Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blogging at ETS/EPS

Blogging at ETS/EPS

I’m here at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society/Evangelical Philosophical Society. For those of you that like this kind of stuff, I’ll try to put my notes from the sessions on my blog. Enjoy!!

Middle Knowledge and Evil

  • God does not have the ability to create any possible world, but only any feasible world, given libertarian freedom. God cannot control the free choice of men, and thus cannot actualize certain worlds.

  • Is this the best possible world? If a sinless world is possible AND feasible, then this would be a sinless world. This is not a sinless world, therefore, it is must not be feasible for God to create a sinless world.

  • This line of thinking strikes me as similar to the ontological argument. It seems rather “in house,” and wouldn’t be very satisfying to the atheist. “How do you know this is the best possible world?” “Because it has to be.”

  • Is there any other way to know that a sinless world is not feasible for God?

  • Bruce A. Little, the presenter I just heard, argued that because God pronounced the creation as “good,” it could not have been improved upon. Thus, for Little, “good” = “best.”

Clark Pinnock’s Open Theism

Pinnock is critical of what he considers the undue Greek influence on classical theology, especially the doctrine of God. I.e., our view of God has been tainted by Greek philosophy. Pinnock suggests that we revise the following 6 attributes:

The first three are not really new, but accepted among most evangelical theologians:

  • Immutability – Pinnock thinks that God is faithful, and yet dynamic in relationships. But Pinnock confuses immutability with immobility. You can believe that God is immuatable in the weak sense and not give up his changelessness. However, I would not want to say that God changes in his knowledge. How could he, if he has exhaustive foreknowledge?

  • Impassability – God is incapable of suffering. Pinnock wants to say that God does experience sorrow and pain. But almost all modern and early theologians also affirm this. So what is so interesting about Pinnock’s view?

  • Timleslessness – Pinnock thinks this idea is pure Greek philosophy. But many theologians hold this for other reasons (myself not included).

The next three are controversial and contrary to the accepted evangelical view:

  • Omniscience – Pinnock want to limit God’s knowledge to only the present and past. Sometimes called “presentism.” God does not know what free agents will do in the future. How does this square with predictive prophecy? Eschatology? God certainly seems to know the future in these matters.

  • Omnipotence – Pinnock suggests that God is “omnicompetent.” God can do almost anything, except violate the freewill of man. He cites the parable of the prodigal son – the father could not compel the son to return, but only wait. But just because the father does not compel the son to return, it doesn’t mean that he cannot. This idea would also create eschatological uncertainty, which seems inconsistent with Scripture.

  • Omnipresence – Pinnock wants to say that God may be mysteriously embodied, which helps to make him more personal. This should be rejected, since it seems to make God corporeal, which is clearly unbiblical and illogical.


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Blogger Bill said...

Sorry, just came across this entry via Technorati, so this comment is probably too late to matter. I also sat in on Little's talk, and thought Bill Craig's questions afterward were very legit. Little needs to make a strong case for why he thinks there even is such a thing as a "best" feasible world. It seems like quite a few criteria are available to evaluate feasible worlds (e.g. number of people saved, ratio of people saved to people lost, culture achieved, character achieved, etc.), and some of those may be mutually exclusive or contradictory. Given these kinds of concerns, it seems very possible that there is no best world, but instead a set of "good" worlds, and God simply chose to actualize one of them. This might feed well into greater-good theodicies, because it may be the case that while God could prevent some particular evil, it would only be at the cost of some goods (or greater evils) and God is presumably evaluating entire feasible worlds, rather than particular goods and evils.

12:27 PM  

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