December 17, 2007

Absolute Contingency

For years arguments have been waged between Arminianist and Calvinists about coexistence of man's will and God's absolute foreknowledge. The Arminianist position has been that man's freewill and God's Foreknowledge (Sovereignty) can perfectly coexist without somehow impugning God's character nor showing God having causation on the part of mankind's will. The Calvinist contend that due to God's absolute and "perfect' foreknowledge, he had to foreknow from eternity past every person's destiny and therefore every person is either damned to hell or destined to enter into heaven. This is what is defined by Calvinist as Predestination or "Election". I think the Calvinist position is best described by prominent Calvinist author and writer Loraine Boettner in his work the "The Foreknowledge of God" whereby he states: "Since God's foreknowledge is complete, He knows the destiny of every person, not merely before the person has made his choice in this life, but from eternity. And since He knows their destiny before they are created, and then proceeds to create, it is plain that the saved and the lost alike fulfill His plan for them; for if He did not plan that any particular ones should be lost, He could at least refrain from creating them.......We conclude, then, that the Christian doctrine of the Foreknowledge of God proves also His Predestination". I personally think this is a very logical conclusion on the part of the Calvinist, however as logical as it may sound, it does brings to mind many character assinations against the personality and character of a benevolent God.

On the other hand Arminians, argue that they can have their cake and eat it too if you will. Most Arminianist would argue that there is a logical distinction between necessity and certainty. They would argue that God foreknows that choice X is going to freely be made means only that X is certain to occur; it does not mean that God's foreknowledge, or any other cause made X necessary. However, there are several logically inconsistencies we have with this argument. For one, and as any good Calvinist or Open Theist would point out this definition violates the Law of Non-Contradiction. In other words, this is like saying that something can be True and False at the same time. Contingency and foreknowledge are truly contradictory assertions because a contingent event, being unnecessitated, can not be known until it actually occurs. As an Open Theist, I would argue that when it comes to the issue of man truly making a contingent choice (freewill), this means that there is a real or actual contingency involved. How could something be contingent if the events involved were already known by God from all eternity past? However, as Boettner points out, if God's absolute foreknowledge is indeed true, then no real contingency can occur in the mind of God and mankind then is not truly free. In other words, future events (both good and evil) would have been preordained by God on the basis of His foreknowledge. As the Calvinist point out, what God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained, foreordination therefore renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain.

I must say this is the one time in my life I actually agree with a Calvinist! Essentially Calvinist are saying to have both contingency (freewill) and God having absolute foreknowledge is logically inconsistent and therefore impossible. Personally, this is why I am Open Theist. Open Theism is truly the only way one can logically and rationally explain the existence of man's freewill and God's omniscience. I too must agree with the Calvinist here that the Arminianist view is logically inconsistent and therefore can not be true. As Boettner states in "The Foreknowledge of God" regarding the Arminians position, he states: "When the Arminian is confronted with the argument from the foreknowledge of God, he has to admit the certainty or fixity of future events. Yet when dealing with the problem of free agency he wishes to maintain that the acts of free agents are uncertain and ultimately dependent on the choice of the person,---which is plainly an inconsistent position. A view which holds that the free acts of men are uncertain, sacrifices the sovereignty of God in order to preserve the freedom of men." For the Open Theist however, this is truly solved in the position that God can only know that which is knowable. In other words, God being fully benevolent and fully all-powerful is not afraid or intimidated in allowing man to have a free will, but maintains that the possibility of man choosing good over evil is indeed of the highest order in the universe (love must be freely chosen). On the other hand, we have Calvinism, although it might be logically consistent it horrifically impugns the character of God and takes away all human freedom. We can no longer define God as being truly benevolent, as we now are confronted with a God who has preordained all of the horrific sins and atrocities throughout all of mankind and yet gets none of the blame for doing so. He is now responsible for the intentional creation of Satan and his minions and all the havoc they bring to our planet. But the main reason I reject Calvinism is that its views are so inconsistent with the complete Biblical text. We have numerous verses whereby we see God questioning or not knowing the decisions to be made by man. We see a God who is grieved by the sinful actions of his creation - is this not a strange or alien like response from a God who supposedly should have known his creation would have acted in its preordained state? Verse after verse we see a God who has no problem allowing is creation to make contingent choices and yet his plan of salvation will ultimately come to fruition.

1 comment:

D. L. Talley said...

The enemies of Truth never sleep!

The connection between open theism and Socinianism is not literary but methodological. They share the same convictions and have arrived at the same conclusions concerning the relationship between human freedom and divine foreknowledge.

The hidden agenda of Open Theism is apparent, because it is opening the door for a unification of what are now many divergent beliefs. Open Theism can embrace the Mormon church, which is desperately seeking to appear to be mainstream Christianity, and its concept of God who is imperfect and continually in a state of learning. Recently, Gordon Hinckley, Prophet and President of the Mormon church, has equivocated on the historic Mormon doctine that man can become a god. Consequently, their teaching that the god of this universe was once a man, might eventually be placed in their archives of convenient forgetfulness, opening the way to a connection with mainstream Christianity. The Positive Confession, Word of Faith proponents, such as Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland, who claim that words and faith have superior power over the will of God and can control the actions of God, and many, many groups holding to Arminian theology in which God is subject to the choice of man, could easily embrace Open Theism with only minor adjustments. With the charismatic experince having already united many Protestant and Catholic groups, the meeting of the charismatic (which is exclusively Arminian in theology) and Open Theistic theologies could further bring about a unity of unprecedented magnitude. To be mainstream is not necessarily to adopt a biblical foundation, and in most cases that is the case. Unity can always be achieved by adopting the lowest common denominator which, in the majority of cases, is to deny the absolute sovereignty of God. Although masquerading under the cloak of historic protestant orthodox belief, Open Theism is a very sinister and deceitful heresy of the highest magnitude.

Preston, I knew you were deeply involved in heresy--but oh, not this far!