For Christians, if the history of this universe and the history of human are said to be ultimately God’s history, there is yet one problem to be solved: How does human disobedience (sin) form a part of it?
Does God need human disobedience to accomplish His story? Does God orchestrate human disobedience?
As a resolution, in CD II/2, p.663, Barth speaks of God’s all-encompassing will as One, instead of manifold and occasional- under this will there is no caprice left for human being. This will is revealed to us as in Jesus Christwe see how God’s history is perfectly actualized in man (through Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father). However, it is human disobedience when we falsify God’s history by making our history distinct from God’s willed shape of it.
In most cases, I like Barth, but somehow I think there is a tragic flaw in Barth’s understanding of human disobedience as a falsifying attempt in that it does not really safeguard the « oneness » of God’s will.
For if the history is God’s history, then human disobedience must be sucked into it, as God is both Lord over His story and our story according to His singular will. But this makes God also Lord over human disobedience and Lord of Evil (such as Hilter’s genocide).
Apparently this does not go.
So other Barthians prefer to understand human disobedience (sin) in terms of nothingness. This Augustinian apophatic tradition has a long history, but when pressed hard it proves problematic too.
For if human disobedience is ultimately to be denied as a non-history (to be nullified by God as alien to God’s history), the doctrine of providence could revert to a bad dualism: a dualism that completely dissects the integral singular history into « obedience and disobedience », « real and fake », « right and wrong », « divine and secular », and so on, as if God has no (real) dealing with human being’s negative struggles.
Thus, the solution I came up with is a molinist one of « middle knowledge »:
The framework of molinist’s middle knowledge affirms that human makes real decisions with genuine freewill (not to be confused with « absolute freewill ») that constitute what we call « human history » of the temporal reality.
The way God deals with human beings is to first consult his middle knowledge concerning all counterfactual situations, that is, to trace and map out every single possibility of all possible worlds, and He consequently directs His free knowledge (which is about what will be carried out and realized) in determining which universe to actualize (the best among the possible worlds).
God does not engage human beings with mind-control or telepathy, but mostly through the orchestration of objective conditions that are revelatory to us. And He creates us and preconditions us in a way that we can be identified with His Spirit and His heart (calling us His « image-bearers »), even though this allows us also to choose not obey and make ourselves our gods.
The key is, ultimately, the totality of human obedience and disobedience will be proven to be the history just exactly God would like this to be- it is the best of the possible worlds given all what human beings would choose to do as a free response to their surroundings/objective conditions based on their precondition.
It is some time been said (by analytic philosophers) that if God cannot real consult His middle knowledge for His act of creation without undermining the authenticity of human freewill. This is because (as they contend) genuine foreknowledge [of any kind] could not be compatible with genuine freewill. If you genuinely know that I will make pancake for breakfast tomorrow morning, my determination to make pancake for breakfast tomorrow morning cannot be an act out of my freewill but could only be said as a passive obedience to such a foreknowledge.
However, God is God and God transcends time. God’s foreknowledge is based in the future, in the eschatological end-time, and at His location outside of time. Think God as a time-traveler, then you will have no problem conceptualize the harmony between God’s middle knowledge and human freewill.
As such, human is free to obey and disobey. While human obedience manifests his participation in God’s history, human disobedience achieves God’s history, too- all things work together for His own good. Only from God’s eye view, we realize also that some are elected to obey freely, and some disobey freely to nullify and falsify their election.
The former is called God’s true son, while the latter is the prodigal son, who (even though willingly and stupidly falsified his identity) nonetheless cannot erase his intrinsic identity marker as a son of God.