Category Archives: Providence

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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Who gave Paul his thorn in the flesh?

Last fall, I spent a couple of hours at our church one evening, speaking about the tough chestnut of “God and evil.” If God is almighty and good, why is there so much evil in the world? About 100 people showed up, because this is a subject that troubles many, and it comes close to home at some point in almost everyone’s life, when we ourselves are suffering greatly and none of our earnest cries … Continue reading

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How would Molinism work without the affirmation of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities?

Source incompatibilism A few years ago, I became aware that William Lane Craig no longer affirmed the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), although he continued to work within the framework of Molinism. That prompted me to write a blog post asking: “W. L. Craig’s understanding of freedom: Molinism or monergism?” A few people contributed helpful comments on that post and it is obvious that some others share my interest in this area of theology. Since … Continue reading

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Can we pray for something in the past?

Picture yourself standing at the airport waiting to meet someone you love who is expected to arrive soon on an incoming plane. The arrivals monitor had been reporting that the plane was on time. But then suddenly that statement disappears and you hear an announcement that people waiting for that flight should report to the airline’s desk. There an agent was directing all inquirers to go to a room nearby. Once a group had gathered … Continue reading

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My compatibilist model: a response to some questions

John Johnson wrote a lengthy comment on my post responding to Jerry Walls and my compatibilist proposal. He raises some substantive questions and I think it better to deal with them in another post rather than to reply in a lengthy comment or a number of smaller comments. Because John’s questions are of a sort often raised to positions like mine, I think they deserve careful consideration. 1.  If God is meticulously in control, why … Continue reading

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Calvinist perspectives on Molinism

The Logos Reformed Blog, moderated by Jesse Myers, ran a series of 5 posts by Nathanael P. Taylor regarding Molinism. I was invited to write a response to that series and I did so, in two posts. I chose not to respond to each of Taylor’s posts separately, and I did not critique Taylor’s understanding of Molinism (the philosophical theology originated by Luis de Molina), since I am not an expert in it myself. Rather, … Continue reading

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My previous case for “middle knowledge Calvinism” (WTJ, 2007)

A draft of “Why Calvinists Should Believe in Divine Middle Knowledge, Although They Reject Molinism” (eventually published in WTJ 69 [2007]: 349-66) can now be read online at my web site. Since I now believe that God knows counterfactuals naturally or necessarily (cf. my later conversation with Paul Helm), it might seem counterproductive for me to be publishing this earlier material now. But I still affirm a great deal that I said in this article, … Continue reading

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“Mysterian compatibilism”: a third category

I have been in the practice of distinguishing two forms of compatibilism, hard and soft. Both are forms of soft-determinism, and they both assert that God’s meticulous control is compatible with creaturely moral culpability. They differ, however, in their account of how that compatibilism works. Thomism offers a version of hard compatibilism, which I call “hard” because it asserts that creatures are libertarianly free, but that this does not diminish God’s ability to meticulously control … Continue reading

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