f The Wittenberg Door: What is “Molinism” and Why Should I Care?

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

What is “Molinism” and Why Should I Care?

Molinism is a view of Predestination that plays on God’s knowledge of counter-factuals or “middle knowledge” (if Horatio did this, then that would have happened). It’s a doctrinal temptation by those holding to some form of Semipalagianism, whether that be your garden-variety Evangelical or your dyed-in-the-wool Roman Catholic. Because this view is being promoted by various popular Christian thinkers, such as doctors William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Francis Beckwith, and J.P. Moorland, it’s important to understand the view. Dr. Paul Helm explains this position at the Ligonier blog:

What is middle knowledge? At the center of this recent interest has been God’s knowledge of possibilities involving human choice (the ‘counterfactuals of freedom’ as they have been called). Why this innovation? Its proponents are concerned to preserve what they consider to be two vital beliefs. The first is God’s providence and total foreknowledge. The second is the idea that human beings are ineradicably free in an indeterministic sense. When we speak of indeterministic freedom, we mean that any human being, in a given set of circumstances, has the power to choose A or to choose not-A. The problem is obvious. How can this be consistent with God’s universal providential rule and his purposes of redemption?

The Molinists’ way of attempting to keep all this together was to suggest that there existed, besides God’s natural knowledge and his free knowledge, a third kind of knowledge. They argued that God also has “middle knowledge” (between the other two). What this means can be briefly explained. Given a whole array of possible worlds (that God knows), given worlds in which men and women were free in the relevant indeterministic sense, God knows what they would freely choose in every possible circumstance. God has knowledge of all such possible outcomes. If placed in one set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. If placed in another set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. This is true for all possible people and all possible circumstances. God has this middle knowledge by inspection of all the possibilities that the free will of each person might choose.

Click here to read further about this position and to see the doctrinal problems with it.

PS. Molinism posits that God chose our world out of all of the possible worlds because it contains the greatest number of people who would freely choose Christ. Here’s the problem: The Bible doesn’t speak of God electing worlds. Instead, it clearly teaches that God elects individuals (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; Due. 10:14-15; Psm. 33:12, 65:4, 106:5; Mat. 11:27, 22:14; Mark 13:20; Rom. 11:28; Col. 3:12; 1 Thes. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:8-9; Rev. 17:14). In other words, the Scriptures teach that God elected me, not this world.

--The Catechizer

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