I don’t know if it’s unintended ignorance or intentional intellectual laziness on the part of many Reformed apologists, but options for theological accuracy coming from some of the more well-known websites are fast disappearing. Alpha & Omega, the apologetic website of extreme Calvinist* James White, recently put up a piece on free will written by contributor, Alan Kurschner in which Kurschner flatly denied human responsibility implies the concept of “so-called free will.” I offered a brief critique, pointing out the obvious flaw in Kurschner’s reasoning (and most all strict Calvinists for that matter).
Now Alpha & Omega has yet another piece which thoroughly misunderstands the way non-Calvinists and indeterminists view what’s commonly called libertarian freedom. A post entitled, “The Heart of Molinism” written by contributor, Jamin Hubner, illustrates precisely why no real progress in geniune dialog seems forthcoming between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. And, while there surely are other points to be made concerning Hubner’s botched view of Molinism, I only briefly mention a single flaw to illustrate my point concerning theological inaccuracy especially as it pertains to libertarian freedom.
“In the Molinistic perspective…libertarian freewill sits on the highest throne. God will never "violate" or "infringe" upon a creature's libertarian freewill choice… Indeed, the Molinistic alternative is simply this: the human mind, will, and consciousness is "off-limits" for God. There is neither the possibility…nor reason… for God to infringe on the all-important free will of man. As such, God essentially needs the creature's permission before actually doing something with the person's heart and mind”
And again, in conclusion:
And has God actually behaved in history according to the Molinist model, avoiding every chance to infringe on man's will? Or does He sometimes (perhaps often) "violate" and "infringe" upon the freewill of man in order to bring glory to Himself? Because if there is even one instance of God directly and absolutely changing the will of an otherwise unwilling human creature, then Molinism is a poor theory and should not be given as much attention as the better, more Scriptural alternatives (e.g. historic Reformed theology and compatibilism)”
Pertaining to free will, neither Molinists in particular nor those who embrace a form of libertarian free will in general embrace the type of hard but skewed libertarianism Hubner described in the first selected quote above. What non-Calvinist conservative theologian implies the human mind is "off limits" from the omnipotent God? Or that it remains an impossibility for God to breach the autonomous free will of created beings? Hubner is doing nothing more than striking at a phantom opponent.
Indeed is Hubner not aware of Southern Baptist theologian, Ken Keathley, who clearly, and in detailed fashion, explains what libertarian freedom actually means for Molinism? Keathley writes,
“The fourth tenet of soft libertarianism is the recognition of will-setting moments. This point sets soft libertarianism apart from libertarianism as generally understood. I argue, like Kane, that libertarian freedom does not entail that a person must always have the ability to choose to the contrary” (Salvation & Sovereignty, p.76; 77-87, embolden mine).
In addition, Robert Kane writes in what may be considered a definitive statement on libertarian freedom,
“Not all of our morally responsible choices or actions (those for which we are truly praiseworthy or blameworthy) have to be such that we could have done otherwise with respect to them directly. Yet some of the choices or actions in our life histories must satisfy AP [for Kane, AP is an abbreviation for the principle of alternative possibilities] if we are to be ultimately morally responsible for anything we do” (The Significance of Free Will, p.40, embolden mine)
Hence, Hubner is either unaware of what theological Molinists like Keathley and indeterminist philosophers like Kane argue concerning libertarianism or he ignores it. Neither option speaks well for an apologetic site which so often claims to represent *THE* Reformed view. In fact, it unfortunately unveils a bit of ignorance.
Perhaps more telling is Hubner’s second statement which appears, at least from my reading, to back track a bit from his earlier statement. Note: Hubner asked two rhetorical questions, the second of which seems to suggest that fallen humankind does possess some sort of libertarian freedom:
“Or does He sometimes (perhaps often) "violate" and "infringe" upon the freewill of man in order to bring glory to Himself?” (embolden mine).
Sometimes? Often? Is Hubner implying God does in fact give some measure of libertarian freedom to his creatures He’s created in His image? I may be mistaken, but I did not get the idea humans had any measure of libertarian freedom from reading Hubner’s piece. In fact, Hubner is only presuming in this rhetorical question precisely what both Keathley and Kane argue in their view—not all but some significant choices or actions must allow for alternative possibilities. In other words, libertarians like Keathley and Kane do not hold that all decisions humans make are necessarily the result of libertarian freedom. Rather, they argue that only some decisions are grounded in libertarian freedom. Indeed some freedoms which are significant and worth possessing are definitively libertarian by nature. Hence, the necessity of libertarian freedom.
R.C. Sproul once indicated he was an expert in nothing. Apologists tend to not have expertise in anything really, he suggested. Apologists are broadly knowledgeable about several things but masters of none.**
Never has there been a time when this concession is more literally true. We’re much better off getting our info from standard, mainstream sources and not from Reformed internet “apologetics” centers (or non-Reformed internet centers for that matter)--especially those centers which boast of presenting *THE* Christian view or *THE* Reformed view.
May I suggest if you have interest in a particular subject, ask your pastor or call a professor at one of our six seminaries. Ask him or her, “What’s the best book in print on _____?” keeping in mind whether or not you may be able to read and benefit from the work at your present comprehension level. If you have doubt, ask him or her for the best available book for non-technical readers. You’ll save yourself a lot of confusion, I assure.
With that, I am…
*some theologians classify the theology James White embraces as Hyper-Calvinism
**a paraphrase from a statement he made in a lecture from the Ligioner Study Center before it moved to Florida