Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I have decided to post some of the questions that I have been extensively researching for about a ten years now. The main thing I have learned is that these questions are more complicated than they may seem at first glance. The greatest benefit to this study has been finding that many of my initial assumptions were incoherent and contradictory. While I have refined my own thinking over the years, I do not yet feel comfortable that a definitive conclusion has been reached and for that I am glad. Part of me even fears reaching a conclusion because then this marvelous journey would end. There have been times when I felt like an inevitable conclusion was at hand, but then another door would open and cast doubt upon my current location. One of the ways I judge my progress is by seeing how long a lean in a certain direction lasts. I have been in one of those leans now for about three years, but just today I found something that has me rethinking and retracing my steps to make sure I did not make a wrong turn along the way. Maybe my skepticism is just a coping mechanism to make sure the journey does not end, or maybe I truly do fear the consequences of arrival.

It is amazing to learn how much pragmatism and an affinity toward certain thinkers can really influence the conclusions one reaches in study. Even when you think you are being objective and free of bias, it can rear its ugly head. I have learned that the search for truth does come with a price and one that is worth paying. The benefits you receive come from the search more so than the destination. The skill and knowledge you gain along the way make you a better person and more honest with yourself.

The first part of 2013 has been a fruitful time of study and much progress has been made in clarifying many of the issues. Now I sense I am entering a time where I will take a step back and let everything simmer for a while. Partly because I have a lack of new information to ingest and partly because I am tired. All my searches for new books and papers have come up empty. I am anticipating some new work that should be published early next year. 

For clarification, I am looking for a unified theory that avoids as many contradictions as possible. So here are my questions and feel free to chime in:

Does granting humans freedom limit God's control over human affairs?
To the extent that God grants freedom to creatures, must he relinquish control?
Does foreknowledge ultimately lead to determinism?
In Calvinism, does God giving you strong desires and you acting on them freedom? Can we really be morally accountable in Calvinism?
Is science really moving from a determined view to indeterminism?
Doesn't saying that God uses a “time telescope” to see the future contradict the traditional understanding of omniscience?
Does simple foreknowledge give God any creative benefit?
Does it make any sense to say “I must do A and do it freely”?
Is A or B theory of time true?
Is the universe a four dimensional block?
Is the future comprised of what “will” “would”, or “might” happen?
Does God know reality for what it is or as something different?
Is omniscience a matter of God knowing all that can be known or is it exhaustive?
Does God self-restrain or limit himself on our behalf?
Should we reject the perfect being philosophy of Plato, Anselm, and Aquinas? Has their thinking played too big a role and changed the way the Bible is read and interpreted?
Are the answers to deep questions only beyond reason or could they be against reason?
What is the difference between foreknowledge and foreordination?
Is God sovereign over all things or just some things?
Does God interact with every moment in time at once in a simultaneous eternal now?
Is there a true biblical consensus on foreknowledge and providence?
How can we have moral accountability if we are not free in a libertarian sense?
How does God get knowledge?
Can God gain knowledge?
By placing God outside time, did Boethius really solve any problems?
Does the incarnation present a problem for believing in an impassible and timeless God?
Is there a difference between God controlling contingent facts versus people?
Are there divisions or parts to God's existence? Is it an imperfection for God to change or gain knowledge? Is it an imperfection for God to have a past, present, and future?
Does the biblical narrative represent God as having a real temporal narrative?
Does the grounding objection present a real problem for Molinism?
Has the personhood and love of God been diminished by traditional theology and perfect being philosophy?
Does bivalent omniscience negate “would” counterfactuals?
Can one live consistently with a deterministic or Molinist worldview?
Can foreknowledge only be used in a providentially beneficial manner if there is a time at which what is foreknown can influence a divine decision that is not itself also foreknown?
If the potter has coercive control over the clay, why aren't we better than we are?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Still Perplexed

I am fully aware that it has been well over a year since my last post to this blog. The excuses I have are both trivial and substantial. Part of me is content just to have a web presence that gives others a resource for further investigation on Molinism and God's foreknowledge, and another part of me feels as if this is inadequate. I imagine that all of my followers on Twitter grow tired of vague and overbearing snippets, in 140 characters or less, of random thoughts on foreknowledge. Once one gains the vernacular needed to discuss the matter on an academic level, an unintended alienation soon follows.

So I am left with some options that need careful consideration before I make my next move. I could just give the honest thoughts of a man on a journey to grapple with the perplexing subject matter already put forth on this page. The thought of this leaves me with a fear that my words would be misunderstood and taken to mean something other than their intention. Then again, I could be more vigilant to update and compile the thoughts of great thinkers on foreknowledge. This would be a safer choice but it also seems sterile and not of interest to anyone. This option would also be of no benefit to me because I already have all the information already in printed form.

Throughout the history of this blog, I have frequently become restless or dissatisfied with its content and done a complete reboot. I feel compelled to do this once again. My only hesitation is the amount of work that went into the post, "The Best of Molinism." I still believe it is a good resource (needs updating). At one time in my life, Molinism was a fresh and exciting new theory. I could not get enough information to feed my appetite. Now I feel like the child who ate too much candy on Halloween. It also seems to me that Molinism does face some significant challenges to become a well accepted theory of God's foreknowledge. Then again, maybe it will survive much like Calvinism and Arminianism have. Their adherents have no problems with the inherent problems facing their theories. Still I am left with a lack of confidence and enthusiasm in the consistency and plausibility of a theory that became an identifying part of the identity of Neal Pumphrey.