Satan, Milton, & Free Will

So, is there free will or is everything predestined? According to both John Milton and Satan (in this play), both are true. In Book III of Paradise Lost, Milton claims that God made humanity “Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.” This single statement resolves the either/or tension of free will and predestination. 

Humans are “Sufficient to have stood,” meaning they are good enough. They have the ability to determine what is right and what is wrong. Simply by the nature of their creation, Adam and Eve could have resisted Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. God’s Ineffable Plan means that Adam and Eve were always going to succumb to that temptation, but humans do have the power to resist and do what is right.

God imbued humanity with free will. Humans can do whatever they want; God does not micro-manage each decision that an individual makes. Adam and Eve were free to choose to eat the forbidden fruit, just as Judas was free to choose to betray Jesus. Both were also free to choose to not do these things.

As Satan states, humans have both “free will” and the ability to “self-correct.” Of course, the more enticing ability is free will; humans do not like to self-correct and hold themselves accountable for their own decisions. They like to believe that, if everything is predestined, then they have no choice at all in their actions.

Satan does not lie in this show. When he says that he does not compete with God for souls, this is the truth. God made everyone with the ability to choose Himself over Satan, but it is ultimately up to them which one they will choose. If Judas does not choose to return to Jesus and be forgiven, then he has the free will to do so. At the same time, however, he also has the substance within himself to self-correct and return to God at any time.