Prosblogion is a blog for the philosophy of religion, written by philosophy profs and grad students. The discussion is always sufficient to give the average person a mental nose bleed. Fairly recently, a post engaged Alvin Platninga’s curent endorsement of a Felix Culpa type theodicy/defense after a long personal history of advocating a free will defense. What was interesting about the discussion was that you had all of the basic ingredients of the Origenist dialectic-freedom, foreknowledge, universalism, supralapsarianism, impeccability, Hickian soul making, etc. This I suspect is due to a few major defects in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion.
The first is that most analytic philosophers care little for history and end up sometimes creating more problems. This is also true of analytic philosophers of religion. They tend to get wind of a theological idea and then run with it. (You can expect to see this quite soon with theosis. Academics are sheep who follow fads and “theosis” is at the moment a fad. ) This was the case with Peter van Inwagen’s And Yet They Are Not Three Gods But One God which sparked “Social Trinitarianism.” That in part was supposed to be an attempt to give a philosophical gloss to the Cappadocian model of of the Trinity. I think Sarah Coakley has clearly demonstrated that whatever Social Trinitarianism amounts to, it isn’t what the Cappadocians had in mind. Now I have great intellectual respect for Peter van Inwagen and I have serious theological disagreements with Sarah Coakley’s feminist outlook but in the main, Social Trinitarianism is not Cappadocian. (Not that my respect or disagreements would bother either of them, should they become aware of it.)
The second problem is that in my experience most analytic philosophers of religion have not much more than a superficial grasp of core theological doctrines. There are esceptions, but most of these conctrate on a specific thinker/problem or a small group of them. Added to this is the hegomony of the “three A’s”-Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas. Whenever you read the contemporary literature there is usually to be found a reference to the “traditional view” of God, providence, etc. This is code for the “three A’s.” And because contemporary analytic philosophers of religion practically never peek outside the neighborhood of the “three A’s” they work within the presuppositional confines of that tradition. (I recall my shock one time when Eleonore Stump remarked that she “had given up trying to understand the Cappadocians.” That might explain why in her seminar on Aquinas’ metaphysics of God she couldn’t refute this argument.) And this is why the discussion goes round and round, bringing us back to the same two ends of the dialectic-either agents will be free but not good or good but not free. Towards the Good-Universalism, predestinarianism, and towards freedom-Socinianism/Open Theism, Social Trinitarianism, Annihilationalism/Conditional immorality, with positions like Molinism and Lutheranism left of center and Arimianism being right of center. The analytic philosophers of religion who construct and endorse these views aren’t even seemingly aware of the Origenist assumptions common to all views on the spectrum that drive the constellation of problems. Most of the contemporary writings then are just modern versions of On First Principles or On the Predestination of the Saints.
Simon Gaine’s little book on free will in heaven is a perfect example of the historical hegemony and ignorance induced by an unhealthy devotion to the “three A’s.” Origen gets about a page of discussion but then he moves on to Augustine, skips right over the relevant historical period as if it never happaned so he can get to the meaty stuff of the scholastics where the question meets its supposedly most developed form. Of course, it just isn’t so. The question met its most developed form in and between the condemnation of Origenism in the 5th Council and the Dyothelite/Monothelite controversies of the sixth through seventh centuries. Gaine should have read this book, this book , this book or this book, instead.
And this is why I think you will see the rise of Universalism and Hickish soul making added for good measure. Plantinga has already shifted from one end of the spctrum to the other. I think it won’t be too long before he will come out of the universalist closet but I suspect that David Bently Hart might beat him to the coming out party. And of course we have the Origenism in Balthasar which filtered down to the “dare we yet hope” soft universalism. I am sure that influence has some part to play in the coming universalism. And of course, it won’t be too hard I suspect for Plantingian types to swallow the monergism of universalism. Universalism is just Calvinism for literally everybody.
Oh Origen, spin it baby!