Winter 2021 (volume 21, no. 2)


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Ross D. Inman

Editor’s Introduction


Andrew Hollingsworth; Jordan L. Steffaniak

Craig Carter on Creatio ex Nihilo and Classical Theism – Some Objections

In several recent publications, Craig A. Carter argues that classical theism is the only model of God that can consistently affirm the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (that God creates from nothing). He claims that because competing models of God deny true transcendence of God they cannot affirm creatio ex nihilo. We argue that Carter’s claim is false and that his argument is both unclear and fallacious. We further argue that creatio ex nihilo is consistent with other models of God, and we argue this by demonstrating the coherence between the doctrine and two competing models of God: neoclassical theism and open theism.

Mark J. Boone

Must God Create the Best Available Creatures?

Alvin Plantinga rightly challenged J. L. Mackie’s assumption that an omnipotent God can directly create just any possible world. However, Mackie also assumed that God, given the option, must create a person who would freely choose rightly rather than one who would freely choose wrongly. Instead of challenging this assumption, Plantinga suggests that every possible free creature would have sinned had God created them, an idea I consider highly improbable. More importantly, under Mackie’s assumption, for almost all conceivable arrangements of the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, this assumption renders libertarian free will impossible for nearly every possible creature.

Jonathan Ashbach

Rediscovering the Aesthetic Argument – A Phenomenological Presentation

The aesthetic argument for the existence of God is sometimes seen as a weaker younger cousin to the more powerful moral argument, but it may in fact be the more formidable of the two. The phenomenological aesthetic argument, presented here, brackets the question of beauty’s objectivity. It argues that various aspects of the raw data of the human aesthetic sense—specifically, our perceptions of human, natural, artistic, and abstract beauty—are highly unlikely to have developed on naturalism but are unsurprising given theism. These facets of aesthetic experience therefore ground a substantial argument against the merely Darwinian paradigm.

Kirk Lougheed

On Whether There Are Grounds for Worship

I explore a novel defense of the duty to worship God based on the idea that it is what’s best for us. I argue that this should be understood as the claim that humans are required to do what’s best when (a) there is a best option available; (b) the best option is identifiable; and (c) the best option is feasible. One virtue of this account is that it can explain how a duty to worship God is defeasible. I show this by appealing to a recent concept developed by Chris Tucker called motivated submaximization.

Erik J. Wielenberg

Craig’s God Cannot Create a Temporal Universe

William Lane Craig’s influential kalam cosmological argument concludes that the universe has a cause of its beginning (the “first cause”). Craig provides some supplementary reasoning to suggest that the first cause is God—a God that exists timelessly without the universe and temporally with the universe. I argue that Craig’s hypothesis about the nature of the first cause is impossible. In particular, it cannot be the case that God timelessly wills to create the universe and the universe begins to exist.

Timothy Hsiao

If Homosexuality Is Wrong, So Is Contraception

Historically, the Christian church was united in firm opposition to both homosexuality and contraception. Today most evangelical Christians continue to oppose the former but have embraced the latter. This paper argues that there is a clear tension between these views, especially when it comes to the evangelical use of natural law-type reasoning. The conclusion of this paper is that Christians who view homosexual activity as immoral must also view artificial contraception in the same light. They are wrong for the same reason: they both misuse the sexual organs by directing sexual activity away from procreative unity.


William Lane Craig

God, Time, and Creation

R.T. Mullins has questioned the tenability of a model of divine eternity according to which God exists timelessly sans creation and temporally since the moment of creation. His puzzlement about the model can be largely resolved by recognizing that two different understandings of causation may be applied to the origin of the universe, a medieval understanding of efficient causation by a causal agent and a modern understanding of causation as a relation between two events. Mullins’s more fundamental reservations about a relational theory of time can be resolved by allowing an event to occur at a moment or by defining “change” in such a way that a change need not occur over two moments of time. Finally, Mullins needs to do more to justify his own model involving an undifferentiated, successionless, precreation time.

Zachary Adam Akin

Ralph Cudworth’s Divine Conceptualism and the Bootstrapping Objection

In this paper, I defend divine conceptualism against one prominent critique from William Lane Craig in his book God and Abstract Objects. Craig argues that the divine conceptualist’s only way out of the “bootstrapping objection” results in an unpalatable concession of defeat to the metaphysical anti-realist. Craig’s argument depends on an analysis whereby God is causally or logically prior to the divine concepts. As such, the conceptualist may resist it by adopting—following Ralph Cudworth—a version of divine conceptualism which does not construe the relationship between God and His thoughts as one of either causal or logical priority.

Joshua Blander

Catching Hold of Christ’s Humility – Christological and Augustinian Examinations of Humility: A Book Review Essay

The increased attention paid to the virtue of humility in recent years has revealed much interest in severing humility from its theological roots and commitments. In their recent books, Kent Dunnington and Michael Austin offer distinctively Christian approaches to, and accounts of, humility. Dunnington offers a strongly Augustinian proposal which focuses on recognizing our complete dependence on God, while Austin argues for a Christological account, rooted in the New Testament, that emphasizes other-directedness. Despite important differences between their projects, their Christian methodological convictions offer great value for future discussion of Christian humility.


Keith Hess

Jordan Wessling, Love Divine: A Systematic Account of God’s Love for Humanity

Chad Bogosian

Nathan L. King, The Excellent Mind: Intellectual Virtues for Everyday Life

Andrew Hollingsworth

Oliver D. Crisp, James M. Arcadi, and Jordan Wessling, The Nature and Promise of Analytic Theology

Travis Dickinson

Harold J. Netland, Religious Experience and the Knowledge of God: The Evidential Force of Divine Encounters