October 29, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Calvinism and the Problem of Evil

Posting on behalf of Josh Smith, a.k.a Calvinist Klein

Since I finished the latest book on my current topic of personal study, I decided to take a break by reading this, which has been on the shelf for 2 years or more.

Daniel Johnson made a very interesting observation when looking at the different options of free will/compatibilism available to the Calvinist:

“First, Calvinist compatibilism about free will: Calvinists can accept many of the compatibilist theories of free will on offer in the literature today. Jonathan Edwards’ Freedom of the Will, according to which an action is free just in case it is the result of the motives of the agent, is a classic statement of this sort of compatibilist theory of free will, and many Calvinists follow Edwards here. However, there is an importantly different sort of view of free will available to the Calvinist. The contemporary literature on free will categorizes views on free will in a fairly strange manner. The current literature defines compatibilism as the thesis that free will (along with moral responsibility) is compatible with determinism. So far, so good. But then much of the contemporary literature defines determinism as the thesis that the state of the world at any given instant, plus the laws of nature, entails the state of the world at any other instant. Notice that this is a sort of natural or this-worldly determinism, since it does not take into account the possibility of determination that flows only from a God whose decisions lie outside of time. Calvinists who think that free will is necessary for moral responsibility are not committed to the thesis that free will is compatible with this sort of determinism; they are only committed to the thesis that free will is compatible with divine determinism—the thesis that everything that happens is determined by God’s decree. ***The contemporary terminology has the curious consequence, then, that some Calvinist views actually count as libertarian views, since they claim that free will is incompatible with natural determinism but compatible with divine determinism.***”

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