Can we have an expiration date?

300px-I_dont_existHere we discuss Greg’s support for annihilationism based on his view that human beings can reach a ‘point of no return’ in which they irrevocably solidify in their constitution against God and so render any Godward movement impossible. They become, metaphysically speaking, hopeless. Greg makes it clear that persons who reach such a point of solidification are not ‘positively’ annihilated by God since that would be for God to commit the ultimate ‘violence’ against someone by exterminating them. Rather, the annihilation of such individuals is “organic,” that is, a natural ‘built in’ result of having so solidified. So one “naturally” passes into non-existence as one’s increasing solidification against God disconnects one from God as the ground of one’s being and existence. Non-existence thus understood is simply coterminous with reaching a state of irrevocable solidification. That’s the annihilationism Greg presently inclines toward.

We argued that given the truth of Greg’s dispositional ontology presented in Trinity & Process, such annihilationism is impossible because the solidification it requires is impossible. But another thought occurred to me this morning regarding Greg’s present view. Consider the two points made: (1) annihilation only occurs when a person’s will/disposition has been irrevocably solidified against God, and (2) annihilation is an “organic” result that follows naturally from irrevocable solidification (not a positive degree of God). What’s the problem? The problem (recalling past conversations with Greg) is that Greg believes (at least he used to) there are people in our world who are presently irrevocably solidified against God whom God does not love (since, being irrevocably solidified against God, they’re not lovable; there’s nothing to or in such persons to love) and in whom there is no possibility of Godward movement whatsoever. So the question is, if annihilation is the “organic” result of such solidification, how do such persons still exist at all? What’s keeping them from passing into non-existence?

5 comments on “Can we have an expiration date?

  1. Tom Torbeyns says:

    Strange that he makes Gods love conditional (If I got you right)?


    • tgbelt says:

      He believes there are people presently walking around who are irrevocably solidified in evil, yes. Would he concede that God still infinitely loves these people? I don’t know. I’m guessing not. But God’s loving us is at least conditional/occasioned by our not having annhilated our own existence. We have it within our power to remove ourselves as a very object of his love.


      • Tom Torbeyns says:

        He might mean the hardening of pharaoh because he went to far? And then predestine them to destruction for their glory? (some interpret it like that, I kindda)


  2. nelsonct says:

    I don’t think Boyd believes that anybody can exclude themselves from God’s love. What he argues is that apart from God, we cannot keep living and eventually we’d die. God will continue to love the unrepentant until they cease to exist. But without reconciling to God, the unrepentant will perish because apart from God there’s no life. Perseverance in sin leads to eternal death from which there’s no return.


    • tgbelt says:

      By “excluding themselves from God’s love” I just mean Greg’s annihliationism (his ‘view’ that is, not HIS annihilationism!). When we self-annihilate, we exclude ourselves from God’s love in the ultimate sense by ending our very existence.

      Does Greg think God still unconditionally loves all ‘existing’ things? The quick answer would be ‘yes’. But press him to answer it with respect to, say, Satan, or any other beings (angelic or human) who have in fact irrevocably solidified into evil…and I’m pretty confident he’d admit God doesn’t feel or extend “love” in these cases. And the reason is simple: there’s nothing there to love. There’s nothing redeemable (cf. his chapter on Barth’s Das Nichtige in SATPOE).


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