Day 2b: Unshakable Faith
It seems as though the audience favorite was Dinesh D’souza tonight. The lanky scholar received thunderous applause after his speech on New Atheism. D’souza had several tough acts to follow, including a very enlightening speech on the bodily Resurrection of Christ from Dr. William Lane Craig and a lecture on inerrancy of Scripture from Dr. Norman Geisler.
I have only one regret for this conference. I probably won’t ever get the chance to do it again. After all, how often do I run into William Lane Craig?
I wish I had challenged Dr. Craig’s view of Calvinism. Dr. Craig fell into exactly the same trap that I describe in my post on predestination, only he runs into it with God’s sovereignty. Dr. Craig assumes that the Calvinist and hyper-Calvinist views of human freedom are one in the same. Dr. Craig affirms the Molinist view of God’s middle knowledge while attacking the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty as deterministic. While Dr. Craig affirms that Molinism and Calvinism are compatible, he does not do the compatibility any justice.
Molinism, in brief, states that God has three levels of knowledge. God’s natural knowledge, stage one, is encompasses every world that is possible. At stage 2, God’s middle knowledge, He knows all of the worlds that are plausible. In other words, at this stage, God knows what His creatures will do when given a set of circumstances. God’s free knowledge, at stage three, is the actual world that God chooses to create from the middle knowledge He has at stage 2. In this way, His creatures are still free to choose but God has chosen their world for them, so He already knows what the choice is going to be.
Hyper-Calivinism, which Dr. Craig views incorrectly as orthodox Calvinism, views reprobation as a positive action on God’s part rather than a negative action. Orthodox Calvinism says that God allows reprobates to suffer His wrath (as all of humanity deserves), while positively pursuing the elect with His irresistible grace. Hyper-Calvinism, on the other hand, has God purposely bringing sin into the lives of the reprobates so that they will suffer eternal damnation.
Chapter IX of the Westminster Confession of Faith details human free will, which clearly states that human will is libertarian (as Dr. Craig affirms) and “. . . is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil” (WCF, IX:I). But chapter IX:III takes into account Scriptural teaching that man’s free will is tainted with sin to such a degree that “a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself [for salvation]. . . .”
This sort of free will is exactly the view that Molinists have. But Dr. Craig is no monergist when it comes to salvation, and that is his error. He wishes to retain a synergistic view of salvation, so he has adopted a view that allows for synergism while retaining some of the vestiges of monergism.
Bottom line, it is still Pelagian in nature.
Dr. Craig really disagrees not with God’s sovereignty in election, but with total depravity. Though he later stated that he affirmed it, I have my doubts that he affirms it in the way a proper Calvinist would. He still believes that man can come to God apart from the unconditional election. Dr. Craig believes in a logically untenable universal atonement, and rejects both irresistible grace and eternal security. As I’ve stated before, all of these doctrines flow from the first point of Calvinism, Total Depravity. Dr. Craig does not accept total depravity despite his statement to the contrary. Total depravity simply does not allow for a synergistic view of salvation.
All that said, Unshakable Faith 2008 was a great event that I encourage readers to attend next year if they can. The planners are already working tirelessly to put something even better together for next year. My prayers will certainly be with them in their endeavors.