Saturday, October 21, 2017

John and Justification


It seems some people (e.g. here and here) wish to argue John Piper’s position on justification make him a bedfellow with the Pope.  Piper supposedly has theologically drifted in his old age (e.g Billy Graham) to affirm justification by faith plus works. He is now implicitly branded a heretic corrupting the church. Perhaps God’s gadfly? Well, he is definitely irritating some with his views.  While others defend him and/or seek clarification. I have no money in this fight. But I do think one can interpret Piper in an orthodox manner. His distinction between initial/final salvation is consistent with the 'already not yet' motif. Likewise, Piper explains Paul’s teaching that justification is by faith alone as the root of salvation. Nevertheless,  James tells us good works are the fruit of our salvation. We have an active faith that works. Hence, justification is not dependent upon sanctification but sanctification is dependent upon justification.   

Ironically, some critics of Piper highly esteem Gordon H. Clark (as do I), however, they fail to realize Dr. Clark seems to concur, in part, with Piper, 

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13-14)

"Now then, what does the verse say? Well of course, it says we should work out our own salvation. Let us be quite clear on the fact that the Bible does not teach salvation by faith alone. The Bible teaches justification by faith alone. Justification then necessarily is followed by a process of sanctification, and this consists of works which we do. It consists of external actions initiated by internal volitions. We must therefore work out our own salvation; and this, in fear and trembling because we must depend on  God."(Predestination, page 120).

Note: the use of the term 'instrumental' is missing in the above quotation thus an argument may be made that this is precisely the problem with Piper's comments.





Friday, October 6, 2017

Classical Apologetics

I've been greatly enjoying the Sunday School lectures of Dr. Travis Campbell on apologetics. I've been listening to them during my work commute.

I plan to begin reading Dr. Tim and Lydia Mcgrew's work on epistemology. It should be quite fascinating.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Open Theism

In my judgment, propositions are either true or false. Either this or that. I don't understand a proposition being neither true nor false. If a proposition can be neutral it seems to make no assertion or statement of fact. But this seems to be self-refuting in virtue that the proposition "all future contingent propositions are neutral" is not neutral.

I'm willing to make the model claim the law of contradiction obtains in all possible worlds; I guess that implies I shoulder the burden to prove the same for bivalence. Perhaps. But I too affirm God possesses non-propositional knowledge. I concur one can deny bivalence. I think open theists do this since they think it entails fatalism. I don't buy it. I think it's a logical leap.

The main contention with open theism is whether propositions of future contingents can be known. I see no reason to deny this. But what is the difference between a truth and a truth that is logically possible to know? The open theist is free to attempt to argue such truths are logically impossible to know. At best I think she can argue God does not know future contingent propositions but this is a far cry from the stronger claim it is logically impossible for Him to know them.

I do think the open theist conception of God is deficient. In open theism God is ignorant of many truths yet considered omniscient. Omniscience is taken as a model notion by the open theist when it is, in fact, a categorical notion. God doesn't merely have the 'ability' to know only and all possible truths; he knows only and all truths.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Divine Foreknowledge

How is man free if God foreknows all things (i.e. states of affairs that will happen)?





Middle knowledge and Simple Foreknowledge affirms libertarian freedom (LF), commonly called liberty of indifference. The position can be construed, roughly, that a person is free if she can choose equally options A or B as the primary source of her choice. She is the first cause of her choice in that she creates the causal chain between actions and acts. This construal of freedom may be the case without the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP). Moreover, it denies the logical possibility of LF and determinism to be compatible, thus named incompatabilism.

The alternative takes compatibilist freedom (CF) as true. This approach argues freedom is best formulated as liberty of inclination. A person is free if she can choose her strongest inclination either option A or B without coercion or constrain. This view allows for hypothetical alternate possibilities.  However, it concedes, all things considered, determinism and freedom (i.e. as so defined) are compatible.

If the first approach is true then God's foreknowledge is not equated with foreordination. God knows things intuitively and exhaustively either by simple foreknowledge  or middle knowledge. So God's foreknowledge is causally inert.

God's knows all true necessary and contingent propositions qua omniscient. Any given proposition is known by God:

(1) God knows P will obtain

But this does not logically entail:

(1)* God knows P must obtain

(1) is a contingent proposition while  (1)* is a necessary proposition. For example, God knows John will choose to eat a cheeseburger for lunch at T1. If John at T1, chose otherwise (e.g. Chicken Strips) then God would have known prior to T1. God's knowledge of free creatures is, in some significant sense, dependent upon their choices.

If the second approach is true then God's foreknowledge is grounded in foreordination. God knows things intuitively and exhaustively since He directly or indirectly determines the truth value of all contingent propositions. God determines all things such that it preserves liberty of inclination.

If, indeed, a person denies (1) he then affirms libertarian free choices are excluded from bivalence thus have no truth value until they obtain. Thus the future remains open. God's omniscience is revised. God only knows what is logically possible which excludes libertarian free choices.

Some problems with the open-theist that denies (1):

Open-theism's denial of the principle of bivalence is implausible. Propositions cannot be neutral, like concepts, since they bear truth value. Hence, a proposition is either true or false--despite it being indexed--thus bivalence applies to future contingent propositions.

If open theism is true then God is the most perfect being yet learns what free creatures will do. This seems contradictory to God as the greatest conceivable being.

Middle Knowledge is a creative attempt to reconcile meticulous providence with libertarian freedom. I agree with the Molinist it is not logically contradictory to say God determines the outcome of a free creatures decision. Perhaps some Molinist ideas can be used by the compatibilist as a heuristic device (e.g. Bruce Ware). However, in my judgement, Molinism does not reconcile the two. In fact, it compounds the problem. It adds mystery with mystery. The Molinist does not explain precisely how God knows what all free creatures will do in all circumstances. Some molinists assert God's knowledge penetrates to the very essence of free creatures. Yet this remains a mystery. But then we are asked, by Molinists, to affirm God knows what all free creatures would do in all circumstances. Two mysteries without parsimony or comprehensive explanatory power and scope.