Let’s begin with a critique of the Calvinist view which you will remember I described as universal divine causal determinism – God determines everything that happens in the world. It seems to me that there are five very powerful reasons for rejecting this view.
First of all, universal divine causal determinism cannot offer a coherent interpretation of Scripture. You will remember we saw that the Scriptural data affirm both a very strong view of divine sovereignty as well as human freedom and contingency and responsibility. Causal determinism simply can’t make sense of both streams of biblical tradition. The classical Reformed theologians recognize this. They will typically acknowledge that the reconciliation of Scriptural texts affirming human freedom and contingency with those texts affirming divine sovereignty is simply inscrutable. This is a mystery which we cannot understand. You can reconcile these texts by simply interpreting freedom in compatibilist terms. You will remember we said last time that everyone agrees that human beings are free. The real question is: is freedom consistent with causal determinism or not? Compatibilists maintain that you can be causally determined to do what you do and still be said to be free. If you interpret freedom along compatibilist lines, then there is no problem in reconciling freedom with universal divine causal determinism. Indeed, compatibilism entails determinism. According to compatibilism, if you are free you are causally determined. However, the problem with this solution is that adopting compatibilism achieves a reconciliation of these Scriptural streams of tradition only at the expense of denying what that one stream of tradition seems to affirm; namely, genuine indeterminacy and contingency. Because on compatibilism, there really isn’t any contingency or indeterminacy – everything is causally determined. So I don’t think that universal divine causal determinism gives a coherent interpretation of Scripture. It affirms divine sovereignty but it is forced to ride roughshod over all of those texts that affirm contingency and indeterminism in the world.
You can read the full transcript, including a Q&A, here.
- William Lane Craig, "Questions on Molinism, Compatibilism and Free Will";
- Paul Helm & William Lane Craig, "Calvinism vs Molinism"; and
- For an Arminian view of providence: Robert E Picirilli, "Towards a Non-Deterministic Theology of Divine Providence".