Monday, November 09, 2009

The luck of the draw

At the risk of drawing a premature conclusion, there seems to be an incrementally emerging body of trace evidence, albeit subtle and piecemeal, to suggest that Victor Reppert may not be a supralapsarian Calvinist. There is even the outside chance that Reppert may not be an infralapsarian Calvinist.

Apparently, Calvinism offends his moral sensibilities. However, while he has a great deal to say in objection to all things Calvinistic, he has far less to say about his alternative. So what would that be? And how is his alternative “intuitively” superior?

In some ways, Reppert appears to be a default Arminian. However, he finds the notion of everlasting retribution intuitively repugnant. But, in that event, it’s hard to see how he can subscribe to eternal damnation.

He recently stated his disagreement with universalism, so he’s taken that option off the table. What’s left?

Perhaps he takes the position that God keeps the damned alive indefinitely in hopes that sooner or later, a hellion may think better of his plight and express remorse.

If so, I don’t see that this has much intuitive plausibility. For one thing, does this mean a hellion is repenting under duress? But isn’t that a coerced response? Isn’t that at odds with Reppert’s commitment to libertarian freedom?

Likewise, assuming for the sake of argument that postmortem repentance is even possible, it seems to me that prolonged damnation would harden rather than soften the damned. Surely whatever makes hell unbearable would take less than a million or billion or trillion years to dawn on the damned.

But perhaps Reppert is a closet annihilationist. But, if so, is annihilationism intuitively satisfactory? Suppose God annihilates your loved ones. Is that clearly superior to whatever Reppert finds so abhorrent in Calvinism?

Reppert has also stated his deep sympathies for open theism. But in open theism, God is the cosmic gambler. Since he can’t anticipate the counterfactuals of freedom, then whether we draw a winning hand or a losing hand is the luck of the draw. God knows all the possible combinations, but he doesn’t know the actual sequence of the deck. He doesn’t know, when he deals us a hand, whether that’s a winning hand or a losing hand.

Dropping the metaphor, he doesn’t know if the possible world he chooses to instantiate is one where we’re heavenbound or hellbound. A world where good triumphs over evil, or evil triumphed over good.

If it turns out badly, the best he can do is to annihilate the losers. Don’t take it personal. God lost the bet. Just your bad luck to be the losing hand in a blind draw.

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