Monday, September 19, 2016

Was God sovereign before he made the world?

I'd like to make another observation about this interview with Jerry Walls:

Here I'm expanding on a comment I ran across on Jerry's Facebook wall. 

Beginning around the 62 min. mark, Jerry said God was already love before the world existed. By contrast, God wasn't exercising sovereignty from all eternity because there was no creation, no world over which he was Lord. 

What that claim overlooks is that God's antemundane decision to create or not create is, in itself, an exercise in divine sovereignty. By the same token, God's antemundane selection of which world to create is, in itself, an exercise in divine sovereignty. And unless Jerry thinks there was a time when God was undecided, it was always the case (or timelessly the case) that God exercised his sovereign will by choosing to make the whorl–as well as choosing which world to make. 

It's especially obtuse for Jerry to say God wasn't sovereign before creation as an objection to Calvinism when Calvinism regards predestination as a paradigm-case of divine sovereignty. Needless to say, predestination concerns God's antemundane plan for the world. Although Jerry can reject that, he can hardly say, as a matter of principle, that God was unable to exercise his sovereignty prior to creation. For that's clearly possible.

Moreover, for some theists, God's sovereignty consists in front-loading creation, so that everything unfolds accordingly. Take Leibniz's reestablished harmony, adherents of planned evolution, or the Thomism of Ed Feser:

God as primary cause is like the author of the novel. God’s effects are therefore not to be sought merely in otherwise unexplained natural phenomena, any more than an author’s influence extends only to unusual plot points. Just as a novelist is responsible for every aspect of the story, God is the source of all causality, including ordinary, everyday causes for which we already have good scientific descriptions.

In the same vein, William Dembski says:

"All things are created twice. There's a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things." Creation always starts with an idea and ends with a thing. Anything achieved must first be conceived. Creation is thus a process bounded by conception at one end and realization at the other. The End of Creation (B&H, 2009), 107.

Finally, Walls made the defamatory allegation that "Calvinists are intoxicated by power" (40-41 min. mark). Of course, that's oxymoronic. To be intoxicated by power is to crave power for yourself, or be drunk on the power you have at your own disposal. That's the polar opposite of disclaiming your own power and confessing yourself to be at the disposal of another. 

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