A Shot of Faith (to the Head)

The Gospel Coalition invited me to write a short review of Mitch Stokes’s book A Shot of Faith (to the Head). It isn’t exactly “Alvin Plantinga’s Apologetics for Dummies” (as another blogger put it) but it’s pretty close — and in a good way!

5 thoughts on “A Shot of Faith (to the Head)”

  1. Nice review, Dr. Anderson. Wish I had read this book before writing my paper on Plantinga’s FWD!

  2. James,
    Curious. How would a Calvinist go about qualifying the implied libertarian view of the FWD without destroying it?

    1. Good question. I didn’t mean to imply that a Calvinist could (let alone should) endorse the FWD with qualification. My point was simply that it’s surprising to find a Calvinist endorsing the FWD without any attempt to qualify it, without any hint that it draws on assumptions that are prima facie at odds with the Calvinist view of divine aseity and divine providence.

      I suppose Stokes could have said something like this: “The question at hand is whether the existence of evil is logically compatible with theism, and theism as such doesn’t select for any particular view of human free will. So the FWD successfully shows that there is no logical problem of evil for theism. Whether there’s a logical problem of evil for Calvinism is another question; important, to be sure, but not the question at hand.”

      I wouldn’t find that very satisfying, but it’s an example of the sort of qualification that would need to be made.

      1. I’m not sure if the criticism itself against the FWD is legitimate. I came up with a qualification (or explanation) that is something of a theodicy. Both for God and for Alvin Plantinga. Yes, I am a very bored individual.

        “What you have just read is known as the free will defense for the problem of evil. This defense set forth by Alvin Plantinga has been criticized for endorsing a libertarian, incompatibilist view of free will—a view rejected by Reformed theology. The incompatibilist believes that free will and determinism are incompatible: free will is true and determinism is false. This would clearly limit God’s ability to purpose an outcome. His ability (sovereignty) would be limited by the free choices of man.

        However, this criticism appears unwarranted when you consider the must-fail necessity of the only possible world. When God designated a time of testing for Adam, it was ‘determined’ that he fail. No other outcome was possible—the perfect situation was presented—Adam could do no other. Therefore, this defense does not limit God’s ability to purpose an outcome. God is still sovereign regardless of the problem that appears to present itself within the pre-fall conditions.

        Objections to the contrary of this must-fail world would not meet with God’s purposes and therefore could not be realized. A ‘must-not’ fail world (per atheism) would run counter to His desired outcome; namely, the glorification of His Son and the happiness of His creatures.”

  3. For an extended treatment concerning a Reformed response to Plantinga’s FWD see Scott Oliphint’s book, Reasons for Faith. Oliphint attempts to show how the deductive problem of evil can be resolved through use of a biblical understanding of paradox.

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