JD WALTERS SAID:
The model put forward by Gregory Boyd in his article in ‘Divine Providence: Five Views’ envisions a process where libertarianly free choices accumulate and solidify into a character that becomes increasingly fixed over time.
One problem with that claim is that you’re doing theology by stipulation rather than revelation–or even reason. Boyd can postulate that position, but why should I believe that his position is true?
It’s like the difference between the logical problem of evil and the evidential problem of evil. To parry the logical problem of evil, we only need to come up with an answer that’s logically possible or logically consistent. It doesn’t have to be true, or even plausible. But that’s not an adequate theodicy.
Likewise, even if Boyd’s position is logically possible or logically consistent, that doesn’t create any presumption that it’s true, or probably true.
There are far more possibilities than actualities. Most possibilities are unexemplified. Many theories chasing a few facts.
Habits to character to destiny. The freewill model is not one where libertarianly free agents are constantly making spontaneous, unpredictable decisions. The initial spontaneity gives way to increasingly fixed patterns of behavior that evidence a distinct character. So there is a point of no return for all human agents, beyond which they are firmly fixed on a trajectory that either takes them to ultimate conformity to the image of God in Christ, or to final, irreversible depravity.
i) That’s not required by a theory of libertarian freedom. Rather, that’s required by your theological construct. But what requires your theological construct?
ii) It also fails to distinguish libertarianism from Calvinism. What you’re actually giving us is a theory of character-determinism. But that doesn’t single out libertarian freewill. Indeed, character-determinism is Derk Pereboom’s model of hard incompatibilism.
iii) Even if we grant your theory of character-determinism for the sake of argument, the cut-off is still arbitrary. People die at different times. Their character development is at different stages when they die. Yet the Palingenesis doesn’t occur at different times. Much less is the Palingenesis synchronized with when people die.
According to your theory, everyone naturally arrives at a fixed character just in time for the Palingenesis. But that’s ad hoc. There’s no reason to think everyone’s character development is synchronized to that degree. Indeed, if character development is a natural process, there’s every reason to think it’s different for each individual.
iv) Moreover, there’s no reason to think a natural process of character development is irreversible. Or even if it’s irreversible, there’s no reason to think behavior has become so reflexive that someone could never again succumb to temptation. You can’t extrapolate from libertarian freewill to a universal pattern.
You say “there’s a point of no return” because that’s what your theological construct requires, and not because there’s any independent reason to think character development is that stereotypical.
No, we maintain the freedom no matter what we choose. But we do need to understand that the consequences of not doing things his way are severe.
So why give us freedom to choose more than one option, then punish us for choosing more than one option?
It is illegitimate to bring in associations from the more popular meanings of the word.
Except that his game theoretical model of providence seems very Pelagian.
I still don't see how you can make that comparison. Rhoda's God responds to his people with blessings if they obey and punishment if they disobey, but is much more inclined toward mercy and blessing than punishment. For their own sake, he would much rather the people returned and found their true happiness in him. How does any of that conjure up Damien?
I’ve explained that to you. You’re just pretending not to understand because you’re so invested in freewill theism.
Go back and reread what I said about the kind of God that emerges from Scripture according to neotheist hermeneutics. You’re being very selective and one-sided about what part of that you cite.
Rhoda does not swallow the exegesis and hermeneutics of Sanders, et al. wholesale. Aren't you the one who's always cautioning that just because you approvingly quote an author on one point, that doesn't mean you put a rubber stamp on everything they say?
Rhoda hasn’t given us his own exegesis or counterexegesis. He defaulted to Sanders et al. So that’s all I have to go by.
In any case, I have a hard time associating the wise, patient, infinitely loving, resourceful God who emerges from the descriptions of open theists with your description.
i) Of course open theists aren’t going to compare their God to Damien or Trelane. They will try to put the best face on their view of God. Play up the positives and downplay the negatives.
ii) But on a consistent neotheist reading of Scripture, God has limited wisdom. God is still learning how to be God. How to deal with people. On-the-job-training. Trial-and-error.
Rhoda’s God isn’t consistently patient. Indeed, he’s often impatient. Rhoda’s God isn’t “infinitely loving.” Rather, he’s loving when he happens to be in a good mood, but if you catch him when he’s out of sorts, you better duck and keep your head down. He’s “resourceful” in the sense that he’s having to make things up as he goes along. Just like the Greek demigods (e.g. Hercules, Perseus) were resourceful, or Jason Bourne. Indeed, Bourne is more resourceful than the neotheist God.
Rhoda isn’t getting a God with “exhaustive contingency plans” from a neotheist reading of Scripture, but from his philosophical theology. The neotheist God of Scripture isn’t very good at thinking on his feet. Indeed, he needs human beings to give him advice. Help him out of a bind.
On freewill theism, God does not ensure that some people be lost for the benefit of the redeemed, or for anything He has to gain from it. The granting of free-will stems entirely from God's regard for His creatures.
On freewill theism (especially open theism), God does not ensure that anyone will benefit. He doesn’t know, by rolling the dice, if that will come up sixes or snake eyes. So he’s putting his creatures at an incalculable risk of immeasurable harm.