Showing posts from November, 2011

Richard Howe and an interesting thought on the New Atheists

Richard Howe was my thesis advisor when I was doing my master's at Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is also a great christian philosopher and debater. As such I always enjoy reading his blogposts. If you follow the link that is listed below you will be pleasantly surprised with an interesting critique of the New Atheists. Some people think that philosophers are arguing, pointlessly, about definitions. Well, in most cases definitions are extremely important, and can be the deciding point in whether a position is viable or not. As Howe points out in this article, the New Atheists have painted themselves into a corner with their definitions of Atheism.
God Can Exist Even If Atheism Is True
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The Open Theist View of Divine Sovereignty and Human Free-Will

Open Theism is a fairly new development, and has raised a lot of controversy in theological and philosophical circles. In our exposition of Open Theism we will refer primarily to John Sanders book, The God Who Risks:A Theology of Divine Providence.[1] In this book Sanders points out that his main worry, in his theological endeavor, is to preserve the relationship of true love between God and his creatures.[2] The Open Theist view depends upon placing God within time,[3] and claiming that God actually interacts with man exactly as the Bible portrays his interactions.[4]
Divine Sovereignty
            Open Theism holds that God is indeed in control of the universe, but qualifies that control. “God does not control everything that happens but does control many things.”[5] God’s control consists in creating this world, setting us loose in it, and guaranteeing a happy ending. “God has sovereignly established a type of world in which god sets up general structures or an overall framework for …

A thought on Suicide by C. S. Lewis

In two previous posts (here, and here) I addressed the question of suicide. In The Problem of Pain C. S. Lewis, says, in a couple sentences what took me two posts to say. He says,

    "'It would be better for me not to exist' -- in what sense 'for me'? How should I, if I did not exist, profit by not existing? (p. 27)"

Molinism and C. S. Lewis

I gave a brief (perhaps too simple) exposition of Molinism in a previous post. This morning, in reading C. S. Lewis's book The Problem of Pain, I cam across an interesting remark. I don't think that he is addressing the Molinistic theory concerning Divine Sovereignty and Human Free-Will, however, his comment seems to apply to this theory.

    He says, "Perhaps this is not the 'best of all possible' universes, but the only possible one. Possible worlds can mean only 'worlds that God could have made, but didn't'. The idea of that which God 'could have' done involves a too anthropomorphic conception of God's freedom. Whatever human freedom means, Divine freedom cannot mean indeterminacy between alternatives and choice of one of them. Perfect goodness can never debate about the end to be attained, and perfect wisdom cannot debate about the means most suited to achieve it. The freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than Hims…

The Calvinistic view of Divine Sovereignty and Human free-will

Calvinism is a view that has been growing in popularity in recent years, due mainly to the writings of some of its most eloquent proponents, John Piper and John MacArthur. Calvinism holds that divine sovereignty and human freewill are compatible. For our exposition of Calvinism we will primarily use the book by Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will,[1] and the book by J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man.[2]
Divine Sovereignty
            Calvinists hold the view that God, by his sovereignty, governs, or determines, all things. Machen says, “How much is embraced in the eternal purpose of God? The true answer to that question is very simple. The true answer is ‘Everything’. Everything that happens is embraced in the eternal purpose of God; nothing at all happens outside of His eternal plan.”[3] In fact, Gods providence extends to even the free acts of his creatures. “According to the Bible, God governs all, and the Bible is particularly clear in teaching that He deter…

Great Article by Paul Helm on John Piper

For a while now I've been intrigued by John Piper's teaching about finding pleasure in God. I heard him preach about it in Montreal a couple years ago, and couldn't help thinking that there was something about his teaching that wasn't quite right. Piper is a reformed pastor, last night, through Steve Cowan ( I came across the following article by Paul Helm (a reformed theologian teaching at Regent College in Vancouver). In this article he confirms my suspicions and explains what seemed strange about Piper's teaching. I would encourage everybody who has ever come in contact with Piper, either through his books or sermons, to read this article.

Helm's Deep: Christian Hedonism: Further Thoughts

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The Molinistic view of Divine Sovereignty and Human Free-Will

There are four major views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Free-will. They are Calvinism, Open Theism, Molinism and the Thomistic view. They are all trying to explain the question of how to explain divine sovereignty and human free-will. In this post I will give a brief exposition and explanation of the Molinistic view. In my explanation of Molinism I will primarily refer to works by Thomas P. Flint and William Lane Craig, who are some of the leading scholars who hold to the Molinistic theory.
Divine Sovereignty
       The Molinist view of sovereignty sits squarely within the traditional view. Flint describes the traditional view as follows, “Divine control over all that occurs, along with both foreknowledge and knowledge of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, are non-negotiable elements of a sound doctrine of providence.”[1]Flint further elaborates on the traditional view in his book, where he says, “…to see God as provident is to see him as knowingly and lovingly directing e…

How Descartes Influences us even Today

Anybody that is familiar with Rene Descartes is familiar with his "clear & distinct ideas". In attempting to construct a perfect science, Descartes tore down the structures of philosophy and theology that preceded him, and sought to build a perfect science based upon clear and distinct ideas. So, he found that the clearest and most distinct idea that he could discover, that which he could not doubt in any way, was Cogito ergo Sum. I think, therefore, I am.

     Jacques Maritain, in the book Three Reformers, quotes Bossuet as follows: "Under the pretext that we must not accept anything but what we understand clearly - which, within certain limits, is very true - everyone gives himself liberty to say, 'I understand this, and I do not understand that,' and on this sole basis they admit and reject whatever they like. (p. 75)"

     There are many things that we, as humans, and due to our natural limitations, cannot understand. Some such things include wh…

Jacques Maritain on Personality

In the course of my research on Descartes I stumbled across the book "Three Reformers: Luther, Descartes & Rousseau" by Jacques Maritain. His remarks about personality are quite interesting. He gives a quote from Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, who says,

    "the full development of our poor personality consists in losing it in some way in that of God, Who alone possesses personality in the perfect sense of the word, for He alone is absolutely independent in His being and action. (p. 24-25)"

    He says, a little bit later, "But did the saints set out to develop their personality? They found it without seeking it, because they did not seek it, but God alone. They understood that their person, just in so far as it was person, in so far as it was free, was complete dependence on God, and that the inner mastery over our acts which we cannot resign to man or angel they must deliver into the hands of God, by Whose Spirit they must be moved in order to be His so…

Natural Theology and John MacArthur

I recently attended a Christian Conference in Montreal whose purpose was to lay doctrinal foundations for Quebec Christians, encouraging them in their faith. One of the main speakers, John MacArthur,[1] started off the conference with a sermon on the importance of Faith. The purpose of his sermon was to show that faith is absolutely necessary for salvation. In the introduction to his sermon he attempted to contrast what he was about to present with some opposing views.  He began his sermon with the following definition (This is only a paraphrase). "Natural Theology is commonly understood as man's attempt to get to God through the use of his own powers of reasoning." He continued by stating that Natural Theology is seen to be a way of attaining one's salvation through man's capacity for reasoning. He next mentioned Clark Pinnock and Billy Graham as having made the claim that everyone, or at least those who have never heard the gospel, get to go to heaven.[2] MacAr…