Saturday, April 30, 2016

A PhD Update

As many of you know, I have been applying to several (in fact, 11) PhD programs for philosophy. While I do plan on writing a “what not to do” style advice post, my purpose right now is just to explain where I am in the process and what may happen next.

I was rejected from the first five programs I heard from. This was a little deflating, though I knew I only needed one “yes” to move forward. Since then, I have received three acceptances and one more rejection (I have yet to hear from two programs). The three acceptances are: University of Liverpool (UK), University of Birmingham (UK), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (listed in order of received acceptances).

My current plan is to see if I can obtain funding for one of the UK programs. This will be quite expensive, and I don’t mind telling you that unless God works in providentially providing these funds, we won’t be going! Nonetheless, it is something we are praying about. So what’s my next step? Well, I need either to have the money for the UK or at least know where it is coming from no later than June 1 (for a variety of reasons).

I would be happy to continue my studies at SEBTS, with wonderful professors and challenging seminars. I would also love to study in the UK, having visited there last year. Above all, pray that I am truly open to God’s leading and that I would be content in whatever state I find myself.

Monday, April 25, 2016

New Apologetics Class!

Trinity Baptist College students, are you looking for an elective credit online course this summer? The Intro to Apologetics class might be for you! It’s eight weeks, online, and involves watching brief lectures, discussion forums, reading, and a couple of writing assignments. The assignments and videos are all designed to help you understand how to defend the faith, and offer positive arguments both for God’s existence and Christianity as a whole.
We are also going to look at various ways the Christian can do apologetics, and practical ways you can engage in culture and the public square. The class starts May 9th, so you’ll want to act fast!

There may be a possibility of auditing the course as well, even if you are not currently a TBC student. For that possibility, you’ll want to check with academicoffice@tbc.edu. TBC’s website can be found at http://www.tbc.edu. I look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Molinism, Middle Knowledge, and Free Will

On the Molinism Facebook group, I recently answered a question about Molinism. The question will appear in italics, and my answer follows. Enjoy!

On Molinism, Libertarian free will is possible because God's Middle Knowledge is located logically prior to His divine decrees. If God's counterfactual knowledge is located logically posterior to His divine decrees, then this removes the possibility of libertarian freedom, since, God's knowledge of counterfactuals are subsumed into His free knowledge given that God has already decreed the world he desired to actualize. Thus, what would be counterfactually known by God is known because He has already decreed that it should be the case.

If God's counterfactual knowledge is logically located posterior to His creative decree, libertarian freedom is out of the question since man must choose what he does since God has ordained that he does without taking into consideration libertarian free will decisions logically prior to His creative decrees.

As I am processing the above points, I guess my question is: How does having God's counterfactual knowledge logically prior to His creative decree preserve libertarian freedom...I think I know the answer, but perhaps you can clarify any missteps I have made.

I think I might be able to help (depending on any more specific questions you may have or that might arise). You write, "On Molinism, Libertarian free will is possible because God's Middle Knowledge is located logically prior to His divine decrees."

However, this is not precisely the case. If any aspect of God's knowledge were to be the cause of man's choice (or entail that God caused it), then libertarian freedom is destroyed. Instead, libertarian freedom is possible, and God knows the counterfactual choices that free creatures would make in any possible set of circumstances; on Molinism, God knows these truths pre-volitionally, but they are not necessary, either.

The content of God's middle knowledge, then, depends on the content of creaturely free choices, and not the other way around. This is crucially what distinguishes Molinism from other full-omniscience* libertarian views, like classical Thomism.


*I'm using "full-omniscience" as a really rough placeholder for a detailed description of views that take it to be the case that God knows counterfactuals of creaturely freedom.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Brief Story That Could Change Your Life

Here's the story: a political situation is such that the ruling government allows an innocent man to be condemned to death to appease a group known for its revolts. The man is savagely beaten, forced to march publicly to the place of his execution (while carrying the method of execution on his back), faces mockery and derision from those who hate him; his friends, save his own mother and one other, have utterly abandoned him; he endures several hours of torture before finally dying (likely) of suffocation, then has his side run through with a spear, just in case. He is taken from that place and buried, an innocent man coming to a horrible, tragic end.

So why would any of that be good? How weird is it to mark such a day as "Good Friday"? Because that man came to Earth with a message from his Father, who is God. The Son of God lived the perfect life we could not live, and chose to pay the penalty for the things we have done wrong, so that we might avoid the ultimate penalty for doing wrong against God.

If the story ended with the payment for sins and the man buried and gone, there would be a strong sense of defeat. How could the Son of God be defeated like that? There would be no hope after all. And yet, this man did not stay dead. On the third day, God acted in history, bringing this man back to life. But he was not merely resuscitated. You see, he was *resurrected*, and this meant he had the kind of body that transcends mere physical death, and is the kind of body we are meant to have in the end. Thus, his resurrection is the down payment for the hope that we have. Who is this man? His name is Jesus of Nazareth, and God's raising him from the dead vindicated his claims.

How do you get this hope? Well, accepting these facts is a start, but it won't do it. Even wanting to be saved won't do it (some think God just won't forgive them for what they've done). You must place your trust in what this man has done. You must "bet it all" on Jesus. Not a prayer that you said. Not the good things you do. The kind of man Jesus is and the kind of death he died (the sacrifice he made) are not the kinds of things you can make up for with your annual donations, for example. What are you trusting in for forgiveness? Think about what you would say if God said you weren't making it to Heaven. What would be your defense?

Start following Christ today. Have any questions? Just ask me. I, like you, am just one of those people for whom Jesus died.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

People Are Not Objects to be Used

People should be viewed as ends in themselves, not merely means to ends. If they are viewed as means to ends, this is another way of stating that they are viewed as objects. When we view other people as objects, instead of viewing them as people made in the image of God, we not only de-value them, but further the delusion that we are really the only people who matter—and that other people are valued instrumentally only insofar as they serve our purposes. This, in turn, gives us a warped view of God, where he only values us instrumentally.

Here is a concrete way that can work out: Men often view women as sexual objects, there to serve them and bring them pleasure. Often, people in society work to overcome the misogynistic behavior associated with this. Christians, specifically, seek to commit to one woman, in marriage before God, for as long as they are alive together. The issue is that, too often, it is only the behavior that is modified. Often, unexamined assumptions are left unchecked, and the prevailing attitude is barely affected, if at all. Thus, for the Christian man, women are still objects to be used—but I only am allowed to use one, namely, my wife.


This is not viewing people as made in the image of God. Instead, we should strive every day to view not only women, but all people in the image of God, and recognize they are not objects to be used. The same thing can happen with women to men (in terms of love, stability, relationship status, money), with co-workers, and so on. So long as you view people implicitly as furtherances to your pleasure, you have failed. It’s why people treat each other so badly on the internet—it’s easier to objectify them when you can’t see them. Let’s try seeing people as God does: as ends in themselves, people made in the image of God, for whom Christ died.