Monday, November 23, 2009

What's Wrong With Molinism: Ware's Second Objection

“Second, Molinism’s insistence on libertarian freedom is itself problematic. For reasons argued in the previous chapter, libertarian freedom simply fails as a viable understanding of human freedom for both philosophical and biblical reasons. Since libertarian freedom reduces human choosing to arbitrariness, and since libertarian freedom is fully incompatible with the strong view of divine sovereignty taught in Scripture, therefore the very notion that humans have the power of contrary choice (as understood in the libertarian model of freedom) simply must be rejected. Hence, the Molinist model as it stands cannot and should not be adopted by Reformed thinkers” (Bruce Ware, “God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith.” Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004, page 112).

I addressed Bruce Ware’s first objection to classical Molinism in my post titled “‘God’s Lesser Glory’ in ‘God’s Greater Glory.” In this post, I will tackle Bruce Ware’s second objection to classical Molinism.

In the quote above, Ware tells us that he addresses the philosophical problem with libertarian freedom in the previous chapter. This is what he said in the chapter prior to the above quote on libertarian freedom:

“This Arminian notion of libertarian freedom is often referred to as a ‘freedom of inclination.’ In the former, we are STRICTLY INDIFFERENT to whether we choose A or not-A, since the reason or reasons we have for one are identical to the reason or reasons we have for the other. Imagine this in a concrete situation: the reasons that the murderer had for pulling the trigger must be, on grounds of libertarian freedom, exactly and precisely the same were he, instead, to have refrained from pulling the trigger. If this is the case, then we cannot know ‘why’ he committed the murder, i.e., why he chose to pull the trigger instead of not. There is no accounting then, for human moral choice, and our actions become fully inexplicable” (86).

Ware’s objection to libertarian freedom is that the choice is one of “indifference.” He claims that in libertarian freedom, “the reason or reasons we have for one are identical to...the other.” However, who ever said this? What is characterized as “the same”? The desires or the self-determination? Norman Geisler writes regarding self-determinism:

“In this view a person’s acts are caused by himself or herself. Self-determinists accept the fact that SUCH FACTORS AS HEREDITY AND ENVIRONMENT OFTEN INFLUENCE ONE’S BEHAVIOR. They deny, however, that such factors are the determining causes of one’s behavior. Inanimate objects do not change without an outside cause, but PERSONAL SUBJECTS ARE ABLE TO DIRECT THEIR OWN ACTIONS” (Norman Geisler, “Freedom, Free Will, and Determinism,” in “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition” by Walter A. Elwell, editor. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007, page 469).

Contrary to Ware’s assertion, those who hold to libertarian freedom do not claim that the desires are the same for both possible actions in any given case. Libertarians acknowledge that there may even be stronger desires for one action than the other; however, the strength of the desires does not in any way necessitate that a person will commit a certain action. Ware simply misunderstands what is meant by “all things being equal.”

Next, regarding libertarian freedom (from Ware’s original quote), he states that libertarian freedom “is fully incompatible with the strong view of divine sovereignty taught in Scripture.” But here, I would say that God has a “strong sovereignty,” just not the type of sovereignty that Ware has in mind.

My proof? Matthew 25. Here we find that the Lord has strong sovereignty in verses 14 and 15:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability” (Matthew 25:14-15, NKJV).

Let’s notice some things about this master: first, he has servants. Secondly, he has goods. Third, he entrusts his goods to his servants. We see that this master is in control of his affairs—and that he does whatever he pleases.

However, with the actions of the lord in verses 14 and 15, we do not find the Lord exercising “meticulous sovereignty,” but instead “general sovereignty.”
But this is where someone would object, “If God doesn’t have meticulous sovereignty, then how could He be in control? Simple. Look at the parable of the talents: does the Lord feel threatened or worried about entrusting His possessions to the servants? Of course not! Even though the servants are entrusted with the Lord’s possessions, the Lord STILL OWNS THEM! He is no less in control because the servants are to grow what the Lord owns!

In Matthew 25:19, we are told, “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” We see that the Lord is still sovereign here, when he requires each servant to report to Him and bear responsibility for what they had done with what He had given them.

The Lord’s sovereignty in Matthew 25 is one of “general sovereignty.” We can think of the Lord’s rule in Matthew 25 as that of an owner of a grocery store chain or a restaurant chain. The owner of a chain of stores does not work every cash register, clean up every aisle, stock every can on every shelf at every store, and take inventory at every store. The owner of the chain simply watches over what is going on. If he doesn’t like what’s going on at any one of his stores, he can intervene at any time and restore order to the chaos. The owner is not out of control because he has entrusted his stores to other people. But if the owner entrusts his chain to others to run, he cannot be in every store at every moment of the day to make sure every little operation is running smoothly. To do that would be to exercise “meticulous sovereignty,” and there would be no need for workers.

God could easily have chosen to exercise “meticulous sovereignty”; and if He had done so, then there would be no need to create a race made in His image, after His likeness, to exercise dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Nevertheless, mankind bears the image and likeness of God; and, as such, has been given the right to “reign with Him.” And this is not only what we did in the beginning (Gen. 1:26-28), but what we are doing now (2 Cor. 5:19-20), and also what we will do in the end (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:26-27; Rev. 3:21; Rev. 22:5).

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