Oh really? And who gave them “a choice”? It wasn’t God. God forbid a contrary choice. To say that God placed before Adam and Eve the choice of evil is the highest blasphemy. The reality is that man was created with the natural ability of choosing, but not with libertarian freewill. Man was created in God’s image, not that he could choose evil, and he was forbidden to do so. God did not temp Eve by placing “a choice” before her, it was Satan. God placed before them only what was good.
You see the problem? The natural ability of the will is simply choice. It is not the capability of contrary choice. Adam and Eve were not given a choice between two contrary things, you may eat this and live, you may eat this and die. Instead, they were given choice for those things which God had given them. The choice was not given them to eat of the forbidden fruit. That is, choice in man is choosing what is given. To state it another way, he was to eat what was given and live, and eat not what was not given and live. The choices were to be to him life. God gave them nothing but good choices. He did not give them freewill to choose death.
We can see what is meant in that God by nature is incapable of choosing evil. It was in that image man was created. Natural ability of will is, again, the ability to choose, not to not choose. It does not address the object of the choice, either. Will only addresses the ability of choice. Neither does it address the moral rectitude of the one choosing. Moral choice is a decision of the mind’s capability of discerning good from evil. Still, given the possibilities, that is, that good is the only choice given, moral choice has no reference to the thing chosen, only to the one doing the choosing. Scripture describes sin as not merely the thing chosen, but the nature of the chooser as the source of moral rectitude. To be precise, when speaking of moral choice, it is not simply a matter of what, but who. When speaking of will, it is an instrument of choice and not the one using it. We find in the NT the description of man in his fallen nature as incapable of choosing any good. We must conclude then with Paul, that nothing in and of itself is evil, it is the one choosing it. Or as he says, to the pure all things are pure, to those of corrupt minds everything is evil.
Pritchett is correct. It is implied in the command to not eat and the very mention of evil, that Adam and Eve were already in possession of a certain knowledge of the truth. They had been told. They knew to “not eat and live.” They could not choose that which was contrary to that knowledge, for they had a perfect knowledge of it, and had no other knowledge which contradicted it. Nor could they choose that which was against their nature which was pure and holy, living souls, created in the image of God. The power of contrary choice resides only in the very definition and nature of evil, then. As God cannot deny himself, he cannot oppose himself, he does not possess such power of contrariness. As man was created in that image, he was not capable of opposing himself. The natural ability of choice, or the will, is such that it is able to be the instrument through which desire is expressed. But it is like a hammer which by the carpenter’s hand drives the nail. Man in his natural state desired only what was good.
What is keen here is to recognize what is meant by natural ability. Choice has no reference to the object chosen. It is simply choice. It is the mind that chooses, the will is merely its instrument for it doing so. It is the mind which wields the hammer. Moral rectitude and mental acuity are inextricably intertwined so that the one cannot be without the other. But will is not them, but only the instrument by which the individual constituted by them acts. And, the corruption of one results in the corruption of the other. In Adam and Eve there was no corruption, originally. Their will could only act in accord with their nature’s desire.
The state into which man was created was in the image of God. Like God, his will is free. Even in the state of falleness, his will is free. That is, the natural ability to choose has not been abated. As God still chooses, men still choose. It is the nature of the soul which determines the outcome of whether that choice is good or evil. (The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not in itself evil, for that knowledge Genesis 3:22 affirms is God’s own eternal knowledge, and thus inextricable from his nature.) In the case of God, he is impassable. That is, he is incapable of change. He is eternally good even with intimate knowledge of good and evil. In the case of man, he being a created being, he by definition is changeable. He is not eternally good, but good as a function of creation. Certain knowledge belongs to God alone, Scripture declares and to which Genesis testifies. In the possession of the creature that knowledge corrupts by the very antithesis of the creator/creature distinction. Again, what is created is by the very definition, changeable. Along with the nature of man which was created good is the mind. God is omniscient, man is not. Again, by definition man’s knowledge can change. It can grow, or it can be corrupted. God’s cannot. As I said above, the moral nature and the mind are inextricably joined so that the corruption of the one will result in the corruption of the other. However, the will remains intact.
In the case of Eve, she was convinced by the subtlety of the Devil that the fruit which was forbidden was instead good to partake of for food and for gaining wisdom. It wasn’t that she choose against the knowledge she had. To the contrary, that knowledge had been corrupted. The good choice to not eat somehow became the good choice to eat. In the case of Adam, Genesis makes clear that he listened to the voice of his wife. She deceived him and for that God cursed her. It is impossible to get around this conclusion. If Adam wasn’t deceived, he opposed himself, an impossibility given the fact that he was perfect in the knowledge God had given him and holy according to the nature into which he was created. One cannot imagine Eve saying to him he should eat because death is good. No, she delivered to Adam what she had been corrupted with, namely false knowledge. We do not know by what power that corruption was effected. How ever the corruption of mind and nature happened, no matter if we do not know the mysterious power that deception entailed, what we know is that Adam once having been created in the image of God, of sound mind and perfect in righteousness, acted contrary that image.
Finally, we must recognize that deception is by definition not the truth. Where there is no truth, there is no true choice. In other words, even if one wants to assert that there is libertarian freewill, in deception there is no liberty, only bondage.