Edwards’ non-Reformed determinism
January 30, 2011
I imagine that most people who read this blog also have Scott Clark’s blog on their blog readers, but if you haven’t seen it Clark has posted a link to a fascinating lecture by Richard Muller at TEDS. Muller’s thesis is that Edwards’ treatise on Freedom of the Will used Enlightenment philosophical determinism, instead of the Thomist-Aristotelian compatibilism of Reformed scholasticism. So, whereas the Reformed scholastic categories allowed for a non-coerced freedom of will, while entirely circumscribed by the divine will, Edwards’ categories yielded a determinism proved by rationalist logic. This thesis is building off of the work found in Reformed Thought on Freedom: The Concept of Free Choice in Early Reformed Theology, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I love Edwards, but I’ve never liked his treatise on the will; so, it’s highly interesting to re-think Edwards’ argument in the light of the prior Reformed tradition and developments in philosophy.
By the way, although Barth is not happy with either Enlightenment or Aristotelian methods, his own defense of omni-causality (and attack on Molinism) is rather congruent with Muller, van Asselt, et al.‘s defense of the Reformed scholastic allotment for free choice.