Showing posts from 2014

Does Compatibilism Entail Determinism? A Pragmatic Argument From Purpose in Evil

Here is the paper I presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society in San Diego.
Does Compatibilism Entail Determinism? A Pragmatic Argument From Purpose in Evil by Guillaume Bignon

The debate on the nature of free will and divine providence, which has been showcased for centuries in the theological world between so-called ‘Arminians’ and ‘Calvinists’, is often (and appropriately) seen in the philosophical world to be between ‘libertarians’ and ‘compatibilists’. On the one side, ‘Arminians’ (understood broadly enough to include open theists, simple-foreknowledge Arminians and Molinists), are libertarians. They uphold ‘libertarian free will’ affirming that human free choices are not determined by God’s providential decree. Rather, given the totality of God’s providential dealings at the moment of choice, the free agent remains able to choose either way; he is not determined to pick one option over another. Most libertarians are also ‘incompatibilists’, that i…

A word on Oliver Crisp's "Deviant Calvinism"

Can a Calvinist believe in a libertarian view of free will? Even just a little bit? I suppose it depends on what one means by Calvinism. It is usually thought that Calvinism excludes any and all “libertarian” (indeterminist) understanding of free will, and requires instead some sort of universal causal determinism, wherein God providentially determines the outcome of all human choices. At the moment of choice, and given God’s full providential activity, there is one and only one option that the human can possibly choose, that is the one which God has predetermined to occur, and hence it is the one which will occur. Nevertheless, Calvinists are also normally “compatibilists”, which is to say they affirm that this sort of theological determinism is compatible with the moral responsibility of human beings. God determines the outcome of all their choices, but humans remain praiseworthy and/or blameworthy for making them. Oliver Crisp’s recent book “Deviant Calvinism”, in its third chapter, …

How God turns a French atheist into a Christian theologian - My conversion story

[I am re-posting this piece here, as the forum on which it was formerly posted is being decommissioned]

A number of people lately have been intrigued to meet a French theologian, and have asked me to tell them the story of how I, a French atheist, became a Christian scholar. Even the theologians and apologists I met recently at the ETS Conference in Baltimore (where by God’s grace I was delivering my first scholarly paper) seemed to care (understandably) more about my conversion from atheism than my immediate theology paper! Therefore, it seemed fitting to type it up properly, to have a clean telling of that story of God breaking into my life, ready to be shared with people who ask. So here it is (and please let me know if you spot spelling mistakes or awkward sentences, I’m still French after all!)
FROMRELIGIOUSATHEISM TO SECULARATHEISM I grew up in a wonderfully loving family in France, near Paris. I was the second of 3 children. We were nominally Roman Catholic, and would …

Can Calvinist determinists trust their cognitive faculties?

I take as a basic assumption of this article that Calvinists are committed to some form of theological determinism: on their view, God from eternity past determines everything that comes to pass, including human choices.
(If the reader is inclined to think Calvinists are not committed to this kind of determinism, then there is even less of a problem for them, and the following argument's response need not even be offered).

Does determinism undermine our ability to know anything?

Some advocates of libertarian free will have argued that if our abilities to form beliefs and make

decisions on matters of truth are determinist, then we have a reason not to trust them. We have a reason to think that they are not reliable, since they are simply the natural outworking of causes applied to our brains, and the beliefs which they form are only the results of electric impulses, fully determined by their input. This charge, if successful, is a serious problem, because it means that if determini…

Why this Calvinist doesn't make much of divine "Sovereignty"

In the literature, the classic phrase that is used to describe the cause championed by Calvinists is 'the sovereignty of God'. Yet in my writings, I seldom use the word, and instead usually speak of 'providence' or 'divine control'. One may ask why I avoid the phrase, and in response, I will say that there is nothing wrong with the sovereignty of God, God is sovereign. But here are three reasons why I don't have much use for the word 'sovereignty' in my writings on the topic.

1-Providence is sovereignty exercised

First, the word sovereignty may be too modest in its claims, and it may not impress Arminians much. To say that God is sovereign could modestly mean only that He has ultimate power and authority over human affairs. But His having such sovereignty over humans tells us little about how much God in fact exercises sovereignty. All stripes of Arminians are perfectly comfortable affirming that God is 'sovereign', but they deny that God use…

Inerrancy, Is It a Matter of Luck?

Here is the full text of the paper I presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Baltimore, on the topic of biblical inerrancy.

Inerrancy, Is It a Matter of Luck? An Assessment of Inspiration, Providence and Divine Luck on Calvinism, Open Theism, Classical Arminianism, and Molinism.
Guillaume Bignon

ABSTRACT: The doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Theological Society requires from its members a strong, traditional, evangelical stand on inspiration and inerrancy. While this does not explicitly mention free will and providence, it does have consequences in terms of what one is able to believe with respect to the divine feat of inspiring the scriptures through the free agency of human authors. If God is to successfully bring about an inerrant, inspired text, what are His prospects on any theologian’s view of free will and foreknowledge? The consequences of human free will are surveyed on Calvinism, open theism, classical Arminianism, and Molinism, to assess …