Category Archives: Theology Proper

Free Will, Foreknowledge, and Necessity: Assessing an Incompatibilist Understanding

I have been interacting with Robert Picirilli’s book, Free Will Revisited, which he wrote as a “respectful response to Luther, Calvin, and Edwards.” Those three representatives of a compatibilist perspective were selected because each of them wrote a book to argue for their position, against a prominent incompatibilist of their time. Martin Luther’s book, On the Bondage of the Will (1525), was his response to Desiderius Erasmus’s Diatribe on Free Will (1524). John Calvin wrote … Continue reading

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Introducing Calvinism and Middle Knowledge: A Conversation

I am happy to report that a new book is hot off the press, Calvinism and Middle Knowledge: A Conversation, to which I contributed two chapters and half of a third one, which was co-authored with Paul Helm. I’ll give a brief introduction to the book, and then I will trace the history of my own theological journey in relationship to middle knowledge, and finally I’ll briefly sum up my current beliefs about God’s knowledge … Continue reading

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A self-determinist reading of key New Testament passages

In my previous post on Robert Picirilli’s book, Free Will Revisited, I examined his study of key Old Testament passages in which he found indications that God has given humans libertarian freedom. I responded to his reading in some detail, taking the opportunity to examine John Calvin’s exegesis of those Old Testament texts, and then offering some of my own comments regarding the mystery of authentic human freedom of choice, within a world whose history … Continue reading

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A self-determinist reading of key Old Testament passages

Before Robert Picirilli identifies particularly significant biblical texts which teach that humans are libertarianly free, he pauses to describe the general approach to such texts by Luther and Calvin. Luther Picirilli describes the crucial importance of Luther’s distinction between law and gospel, and he suspects that Luther would regard some of the passages which Picirilli is going to cite, as gospel, rather than law, but he is not able to discern the criteria by which … Continue reading

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Who wrote/writes the script for the drama, ”The History of the World”?

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the nature of the freedom God gave to moral creatures, both angelic and human, and how this correlates with the degree of control which God has reserved to himself, within the history of the world. I thought it might be helpful to think of that history as a script, and to describe some of the key models of God’s providence in terms of different … Continue reading

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A divine determinist’s reflections on a self-determinist’s reading of Scripture: the original sin

I came to the third chapter of Robert Picirilli’s book, Free Will Revisited, with particular eagerness. I concur with him “that what matters most, in the discussion of free will (or any theological issue), is what the Bible says” (p. 18). I also agree with his intent when he states that “the Bible never undertakes to speak directly to the issue of whether people have the capacity for freedom of choice.” I would say it … Continue reading

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Considering a self-determinist’s analysis of the error of all forms of determinism

In a previous post, I began to interact with Robert Picirilli’s stimulating book, Free Will Revisited. That post was longer than the first chapter of Picirilli’s book, because I took the time to locate Picirilli’s understanding of free will in the big picture of alternative understandings of the extent to which God controls the details of created history. As an Arminian, Picirilli does not want to speak of his position as indeterministic, but he describes … Continue reading

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Revisiting free will, in conversation with Robert Picirilli (1)

A four-way conversation Among the theological decisions we must make if we are to have a theology and practice which both have an inner coherence, one of the most far reaching is our choice of model regarding God’s work in the world. How we understand the nature of the freedom God has given to his moral creatures is a key factor in that decision. This is a matter I have studied and ruminated about for … Continue reading

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Why is God’s knowledge of counterfactuals valuable to a compatibilist doctrine of providence?

Yesterday, I was asked: “how important is it to your theology to add the hypothetical knowledge into the mix, since, in omniscience, isn’t knowledge of all possible things presupposed? That is an excellent question, so I want to post my response here as well. For me, God’s knowledge of counterfactuals, that is, of what free creatures would  have done in hypothetical situations (and hence, in possible worlds) is extremely important to compatibilism (i.e., the compatibility … Continue reading

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When you make a decision, what do you actually change?

A former student’s question Recently, a former student of mine raised a question. Here it is: You asked a question in Sys Theo once that was something like “when you make a decision what do you actually change?” I have pondered this question for years now. Was your point that the decision of the will is insufficient to actually bring what you will into reality? I have argued many times that will and the ability … Continue reading

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