The ever-estimable James Swan has done a post on the problem of evil. I’m going to seize on one insight:
“If I knew in advance that a person was going to get in their car by their own choice, and while driving down the road strike and kill someone, and I let them do it, I share responsibility. It's actually a severely culpable responsibility because I knew and they didn't.”
I think this point merits elaboration. From a human viewpoint, if I know that somebody is in danger, and he does not, and my advance knowledge of the danger equips me to allay the tragic outcome, then don’t I have a duty to prevent the outcome?
Even if I didn’t foreknow the outcome, if it were just a probable outcome, would it not be incumbent on me to take preemptive measures?
Suppose, instead of a reckless driver, I know that a falling tree will kill a bystander unless I intervene. The tree is not responsible. And the bystander is not responsible.
In that situation, I’m the only responsible party. Since the bystander is oblivious to the threat, he can’t step out of the way in time.
In that situation, I don’t simply share responsibility with the bystander, but I shoulder the entire responsibility. If I fail to act on my advance knowledge, then I’m culpable. And, what is more, I’m solely to blame.
If he’s an innocent bystander, then I can hardly excuse my own role in the outcome on the grounds that I merely “allowed” it to happen. For allowing it to happen is the very thing that’s culpable in this situation.
On the other hand, suppose the victim is not an innocent bystander. Suppose he’s a serial killer. And I know that. With that in mind, I let the tree fall on him and crush him to death.
I’m still responsible for the outcome. But am I blameworthy? No. To the contrary, I’d be blameworthy if I saved the life of a serial killer.
There are, of course, differences between divine and human obligations. But that just complicates the Arminian objection to Calvinism. Indeed, it generates a dilemma for the Arminian.
To the extent that the Arminian accentuates human analogies, he inculpates the Arminian God in evil.
To the extent that the Arminian accentuates the disanalogy between divine and human obligations, he exculpates the Calvinist God.