Prepared by Philippe R. Sterling in Reflection and Concurrence with Some of the
Philosophical and Theological Ideas of Luis de Molina and William Lane Craig
The Problem of the Plan: Is it possible for Divine sovereignty and human freedom to coexist? Can God fulfill His plan for a perfect universe and allow true freedom of action on the part of His created beings? Two possible answers: “No!” - God determines everything. “Yes!” - God foresees every possible act of His free created beings, and intervenes accordingly to fulfill His plan.
Definition of the Plan: In accordance with His perfect knowledge and through His divine interventions God will bring forth a perfect universe filled with free-will creatures in perfect relationship with Him.
Logical Order of the Plan: God has perfect knowledge of all possible futures of all possible worlds. He has perfect knowledge of all possible dispositions and acts of all possible free-will creatures, as well as knowledge of all of His own possible responses to such acts. This includes knowledge of how He will actually respond to any such acts, if they ever become realities. In accordance with His complete knowledge of all possible futures of all possible universes:
- God decreed to create a universe.
- God decreed to create a universe with free-will creatures.
- God decreed to create this particular universe. Having perfect knowledge of the real future of this particular universe, He judged it was the best one for the manifestation of His glory, wisdom, power, goodness, love, grace, mercy, justice, and dominion.
- God created angels.
- God permitted the fall of Lucifer and other angels.
- God created humanity.
- God permitted the fall of humanity.
- God provided for the redemption of all humanity through the substitutionary atonement of Christ – the God-Man.
- God selected those he foreknew would respond positively to His grace to be His people and leaves in just condemnation those he foreknew would resist and reject His grace. God foreknew that if He should decree to bring this universe and order of creation into being, that certain persons would receive His grace and believe his promise of eternal life and others would resist and reject His grace and through their own fault go into justly deserved damnation.
- God gives eternal life to all those who believe His promise – promise of a seed to Adam & Eve that would crush Satan, promise of a seed to Abraham that would be a blessing to all the nations, promise that all who believe in Christ have eternal life.
- God intervenes in this world to bring about the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.
Grace and the Plan: God graciously grants the blessings of life, the witness of creation, the witness of conscience, the delay of judgment, the influence of the Holy Spirit, the revelation of the Bible, the atonement of Christ, and the witness of the Church. God foreknew what everyone would do in response to these graces, whether or not they would receive “the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Is the Plan Unfair? Those who are judged and condemned on the basis of their failure to respond to the witness of general revelation cannot legitimately complain of unfairness for not also receiving the witness of special revelation. We can assume that such persons would not have responded to special revelation had they received it. God in His providence has so arranged the world that anyone who would believe in Christ has the opportunity to do so. Since God desires the salvation of all, He supplies sufficient grace to every individual, and nobody who would believe in Christ if he were to hear the good news will be denied that opportunity. It is of their own free will that people reject the grace of God and are condemned. Their condemnation is the result of their own choice and is contrary to God’s desire, which is that all persons be saved, and their foreseen rejection should not be allowed to preclude the creation of persons who would freely respond to God's grace and be saved. Those who are lost are lost because of their rejection of grace ─ a rejection irrespective of the extent of grace given.
Conclusion: God intervenes in history and in our lives to bring about the fulfillment of His plan. God grants freedom within the limits of His creation purposes, permissive will, and personal and providential interventions. Once evil and the power of contrary choices are brought into the picture, God works around them and through them to bring about the fulfillment of His plan. Given the existence of sin, He still causes the best of all possible worlds to come about. The current state of things is not the best of all possible worlds, but it is the best way to the best of all possible worlds ─ a world free of sin and filled with free-will creatures in perfect relationship with God.