T.R.U.M.P.

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

January 17, 2017

MAKE GOD MAXIMALLY GREAT AGAIN

Do not be fooled, God is a maximally great being by definition. He always has been and always will be maximally great (Psalm 145:3). With that said, however, for nearly 500 years many Christians have believed that God is not maximally great!

One of the most viewed and controversial articles I have ever written is called, The Petals Drop: Why Calvinism is Impossible. By “impossible” I demonstrated that the famous five points of Calvinism — T.U.L.I.P. — while internally consistent are logically impossible to hold if they are held along with other essential Christian doctrines such as God’s maximal greatness and eternal hell. That is to say, if the Calvinist affirms that God possesses all of his “omni” attributes maximally and that eternal hell is a reality, then they must drop the “I” (irresistible grace) of the Calvinistic acronym “TULIP.” This is based on the Omni Argument Against Irresistible Grace. Consider each step:

The Omni Argument

1. If irresistible grace (the “I” of T.U.L.I.P.) is true, then for any person x, if God desires to, has the power to, and knows how to cause x to go to Heaven and not suffer eternally in Hell, then x will go to Heaven and not suffer eternally in Hell.

2. If God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient, then for any person x, God desires to, has the power to, and knows how to cause x to go to Heaven and not suffer eternally in Hell.

3. There is at least one person who will not go to Heaven and suffers eternally in Hell.

4. Therefore, one cannot affirm both (i) that irresistible grace is true and (ii) that God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient (a maximally great being).

I have recently added steps to this argument to support further conclusions:

5. God is a maximally great being.

6. Therefore, irresistible grace is false.

7. Therefore, divine determinism is false (God does not causally determine all things).

8. God is completely sovereign and does predestine all things (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5,11).

9. Therefore, predestination and determinism are not to be conflated.

10. The best explanation of the data is Molinism.

My desire is to help all people (from church goers to atheists) see God for who He really is! I spend much of my time reasoning with atheists and other non-Christians because I desire all people to come to a knowledge and realization of who God is. According to 1st Timothy 2:4, God seems to desire the same thing — for all to come to “the knowledge of the truth.” I want the same thing as God wants: for all people to realize how maximally great and awesome He really is!

The Omni Argument deductively demonstrates that if one is going to hold to T.U.L.I.P., and be logically consistent, then they must either become a universalist (which has other problems) or reject God’s maximal greatness and perfection. I think it is time to consider five new points from a Molinist perspective.

T.R.U.M.P.

Total Depravity: There is not one aspect of my existence which is not infected by sin. However, the image of God I have been created in has not been ERASED, but rather, EFFACED. Think of a little drop of black ink being dropped into a tall glass of pure water. Every single particle of the water is now “infected” by the droplet of ink; however, it is still a glass of water. In fact, it is still potable (although your teeth will turn black). Just as the water needs to be cleansed and purified, every aspect of the human existence needs to be cleansed and purified as well.

Resistible Amazing Grace: On this view, God’s grace is not “irresistible,” however, it is Amazing Grace! Humans possess the genuine free will to accept or reject God’s amazing grace and love. Every single human gets to make a free and informed decision to respond to God’s amazing grace.

Uge Love: “YUGE love for everybody, it’s gonna be great!!!”[1] Sorry! I could not resist. This is one instance in which I may have lost freedom to do otherwise! 😉 Perhaps the “U” better stands for Unlimited and Unconditional Love. Take your pick, but either way we know that God perfectly loves all people, desires the best for all people, and that his perfect love and amazing grace are genuinely available to all people (John 3:16; 1 Tim2:4; 1 Tim 4:10; 2 Peter 3:9). If each human freely chooses to accept God’s perfect love and amazing grace or not is a different subject.

Middle Knowledge of the Elect: God created a world in which He knew all people could freely choose to accept His invitation, but He also knew that not all people would freely accept His marriage proposal. Therefore, God actualized and elected a world in which he knew the atonement was logically sufficient for all mankind (1 Tim 4:10); however, He also specifically knew what individual humans would freely choose to reject it (although they did not have to). It follows that God created a world in which he knew with perfect certainty that the atonement was logically sufficient for all, but would only be freely experienced by a limited number of humanity.

Perseverance of Free Saints: God created a world in which He knew what persons would freely choose to love Him for eternity. This is easy if God is truly omniscient and omnipotent! Therefore, God actualized a world in which He knows what persons will choose to love God and persevere into the infinite future. True love never fails (1 Cor 13:4-8).

With T.R.U.M.P. in mind, I label myself as a, “5-Point Molinist!” If you are still confused as to whether you should embrace Molinism and the middle knowledge view or not, consider the words of my brilliant and great friend — he is really great — Randy Everist:

If you believe you have free will and that God does not force you to do all that you do, and if you believe God knows everything that could happen, will actually happen, and would have happened in any other circumstances, then you are a Molinist” [whether you realize it or not].

Anything is better than affirming that God is NOT a Maximally Great Being! That is why I am not an Open Theist or a TULIP kind of Calvinist! Keep T.R.U.M.P. in mind, and let us make theology great again by thinking about God as a Maximally Great Being again.

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5),

Tim Stratton


NOTES:

* A special thanks to Richard Porter and our own Jonathan Thompson! Richard had the really great — it was so great — idea for the Molina picture with the Trump hair style, and Jonathan actualized it into existence!

[1] Shawn White had the idea for “Uge.” I originally offered my T.R.U.M.P. acronym on the official Molinist Facebook page and used “Unlimited Love and Unconditional Love” for the “U.” Shawn immediately responded by telling me to change it to “Uge!” Not only did I laugh out loud; I also took his great advice!

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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