Religious Studies 38 (1):45-61 (2002)

In this paper I question the claim that the increasingly popular position known as ‘free-will theism’ or ‘the open view of God’ supports a rich religious life. To do this I advance a notion of ‘religious adequacy’, and then argue that free-will theism fails to be religiously adequate with respect to one of the principal practices of the religious life – petitionary prayer. Drawing on current work in libertarian free-will theory, I consider what are likely the only two lines of defence free-will theists might use in response to my argument. I argue that these defences either fail or have features that make them unacceptable to free-will theists. I then suggest that this failure with petitionary prayer is an instance of a larger problem for free-will theism, that the position's distinctive views often differ more dramatically from the common beliefs and practices of most believers than is usually recognized or acknowledged. I conclude that free-will theism can support a rich religious life only for those who make the requisite changes in belief and practice, including changing their expectations about petitionary prayer.
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DOI 10.1017/s0034412501005893
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