Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Sanders, Free Will Theism & Universalism

Open Theist John Sanders engaged with Universalist Thomas Talbott in Universal Salvation? The Current Debate. I think it was a decent response to Talbott, though I wasn't necessarily convinced in regards to Sanders. Still a most able response.
Does Talbott’s view of being fully rational respect human choice adequately? Do you consider free will essential to how God made us? Does God “risk” when God makes humans and gives them free will? Or, does a libertarian sense of free will entail that God had to take risks when God made humans? Why do you think God made a world in which humans could rebel against God? Is that the best of all possible worlds? Why?

Followers of this academic debate will not be surprised to learn that Sanders doesn’t think Talbott takes freewill theory seriously enough. In the end, Sanders thinks Talbott robs choice of power because God makes conditions that virtually require, or at least necessarily entail, a choice for God.

He begins with a smaller point: Talbott’s belief that humans in heaven can’t be happy knowing the suffering of those in hell. Sanders’ big point is that we don’t know the heavenly condition or ourselves well enough to render such a judgment.

Sanders argues for a libertarian free will and that means humans could have chosen otherwise when they chose to do something. His point here is that God gives humans that kind of free will and that entails humans choosing not to respond to God. So God risks non-love and rejection when God gives humans libertarian free will. Talbott finally argues that such a libertarian free will does not describe God’s redemptive plan.
For the rest, click HERE.


1 comment:

  1. As a point of note, this is a summary of JS's chapter written by someone else last year (the comment section to which has long since finished).

    So I'll comment here instead. {g}

    As someone who (following Lewis) grounds his whole metaphysic on the supernatural character of human rationality, especially including freedom of the will (but clearly derivative freedom of the will), and who holds the traditional notion that rebel angels fell before humans (and that humans have substantially fallen from some kind of originally created pair, the results of which we have inherited in our behaviors, although I'm very flexible about how that worked historically)... {inhale!}

    ...I sympathize with both sides of the argument there. I think Tom is correct that many of our rejections and problems can and will be fixed at the resurrection resulting in choices being freely made without impediment; but I also think JohnS is a correct that this isn't a guarantee in itself that someone will choose in favor of God (at first or even ever).

    Free will is free to fall as well as to stay faithful; and while it may seem bizarre that someone with the best of conditions might choose to rebel against God anyway, I have Satan and myself as examples: I doubt there is anyone on the planet more convinced of the existence of God than I am, but I still on occasion choose to sin, whether choosing to stop fighting against my natural sin inclinations or even just outright choosing to sin without being particularly tempted to do so.

    I know how evil I can be even when I'm given what advantages I have. If God reveals that some people even in the general resurrection are resurrected to eonian crisis instead of to eonian life, I can believe that.

    On the other hand: free will is as free will does. {g!} God Himself has more free will (so to speak) than anyone, and I can trust Him to exercise that free will omnicompetently. And if God cares for love's sake about the free will of His creatures, that means I can trust Him to omnicompetently and freely exercise His will to protect our free will so that we can repent and return to a righteous relationship with Him (and with each other). Not be defeated in keeping us from destroying our own free will, and not locking us out of our free will so that we cannot possibly repent from doing unrighteousness to do righteousness instead.

    So I can expect Him to persist at saving all sinners from sin; and if God reveals He will be totally successful at that eventually, I can believe that. He won't be victorious by oppressing our free will--or no moreso than our will is already 'oppressed' by not being God Himself! (We are not free to self-exist independently of God, as one of many such examples. Nor are we free to be left to our own unrighteousness by God the Righteous One.)