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Final Remarks on the 1 John 4 Dispute Pertaining to Calvin and His Glaring Omission

My initial criticism of Jerry Walls' book, Does God Love Everyone?, has generated a series of responses. Thomas Talbott, who is also a proponent of the same point that I criticized, wrote a criticism of my first post, to which I rushed a rejoinder. Talbott has written a two part-series response: Part I Part II This post will correct a mistake I made in an earlier post, where I badly interpreted, or better, attributed to Talbott an argument which I did not read carefully (i.e. hardly skimmed). In addition, I will clarify how my argument is to be understood. The responses against my original argument are unsuccessful, although it is entertaining to read about how many "fatal" mistakes I have made. In any case, I do not see much benefit to continuing this. For this [...]

2016-11-05T09:07:30+00:00 November 3rd, 2016|1 Comment

Eternalist Theological Determinism

In "Theological Determinism and the 'Authoring Sin' Objection," the third article in the book Calvinism and the Problem of Evil, Heath White lays out a model of theological determinism that, he argues, withstands the objection that God is the author of evil. An interesting feature of White's view is that it is theologically deterministic without being necessarily Calvinistic with respect to soteriology. White does not reject Calvin's soteriology in this article and nothing he says, so far as I can tell, commits him to it. The main historical figures lurking in the background, I believe, are Augustine and Aquinas rather than Calvin. Anyway, what this post will do is describe White's theological determinism and how he responds to the charge that God is culpably bound up with evil given determinism. [...]

2016-10-26T00:38:41+00:00 October 26th, 2016|4 Comments

A Rejoinder to Thomas Talbott on Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John

In Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John, I examine a quote from Jerry Walls' book, Does God Love Everyone? The Heart of What is Wrong with Calvinism. Walls believes it to be a stunning omission that Calvin never cited two verses - 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16 - in the 1500 or so pages of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. In response, I point out that almost no one in the ecclesiastical corpus cited those verses, and moreover, only one person among all those who cited the verses had the slightest chance of thinking the verses might mean what Walls took them to mean. Furthermore, almost every commentator minus one had the same interpretation of 1 John 4 as did Calvin. As a result, it would be strange [...]

2016-09-28T21:55:03+00:00 September 27th, 2016|3 Comments

Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John

In his book, Does God Love Everyone? The Heart of What is Wrong with Calvinism, Jerry Walls writes the following: But here is what is truly remarkable: not one time in this book [the Institutes] does Calvin ever quote "God is love." In his massive book that is 1,521 pages long and that discusses thousands for biblical texts and discusses God's nature extensively, Calvin never one time cited 1 John 4:8 or 1 John 4:16. Not even once! This is a stunning omission. (Page 5) Walls finds this striking, because for so many pages and for what Walls describes as a "systematic theology" on the previous page, he would expect that Calvin would cite these two passages in particular. The only other discussion Walls gives of Calvin's Institutes is on pp. 17-18, where he quotes Calvin on [...]

2016-09-20T22:00:21+00:00 September 20th, 2016|8 Comments

Does Molinism Avoid Making God the Author of Sin? | Welty on Molinism

In "Molinist Gunslingers: God and the Authorship of Sin," Greg Welty argues that if Calvinism has a distinct problem of making God the author of sin, then so does Molinism. Although the expression "author of sin" has different meanings, the sense at play here in the article is primarily about culpability. In this post, I will look at Welty's argument for the claim that Molinists have a similar problem and I will suggest a couple ways a Molinist might respond, which are not considered in the paper. These might or might not work. The Molinist's Concern with Calvinism The concern the Molinist brings against the Calvinist is this: if Calvinism is true, then theological determinism is true; but if theological determinism is true, then God acts as a sufficient cause for the evils [...]

2016-09-14T22:18:50+00:00 September 13th, 2016|5 Comments

Anselm on Freedom and Grace

Here's a copy of a my paper. As I suggest at the end, I think this strategy generalizes to other libertarian accounts, although how the argument goes will likely need to be changed depending on the account of how libertarian freedom works with grace - i.e., how the nitty gritty details or mechanics are spelled out. Anselm actually says enough to give us a detailed account of what happens when God changes an agent rather than saying merely that "God influences" human agents. Anyway, enjoy. Or don't enjoy. [pdf-embedder url="http://www.jamesagibson.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Anselm-on-Freedom-and-Grace.pdf" title="Anselm on Freedom and Grace"]

2016-09-03T12:31:45+00:00 September 3rd, 2016|1 Comment

The Divine Glory Defense

In the previous two posts, I looked at Daniel Johnson's explanation of what Calvinism is and an objection to Calvinism, that is the objection that if Calvinism is true then God intentionally causes evil and God cannot do that. This will be my last post on Johnson's article, "Calvinism and the Problem of Evil." Although there is much else in his chapter worth reading and discussing, it is time to wrap things up. In this post, I will discuss the section on the more general problem of evil. I want to focus on the discussion of the divine glory defense. The problem of evil stated The problem starts with a question: why is there evil if there is an all good, all powerful, and all knowing being? This question gets reformulated into [...]

2016-08-28T21:10:57+00:00 August 27th, 2016|1 Comment

Johnson on whether God can intentionally cause evil

My last post examined how Daniel Johnson describes Calvinism. This post concerns the section of Johnson's article, "Calvinism and the Problem of Evil: A Map of the Territory," that addresses whether God can intentionally cause evil.  Although I raised some objections in the previous post, those objections are not infectious for how Johnson addresses this charge against Calvinism. The argument that there is a problem The argument is this (my reconstruction): God intentionally causes others to do morally wrong actions. [Assumption of Calvinism] It is always wrong to intentionally cause others to do morally wrong actions. [Assumption] God intentionally causing others to do morally wrong actions is itself morally wrong. [1,2] It is impossible for God to do morally wrong actions. [Assumption] It is not true that God intentionally [...]

2016-08-13T18:14:09+00:00 August 13th, 2016|0 Comments

Daniel Johnson on Calvinism: Calvinism and the Problem of Evil

The first essay, "Calvinism and the Problem of Evil: A Map of the Territory," in Calvinism and the Problem of Evil is by one of the two editors, Daniel Johnson. The point of Johnson’s paper is to show that there are a variety of distinctions within the Reformed tradition that can be brought together to provide plausible response to the problem of evil. This chapter is a bit long - too long for one post - and there is already material in the first section worth discussing. That will be this focus in this post. What is Calvinism? In answering this question, Johnson distinguishes between two strands of Calvinism: one is soteriological and one is deterministic. The former concerns our ability with respective to salvation whereas the latter is a [...]

2016-07-30T22:01:45+00:00 July 30th, 2016|0 Comments

Calvinism and the Problem of Evil: Introduction to Post Series

I have been aware that this book was in the works for over a year and I'm very happy it has reached my mailbox. Ever since I was an undergraduate student in the early 2000s, I have been thinking about Calvinism as a philosopher. With the exception of David Ciocchi, who was then an agnostic-autonomist (and I'd bet still is), and a handful of other undergraduate and graduate students, the philosophical climate at Biola University was deeply opposed to Calvinism. My explanation for this environment was partly due to the fact that Biola University and Talbot Seminary had some heavy-hitters in the Evangelical world - J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, amongst others - who regard Calvinists as a fringe element of Christendom, and partly due to the fact [...]

2016-09-03T10:57:05+00:00 July 27th, 2016|6 Comments