In the process of this lengthy debate with Victor Reppert, I have been trying to funnel his arguments into such a narrow gap that they would hardly be troublesome for the Calvinist (even on Reppert's terms).
Recently, I think Reppert made some candid confessions (though he'll have the opportunity to qualify at later dates).
There are just two I would like to focus on, but they both get straight to the heart of the matter. I'll post his statement, and then comment below them.
"First, the argument doesn't say that God is morally obligated to save humans."
But then what's the problem? This whole debate has had as its goal to undermine the Calvinist conception of God via some ethical defect in his character. It's really just been a take on the problem of evil argument (interesting that the number one argument by atheists against Christianity is the problem of evil, and the number one argument against Calvinism by other Christians is the problem of evil argument; any interesting links here?).
Victor has also been appealing to his moral intuitions. He has a "strong intuition" that a being who is the Calvinist God is an evil, immoral, unethical being. An "Omnipotent Fiend."
But what sense can be made of this? If S has no moral obligation to *, then why is S morally blameworthy for not *ing?
It appears Victor has sunk his battleship.
"I never went from noseeum to thereisnun. I just said that there the reasons for God's refusing to save people is completely obscure to me from the point of view of God's glory. An appeal to mystery is not a theodicy. "
[Background: The "noseeum" argument is that argument employed by atheists in giving the evidential argument from evil. That is, they acknowledge the logical argument is dead, and so now argue from evidences to alleged cases of gratuitous suffering. A paradigm case is Bambi suffering in a forest fire (this also assumes a certain view on natural evils which I do not hold, but I don't need to flesh that out for our purposes). The argument is that it appears that there could be no good reason, no God-justifying-good, for this case of evil. They acknowledge that what matters is not that one can't conceive of a God-justifying-good, but that there actually be no God-justifying-good. They then argue for a strong link between appearance and reality, that's the induction that makes this not the traditional "logical argument from evil." The Skeptical theists, mainly: Alston, Bergmann, Rea, and Wykstra, offer arguments to the effect that there is no warrant to move from what we see to any actuality, especially given certain assumptions of the Christian worldview, viz., Creator/creature distinction, doctrine of Incomprehensibility, our epistemic condition, the massively large and complex nature of an infinite God's plan, etc. This undercuts the "noseeum" argument. It makes more explicit the greater good defense. Gives you more to say than just that there is a greater good. This is an all-too-brief summary of the debates, but it should be enough for our purposes.]
First, I didn't just appeal to mystery. I also gave arguments that attempted to show that the appeal to unknown God-justifying goods was entailed by other Christian doctrine.
Second, if my argument was not a theodicy then neither are the arguments of Alston, Bergmann, Geivett, Helm, Plantinga,`Rea, Welty, and Wykstra. Where's Reppert's arguments against these top-notch Christian thinkers, who Victor respects and who are not (save 2) Calvinists
Third, Reppert seems unfamiliar with the standard literature. To grant my "thereisnun" point is to give me the argument. I further argued that Reppert's position as creature (and all the rest) gives him a defeater for thinking that his ken is sufficient to issue any indictment about God and any God-justifying-goods. As Victor Reppert has rightly noted in the past: "All I want to say is that the possibilities that occur to us humans from our own limited perspective probably do not exhaust all of God's options."
Fourth, what Victor's position has been reduced to, upon analysis borne out in our lengthy debate, is this: God has no moral obligation to redeem anyone out of the lump of sinful humanity, but I don't know why he would pass over one person and not the next. (I should note that I listed off 20 some odd "evils" that Victor doesn’t know "why" God allows them. I'll wait for his answer.)
At any rate, "Why did God do X over Y?", isn't an argument.
This is hardly a problem for the Calvinist. Indeed, going back to the earliest of our literature you will note that it has been us who first made this observation. In regards to preterition, we don't know why God passes over who he does. But as Victor noted, this isn't something we can lay any moral blame at his feet for.
At the end of the day, though, the real "why" question is this (and this presupposes a biblical and existential sense of just how dark and ugly sin is): Why would God save any of us?