Monday, September 02, 2013

Reppert on theological voluntarism

I'll make a brief comment on Reppert's post:

He's committing a rather elementary philosophical blunder by confounding moral ontology with moral epistemology. Assuming for the sake of argument that Calvinism is morally counterintuitive, that hardly entails the further claim this reduces the distinction between right and wrong to an arbitrary divine fiat.

Indeed, Reppert's objection is ironic considering the fact that, in the past, he's appealed to skeptical theism as a part of his theodicy. He takes the position that God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting horrendous evils, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. So Reppert himself finds it necessary to distance moral ontology from moral epistemology.


  1. Yeah, that's kind of what I was trying to say

  2. This is off topic so I understand Steve doesn't address it.

    I accept Calvinism, but I have difficulty explaining how a good and benevolent God can ordain the reprobation of any of His creatures. Given the better forms of supralapsarianism, reprobation has to parts. 1. preterition which is unconditional, 2. pre-condemnation/pre-damnation which is conditional. Conditioned on the guilt due to the sins of the non-elect. However, those very sins are unconditionally ordained by God. So, the problem shows up again in a different form. How can a benevolent God unconditionally ordain/decree the sins of His creatures (for which He will judge them)? Some of those creatures whose sins are ordained are elect and some non-elect. It's difficult enough for me to explain how God can ordain the former (i.e. sins of the elect), but the latter is even more difficult since they will not be saved (i.e. the sins of the non-elect). If any Calvinists has suggestions, I'm all ears.

    1. I suppose I could appeal to a voluntaristic view of God's authority. I have no problem with that. However, most Calvinists are not voluntarists and I want to appeal to that as a last resort.

    2. Since you haven't given an actual reason for why you think that's a problem, there's nothing much to respond to. It just seems to be an inarticulate, gut reaction. Do you have anything beyond vague intuitions?

    3. Admittedly it's a gut reaction. But they are problems knowledge opponents of Calvinism often pose and for which younger Calvinists like myself would have difficulty explaining without appealing to mystery. I have no problem appealing to mystery, but I don't want to deploy that parachute too quickly. Many popularizers of Calvinism themselves often don't have good answers (I won't name names because I respect them too much). You've addressed this issue (directly or indirectly) from various angles various times in the past and when I read them they made perfect sense and so I didn't feel the need to bookmark those blogs. Unfortunately for me, I can't recall those answers. I'll have to do a search. I don't want to use up too much of your time.

    4. Do you have anything beyond vague intuitions?

      Here's a stab at one. Thomas Watson said, "The bee naturally gives honey, it stings only when it is provoked. Just so, God does not punish until he can bear no longer."

      Non-Calvininists can argue the following way. God being naturally benevolent would only be benevolent and beneficient to His creatures. Calvinistic Reprobation is unprovoked malevolence. Therefore either God is not benevolent or Calvinistic Reprobation is false.