Thursday, January 04, 2018

Rebelling against God's plan

Many preachers and pop apologists have an understanding of divine providence that goes something like this: Gen 2 was God's original plan. Then Gen 3 happened. Human agents and fallen angels rebelled against God's plan. So God came up with the plan of salvation.

To take an illustration, suppose I plan a road trip. It's a long trip. I want to see some historic towns and scenic landscapes. I book motel reservations. I plan how many miles to drive each day, to make it to the next motel. The route is chosen according to the motels and sights I want to see.

But once I'm on the road, there's a snowstorm that derails my plans. It shuts down the interstate. So I detour around the storm by going into another state above or below the storm. Unfortunately, this means I miss some of the attractions along the route. 

That's an analogy for open theism. On that view, God doesn't have a master plan. Rather, he has a set of contingency plans up his sleeve. He doesn't know which ones will come in handy. He's flying blind–just like the rest of us!  

Yet most preachers and pop apologists believe in divine foreknowledge and counterfactual knowledge. But in that event, it makes no sense to say God scrapped his original plan. 

Suppose, when I'm making plans for my sight-seeing trip, I have advance knowledge of the snowstorm. In that case, I don't adjust my original plan. Rather, I'd take that into consideration from the outset. 

I'd plan my trip to begin sooner or later to get past the snowstorm. If I knew all along about the snowstorm, I wouldn't first draw up a plan that failed to take that into account, then adjust my plan to take that into account. I wouldn't make travel plans in the first place that didn't incorporate that advance knowledge into the itinerary. 

It makes no sense of Christians like this to say creatures rebelled against God's plan. What plan were the rebelling against? His original plan? But if their rebellion was foreseen, then they wouldn't be rebelling against that plan, as if God implemented a plan that failed to anticipate their rebellion, then had to modify his plan after the fact. Rather, their rebellion would figure in his plan all along. 

Freewill theists get themselves into this quandary because they are loathe to say God planned the fall. That's virtually supralapsarian! But unless they're open theists, belief in divine foreknowledge and counterfactual knowledge logically commits them to affirm that God planned every evil event that actually transpires. They may not mean that in the way a Thomist or Calvinist means it, but they cannot consistently treat evils events as unplanned events from God's perspective. The original plan is exactly what happens. Even in freewill theism (exempting open theism), there is no plan B. It was plan A all along.   

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I wonder about translations that say "God causes good and evil..." The Hebrew word for evil, I think, is Ra'a. Is that precisely what is meant? Evil?