May 11th, 2013
The teaching of Scripture seems to assert that post-Genesis 3 humans possess libertarian free will, including freedom to choose between opposites on matters pertaining to salvation or any other spiritual good. This immediately raises questions surrounding the concept of original sin. Augustine first used the expression “original sin” in the wake of the Pelagian controversy. Upon arriving at Rome in A.D. 400, the British monk Pelagius was horrified to see the open immorality prevalent among so-called Christians. This was the direct result of Theodosius I nineteen years earlier (381) declaring Christianity to be the state religion so decreeing that anyone living within its borders to be Christian. This was a transformation of Christianity from a voluntary religion (one that people freely choose to join) to a natural religion (one into which people are born) spawned immense immorality in many people who bore the name of Christ without ever having personally committed their lives to Jesus. Pelagius exhorted the Romans to live worthy of their Christian calling with an argument logically summarized in two steps:
1. Humans possess libertarian free will.
2. Humans should use their libertarian freedom to be good enough people to earn their own salvation.
Unfortunately, as so often happens in the history of thought, one extreme position meets the response of an equally extreme opposing position, thus swinging the ideological pendulum from one side to the other. Very rarely is prudence taken in shifting the pendulum back to the center, where the truth is most likely to be found.
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June 8th, 2012
Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, 4.37.2-3, averred in the face of Gnostic determinism that the prophetic rebukes for spiritual evil and exhortation of spiritual good presupposed human ability to obey, as did the religious teachings of Jesus. Hence both Old and New Testaments substantiated the self-determination of humanity. By libertarian freedom I mean that our freedom is a derived freedom, humans are not completely independent or completely autonomous. In Molinism, unlike Calvinism, God is completely sovereign over the eternal destinies of a world of libertarian free creatures who have, in Augustinian terminology, “free choice” and not merely “free will.” For Augustine, “free choice” (i.e. libertarian free will) entailed the freedom to choose between opposites in both the physical and spiritual realms. Thus fallen humanity, by virtue of the imago Dei, can freely choose whether or not to respond to God’s prevenient grace. By contrast, Augustine defined “free will” (i.e. compatibilist free will) as the ability to choose without any external constraint between the options compatible with one’s nature. On this view, unregenerate humans, due to original sin, lack the ability to choose between spiritual good and evil. Just as a bad tree can bear bad fruit or no fruit at all, unregenerate humanity can either perform spiritual wickedness by actively rebelling against God or do nothing spiritual at all by displaying passivity toward God. 
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May 15th, 2012
Theology is doubly revealed and many Christians often ignore God’s natural revelation as being a valid object of interpretation. It’s all too often that many Christians reject many valid scientific theories.
“Theology is properly distinguished as natural and revealed. The former is concerned with the facts of nature so far as they reveal God and our relation to him, and the latter with the facts of Scripture.” –Charles Hodge
Theology refers to the all encompassing knowledge of God.
Theology of Nature refers to the Book of Nature as revealed in Scripture (Ps. 19.1-4; Rom. 1.20) Look at Psalm 19. When speaking of God it refers to his general name (El, Heb., continuous, abundant, universal). Some of the themes are creation’s contingency, Imago Dei, Stewardship, the fall, etc.
Natural Theology refers to the metaphysical implications of, say, intelligent design, the beginning of the universe, the moral law, beauty, etc.
“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead he set before your eyes the things that he made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” -Augustine
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May 4th, 2012
Humans possess a certain level of libertarian freedom, prima facie. The arguments supporting the free will are the evidence of human volition, moral accountability, and moral duty. In the end, there are no good reasons to believe the contrary. By libertarian freedom I mean that our freedom is a derived freedom, humans are not completely independent or completely autonomous. In Molinism, unlike Calvinism, God is completely sovereign over the eternal destinies of a world of libertarian free creatures who have, in Augustinian terminology, “free choice” and not merely “free will.” MacGregor explains that for Augustine, “free choice” (i.e. libertarian free will) entailed the freedom to choose between opposites in both the physical and spiritual realms. Thus fallen humanity, by virtue of the imago Dei, can freely choose whether or not to respond to God’s prevenient grace. By contrast, Augustine defined “free will” (i.e. compatibilist free will) as the ability to choose without any external constraint between the options compatible with one’s nature. 
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April 10th, 2012
I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is my Lord and saviour.
‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ C.S Lewis’ oft-quoted remark encapsulates much of what I will say here in rambling form.
I’m not sure how I came by faith (apart from vague notions of grace and providence) but it has been transformative. First an apology: this piece of autobiography will no doubt seem sterile compared to the other inspiring accounts I have read here however I wanted to explore Max’s request (perhaps for self-indulgent reasons): there was nothing dramatic in my conversion and I have never had anything that resembles a full-blown religious experience.
My childhood was one of rather superficial, middle of the road Anglicanism (CoE) but church was reserved for Christmas and Easter which I opted out of upon turning 16. Despite these biannual outings to church, my parents never expressed clear religious leanings and have become increasingly agnostic: once the children left home these excursions ceased. I was an unreflective atheist for much of my childhood but gradually this changed to a self-satisfied agnosticism when I began to study philosophy in a thoroughly secularised environment
Prior to my rather late ‘higher’ education I had begun to experiment with drugs and engage in promiscuous behaviour: my relativistic outlook provided the perfect justification for the self-centred life that I had chosen. The department in which I studied (and the university as a whole) was unashamedly naturalistic – theism was explored as an interesting historical curiosity that had been vanquished by David Hume and no contemporary theistic arguments were considered on the reading lists (or if they were, they were not highlighted by the lecturers as being worthy of the level of scrutiny which they perhaps deserved).
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March 7th, 2012
Absolute Eternality (Timelessness): This view is the traditional (Augustinian) view that God is absolutely timeless. His timelessness is not affected by the temporality of the universe nor his interactions with it. In the metaphysics of absolute eternality, God experiences all of his life and being in one eternal now.
Relative Eternality (Timelessness): The relative eternality position acknowledges that God transcends time, which is a created thing and dependent upon God, but denies that he is absolutely atemporal because it sees God as actively sustaining a changing world in existence. The relative eternalist therefore maintains that God is timeless relative to physical time but temporal relative to an uncreated metaphysical time that transcends the universe and is a pure duration that flows without change. God’s being is ontologically prior to this temporal aspect of his life and serves as the ground of it.
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