A Consideration Of Thomas Flint’s Position On The Thomistic View Of Divine Sovereignty And Human Freedom -- By: Douglas Beaumont

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 10:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: A Consideration Of Thomas Flint’s Position On The Thomistic View Of Divine Sovereignty And Human Freedom
Author: Douglas Beaumont


A Consideration Of Thomas Flint’s Position On The Thomistic View Of Divine Sovereignty And Human Freedom

Douglas Beaumont

According to many, the biblical doctrine of divine providence demands that God be in control over all things, yet human freedom seems to be a necessary condition for morality and other issues.1 How can God’s sovereign will stand alongside human freedom? In his article titled “Divine Providence,” Thomas Flint offers three “basic types” of theories concerning this issue: (1) Thomism, (2) Open Theism, and (3) Molinism.2 In a section titled “Abandoning Libertarianism,” Flint argues that Thomism “shelters those who respond to our quandary by saying that it is the libertarian account of freedom, or at least the

standard version of that account, that is causing our problems.”3 While Flint notes that there are varieties of Thomists, he believes that the basic position denies what most people would consider true freedom of will, namely, the libertarian view of human freedom.4

Nor is this simply a theoretical problem, for without libertarian freedom, Flint argues, the problems of evil and moral responsibility becomes difficult to resolve.5 One’s freedom is often thought to be a necessary requirement for moral responsibility, and so any view denying man the former is said to be denying him the latter. This will have further implications in one’s answer to the problem of evil. Flint states that part of the concern over freedom for most libertarians concerns the problem of evil. “Equally central,” he writes, “at least for most libertarians, is the connection between freedom so understood and moral responsibility.”6 Flint argues that actions caused by external factors cannot be actions for which the agent is responsible and, further, that if we deny libertarian freedom, then it seems we must also give up human responsibility (and the praises and punishments that go with it). Moreover, if we assign to God the true causality for committed actions, then “how can we possibly account for the presence, the amount, and the horrendous nature of evil in our world?”7 By elevating God’s causal power, it seems the Thomists might be “belittling his moral grandeur.”8 If God is ultimately the cause of all things, can He be exonerated from the...

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