God Is Free
One of the things that essentially all orthodox Christians affirm is the total freedom of God in His act of creation.Thought the articulation of that is sometimes muddled there are very few modern thinkers that would take the opposite stance. To make an accusation that someone believes God is dependent upon creation is a strange decision. And yet in the preface to Common Grace and the Gospel, K. Scott Oliphint makes such a statement,
"We confess this, in part, because the contrary is impossible, given who God is. Since he is independent and in need of nothing, there was no necessity that he create anything at all. If creation were necessary, then God would be dependent on it in order to be who he is. But (contrary to Arminians, Molinists, Barthians, et al.) there is no such essential dependence in God. So, God's determination to create, and to relate to the creation, is a free decision. " (xx)
This struck me as a rather brash statement. It is not one or two specific people who are on the receiving end of this accusation but whole lines of Christian thinking. Having read high level Molinists works by Thomas Flint (Divine Providence: The Molinist Account) and Luis De Molina's own On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the "Concordia", I am a little at a loss for how Oliphint has arrived at his position.
I had similar head shakes with reference to Oliphint's criticism of Barthians. The Barth Wars between Hunsinger and McCormack should be understood by all. There is no simple, uniform "Barthians." And it would seem that Oliphint presumes the worst of the bunch — more in line with McCormack's Christology. A recent attempt to rectify this misunderstanding of Barth is Paul Molnar's Faith, Freedom, and the Spirit. But this isn't some hidden featurette of Barth's theology. Reading Adam Neder's Participation in Christ: An Introduction to Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics, I came across this straight-forward quotation,
"God is free. Nothing ad intra or ad extra compelled him to create a redeem the world. But he's free and gracious determination to enter into covenant relationship with the reality as extra means that God is God in this way and not in any other. " (16)
I am not entirely sure what value there was in Oliphint adding this accusation to his preface. I certainly do not understand why it would be added while lacking a defense — especially in light of the fact that few would consciously claim it as an accurate portrayal.