Tag Archives: compatibilism

Monergism/synergism, compatibilism/incompatibilism and the nature of human freedom.

Recently I have had some correspondence with a gentleman who has read a bit of what I have written and who has had questions. Among his recent inquiries was this one: Could you please explain to me the difference between compatibilism and monergism? Similarly, what’s the difference between synergism and libertarianism? I tried looking it up, but I can’t seem to really understand the differences in these concepts. His questions are common, and quite natural, given the complexity … Continue reading

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“Monergism” and “Determinism:” Are they useful terms?

I had brief correspondence recently with an evangelical theologian whom I am going to call “Peter,” so that I can cite some of our private conversation without putting him on public record. For my purposes here, what he said is the important thing, not who he is. Our brief interchange prompted me to ruminate about the terminology we use to describe a Calvinist understanding of God’s role and ours, in salvation and in history more … Continue reading

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W. L. Craig’s understanding of freedom: Molinism or monergism?

 In December, I wrapped up my review of Four Views on Divine Providence, dealing with responses to Greg Boyd’s Open Theist proposal. In that post, I expressed my surprise concerning William Lane Craig’s redefinition of libertarian freedom, in which he denied that it entails the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), often described as the “power of contrary choice.” Craig proposed instead that a libertarian account of freedom requires only “the absence of causal constraints outside … Continue reading

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Responses to Boyd’s open theist model of providence

 The questions that expose the incoherence of the neo-Molinist account of divine providence . . . establish that the God of open theism is an ambivalent and arbitrary warrior who cannot be trusted to rule in every situation in a way that minimizes evil and maximizes good for his creatures. (Helseth, 222) Molinism [handles the problem of evil better than open theism] for God permits horrible evils only in view of morally sufficient reasons, whereas … Continue reading

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Compatibilism: a puzzlement for both Arminians and Calvinists

It has dawned on me that, despite the strong Arminian criticism of compatibilism, their statements regarding justification are actually an affirmation of the essence of compatibilism! Hopefully, though both groups charge one another with incoherence, we can be thankful that essential truths of Scripture are being affirmed, even though we can’t figure out how. The puzzlement of Calvinists Calvinists are used to strong objections from Arminians that their belief in God’s meticulous divine control of … Continue reading

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Responses to Highfield’s model of providence

I wonder if his reluctance to address the “how” of God’s providential relationship to the world that he has made fosters a measure of confusion that, in the end, is largely unnecessary.” (P. K. Helseth, 167) It is hard not to detect here a certain distrust of logical analysis and philosophical reflection, which is both unfortunate and naïve: unfortunate because it would deprive us of the insights such reflection might bring and naïve because such … Continue reading

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The God who controls by liberating

“I think it is defensible, even if frustrating, for advocates of complete divine sovereignty to admit they do not know a way to bring belief  in God’s perfect lordship in complete harmony with human freedom” (Highfield, 142-43).           In Chapter 3 of  Four Views on Divine Providence, Ron Highfield presents a model whose central thesis is that “God controls by liberating and liberates by controlling” (141) A restatement of Ron Highfield’s … Continue reading

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Restorationist and Open Theist responses to a determinist model of providence

I have described and interacted with W. L. Craig’s Molinist response to Paul Helseth’s omnicausal (determinist) model, and now we’ll consider the other two responses presented in Four Views on Divine Providence. Ron Highfield’s response Ron Highfield, representing what Dennis Jowers calls a “Restorationist” position, notes that his view and Helseth’s view are closer to one another than to either of the other two positions. But Highfield attributes his “fundamental agreement with Helseth’s view,” not … Continue reading

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A Molinist response to a determinist model of providence

The other three contributors to Four Views on Divine Providence each respond to Paul Helseth’s omnicausal (determinist) model, and the first one up is William Lane Craig. Since I have learned much from Molinism, in constructing my own Calvinistic understanding of providence, I will deal separately with this first response to Helseth. William Lane Craig’s response Response to Helseth’s problems with the Molinist account of providence Craig observes that “divine omnicausality” is an inadequate description … Continue reading

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Helseth’s determinist model of providence

 An introduction to the book as a whole This is my first post dealing with  Four Views on Divine Providence edited by Dennis W. Jowers. I am fond of multiple view books because of the conversations that they facilitate between people who have different perspectives on subjects of interest. Few theological subjects interest me more than divine providence, for two reasons. First, it forces us to deal with the great theological watershed issue between the … Continue reading

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