Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Review of DESTINY AND DELIBERATION by Joseph Kvanvig

There have been many attempts to provide a working model of how God could be fully providential over a creation of genuinely free creatures. Calvinism tends to provide a model that makes sense, but requires a redefining of what genuine free will is. Arminianism, at least the kind that doesn't adhere strictly to what Arminius himself taught, tends to focus more on the human freedom aspect without providing a compelling account of how God could also be fully providential over every aspect of creation from beginning to end. Molinism is an interesting model that seeks to affirm genuine providential control and genuine human freedom by proposing that God sets the circumstances that he knows will bring about his desired effects through human free actions. Molinists appeal to a type of knowledge in God called “counterfactuals of creaturely freedom” that exist in the mind of God prior to his decision to create. Therefore, the truth of these is outside of God's control. God is able to use his infallible omniscience to orchestrate the world using human free decisions. This is an appealing model, but has its flaws. Not to mention, the Bible doesn't definitively support it. Open theists deny God infallible omniscience of the future, which renders an all-encompassing providential control impossible for God.

I'm always interested in reading people's thoughts on these issues, which takes me into the realm of philosophy of religion at times. DESTINY AND DELIBERATION is a book by Jonathan L. Kvanvig, a professor of philosophy at Baylor University. Kvanvig explores the flaws of Calvinism, Open Theism, and Molinism in depth and proposes a model based on deliberation in creation. Not that God actually goes through a process of deliberation. Kvanvig merely presents a model to help explain how God could be in control and humans could be genuinely free. He explores the doctrine of hell, he concept of losing one's soul, universalism, and creation. The model Kvanvig presents is called Philosophical Arminianism.

There's much to the book to cover in a short review, but the model is similar to the Molinist position. When it comes to models of divine providence, most models tend to make things unnecessarily complex. i found that to be the case with this book. I also found points of disagreement in his handling of the doctrine of hell. However, in studying models of divine providence, this is a good look at the issues as Kvanvig looks at the flaws of Open Theism and Molinism in depth. I'll be interested in reading a more scholarly review of the book.

I received this book for free for review from Oxford University Press

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