman. He loves us unconditionally and invites you and I to love Him in return. Unlike Harley Quinn, you have a choice to resist the advances of the Holy Spirit — or not.

Unlike Harley Quinn, you are genuinely responsible for your thoughts (2 Cor 10:5) and your following actions (1 Cor 10:13).

Scott Olson and I discussed similar issues in a recent podcast. I remember talking about my blood boiling when I hear about guys slipping “date rape” drugs into a woman’s drink as it takes away her ability to resist their advances. Our justice system is clear that all a woman must do is say or imply “no” or “stop” to a man’s advances. If this minimal resistance is offered, and the man continues to advance, then he is raping her. If her ability to resist is taken away — even if she would have willingly said “yes,” then it is still rape. This is not love!

Legally, the woman does not have to say “yes” to his advances, but if any resistance is offered — even a little bit — then the man must stop. Why is this the law? Because it is intuitively obvious that the libertarian ability to resist — or not to resist — is minimally required for a true love relationship. Anything less than this is rape.


Regarding Reformed Theology, Greg brings up God’s “elective love.” But think about this concept of election. Does God find Himself with overwhelming “warm fuzzy feelings” of emotion for some humans and not others? Is this what determines who is “zapped” with “irresistible grace” and who is not?

According to Reformed Theology, as I understand it, there is not supposed to be anything special about a person that caused God to elect them — or “zap” them with irresistible grace (“lest no man should boast”). So, this supposed Reformed view causes major problems for the Reformed view. According to Reformed Theology, it seems that God freely chooses who will be in an eternal love relationship with Him — and by consequence, all who will be eternally suffering in Hell divorced from God and all that is good.


Greg says:

“No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him.”

Amen to that! Greg quotes John 6:44 in an attempt to support his case, but it actually supports the Molinist view. After all, it would be a modal error to conflate “can come” with “will come.”

Consider the word “can.” Can implies an ability and thus, implies free will. So, the Molinist agrees — no one can come to Christ unless provided proper “drawing.” This drawing can be as simple as natural revelation which Paul says is available to all people and thus “no one has an excuse” (Romans 1:20). So, all have been drawn and *can* freely come to God [or at least freely NOT resist what God has made clear to all men] — but they do not have to; they are free to resist His revelation.

Further, if it is true that all those who are drawn will — “irresistibly” — come to Christ, then this would logically lead to universalism. Consider the words of Jesus as we read John 12:32:

“As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.”

The key thing to remember is that “can” does not imply necessity. That is to say, “can” and “must” are two extremely different things.

Koukl continues:

“I think what’s going on there is kind of a ‘wooing process’ where we legitimately end up loving and desiring and wanting God because we have been inexorably won over by His Spirit. This isn’t a violation of our freedom.”

I refer to this “wooing process” as the process of regeneration. Humans are free to hit the “abort button” (abortion is bad) or not at any time during the process over time. This range of options (to resist or not to resist), each of which is consistent with a person’s nature in the process of regeneration, is libertarian freedom. If we do nothing, then God will complete what He started and get us to the place where we find ourselves desiring and wanting God (including all the “warm fuzzy emotions”).

Koukl says:

“It’s God’s choice — it’s NOT our choice” (emphasis mine)!

Again, as I noted before, it is a mistake to say this is an “either/or,” when it could be a “both/and.” Yes, God loved us first. . . and as long as one does not continually and actively resist God’s love and grace, they will eventually be “won over.” So, although we might not make an active intentional choice in the affirmative to love and follow God, as long as we do not actively choose to resist — as long as we do nothing — then we will all fall in love with God.

See Kirk MacGregor’s recent article on this specific topic in Perichoresis Volume 16:2. entitled, “Monergistic Molinism.”


Greg says,

“I think this fits perfectly with our common sense understanding of the way we love our children, the way we love our friends, the way we love our spouses, etc…”

I completely disagree, and have offered my son, Harley Quinn, Stockholm Syndrome, and the American legal system as counter-examples.


Greg goes on to seemingly affirm that libertarian freedom is required for (let’s call it) “moral love” when we do not feel like loving or when the “warm fuzzies” are gone. Amen to that! In the next breath, however, he says:

“I don’t think love is based on liberty. . . We don’t have the free will to reject [God’s love]. . . That isn’t the way love works, ever — EVER!”

Again, this is simply false. To reiterate, I have offered my son, Harley Quinn, Stockholm Syndrome, and the American legal system as counter-examples.

David Wood is a friend of mine from New York City and a fantastic apologist. In my opinion, no one has a better ministry to Muslims in the world today (he was instrumental in leading Nabeel Qureshi to Christ). William Lane Craig added to Wood’s fame by bringing him up as an example in his debate with Eric Weilenberg.

This example was regarding Wood’s rare condition as a diagnosed sociopath. This means that he never “feels” emotional love at all. Is Greg Koukl going to be consistent and claim that David Wood does not love his wife or his children? Is he going to assert that Wood does not love Jesus?

Although Wood does not possess emotional “warm fuzzy” feelings of love, he does makes choices to love God, his wife, his kids, his neighbors, and even those who consider him to be an enemy (and they are legion) — and David Wood loves well! He provides a great example for all to follow.

In fact, when I think about it, my relationship with God is not filled with emotional feelings. Sure, I do experience these “warm fuzzies” from time to time, but these emotional moments are the rare occasion as opposed to the rule. Be that as it may, I know I love God and He loves me. Every day I wake up and thank God for the new day and tell Him that I love Him — I do! There is no doubt in my mind. I love Christ so much I am willing to live and die for Him.

As a former pastor, I saw many Christians of all ages really struggle with knowing if they were really saved. This struggle was brought on because they were not experiencing these emotional feelings that Koukl conflates with true love. I always encouraged them to take their incorrect thoughts (that were based on a lack of feelings) captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5). When one does this consistently over time, they become transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2), and they know they are in a true love relationship with God even if their feelings are not warm and fuzzy.

Amy Hall (Koukl’s colleague), interjects and asserts:

“We don’t choose our own desires!”

Greg adds:

“Our desires happen to us.”

This is misleading to say the least. Our desires — contra John Edwards — do not determine all our thoughts, actions, beliefs, and behaviors. We are so much more than mere animals. Rather, we are created to think and act rationally (even when thinking rationally is not our greatest desire). In fact, Paul is clear that we are commanded to think correctly (2 Corinthians 10:5 & Colossians 2:8) — not to “feel” correctly. It seems to me that if we are thinking correctly, the “warm fuzzies” and the “good vibrations” will soon follow.


Koukl discusses “wooing” and “falling in love.” Amy Hall asks:

“How would you use the free will defense? Because, I would also say in heaven nobody is going to sin, everybody is going to do what’s right, but we won’t be robots there either.”

Koukl responds:

“We will be acting consistently with our natures.”

Right! Our new natures will be (as Dallas Willard said) “too smart for that!” That is to say, although we COULD sin in heaven, we never WOULD sin in heaven. Now we are too smart for that because we have learned from all the pain, evil, suffering, and “light momentary afflictions” that we have experienced on earth. These “afflictions” have prepared us — they have taught us — to never be stupid again (2 Cor 4:17). The “Three Circles Model” I offer explains this nicely (See Free Will In Heaven?).


Koukl makes a speculative move at this point:

“Certainly, God could have made us like Him from the beginning!”

I adamantly disagree! A Maximally Great Being cannot create other Maximally Great contingent Beings.

Consider this: It would be logically impossible for an omnipotent God to create another omnipotent being. After all, if two omnipotent beings got into a fight, then no matter what the outcome, at least one of them is not omnipotent (even if the fight ended in a draw). So, since omnipotence is typically defined as the ability to do all things logically possible, it is metaphysically impossible (logically impossible in a broad sense) for an omnipotent being to create another omnipotent being.

But can an omnipotent/omnibenevolent being create another omnibenevolent being who always freely chooses to love all persons perfectly? There does not seem to be anything logically impossible with the concept of this kind of creature. Thus, it is proper to say that this possible world exists. However, this possible world might not be possible for God to create.

How can this be? If God can do all things that are possible, then why couldn’t God create this possible world? Well, once true love and libertarian free will are factored into the scenario, it might be the case that in any world where true love can be attained, evil will also be experienced. If this is the case, then — if love is important to God — it might become impossible for Him to create a world where evil does not rear its ugly head. That is to say, it depends if a possible world exists that is also feasible for God to actualize in which created/finite beings always freely choose to love perfectly.

This delves into deep philosophical waters regarding the difference between possible and feasible worlds — but the difference is vital to grasp. We are simply not in an epistemic position to know if this possible world is feasible for an omnipotent God to create (we can only speculate), but an omniscient God possessing limitless middle knowledge would be in a position to know if this possible world is also feasible. For an introduction regarding the difference between possible and feasible worlds read: Could Adam Avoid the Apple?

I personally doubt that a world where everyone always freely chooses perfectly is feasible for God to create. One is free to question my statement, but it is utterly impossible for a human being to prove my doubts incorrect. What I am attempting to communicate is that it could be the case that any world that God creates with creatures who possess libertarian free will — so that they can experience a true love relationship — these free creatures always (or at some point) freely choose to act imperfectly. If this is the case, then it is simply not possible for God to create this possible world (this is what is meant by a “feasible world”).

While it is merely possible, I do not think it is feasible for God to create beings who always freely choose to love (and are thus morally perfect from scratch). With that said, however, I do believe that it is possible and feasible for God to create beings who will eventually always freely choose to love into the infinite future. In fact, I believe this is exactly what God did (2 Corinthians 4:17; James 1:2-4; Matthew 5:48).


Greg says,

“He chose not to — He chose to give us freedom!”

Amen to that! This is exactly my point. This is a confusing statement coming from Greg’s mouth. I know that Greg believes that humans possess limited libertarian freedom when it comes to rationality and inferential knowledge — not moral issues. This specific comment, however, is specifically regarding moral issues.

Greg continues:

“The ability to choose good over evil. . . in an environment of a fallen world, gives the opportunity of gaining and producing virtues that would not be gained or produced apart from that circumstance. . . We can’t learn to be long-suffering apart from a world where suffering does not exist. We cannot learn to be patient if we are in a world where our desires are not immediately gratified. . . certain virtues seem only able to be developed in a fallen world. . . and for some reason, God desires us to develop virtue, rather than simply grant it to us.”

Amen to that! Koukl and I are on the exact same page on this score. Other goods must be added to the virtues in which Greg alluded. A vital virtue — if not the most important virtue — we can develop in a fallen world is to learn from sin, evil, and suffering so we realize just how utterly stupid it is to disobey an omniscient and perfectly-loving God. Thus, we learn to always freely choose to act according to God’s creative intent for humanity (to always love God first and to love all others as ourselves).

Consider the fact that Adam, Eve, Satan, and a third of all the angels did not have this luxury that you and I possess — the ability to learn from the stupidity of suffering that is caused by an imperfect state of affairs. With this in mind, we see that we are actually blessed to experience limited evil and suffering. We will not take it for granted unlike many of the angels and the first humans.

I agree with Greg — we learn only in a fallen world. Thus, we do not have to lose our libertarian freedom in heaven and God can still guarantee the eternal perseverance of the Saints.


Greg says,

“Now why [God] desired that? I don’t know. . . that’s a part I haven’t worked out.”

I can answer this for my brother. . .

Because God desires a personal relationship with creatures who always freely choose to love and do the objectively good and right thing, as opposed to creatures who are simply causally determined to think and act the way God desires them to behave. True love (which requires libertarian freedom) brings God much more glory that a being who is simply a glorified “re-programmed” robot.


Greg rightly compares 1 Timothy and the “age to come” in a similar manner to how I appeal to 2 Corinthians 4:17. Koukl notes that there is a sense in which all this “cashes out” in the next age, even though there is no sin in Heaven. I completely agree and briefly explained how this works above. See my “3 Circles Model” for more.

Greg asks: “How does this work?”
He answers his own question: “I don’t know.”

The “3 Circles Model” I offer connects these theological dots logically.


Greg Koukl is brilliant but not infallible. This issue is one of the few things he needs to reconsider. Libertarian freedom is an essential ingredient for humanity to experience true love.

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton

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About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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