I agree that much of our differences may be semantic in nature. We may both be referring to the same ideas, but using a different lexicon in describing those ideas. However, I do think that semantics are important, as our use of words in describing concepts, either clarify our ideas, or obscure them.
When it comes to the BPW and the free will of God, this is related to the question that physicists often ask in light of the anthropic principle. That is, could God have created the universe with a different set of laws, and still accommodate life?
I contend that these questions are next to impossible to answer, simply because we are not God. To use a point you made earlier, could God have created a world where I didn’t see my neighbor kick his dog, and achieve the same purposes in my life that occurred in that moment? I would say it’s hard to say no to that question.
To continue this, while I believe that Creation is an act of divine will/choice, nevertheless, this will/choice is transcendent. In other words, it isn't like human/finite choices. Normally, we think of free-will/choice as resulting in temporal deliberation and uncertainty - then at a certain moment we "decide."
However, since God is timeless and eternal, it doesn't work this way. His decree related to creation, predestination, and providence is as eternal as He is. It reflects His nature and attributes (what God is), as well as the economic order of the Trinity (who God is); however, it is distinguished as a category (what God does).
Though this is hard for us to conceptualize. I find it to be necessary, because if the weather today is not a result of divine decree, then it is essential to God. Moreover, it then becomes a part of God, which destroys divine simplicity.
God is then made of constituent parts, and those parts are more basic (or more "God), then He is. Then the universe requires no explanation beyond itself, and we are left with atheism. Atheism is the photo negative of pantheism. We both agree there are major philosophical/epistemological problems with such an idea.
What then of gratitude? "Thanks God for doing what you had to do." No give and take, and there's no personalism. Again, creation swallows up the Creator and becomes impersonal.
While we may seem worlds apart in this, I do think that much of this is clarified by recognizing the semantic differences. Though I believe creation is a result of divine freedom, I also believe in the faithfulness of God. The prophets and the psalmist consistently draws our attention to the faithfulness of God; He will do what He has said He will do. God determined to create the BPW eternally, therefore, in that sense He had to
When it comes to God's multiple personality "disorder," I see more a multiple personality "order." Just as God is eternal one-and-many, He created us at a lower level of reality ,as "many," in order to eschatologically become "one" with Him (and with each other), through a process of sanctification.
We don't suffer from an "illusion" of division so much, because we are indeed many, but we suffer from the "delusion" of sin and egoism. The eschatology of history is largely aimed undoing this malady, and to return history to ever increasing orders of oneness and enjoyment of the divine being.
What do you think are the social/psychological ramifications of what it will "look like" when this happens?
When it comes to predestination, keep in mind that while Roman Catholicism does not popularly teach the doctrine, it is rooted in their history. Augustine and Aquinas were strong on this issue. The Confessional Document of my Church (Presbyterianism) has an explanation of Predestination rooted in Aquinas, that might be helpful to you. This is what we call predestination/compatibilism. WK is on the right track when he says we are "easy to predict"...
"God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established." Westminster Confession of Faith 3:1
Last edited by desertdweller on Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:13 am; edited 1 time in total