I’m new here. I don’t have a lot of time to pursue conversations in addition to the few I have going on elsewhere, but I do stop in from time to time. I love GM’s book, chatted with him about it and shared some ideas. Haven’t talked to him in a while. My own research has been in open theism and as you all know the “fit” between the OV and UR has come up here and there. That fit isn’t something I wanted to discuss right now. I have something else in mind.
I’d like to suggest an argument FOR UR, and argument I haven’t seen elsewhere. I’ve shared this with GM some time ago but then put it on a shelf. It’s not a fully developed thought and it’s as much philosophical as it is theological. But we’ll give it a try.
Many of you know Greg Boyd for his work on the OV, his ‘warfare theodicy’, and most recently his work on the Church/State relationship. Greg’s best work is his most unknown and least read, his doctoral dissertation which was a Trinitarian reconstruction of Hartshorne’s process metaphysic. Greg basically solved a problem (so the thesis goes) that process theologians had been suffering from re: freedom. Greg developed a view of “disposition” as the mediators between possibility and actuality and argued that human beings, as ‘spiritual’ beings, are dispositional centers of experience.
Gosh I hate having to say so little about it. But with that in mind, let me make an argument for UR. These thoughts and some discussion on UR that we’ve had over on a site I frequent can be found here: opentheismboard.org/default.aspx?f=10&m=89426 (and there’s some more discussion here: opentheismboard.org/default.aspx?f=10&m=88443).
I’m saying that irrevocable solidification in evil is impossible given certain things. Basically:
(a) Human persons are by definition dispositional centers of sentient experience.
(b) Dispositions by definition mediate between possibility and actuality.
We basically use (a) and (b) to say:
© Human beings can solidify so completely that every possibility for personal becoming is foreclosed save one: the possibility of Godward becoming.
I’ve wondered where in the Bible we might find evidence of the idea that “Godward becoming" cannot be excluded from the field of possibilities a human being faces. I’m considering 2Cor. 3.17 — “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
“15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Basically, the argument is that wherever God is, God brings to that situation “freedom" or “liberty”? What might that mean? It has to mean AT LEAST this (on the assumption of omnipresenece): that any non-God reality faces at least ONE possibility–the freedom to dispose Godward. What freedom is left is this is denied? Exactly. God cannot be present without creating for that to which God is present the possibily of Godward becoming. This is metaphysically the case. It’s what God brings to creation necessarily because of the kind of God God is.
It would presumably be true in all conceivable worlds, including hell. While it’s conceivable in the sense that a person in hell would renew her rejection of God on a moment by moment basis, what she could not do is (as Jerry Walls says HAS to be the case to make sense of ECT at all) freely choose, once for all, to irrevocably reject God, to irrevocably solidify in evil. Walls argues this IS an option for human choice. I’m arguing that such an irrevocable state of affairs could not be possible, for it denies what 2Cor 3.17 essentially affirm is the case everywhere God is, namely, that “where God is there is freedom”; that wherever God is present in creation, God brings “freedom" to that created reality–i.e., the possibility to “become” God-ward.
What created reality can exist apart from God’s sustaining presence? None. It’s ruled out by definition. God must be in hell, sentiently present at least in sustaining the existence of the wicked in their sufferings. God could not withdrawal his presence from the wicked ABSOLUTELY without annihilating them since no creature can exist independently of God.
So for persons to exist at all in hell, God has to be present in sustaining their existence. But once we put God into the equation, you put the freedom of “Godward becoming” into the equation. Wherever God is…ALL that God is (necessarily and potentially) is there, and that includes hell, in the experience of the suffering wicked. Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom–i.e., wherever God is, there is at least ONE possibility for becoming, namely, God-ward becoming. We are not free as beings created and sustained by God to eradicate THAT possibility.
What’s irrevocable about human being is its dispositional character; more specifically, the sentient and relational capacities of human constitution for personal, relational becoming. To be human is just to be a center of experience that’s free to “become” relationally and personally. To not be THAT is to not exist as a human being. For any existing human being, sustained in existence by the presence of God, then, God remains within that being’s dispositional field of possibilities as that one reality constituting the possibility regarding which the person must be free to dispose herself so long as she exists.
2Cor. 3.17 bolsters the position. GOD can’t be in/with anything, any situation without creating for that being or situation a certain FREEDOM. We could make a case for the impossibility of an irrevocable hell entirely without the dispositional argument just on the basis of God’s presence necessarily introducing freedom to any and all non-God realities God is present to. It’s entailed in the doctrine of ‘omnipresence’.
It’s rough and needs work, and I’m rushing through it, but I trust you get the gist.