Thursday, December 08, 2011

William Lane Craig's God doesn't sound very ultimate

I know William Lane Craig is supposed to be a wonder and a marvel of an apologist, and Richard Dawkins runs from him like a frightened little girl.

But I'm wondering how he retains such respect, while making statements like this about God:
"The counterfactuals of creaturely freedom which confront Him are outside His control. He has to play with the hand He has been dealt."
Um...

I have preached, and preached very insistently, that "God" is not just some person's name, and it isn't just some category, like: apple, fish, bicycle, God, turnip...

I have preached that "God" is, by definition, the ultimate. "God" is where the buck must inevitably stop. This is the only way to make sense of Paul equating covetousness with idolatry (Col. 3:5). It isn't that Paul is saying that covetous people associate the omni-'s with money or stuff. It's that they live for it, it is ultimate to them, it trumps other considerations.

From this, I have also preached that, if you have something that can trump God, then that — and not God — is really God.

So you can call God "God," but if you think "free will," or chance, or contingency, or the stars, or anything else trumps God, then that is really God, and that is what we should worship.

Now, Scripture insists that GOD is God. I know, breaking news. He created everything just the way He wanted it, just by wanting to and saying so (Gen. 1:1). It's all as it is as an expression of His will (Ps. 33:6, 9). He does what He wants, everywhere and at all times (Psa. 115:3). I go into this at some length in TWTG, and even give a little chart showing the coterminous nature of God's will and God's accomplishments.

And then there's God as WLC depicts Him, a God who is confronted by realities beyond His control, and who is forced to play the hand He is dealt. (By whom? one wonders.)

To me, this is a classic illustration how unwillingness to deal with a God as massive as Scripture depicts Him will invariably lead to absurdity. There comes a point where a man, a woman, is forced to say "Boy, if I stay on this road, I'm going to have to say some pretty bizarre things." And then he stays on that road and says those bizarre things... or he bails on the bad road and bows the knee to the big God of Scripture, who Himself is the dealer.

39 comments:

LanternBright said...

One wonders who dealt God the hand that He must play, and why we can't worship *THAT* being instead.

LanternBright said...

...One wonders who it was that dealt God the hand that He must play, and why we shouldn't just worship *THAT* being instead.

DJP said...

Yep. My very thought.

And if the response is "Yeah, well, God dealt Himself the hand of being dependent on the will of others whose will is beyond his control"... we've just moved the ball, haven't we? Not really solved anything.

But worse: it just isn't the Bible's answer.

Jessica said...

"And then there's God as WLC depicts Him, a God who is confronted by realities beyond His control, and who is forced to play the hand He is dealt."
That sounds a lot like Norm Geisler too. I recently reviewed his latest book "If God Why Evil" and basicaly what that book boils down to as well. According to Geisler, God's hands are tied by our human wills so He just does the best he can without trampling our will. UGH.

DJP said...

One can almost picture God shouting "STOP 'HELPING'!!!"

olan strickland said...

Um...

an impotent Potentate?

LanternBright said...

Also: note that at no point whatsoever during his answer to that gentleman's question does Craig even *ATTEMPT* to appeal to Scripture. So frustrating.

DJP said...

Well-spotted. I don't oppose philosophy, per se. But that is a classic example of philosophy as it should not be done by Christians.

Aliens and Exiles said...

I nominate myself for Best Use of a @NathanFillion Animated Gif in a Theologically-Themed Post for the year 2011 (http://t.co/8vPpTtD8)

I SECOND that!

Rita Tomassetti said...

"The counterfactuals of creaturely freedom which confront Him are outside His control." uhm...but isn't that what Open Theists say about God??

DJP said...

Yes, Rita, "Open Theology" is a textbook case of what I'm talking about.

LanternBright said...

The more I think about this, the more unfortunate and impoverished Craig's response seems. "God must play the hand he's been dealt." So the Sovereign of the Universe (who doesn't sound terribly 'sovereign' over anything at all) is effectively playing a GAME with all creation that He has every potential to LOSE? Really??

Pooka said...

No Scripture = no accurate God.

Portraying God as having to play the hand He's dealt implies the Creator of the Universe has to answer to a still higher power. That idea attacks everything we know about Him in the Scripture. It's more damaging than the buffoon Craig is attempting to tackle. At least one guy is honest enough to say he doesn't believe the bunko.

A hand-wringing God who "hopes we'll all turn out for the best" is just a big teddy bear up in the sky that we can all hug, tell our troubles to, and commiserate with.

I'd rather have one to cry out to and depend on. That sort of means the Scriptures are involved somewhere in there.

Scooter said...

So the mark is moved from random, meaningless, purposeless existence to could-be random, might-be meaningless, somewhat purposeless existence? I don't see how that is better.

Without God as ultimate source and being, Romans 8:28 is not a promise, just hopeful conjecture. I couldn't trust him to deal with my wife's persistent joint pain in her hands and bring good from that.

PS LanternBright I love the profile pic.

olan strickland said...

As long as Craig can make Dawkins run like a little girl, most won't mind his open theism and unsovereign god. Sad.

Andrew said...

Hope nobody tells Dawkins that he's outside of God's control or his god-complex might get even worse.

Risible stuff here from Craig, a god who sits at the table with and waits to see how the chips fall. Trsgic.

Andrew said...

That last sentence should have read:

Risible stuff here from Craig, a god who sits at the table with us and waits to see how the chips fall. Tragic.

The counterfactuals of my creaturely fingers which confront me are outside my control.

Robert said...

So does that mean that he can also make the claim, "The devil made me do it"? Because surely if God can not control what His creation does, then we can't control what we do. At least it makes about as much sense to say so.

The Squirrel said...

Craig's problem has always been that he bases his theology on his philosophical understanding, and then "interprets" the Scriptures accordingly. 100% backwards of how it should be done!

(And, yes, the Nathan Fillion graphic is classic!)

Squirrel

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

I get how this makes sense from Craig’s perspective considering his views on Predestination (it’s wrong and sad, but it makes sense from his point of view). The thing I find really odd is that Craig is a big fan of the Ontological argument which has as its basis "a being that no greater being can be conceived”. How does a God who is at the mercy of “the hand he has been dealt” not leave room for conceiving of a greater God?

If being at odds with Scripture doesn’t get Craig’s attention maybe being at odds with himself will.

Marla said...

I have to admit that most of the time WLC gives me a headache because I have trouble understanding what he is trying to say. (How is it when RC Sproul explains the same things, it is clear and concise?).

Anyway -- Really? GOd has no control? Than who is in control? Sounds like man -- I guess the promise of "you shall be like God" came true after all. Poor God, His creations have gotten out of control....

*sigh* For someone so (supposedly) brilliant, maybe he should review the basics again. (Gen 18:14, Jer 32:17, 27)

MSC said...

I am in the process of preparing a series of sermons on God's sovereignty in election. I have found John Frame's massive tome "The Doctrine of God" to be immensely helpful. He believes the central message of scripture is the supreme Lordship of God. How he works this theme out in the book is a tour de force to be reckoned with.

DJP said...

Control, authority and presence, baby!

DJP said...

BTW, did you know Frame once visited this blog? True fact.

jbboren said...

This is why WLC is destined for a major, high-impact, disastrous fall somewhere down the road...because his theology can't carry the water it needs to carry to be complete and consistent.

And others will be left to clean up the mess.

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

”BTW, did you know Frame once visited this blog? True fact.”

I was wondering where he got all those great ideas. ;-)

DJP said...

LOL, yes, that is EXACTLY what I was driving at!

I hope Frame lives to be a healthy 500, and writes that many more books.

LanternBright said...

DALEKS HAVE NO CONCEPT OF MIDDLE KNOWLEDGE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

Scooter said...

I think my comment was lost to Narnia.

In light of that, LanternBright's profile is awesome.

Fred Butler said...

I have to admit that most of the time WLC gives me a headache because I have trouble understanding what he is trying to say

You mean like when he uses weirdie words like "counterfactuals?"

Marla said...

To Fred:

To adapt from RC: If you cannot explain what you mean so that it is easy to understand (to the average person), perhaps you don't understand it yourself. (My paraphrase)

Either that, or WLC (instead of dazzling with brilliance) just likes to baffle us with bull.... :)

His whole post could have been much less word-y and much more simple. Perhaps then his missing foundation would be too obvious....

olan strickland said...

William Lane Craig: Having logically valid, clearly formulated arguments is going to make you look smart and increase your credibility in [non-believers’] eyes, which will only make your witness more effective (Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 190, emphasis mine).

I believe the all-sufficient Scripture has something to say against that too.

lee n. field said...

"WLC"

I keep hitting that and thinking "Westminster Larger Catechism? That ain't right."

"Anyway -- Really? GOd has no control? Than who is in control? "

He might go the route of saying that God has the most control that is possible, but that comprehensive control isn't possible.

Kerry James Allen said...

"No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Rachael Starke said...

Have not yet even read this post, and yet it is the most awesomest ever because of that graphic. The eloquent awesomeness is almost too much...

Pooka said...

http://www.frame-poythress.org/Poythress_books/Shadow/bl0.html

I been trying to read through this one, but slow going from the website. Mebbe Santy Calvin will send it to me this year.

Thomas Louw said...

bizarro!!

He should put down his human philly books and study the Bible no1.

And then maybe read The Doctrine of God by J Frame.

Don't you think the core reason is maybe he is an Arminian. (maybe I don'y know his theology that well)

trogdor said...

For those who are confused, try replacing "The counterfactuals of creaturely freedom" with the English phrase "Some things". Then the argument is so obviously stupid that even children would mock it.

I don't see why Dawkins runs away from him, since they share the same notion that "man's ability to do whatever he wants" is the ultimate power and authority in the universe.

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

I'm a really big WLC fan, but I really wish he would submit his philosophy to the mind of Christ in Romans 9 on this issue.