Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CWG (Chapter 18)

Chapter 18: A Question of Divine Culpability

In this chapter Boyd wishes to respond to 4 anticipated rejections to his principal of redemptive withdrawal.

The first objection suggests that withdrawal is not enough to secure an outcome. In other words, if God wants to accomplish at outcome (like judge one nation via another nation) it is necessary that God meticulously controls the details (micro-manages the attacking nation). Boyd rebuts this supposed necessity. It doesn't align with the character of God (since God would be the one doing the violence). What's more, it isn't even necessary since God can essentially secure outcomes by recognizing what Boyd calls the 'solidified character' of certain agents. Besides, it is clear that these agents, in Scripture, are not meticulously controlled (for they sometimes over or under perform compared to God's intention).

The second and third objections are philosophical in nature. Isn't withdrawing protection akin to unleashing a rabid pit bull? Boyd thinks the analogy is flawed insofar as 1) Those being judged WANTED God to withdraw 2) Are not innocent bystanders 3) God withdraws out of love and grieves the results. But isn't God being involved at any level a denial of genuine freedom? Again, Boyd rebuts by reminding us that freedom doesn't (in fact, cannot) mean that freedom is absolute in every sense. Other factors (and other agents, including God) affect the choices available to us and the consequences of our choices.

The fourth objection is that this view lends itself to the idea that every time something bad happens it is the result of God's decision to withdraw from a person or a people (like 9/11... or the Holocaust). But Boyd says we may only speak confidently when we've received revelation from God. Many agents (like the Nazi's) go against God's will. Bottom line: One simply cannot know (given the number of factors) why bad things happen unless we are given direct revelation.

The objections mentioned in this chapter were well-anticipated (some of them were forming in me as I read the previous pages). Boyd responds to them well (I found his rebuttals satisfying). Surely his answers won't be satisfying to those who believe in meticulous sovereignty (though it should make them re-think their position). And sometimes Boyd seems to try to have his cake and eat it too (some agents are solidified in their character, but also under or over perform vs. God's expectations?). Additionally, I'm not sure on what grounds Boyd would find it 'dubious' to believe that God STILL (to this day) sometimes withdraws protection from a given nation (maybe because God no longer is working through a particular nation?). But, overall, I think Boyd has defended his position well from possible objections.

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