Reply to Craig: Part II


As I pointed out in a previous post entitled “Does God Conceal the Truth from Christians?” William Lane Craig responds to an argument of mine as follows:

Having already addressed Craig’s first claim, I now turn to his second claim. By way of further elaboration, he explores the possibility that “the redeemed do retain knowledge of the fate of the damned but they are not conscious of it. When you think about it, we’re not conscious of most of what we know.” That is correct. Even if I know that my daughter is being raped, tortured, and murdered, we can imagine many experiences that might drive this knowledge out of my immediate consciousness. Indeed, Craig’s own example is most instructive in this regard. He asks us to “imagine an experience of pain–say, having your leg amputated on the battlefield without anesthetic–which is so intense that it drives out awareness of anything else. In such a condition you wouldn’t be thinking of your child at all.” That may also be correct–though we should never underestimate the power of love, even under such conditions of terrible duress as Craig imagines, to focus one’s awareness on the objects of one’s love. More often than not, a persistent awareness of loved ones is the very thing that enables prisoners of war, for example, to endure even protracted torture.

But the important point is this: Whether it be excruciating pain, an ecstatic drug-induced high, or a pseudo-beatific vision, nothing that drives the knowledge of our loved ones from our consciousness and thereby undermines our ability to love them fully could possibly qualify as true blessedness. Craig asks us to imagine “a feeling [my emphasis] of joy and elation, but immeasurably more intense and enthralling,” sort of like an ecstatic drug-induced high, I suppose; he then concludes that precisely this is “the beatific vision of the redeemed in heaven!” The problem, however, is that he says nothing about love and nothing about the traditional Christian view that love is an essential condition of true blessedness. Apart from a heart filled with love for all of our known neighbors–that is, for all of those whom we are commanded to love–no mere “feeling of joy and elation,” whether drug induced or not, will qualify as true blessedness or supreme happiness. Given the Christian understanding of the beatific vision, in other words, that vision should make us more aware of our loved ones, not less; and it should make us care for them more, not less. Indeed, if the beatific vision, like a drug-induced ecstatic high, were to drive the knowledge of our loved ones from our consciousness, why should anyone suppose it to be a good thing at all, however “intense and enthralling” it may seem? And if it should undermine our awareness of our loved one’s in hell, why would it not also undermine our awareness of our loved ones in heaven?



Hi Tom,

I guess this is how I used to deal with my former belief in everlasting torment with no chance of liberation for billions of people including some of my loved ones who died lost. I imagined that God would make me blissful to the point where I would no longer lament the fate of the unconditionally damned. I didn’t understand how it would work, but I trusted that God would somehow fill in those gaps in my eternal life. And whenever I had thoughts that perhaps punishments in hell didn’t have to last forever, somebody would convince that liberation from hell was not a possibility. For example, I believed that there were no Trinitarian Universalists while nobody explained to me the Ancient Church controversy about the duration of punishments in Hades. I knew no choice but to rationalize my belief about the bliss in heaven with the Augustinian interpretation of hell. And I see Craig working with all his mind to do the same.


Incidentally, my Mom goes the same way; including the logical extension mentioned by Tom: that we will not even be loving one another in heaven but only loving God. We’ll be totally oblivious to one another’s existence.

Edited to add: just to clarify, this is not my own position.



I just lost a really eloquent reply and I’m miffed!

I can’t be bothered to type it all in again so here’s the digest…

  1. ‘God all in all’ and ‘we will know as we are known’ (glass darkly) surely imply transformed Christian will know what God does so will know about the damned.

  2. What’s the point about all the struggle in the ‘here and now’ (free will and evil and all that stuff) if chunks of it (the memory of damned loved ones who are mysteriously absent from the kingdom and beyond) are excised by the authorities?

  3. Usual caveats apply… (i.e. I can’t believe I’m talking about all this as if it’s real) :stuck_out_tongue:


Not necessarily; I don’t see that we would become functionally omniscient. We couldn’t know everything God knows, much less keep it in mind all at once.

However, the concepts (and verses) you’re referencing surely would mean that God would not permanently excise our memories. The truth will set us free, and all that. (Isn’t that the motto of the CIA…? :smiling_imp: ) What I mean is that while I could understand God muffing certain memories of ours in order to give us the opportunity to heal so that we could face them, reconcile and grow past them, part of the process would still be facing those memories sooner or later, and (more importantly) dealing with the people who led to those experiences in our lives. (Or those whom we ourselves have mistreated…!)

While I can’t agree with the RCCs enough to be in formal communion with them, I do very much appreciate the part of their service right before the communion (which notably they call “the sacrament of reconciliation”) when the congregation is exhorted to “make peace” with one another. In practice this means we turn to each other and say “peace to you”. Not being serious about this would be tantamount to taking communion unworthily (of which the Hebraist had some sharp things to say in his epistle!! Which btw is why I can’t take communion with them or the EOx; it implies I agree with every one of their dogmatic points, and that would be lying. In good conscience I just couldn’t do that.)

Anyway. My point is that I can clearly see this being a foreshadowing of the final reconciliation under God, among us all. If the Beatific Vision was going to be utterly exclusive of acknowledging persons, there wouldn’t be any point to having an “ecclesia” here below. And one thing about the sacrament of communion, whether one believes in transsubstantiation literally or figuratively: we all eat and drink the body of Christ in the sense of depending on Christ for our continued existence. So this Roman Catholic ritual (which I hope is shared by other congregations, too, though not any Baptist church I’ve ever attended–can’t say I’ve ever been in another denomination when they were doing Lord’s Supper) looks to me to point toward the hope in God of universal reconciliation. Because in Him we all live and move and have our being, and He sacrifices Himself for our very existence already–typified on the cross.

Sinners and non-sinners anywhere are no different, in that regard. The only question is whether God will keep trying to lead sinners home. He always is acting for our sake already, so… :wink:


In reading Dr. Craigs response to Talbott I find that there are to possible mistakes made by Craig. Dr. Talbott names one of them in his corner as he states:


Might it be that Craig also makes another mistake. Namely he seems to say nothing about Pride, being in the very nature of the man, causes the will to act arrogantly.


I see Craig making a major mistake (fallacy) here in that he uses words very loosley. I’m being particular. But if a claim that Talbott’s question is begging is going to be made than I’m going to ask the following:

Craig seems to affirm the strong Christian Tradition that sinners are in fact not free. He then states they are in fact slaves to sin AND TO SELF.

What exactly does this mean?

The “self” is the person and therfore the self is enslaved to self? The person is enslaved to the person? This does not define anything. It’s like saying a dog is a dog, or a man is a man. The self is it’s self. But now he states the self is a slave to one’s self willingly??? This is saying the person does what he wants and thus he’s a slave to this? WHAT?

Now I realize what he means is that the self is corrupt (full of pride). But the problem is with the will and not the self? For the self is the person and not the will.

Here Dr. Craig seems to want to say man’s self is full of pride and therfore enslaves the person.

But this is the point, that the self (person) is prideful and this pride is sin (love does not boast).

He thus trys to hit the eject button or get out of the building alive by then stating:


This is begging the question of the will being enslaved (free or not). The self is free because it’s enslaved to the self? The self is always a slave to the will, thats the way its supposed to work…we do what we want whether it be good or bad.

The will is is enslaved to sin and if it is then the self shall act accordingly and that is the strong christian tradition.

It thus seems to me that Dr. Craig want’s to create two categories which drive a person, sin and self, as if the will sometimes acts because of sin and sometimes from one’s self; the self is enslaved to a sinful will and enslaved to a prideful will. Does this make any sense?



I think the “slavery” language in the scriptures, on this topic, has to do with prime loyalty and with dependence. If I’m primarily loyal to myself, and trying to pretend (or achieve) a level of independence that I can never in principle achieve, then I’m certainly engaging in the sin of pride. (Also very obviously I’m doing what Satan is trying to do.)

Still a good analysis, though. :slight_smile:


Forgive me for my babbling. I come off a bit harsh on Dr. Craig. He indeed is far smarter than I and I come off sounding as if I am certain. I would like to retract my strict stance and loosen up a bit.

I wish to say, that it appears to me that Dr. Craig is speaking in a circular manner. To me if we say a person is enslaved to sin and to self that we are speaking as if we have two problems. I reason that we have one problem, sin. So if we say a person is enslaved to self it’s as if the “self” is not a sin problem.

I see Dr. Craig creating a scape goat in as much that he creates two problems for the person. Free will is thus defended by stating “self” is the problem and therfore the person is responsible. If the ONLY enslavement of a person was sin would free will still be true?

So perhaps I need some clarification on this issue.

Is the “self” synonmous as the person? Are they one and the same? I’ve always understood “myself” to mean me the person. Or I’ve understood “yourself” to mean you the person. I’ve never known You and yourself to be two different parts of you?

I’m completely open to correction here. So if anyone sees me as being confused please don’t be shy in showing me how I am wrong.




I understand the dependence to be the result of slavery of one or the other but not the slavery itself. The question of “who Jason Pratt is dependent on?” does not answer the question of why Jason Pratt is dependent.

I understand the two categories are not exclusive of each other.

  1. slave to sin
  2. slave to self

as if the self were not infected with sin; This is where my problem lies.

I read Craig as arguing that we are indeed under the control of sin AND the control of self. But this implies the “self” is not of a sinful nature but rather that the sinful nature is controlled by both sin and self. I find his view to lead to a mess of an explnation. (much like my writing LOL).

It seems to me the self is enslaved to sin and therefore we are all arrogant and need salvation.



Ok it’s been a while but when I re-read this thread I thought perhaps I’m committing a fallacy. Perhaps I am, I’m not sure. But I’ll draw an illustration to make my point.

Suppose in early America a young negro was told that he was a slave and he had but one master. The Negro asked what the name of his master was. They answered him with his own name and stated he was his own master and he alone.

Now under normal language I believe they actually call this freedom.

So if *slave to self *is freedom then something is not right with Dr. Craigs explanation of free will, and ultimately with his defense of Dr. Talbott’s claims.


Dr. Craig stated in his response:

I cannot seem to verify his remarks here. I’ve done a bit or reading online and cannot verify that congruists believe God has congruent grace for every person he could possibly create? But with that said, I don’t believe I even understand what I have read about congruent grace. Such as provided at this link…


It seems to me that the idea of congruent grace as defined by Craig is essentially the same as “God is not a respecter of persons”… :mrgreen: