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The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom by William Lane Craig
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Studio: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.78" Width: 5.92" Height: 0.39" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Jan 30, 2000
Publisher Wipf & Stock Publishers
ISBN 1579103162 ISBN13 9781579103163
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More About William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig (PhD, University of Birmingham, England; DTheol, University of Munich) is research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California, and at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He has authored or edited over thirty books and is the founder of ReasonableFaith.org, a web-based apologetics ministry.
William Lane Craig currently resides in the state of California. William Lane Craig was born in 1949 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, USA Catholic University of Louva.
William Lane Craig has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom?
On Probabilities Dec 26, 2008
What W.L. Craig has formulated in this book is a line of reasoning that basically states, "the possible (and the impossible) will be so, not that the possible (and the impossible) must be so (and impossible, respectively.)" Why is this so? Craig attributes it to Agency/Freedom. God and man are free to choose, but neither is free to choose the consequence of their choices. It is the latter effect that brings about Divine Foreknowledge - that man will choose, not that he must, and that a certain consequence of that choice must follow. As a result of the freewill of choices and their necessary consequence, I am not convinced that God is solely responsible for the circumstances encountered in this world. Some of the responsibility rests with the individual and some with his neighbor. In fact, circumstances of Divine responsibility are created with the intent of influencing the individual to do good.
I am, myself, in agreement with Plato on the pre-mortality of the soul. This philosophical belief resolves many concerns of my own when reconciling Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. The pre-mortality of the soul gives God an "immediate self-acquaintance" with each of us before entering into mortality. Just as God requires an immediate self-acquaintance with Himself to know He is omniscient, He requires it of us to predict our future. I just am not convinced of W.L. Craig's alternatives, 1. Creating man to use his agency after the manner God imagines man to use it or that 2. God is solely responsible for the circumstances encountered in this world or that 3. The circumstances in this world necessarily dictate man's use of agency. To me, these ideas stink of some "character determination" and fate. As Craig so eruditely shows, fatalism is a tautology. In a sense, this reasoning simply pushes back the arguments of fatalists from a "post creation" perspective to a "pre creation" one.
W.L. Craig is stating, "Man need not act necessarily as God has predicted because man has agency. However, man will act as God has predicted because God created man's agency and the circumstances that govern agency." God may not force man to his will, but according to Craig, God controls the circumstances that control man's will if He did not already pre-program man's will according to His imagination and prediction. It is like saying that a car has an engine capable of 120 mph but will not go past 60 mph because a governor has been placed on the engine. I do not believe God puts governors on our agency; rather He posts speed limits with consequences for our choosing. In fact, I do not believe God creates our soul, or that He is solely responsible for circumstance, or that circumstance precludes man's own psychology in the use of agency.
I believe the soul to be eternal. Before His immediate self-acquaintance with us as souls, "God had no idea" (p. 146) whether each of us individually would be saved or lost. All He knew is that we were capable of salvation and so He accepts us as spirit children if we accept Him as God - one capable of saving us. Once this relationship is admitted, God gains an "immediate self-acquaintance" with us through our pre-mortal actions. This permits God to have foreknowledge of future events. With regard to lost souls, the Law of Justice dictates that All are lost who are not like God, perfect and immortal. Knowing that All would be lost, Craig's argument that the ends justify the means -- God accepts some must be lost so that some will be saved -- falls apart. (Unless one is to argue that the end state of "the lost" is better than their initial state - after all, even the lost are resurrected to a degree of glory.) The only way to produce more saved than unsaved is to create contingency plans -- such a contingency plan as having One atone for All. This modifies Craig's argument stating, That All can be saved though Some will not be saved.
The natural question is "What about those lacking opportunity to accept Christ?" Is God allowed only one contingency plan? Not everyone who hears the Gospel accepts it. Is not the corollary, therefore, equally true? Not everyone who would accept Christ hears the Gospel. What is God's contingency plan for these in order to achieve optimal salvation levels? Is it possible there is a post-mortal life preceding resurrection in which these individuals will receive an opportunity to accept Christ? I believe so.
I have come to believe in three types of people, much like Craig: 1. those who will do good regardless of circumstance (strong psychology), 2. those who will do bad regardless of circumstance (weak psychology), and 3. those who will do good or bad depending on circumstance (dependent psychology.) All are capable of salvation but not all will be saved. I do not believe Type 2 individuals exist in mortal life. Why? I believe one of the requirements of entering into mortality is that man accepts Christ -- mortality being probation of our loyalty to that oath of allegiance. Those who will do bad regardless of circumstance were "cast out" long before mortality -- if they did not accept Christ in the pre-mortal life, then they would not accept Christ in the mortal life.
(It is true that in this life there are those who receive the most favorable circumstances and still do bad - reject Christ. However, they once accepted Christ under the pre-mortal circumstance making them a Type 3 individual. For keeping their first estate, God foreknowing they would not keep their second, they are resurrected to a degree of glory.)
As for the Type 3 individual, remember, circumstance is not solely of God's creating, but the necessary result equally contributed to by God's will, man's will, and his neighbor's will. God's will, as demonstrated by the Atonement, creates circumstances to improve the individual's hope for salvation, but this does not mean that God's will for the individual cannot be frustrated by the individual's own will acting to the contrary. Nor does this mean that God's will for the world is frustrated simply because His will for some individuals is frustrated -- there are those who will be saved!
A great book regardless my philosophical disputes because W.L. Craig isn't really arguing the probabilities, only the possibilities. In this, he is successful!
Intellectually Stimulating and Spiritually Exhilarating Nov 15, 2007
This book is awesome! W.L Craig does a great job at showing that divine foreknowledge is compatible with free will. He holds that there are two ways of looking at foreknowledge - Chronological and Logical.
Chronologically, God knows ahead of time whether or not Jones will cut the grass on Saturday.
But logically, Jones chooses of his own free will whether or not he will cut the grass on Saturday, and God's foreknowledge is based on Jones's free choice. In other words, God didnt force Jones to cut the grass on Saturday. But He knew what Jones would freely choose, and based on Jones's choice, God writes this day in His book (Psalm 139:15-16).
By the way, if Jones decides to go golfing on Saturday, then this would prove that God foreknew something different than what we thought He foreknew!
The bottom line is this: Just because God knows what we're going to do ahead of time doesnt mean we MUST do it. We choose to do it of our own free will, and God acts based on what He knows of our free choices ahead of time.
Craig also shows how fatalism and determinism are flawed in their denials of free will. He stresses that God knows about all possible worlds and all possible humna decisions and what they would or wouldn't do in certain circumstances. Craig calls this middle knowledge. He references 1 Samuel 23 and Matthew 11:20-24 as examples of this.
He also deals with the question of why would God create a world where some people would use their free will to reject Christ? Why not create a world where no one could reject Christ?
Craig replies by noting that there is apparently no possible world in which all persons would freely choose Christ. God has in fact created a world with an optimal balance between saved and unsaved - and those who reject Christ would have never accepted Him under any circumstances.
My head and my heart were greatly affected by this book. I love Dr. Craig's writings! His book "Hard Questions - Real Answers" is another favorite.
In Defense of Middle Knowledge Oct 28, 2007
William Lane Craig is one of the deepest readers you will ever encounter. His knowledge is vast as is his writing ability. Few books have challanged me to study as much as the works of Craig.
Having said that, let me state that THE ONLY WISE GOD is no easy read. It takes time and you will need your Bible open to examine the passages that Craig covers as his defends his understanding of God's middle knowledge (or the more popular name, Molinism). The differences between Craig and Molina though are that Craig is evangelical and believes in justification by faith whereas Molina was a Catholic theologian who rejected the Reformation movement. Craig's defense of middle knowledge is two fold, first he describes what middle knowledge is and then he seeks to defend it from its common attacks. The book is a deep, philsophical study into the knowledge of God and man's free will. The book is neither Calvinist nor Arminian but seeks to stay true to the biblical teaching concerning God'sovereignty.
Overall, this is a good book. While the casual theological and philsophy reader may find Craig's book hard to grasp, the serious student will no doubt walk away with a deeper understanding of what middle knowledge is and whether it is based on the teachings of the Bible.
Excellent exposition and defense of molinism Aug 10, 2006
Does the Bible teach that man is free or that God is sovereign, or both? If only the first, then how can God know the future? If only the second, then how are we responsible? If both, then how do they work together to give God His providential control, and us our genuine, real freedom?
Craig tackles these difficult questions in this very abbreviated version of his more scholarly work. Craig defends that the Bible teaches both God's providence and human freedom, and the rebuts objections that if an act is known in advance, it cannot be free (the fatalist fallacy). Then Craig applies this to other areas (like time travel and newcombe's paradox). Finally Craig defends Middle Knowledge against philosophical objections (primarily the grounding objection) and theological objections. What we have left is a robust understanding of both our freedom and God's control. Craig convincingly argues, to the dismay of Calvinists, that we need not be determined for God to be soverign, and aruges against open theists that God can foreknow our genuinely free actions.
This book is short, and for a popular audience, but it is also difficult material. I highly recommend it, but only for those interested in seriously contemplating it.
Excellent Introduction Nov 6, 2005
W.L. Craig's "The Only Wise God" examines the question of whether divine foreknowledge and human freedom are compatible. Craig is one of the leading contemporary philosophers of religion - this small book is one of his early popular works.
To get a sense of the question one could take an argument such as the following:
1. God knew that you were going to read this review today 2. God's foreknowledge is infallible Hence 3. You will read this review today
An implication of this argument, if true, is that divine omniscience and freedom may not be compatible. This conclusion is not particularly appealing from either theological or commonsense perspectives. From a theological vantage point it seems unlikely that the sense of individual responsibility inherent in most religious traditions could exist independent of individual freedom. Whereas from a commonsense perspective freedom appears to be an all too obvious brute fact - you could have chosen not to read this review.
Some theistic commentators have attempted to get out of this box by advocating a type of open-theism wherein does not know all future facts. From the Christian perspective, however, the majority position is that God does possess infallible foreknowledge - hence the original dilemma remains. Further complicating this is the related question as to the nature of time itself (is it tensed or tenseless) and God's relationship to time (is he in time or outside of it).
Craig takes a view of time known as presentism (only the present exists) and argues that divine foreknowledge and freedom are compatible. In doing so, he uses an approach credited to Luis de Molina known as middle knowledge. In accordance with molinism God's foreknowledge stems his knowledge of all future counterfactuals. Hence if you had chosen not to read this review God would have known that. Craig does a nice job of presenting this argument - well worth the read.
Overall, the book is an excellent popular-level introduction to a range of interesting theological and metaphysical questions. Though it is aimed at theists, I think any reader interested in metaphysical questions regarding time could also find it a useful introduction. "Divine Foreknowledge Four Views" is also a good read and some of Craig's detailed philosophical work regarding time is excellent as well.