Q&A: (Follow Up On) Molinism, God’s Love, and Those That Will Never Be Saved

Q&A: (Follow Up On) Molinism, God’s Love, and Those That Will Never Be Saved

(For the sake of anyone who reads this I am quoting a previous article: https://cerebralfaith.net/qa-molinism-gods-love-and-those-that-will-never-be-saved/).

“It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you, Sam. It’s good to talk to you again.” Yeah sorry about that. I have been somewhat busy both with everyday life and more recently with studying Islam. I enjoy our discussions as well.

Lets jump right into it. The first counter argument you made was that it is impossible to seek the wellbeing of those that don’t and never will exist. This may be somewhat subjective, but the way I see it is that if I refuse to create someone because of concern for how much their life will suck, then that is seeking their wellbeing. If it is better for them to never be born then their non-being is their wellbeing, thus seeking their non-being is seeking their wellbeing if that makes sense. Many anti-natalists for example are seeking what they believe is the wellbeing of all children, since they believe that non-being is closer to wellbeing then existing in this world. If their existence would be a curse, then stopping someone from existing is seeking what is best for them. For most people, non-being is wellbeing- if Christianity (and this also applies to Islam) is true.

The second one is that if you create someone whose life will be worse then their non-existence and you try to (futilely) prevent them from going down that route then you are still seeking their wellbeing. I disagree strongly with this and think this can be demonstrated. As I put in parenthesis, on Molinism Jesus’s dying on the Cross is futile in terms of saving the non-believers and God knows it to be so. Any offer of salvation was not done with the INTENT to save them. Since he knows they were going to reject it, that couldn’t have been the goal. He may wish he could save them, but it wouldn’t be the goal. At best one could say that Jesus died to provide the non-Christians a path to salvation. (A path that will by the way only increase their guilt for rejecting the path to salvation. (John 3:18)).

To address your example, you write:
“Suppose also that I know that this son of mine who will die as a drug addict has a twin brother who would be born at the same time as him, and as a result of seeing the self-destructive tendencies of his brother, the twin DOES go on the straight and narrow path. Unlike his brother Bob who suffered and died from drug addiction, the twin, Sam, has a good and happy life, becomes a successful doctor and discovers the cure for cancer. Ultimately, if I sire Bob and Sam, even though Bob meets and unfortunate end, many others prosper…

Now, I understand that you said that your objection here isn’t that siring Bob isn’t ultimately justified, it’s whether or not I was seeking the well-being of Bob or just simply using him as a means to an end. Well, did I not do everything I could do to turn him from his self-destructive ways? I showed him before/after pictures of meth heads, showed him documentaries of the horrors of drug use, I counseled him, and, when he did get addicted, I even pleaded with him to go to rehab. I did everything in my power to turn him from his fate except violate his free will.”

If you in this thought experiment have middle knowledge of what will happen then you know that your efforts “to turn him from his fate” are futile. You know that it won’t save him and will actually make the situation worse for Bob. Your intent may be in some sense to show that you care about him, but I fail to see how you could actually have the intent to save him when you know all of your “efforts” are going to be futile.

Moreover, from a conditionalist/annihilationist point of view (which I now hold), it seems to me that what God does is more loving to the ultimately damned than never creating them at all. Now, I would not say this if I still held to ECT, but for God to bring people into existence and give them several decades and a plethora of chances and opportunities to come into a personal relationship with Himself is more loving than never creating them at all and never giving them even one chance. Granted, they will eventually be destroyed, but when you think about it, they aren’t going to be any worse off than they were prior to God’s decision to create them. True, they will suffer a period of torment for a finite amount of time (how long they suffer depends on how serious their earthly crimes were), but they’ll be annihilated, and they won’t feel a thing anymore (Psalm 37:2, Isaiah 66:24, Matthew 3:12). They have non-existence book-ended with pleas to enter eternal bliss in between. As Shakespeare said “Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”. I think we can say “Better to have been offered a chance to have a relationship with God and lose it forever than to never have had the chance at all”. So, contrary to what you’ve said, I do think conditionalism helps here.”

Remember on Molinism all of those pleas are futile and known to be so. They will not achieve the purpose of getting them saved, and were never even intended for that purpose. They may be necessary in order to achieve that best feasible world God could get via chaos theory, but they weren’t for the sake of the non-Christian. For the objection about giving them chances, the chances are not good for them!! They would be far better of never existing and never experiencing all of the temporary torments in the afterlife before being annihilated again. I think this is a crucial question here: would God actualize a possible world with only the damned existing? Would he do that on order to love them by giving: “them several decades and a plethora of chances and opportunities to come into a personal relationship with Himself” when they never will? Isn’t the reason God is creating them in the first place, for the sake of the believers?

I definitely don’t agree that it is: “Better to have been offered a chance to have a relationship with God and lose it forever than to never have had the chance at all.” If you rejected Christ, and were going to be annihilated would you not regret it in the meantime? You would have all kinds of self loathing and would quite possibly wish you were never born or at least were never offered that opportunity so you wouldn’t have that guilt and shame. You yourself have argued (I believe) that one of the reasons God may actualize a world where many people don’t hear the Gospel is to prevent them from having more culpability. That sounds reasonable to me. So it would certainly be seeking their wellbeing to not expose them to the Gospel. And it would be better for them if Jesus never died ‘for their sins’ as they wouldn’t be as guilty. You may argue that it would be unfair to not have Jesus die because of the “why should those who choose to be unsaved have veto power’ objection but the point remains Jesus dying was a misfortune for the non-Christian.

Perhaps it is true that you think that: “the atonement is limited in one sense, but it is not unlimited in another. It is limited in its application, but unlimited in its provision. Calvinists believe that the atonement is limited in both areas.” However saying that Jesus died for everyone is misleading, since on Molinism Jesus never died with the intent or goal of saving everyone. He died so that everyone may have a path to salvation-and he only intended it to be applied to a few. (Matthew 7:13-14). He may have wished the others would take the path, but he never intended it and it wasn’t his goal. When a person says that they did something FOR purpose X, they mean that they have a goal or intent to achieve that purpose. On Molinism that isn’t true. If I say that a person died for everyone, in common speech, I don’t mean that they died to provide everyone an opportunity to escape when they knew beforehand that many of the individuals in question would not be saved. Especially when that opportunity will only harm them when not taken.

Practically speaking it doesn’t seem to matter if the atonement is limited in the Calvinist sense or not. An Open Theist can easily believe that Jesus intended for each individual who hears the Gospel to come to repentance, (as the Open Theist God doesn’t know who won’t be saved and he knows that each individual might be saved and thus the pleas are sincere and are seeking their wellbeing), a Molinist cannot consistently believe that, and I am not sure which category simple foreknowledge Arminianism falls into. All or most of those verses you quoted as saying that Jesus died for the sins of everyone, destroy Molinism alongside Calvinism. On Molinism all you can say is: “For God so loved the elect that he gave his only son that the elect shall not perish but have everlasting life.” And you could also add that he also sacrificed the non-elect and made them more culpable in the process.

– Sam

Don’t worry about the late response. I’d have been too busy to respond anyway. In fact,  you may have seen the Facebook post I left promising to get to this soon. Since recently becoming an annihilationist, I’ve been working hard on a new book on Hell that reflects my updated views. That’s taken up a good chunk of my time as well as trying to get caught up on the Podcasts I listen to.

Since you’re studying Islam, I would recommend the late Nabeel Qureshi’s book No God But One: Allah or Jesus and his first book Seeking Allah: Finding Jesus

I will now respond to your counterarguments.

Non-Being As Wellbeing 

I still don’t think your first argument is coherent. Since wellbeing is a state of being, no one who has non-being can have wellbeing. Indeed, there is no such thing as a person who has non-being as a state. If any person were in any state at all, they would exist, and ergo not be a non-being. It would be analagous to saying that Jesus Christ is looking out for his physical health by choosing not to assume a human nature. You can’t have an unhealthy body if you don’t have a body at all, so by choosing not to become a physical creature, Jesus is in better physical health than if He became a physical creature. But obviously, being a purely immaterial being consisting of only a divine nature, Jesus obviously would not have any status of physical health at all. Precisely by not being physical, Jesus would neither be physically healthy nor physically unhealthy. So, it would be incoherent to say that Jesus is seeking bodily health by choosing not to have a body. Likewise, it’s incoherent to say you’re seeking someone’s wellbeing by seeking their nonbeing. The only way this might be coherent is in cases where a person or animal is in unremitting pain and they are euthenized to put them out of their misery. This is what quality-of-life philosophers argue should be done in cases where a person’s quality of life is so low, we should end it for them. Whether such a philosophy is morally tenable (or biblical) is another issue though. However, someone who has never and will never exist, there is no being to whom non-being can be sought as better state of affairs. 

Because God Knew The Non-Elect Would Reject Him, Jesus Couldn’t Have Intended To Save Them 

You wrote \\”…on Molinism Jesus’s dying on the Cross is futile in terms of saving the non-believers and God knows it to be so. Any offer of salvation was not done with the INTENT to save them. Since he knows they were going to reject it, that couldn’t have been the goal. He may wish he could save them, but it wouldn’t be the goal. At best one could say that Jesus died to provide the non-Christians a path to salvation.“\\ — 
 
I suppose it depends on how you define the word “Intent”. I define the “intent” of the atonement to be an assignment of purpose to something. It’s something I want to happen and so I design something to bring about that certain outcome whether or not that outcome will come about or not. I intend for our discussions to hopefully persuade you of the plausibility and reasonableness of Christianity so you’ll commit your life to Christ and have the eternal life He offers. Whether or not you ever do, I don’t know. But I’m hoping The Holy Spirit uses these conversations to bring you to Himself. I intend to “demolish arguments and pretension that sets itself up against [your] knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The cross of Christ was designated the purpose of saving all of mankind. Every man has the blood of atonement accessible to him if only he will avail himself of it. It is not God’s “intent” that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). 1 Timothy 2:4 says that Godwants [read intent] all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” which is why 1 Timothy 2:6 says “Jesus…gave Himself as a ransom for all people.” It is why Christ draws all men unto Himself (John 12:32). Christ purposed to die for the sins of every human being, the saved and the unsaved. This is why the apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 2:1 says that the false teachers who introduced heresies among his readers “denied the sovereign Lord who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselvesJesus “bought them”, and as I point out in my blog post “Let The Wiggling Commence: A Response To Kevin Courter” bought language is always used in The New Testament to refer to Jesus’ atoning death, meaning that Jesus died even for the false teachers who would end up being destroyed! 2 Peter 2:1 makes it untenable to say that Jesus died for the non-elect since false teachers who bring destruction upon themselves cannot, in any sense, be considered elect. And since He knows that no one can come to the father unless drawn (John 6:44, John 6:65), He draws them (John 12:32). Of course, this can be resisted as Acts 7:51 indicates. 
 
Also, I do not believe, like some theologians do, that rejecting the path to salvation magnifies ones’ guilt. Nowhere does The Bible say that, except with regards to those who were Christians but apostatized (i.e 2 Peter 2:20-22). The verse you referenced, John 3:18, says no such thing. It says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in God’s one and only son”. Well, of course they’ll be condemned! You can’t be cured of your disease if you don’t take the medicine. You can’t be cleansed of your sin if you don’t place saving faith in Christ. John 3:18 doesn’t say anything about added condemnation. It just says belief leads to eternal life, unbelief leads to condemnation. This would be true of everyone if Christ hadn’t come, for then there would be no one to believe upon! But thanks be to God that He loved us so much that He took on humans flesh and died the death penalty in our place (John 1:14, 1 John 2:2). I do pray that some day you will receive this glorious gift. 
 
The cross was created for the purpose of saving every man regardless of whether that purpose is achieved. 
 
I think it’s important that we understand the two wills of God. Phillip Mast of Theist Thug Life wrote a blog post on Free Thinking Ministries’ Website called “How God Shows No Partiality In Salvation”. Phillip Mast explained God’s two wills as follows: 
 

Theologians have taken substantial interest in the issue of God’s will over the ages to the point that most consider that God’s will is not simple but complex or it is instead simple but fragmented. For the most part there have been approximately four views posited on the issue of God’s will. The view I adhere to is called the “Antecedent/Consequent wills” paradigm and I think resolves the issue well.

Historically the Church has generally had a consensus concerning this paradigm view of God’s two wills. This consensus was attained through a series of church councils such as Ephesus (431), Arles (475), Orange (529), and Quiersy (853). The exception to this consensus though is the Calvinistic tradition, which rejects the antecedent/consequent wills paradigm in favor of a hidden/revealed wills paradigm. With the hidden/revealed wills paradigm there are an assortment of issues that make it more than less than favorable. Simply put on the hidden/revealed wills paradigm those who are lost aren’t saved because God doesn’t want them to be saved. When we know scripturally that God genuinely desires that all repent and be saved then it refutes a position that turns around and claims the opposite about God for the sake of a view.

In antecedent/consequent wills paradigm the “antecedent” part is meant as God’s will before taking into consideration anything in man. By the “consequent” part it is meant as God’s will after an action of man that God takes into consideration. While the antecedent will is in a sense very similar to God willing absolutely his consequent will could be called “conditioned.” This ‘conditioned’ is not based on some variable in God, but in the sense that it depends on a condition in man. Antecedently God loved the world and gave his son so consequently that any who believes would not perish but live. 

……. Thomas Oden lays out several characteristics of both the antecedent and consequent parts in his book “The Transforming Power of Grace”. On the antecedent will Oden describes four characteristics: 1.) It is universal. 2.) It is impartial. 3.) It is sincere and 4.) It is an ordinate will. In this it is impartial because God desires ALL to be saved. In this it is universal because grace is offered to ALL. In this it is sincere because grace is provided for ALL. It is inordinate because grace is provided prior to anyone’s accepting or rejecting of it. 1

So, does God “intend” to save the non-elect? Perhaps the answer is both yes and no. Yes, antecedently. No, consequently. Antecedently, God intends that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Consequently, God intends that no one be saved except through freely chosen repentance and through the blood of the cross. God intends that all who are outside of Christ perish. 

You wrote \\“Remember on Molinism all of those pleas are futile and known to be so. ….They may be necessary in order to achieve that best feasible world God could get via chaos theory, but they weren’t for the sake of the non-Christian. For the objection about giving them chances, the chances are not good for them!!\\” — On the contrary, all of those chances made eternal life available to them. They choose not to receive it. Is that God’s fault? How can God be blamed for the free choices of His creatures? They are the ones who resist His Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) and who spurn His love until the day they die. Because Jesus died for them and The Holy Spirit extended Prevenient Grace, damnation was not inevitable. They had numerous chances to respond but chose not to. One of the issues I have every time the “Why would God create those He knew would never believe” argument comes up is that the objector consistently places all or even most of the blame on God. “God shouldn’t have created them since He knew the bad choices they would make”. Well, people shouldn’t make bad choices! Especially this choice of eternal significance. The pleas of God, the death of Jesus, the Prevenient Grace constantly poured out to the impenetant are good for them because it means their choice of destiny is truly up to them. Eternal life is available if they would just receive it.

Ezekiel 18 is a relevant passage to this topic.

“If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of The Lord is not just’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” – Ezekiel 18:26-32

In this passage, the people of Israel have accused God of being unjust. God defends Himself by telling the people of Israel that He will only destroy them if they do not repent from their sins, but if they do repent, He will forgive them. God tells Israel that He gets pleasure out of seeing people turn to Him in repentance rather than seeing the wicked perish in their sinfulness. God defends Himself against charges of unfairness in these passages, saying essentially “It isn’t I that’s unjust. You’re the ones that are unjust. If you don’t want to be destroyed, just repent!” If a person sins, they will be justly judged by God. However, if they turn away from their sin, God will forgive them and they will not fall under judgment. That seems fair to me. If you don’t want to be destroyed, repent. If you don’t repent, you have no right to complain when you’re destroyed. 

Better To Have Never Been Born?

You wrote \\“They would be far better of never existing and never experiencing all of the temporary torments in the afterlife before being annihilated again.”\\ —

I’m afraid I just don’t see how one is worse off having temporary existence than never having existence at all. The damned are no worse off post-annihilation than they were before their conception. I’ve had atheists tell me that they don’t fear non-existence because “It didn’t bother me that much before”. Of course, on annihilationism, one would have retributive suffering to dread, but as horrible as that would be, they’ll be dead infinitely longer. Any suffering they do receive in Hell will be a microscopic blip on the timeline of eternity. And, if you’ve read my previous book on Hell, you’ll know that The Bible teaches that there are varying degrees of punishment. Christopher Hitchens would suffer a billion times less intensely and not as long as someone like Adolf Hilter. Hitchens was a much better person than Hitler by leaps and bounds!

You ask “If you rejected Christ, and were going to be annihilated, would you not regret it in the meantime?” Of course! But who would I have to blame? God? How could I blame God? Jesus died on the cross for me and The Holy Spirit tugged on my heart for decades! I heard the gospel preached countless times. I asked for evidence for Christianity and encountered it in the writings of Lee Strobel and William Lane Craig. Missionaries repeatedly came to my door. I turned God down every time. If I rejected Christ and were going to be annihilated, I might shake my fist at God as I have no doubt many will on judgment day, but if I were honest with myself, I would have no one to blame but myself.

You wrote \\“You yourself have argued (I believe) that one of the reasons God may actualize a world where many people don’t hear the Gospel is to prevent them from having more culpability.”\\ — I have never made that argument. Instead, I argued that it may possibly be the case that if someone would receive the gospel if they were presented with it, then God would providentially organize the world so that this person does in fact, here it. Maybe He does this and maybe He doesn’t. But in either case, the unevangelized can be saved in light of their response to the revelation they do have in nature (Romans 1:20) and conscience (Romans 2:14-15). Those who are lost in unevangelized areas may very well, for all we know, not have responded to the gospel even if they had heard it preached.

Would God Actualize A World With Only The Damned Existing?

No. Simply because that kind of world wouldn’t be the best feasible world. God would prefer to actualize a world in which many are saved than none are saved. The question is whether He can do this without also actualizing a world in which some damned exist alongside the saved. If God’s only choices consist of worlds where no one is saved VS. worlds where many are saved, given that He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), naturally, He would choose to actualize the latter over the former. And He would actualize a world in which all are saved if such a possible world were actualizable. 

Also, this is where my question (which was actually a quotation from William Lane Craig)2 comes into play. If it is the case that God cannot actualize a world where saved individuals exist without also actualizing a world in which lost individuals exist, then the latter shouldn’t “have a veto power” over God and compel Him to actualize no world at all, or a world where everyone is causally determined to do His will (which would be a world without true love since true love requires libertarian free will). Why should I be prevented from enjoying eternity with God just because my non-Christian friend refuses to?

Conclusion 

I don’t think that Molinism suffers from unsavory entailments. In the worst case scenareo, I think at MOST, you could argue that God never intended for the lost to be saved, but did intend for the lost to have the opportunity to be saved, which, let’s be honest, is 10 times better than what the Calvinist preaches. But I don’t even think that argument goes through once you understand God’s antecedent and consequent wills. Ultimately, the damned are damned because they spurn the grace of God. God made every effort to save them with the exception of forcing them into Heaven, and they have no one to blame but themselves. God wishes that all people would be saved. He longs to gather people to Him as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but unfortunately, some are not willing (Matthew 23:37). 

 

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NOTES

1: “How God Shows No Partiality In Relation to Salvation” By Phillip A. Mast | August 15, 2017 — https://freethinkingministries.com/how-god-shows-no-partiality-in-relation-to-salvation/ 

2: William Lane Craig has said this several times in his discussion on God’s creation of those who are never saved. Once, in one of the segments of the On Guard: DVD Companion, and also, I think, in chapter 10 of Craig’s book On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision. 

If you have any questions about Christian theology or apologetics, send Mr. Minton an E-mail at CerebralFaith@Gmail.com. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or Non-Christian, whether your question is about doubts you’re having or about something you read in The Bible that confused you. Send your question in, whatever it may be, and Mr. Minton will respond in a blog post just like this one.

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Sam

    1. I generally think that the debate over whether or not non being is well being is irrelevant. You are right I concede it. However you are still trying to prevent the person’s suffering which is still agape.

    2. I will offer a two part defense of my argument about intentions.

    -The example you gave me isn’t anologus. If you knew that your discussions with me would not lead to my conversion how could it be the goal of the conversation? The reason for the conversation could be to demonstrate that “I tried.” Or to give me an opportunity to change my mind, even though I will never take it or something along my lives.

    -Are you saying that people don’t gain more guilt for rejecting God more? What about those passages where Jesus said that it would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah then for the town’s that heard his preaching but didn’t listen?

    -We are not discussing who is responsible here, or the veto power issue. If you want to debate that, we can do that another time.

    -The problem with your distinction between antecedent and consequent will is that there was no “before.” God is supposed to have always been omniscient and this would include him knowing which world’s he will freely choose to actualize before he does so.

    So he never at any point could have intended to save those who will be doomed. It isn’t like a God who knows literally everything could survey a bunch of options. He already knows all of the choices he has available without having to think about it and knows which one he will freely choose to make. As my argument goes you can’t intend to do something you know won’t happen. Wanting and intending are to different things.

    3. If the temporary existence ultimately sucks horrendously it would be better to have never existed. Sure some of the damned will earn a worse temporary existence then others, but that doesn’t mean that any of their existences are good for them. (Once again remember that responsibility is not the issue.)

    4. You misunderstood what the point was trying to say. If the best possible world was one where everyone ended up choosing to be unsaved, would God really think that giving them opportunities to have a relationship with him would that be worth it? It is in response to the idea that giving them opportunities to take is still being loving.

    In many ways Molinism is better than Calvinism. God isn’t punishing people for necessary acts they couldn’t help and he is doing the best he could under the circumstances he is in. However, even if no one aqquired additional guilt for rejecting Christ, people would still feel more guilt then if God never gave them preinveint grace so it certainly harms them. So it would be more loving for God to have non-Christians not have the free will to choose salvation.

    1. Evan Minton

      1. Ok.
      2. The purpose of my conversation with you is to get you to change your mind. If I knew it would do no good, I would still do it because I care about you and couldn’t leave this world without knowing I did everything I could to bring you to Heaven with me.

      \\”Are you saying that people don’t gain more guilt for rejecting God more? What about those passages where Jesus said that it would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah then for the town’s that heard his preaching but didn’t listen?”\\ — Does Jesus really say that the reason Sodom and Gomorrah are better off is because He didn’t preach to them? I suppose one could interpret it as being implied, but I have heard interpreters say that Jesus was highlighting the depravity of Chorizen and Bethsaida by saying “Look, I performed miracles before you and you didn’t repent! But even Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t THAT hard hearted. If I had come to them they would have repented. Since they’re not as bad as you, they’ll be better off as you.”

      You wrote \\”The problem with your distinction between antecedent and consequent will is that there was no “before.” God is supposed to have always been omniscient and this would include him knowing which world’s he will freely choose to actualize before he does so.”\\ — The issue isn’t what God knows and when God knows it. It isn’t even an issue of temporal VS. logical priority. This is an issue of God’s WILL; what God desires or intends to occur. Antecedently, God wills all to be saved and for the cross to atone for the sins of all. Consequently, God wills that those who don’t come to the cross pay the penalty themselves. This is how we can understand how, in spite of God’s all encompassing sovereignty, one can be “outside the will of God”. Technically speaking, when a preacher says that, they are referring to being outside of the antecedent will of God (even if they haven’t philosphically categorized God’s wills in that way). The takeaway point is that there being no TEMPORAL before-and-after in the will of God misses the point.

      You wrote \\”It isn’t like a God who knows literally everything could survey a bunch of options. He already knows all of the choices he has available without having to think about it and knows which one he will freely choose to make.”\\ — I agree. But this only entails that God always knew which feasible world was the best one available to Him that He ought to actualize. He still knew all available options and had the freedom to pick which one to actualize. But, being perfectly omniscient, He also knew (and always knew) which of the various feasible worlds would achieve His intended goals. Were there a feasible world where no one freely chose to do evil or freely rejected His gift of salvation, I believe He would have actualized that world.

      3. What would follow if I conceded the point that it would be better for the damned if they had never been born? Would it follow that God is somehow unloving or unjust? How could that be? Jesus died on the cross for them, gave them prevenient grace, and countless chances to get saved. The condemned had various opportunities over the course of decades to respond positively to the gospel and yet spurned the love of God at every turn. Ultimately, God sends them to Hell to be destroyed (which is what they deserve for what they freely chose to do in life). The blame rests entirely on the condemned. Also, given the truth of annihilationism, they won’t suffer eternal conscious torment. They’ll be annihilated, and thus be non-existent infinitely longer than they’ll be existent. So any suffering they experience will be a mere blip on the timeline of eternity. Even if it is better that they’d never been born, it would only be better by an infinitesimally small margin.

      4. “If the best possible world was one where everyone ended up choosing to be unsaved” then God would choose not to create any persons, not because creating the unsaved would be unloving (giving them every chance to spend eternity with Him would be certainly be loving), but because there would be no feasible world in which God’s intentions are accomplished. Since God created angels and humans for the purpose of being in a true love relationship with Him, if that could be accomplished because, in every feasible world, everyone would reject Him, then actualizing any of those worlds would be pointless. By contrast, in the actual world, while many end up spurning God, many end up embracing him as well. Thus, in the end, Heaven will be filled with humans and angels singing His praises.

  2. Sam

    2. Then the purpose would be as I said to show that you didn’t try, not to seek my well being if it is futile.

    Ok, in the passage Jesus is condemning their refusal to repent. He is saying that the reason Sodom will be better off is because they would have repented. It is reasonable to then think that he was saying that they are depraved for rejecting him despite the evidence and that depraved refusal will send them to Hell. It seems implied by the text.

    So are you saying that God intends to save everyone in theory, but in practice intends to save only some and have the rest pay themselves? I don’t think I get it, can you explain it more!

    3. What follows is that God wasn’t seeking their well being by creating them.

    4. Ok.

  3. Sam

    4. I would like to add something: Giving someone multiple opportunities that will do them no good isn’t seeking their well being. It is expressing your feelings which is at best harmless (not seeking their well being) and at worst harmful. (Opposite of seeking their well being.

  4. Evan Minton

    2. \\”He is saying that the reason Sodom will be better off is that they would have repented. It is reasonable to then think that he was saying that they are depraved for rejecting him despite the evidence and that depraved refusal will send them to Hell. It seems implied by the text.”\\ — Of course. But they would have gone to Hell anyway if Jesus hadn’t preached to them. The issue is whether Chorizen and Bethsaida accrued more guilt having heard the gospel and rejected it. I think that’s a possible interpretation of the text, but it’s far from clear. Sodom would have repented if Jesus had preached to them, I think this is true. Calvinists and Open Theists try to explain this verse away as being a clear case of counterfactual knowledge on Jesus’ part, saying Jesus was just using hyperbole but I see no reason to take that route unless one is already pre-committed to God not having middle knowledge. I do think it is correct to interpret Jesus as saying Sodom would have repented if Jesus had become incarnate and did there what He did in Chorizen. They’ll be “better off”. I also think this is literally true, and not mere hyperbole. But WHY will they be better off? Is it because Chorizen accumulated more guilt by rejecting the gospel to the guilt they already had? Or is it because their spiritual deadness, their unresponsiveness, was worse than that of Sodom’s.

    I don’t think we can decisively answer this question from Jesus’ words here.

    3. In his Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas defined philosophically how God loves us, and it is this definition that I have been assuming throughout the course of this discussion. Aquinas wrote “to love a thing is to will it good” Perhaps semantics is tangling up the discussion and we need to drop words like “Intent” and “seek”. For God to will something’s good (synonym – wellbeing) is for God to (A) desire it, and (B) to take steps towards achieving that wellbeing. God certainly does A. 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 are clear that God’s desire is for universal salvation. At the cross, Jesus died for the whole of humanity (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:6). God extends grace to enable and persuade all to come to repentance (John 12:32). At the cross and in the act of extending grace, God clearly is taking steps towards acheiving the good of sinners. Unfortunately, because of free will, people can resist His efforts and end up lost. Now, since God knows in advance that people will reject Him, you argue that this negates the possibility that God had “intent” to save them. But again, I think semantics may be tripping the conversation up. What do you mean by “intent”? If the intent is to be used as a synonym for desire and motivation (the way I’ve been using it), then God certainly provides the aforementioned means of grace with the intent of all people benefitting them. God wants all to be saved! It is how we use the word when we say something like “I never intended for anyone to get hurt.” On the other hand, if “intent” is being used with a more hard, teleological usage (as you seem to be using it), then I guess it wasn’t God’s “intent” by that definition to save all people. God intended to actualize the world that He did, knowing that some would freely repent and others freely would not. He elected some to salvation and others to damnation, and those He elected will definitely come to salvation. It was God’s intent that the world He actualized come to pass as He, in His middle knowledge, knew it would if He actualized it.

    Now, with those who end up dying in the fires of Hell, your argument seems to be that God would be more loving if He never created them since it would be better for them to never exist at all then to suffer for a finite time and then go out of existence. But again, I think this argument only would have force if the eternal torment view of Hell were true. Conceding annihilationism takes all the wind out of this argument’s sails, IMO. Since the condemned have non-existence bookended, the time they do spend suffering in Hell will be but an infinitesimal blip on the timeline of eternity. God made all the necessary steps to save them with the exception of taking away their free will (desiring and taking steps toward their wellbeing per the definition above) and they freely rejected Him at every turn, hence they only have themselves to blame.

    Even if the condemned would be better off if they never existed in the first place, given how infinitely longer they’ll NOT exist, the amount of time they WILL exist in suffering (even if you take into account this life, in Hades, and Gehenna combined) will be microscopic in comparison. So even if they condemned would be better off, it would be by an infinitesimally small margin. And overall, this infinitesimally small amount of suffering existence is worth it if billions of souls are saved and have an infinite amount of time in Heaven to enjoy the presence of God and each other. Now, this isn’t to say that God created the damned as a means to an end, as you said in one of your previous comments, but if is true as I contend that God cannot actualize a world of libertarian free creatures without some freely being condemned and others being saved, such a world is an overall good world. The redeemed will experience joy forever with God. The condemned will experience nothing forever, having been obliterated. The joy of the saved infinitely counterbalances the misery of the condemned. So, when everything is taken into account, God’s love doesn’t seem to me at all threatened on a Molinistic view. As long as the damned aren’t eternally tormented and as long as God makes every effort to save them, AND so long as many DO enjoy God forever, this is the best feasible world a perfectly loving God and a perfectly just God could actualize.

  5. Sam

    Ok. I guess that could be true.

    By intent, I mean the goal an action (or deliberate thought) was intended to achieve. The word intent in an example such as “I never intended anyone to get hurt” clearly utilizes a more goal related definition. I could say that I never really wanted anyone to get hurt, but I intended to hurt them to achieve my goal. On the other hand I could say that it wasn’t my goal to hurt anyone and that is essentially the same meaning. This shows a difference between the two words.

    God taking steps TO achieve someone’s well being involves intent. (The word “TO.”) This is a better definition, since it makes the issue more clear. By dying on the cross Jesus could be dying to provide a path to (eternal) well being for the non Christians, but not for their well being since he knows it will be useless for actually getting their well being accomplished.

    So the reason God actualized this world was to save the people he foreknew would come to him correct? He was not working to fulfill his desire to save every individual within it. That is what I am arguing. Thus God only trying to save the elect, correct? Jesus died only with the goal of saving the elect right? Not everyone.

    God’s goodness isn’t threatened by the Molinist view. The idea that he wills the well-being of every individual, including the unsaved, by having Jesus die is threatened. I don’t deny that the Molinist God is good or acting in the most moral way possible, just that he is willing the well-being of every individual. By creating the non Christians, he is willing against their well being for the sake of the well-being of others. Yes, it may be drastically worth it, but my contention remains.

  6. Evan Minton

    God wills the good of the unsaved by both desiring their salvation and providing every means to make it happen with the exception of overriding free will. Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps God doesn’t “intend” to save the non-elect. But God certainly wishes they would be saved and He provides sufficient grace for people to come to Him. To me, this is all God needs to do to be considered loving toward the non-elect. At least He is antecedently willing it.

    If God did not love the non-elect, He would neither die for them not give them preventing grace.

  7. Sam

    As per your definition, love requires that a person wills the well-being of another. You have stated that this requires that you A. Desire their well being, And: B. Take steps to achieve it. You have satisfied requirement A. You have not satisfied requirement B. Unless you want to change it to taking steps to make it possible for the person to achieve their well being (even if you know it will do them literally no good.) And creating them in the first place was far from agape by any definition.

    1. Evan Minton

      So dying on the cross and sending them grace, preachers, and apologists for decades doesn’t qualify for B?

  8. Sam

    No since the steps were not done to fulfill the goal. Those activities we’re known to be futile and we’re known to be unsuccessful before they were started.

  9. Evan Minton

    Let’s say you’re sick and are terminally ill. Let’s say I have a potion that will cure you of your illness. By your reasoning, if you’re sick and I leave a cure-all potion on your doorstep, I’m not being loving towards you because I had foreknowledge that you wouldn’t drink it? Sure I knew you wouldn’t take it, but I still made it available to you. If you die of whatever illness you have, you have only yourself to blame. I did all I could apart from tying you down and forcing the potion into you via a funnel (i.e overriding your free will). I willed your good. I desired you to get better. That’s WHY I gave you the means to get better.

  10. Sam

    Never mind you’re right.

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