File Name: salvation and sovereignty a molinist approach .zip
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Keathley says he wrote the book because 1 he was convinced of certain central tenets of Calvinism but not convinced of certain of its corollaries; 2 he was convinced of certain aspects of Arminianism but not convinced of some of its corollaries. Until we cross the veil, none of us has arrived on the journey of faith. So I look forward to this cooperative effort, convinced that the end result will be that we are better and more faithful witnesses of our common salvation. Calvinism and Molinism are much more similar than they are dissimilar, so I endeavor to avoid what might be called the narcissism of trivial differences. I migrated from Calvinism to Molinism several years ago, but have been unable to point others to a suitable primer-until now.
Catholicism portal. Molinism , named after 16th-century Spanish Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina , is a view about the providence of God in light of human free will. The view affirms a strong notion of God's control of events in the world, alongside an equally firm view of human freedom.
According to Kenneth Keathley, author of Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, Molinists argue that God perfectly accomplishes his will in the lives of genuinely free creatures through the use of his omniscience.
The first is God's knowledge of necessary truths or natural knowledge. These truths are independent of God's will and are non-contingent. This knowledge includes the full range of logical possibilities. Examples include such statements as "All bachelors are unmarried" or "X cannot be A and non-A at the same time, in the same way, at the same place" or "It is possible that X obtain. The third kind of knowledge is God's free knowledge.
This type of knowledge consists of contingent truths that are dependent upon God's will, or truths that God brings about, that he does not have to bring about. Examples might include statements such as "God created the earth" or something particular about this world which God has actualized.
This is called God's "free knowledge" and it contains the future or what will happen. In between God's natural and free knowledge is his middle knowledge or scientia media by which God knows what his free creatures would do under any circumstance.
Laing has provided an example of middle knowledge: "If John Laing were given the opportunity to write an article on middle knowledge for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, he would freely do so.
Molinists have supported their case scripturally with Christ's statement in Matthew : . The Molinist claims that in this example, God knows what his free creatures would choose under hypothetical circumstances, namely that the Sodomites would have responded in a way that Sodom would still have been in existence in Jesus' day, given that hypothetical situation. Matthew contains what is commonly called a counterfactual of creaturely freedom.
But counterfactuals are to be distinguished from foreknowledge. The Bible contains many examples of foreknowledge such as Deut —17 , where God tells Moses that the Israelites will forsake God after they are delivered from Egypt. Some opponents of Molinism claim that God's foreknowledge and knowledge of counterfactuals are examples of what God is going to actively bring about. That is, when Christ describes the response of the Sodomites in the aforementioned example, God was going to actively bring it about that they would remain until today.
For example, the Israelites forsaking God, or Peter's denial of Christ, are both examples of what one would call overt acts of sin. Yet, according to opponents of Molinism, God is actively bringing about these overt acts of sin. This is fallacious according to the Molinist. In order for this account of prophecy to be valid all prophecies must be wholly good, and never contain evil acts; but this is not what opponents believe to be the case.
Molinists believe that God has knowledge not only of necessary truths and contingent truths, but also of counterfactuals. God's knowledge of counterfactuals is often referred to as his middle knowledge , although technically that term is more broad than simply the knowledge of counterfactuals.
A counterfactual is a statement of the form "if it were the case that P, it would be the case that Q". An example would be, "If Bob were in Tahiti he would freely choose to go swimming instead of sunbathing. The Molinist believes that God, using his middle knowledge and foreknowledge, surveyed all possible worlds and then actualized a particular one. God's middle knowledge of counterfactuals would play an integral part in this "choosing" of a particular world.
God's natural knowledge of necessary truths. God's middle knowledge, including counterfactuals. God's free knowledge the actual ontology of the world. Hence, God's middle knowledge plays an important role in the actualization of the world. In fact, it seems as if God's middle knowledge of counterfactuals plays a more immediate role in perception than God's foreknowledge. William Lane Craig points out that "without middle knowledge, God would find himself, so to speak, with knowledge of the future but without any logical prior planning of the future.
For if God's middle knowledge was after his decree of creation, then God would be actively causing what various creatures would do in various circumstances and thereby destroying libertarian freedom. But by placing middle knowledge and thereby counterfactuals before the creation decree God allows for freedom in the libertarian sense. The placing of middle knowledge logically after necessary truths , but before the creation decree also gives God the possibility to survey possible worlds and decide which world to actualize.
Craig gives three reasons for holding that counterfactuals statements are true. Second, it is plausible that the Law of Conditional Excluded Middle LCEM holds for counterfactuals of a certain special form, usually called "counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. William Lane Craig calls Molinism "one of the most fruitful theological ideas ever conceived. For it would serve to explain not only God's knowledge of the future, but divine providence and predestination as well". Because God has middle knowledge, he knows what an agent would freely do in a particular situation.
So, agent A, if placed in circumstance C, would freely choose option X over option Y. Thus, if God wanted to accomplish X, all God would do is, using his middle knowledge, actualize the world in which A was placed in C, and A would freely choose X.
God retains an element of providence without nullifying A's choice and God's purpose the actualization of X is fulfilled. Molinists also believe it can aid one's understanding of salvation. Ever since Augustine and Pelagius there has been debate over the issue of salvation; more specifically how can God elect believers and believers still come to God freely?
Protestants who lean more towards God's election and sovereignty are usually Calvinists while those who lean more towards humanity's free choice follow Arminianism. However, the Molinist can embrace both God's sovereignty and human free choice.
Take the salvation of Agent A. God knows that if he were to place A in circumstances C, then A would freely choose to believe in Christ. So God actualizes the world where C occurs, and then A freely believes. God still retains a measure of his divine providence because he actualizes the world in which A freely chooses. But, A still retains freedom in the sense of being able to choose either option.
Molinism does not affirm two contradictory propositions when it affirms both God's providence and humanity's freedom. God's providence extends to the actualization of the world in which an agent may believe upon Christ. Molinism differs from Calvinism by affirming that God grants salvation, but a person has the choice to freely accept it or reject it but God knows that if the person were put in a particular situation he or she would not reject it.
This differs from Calvinistic predestination , which states that a person's salvation is already determined by God such that he or she cannot choose otherwise or resist God's grace.
It also differs from Arminianism because it claims that God definitively knows how a person would react to the Gospel message if they were put in a particular situation. Molinists have internal disagreements about the extent to which they agree with Calvinism, some holding to unconditional election, others holding to conditional election and others still holding to an election that is partly both.
Thus, in Peter's case, God would have chosen different graces if those he actually chose had been foreknown to be merely sufficient and not efficacious for Peter's salvation.
Other Molinists, including Molina himself, vigorously reject any such antecedent absolute election of Peter to salvation. They insist instead that God simply chooses to create a world in which he infallibly foresees Peter's good use of the supernatural graces afforded him, and only then does he accept Peter among the elect in light of his free consent to those graces.
In , a heated argument erupted between the Jesuits , who advocated Molinism, and the Dominicans , who had a different understanding of God's foreknowledge and the nature of predestination. In , Pope Paul V ended the quarrel by forbidding each side to accuse the other of heresy, allowing both views to exist side-by-side in the Catholic Church. Thomas Flint has developed what he considers other implications of Molinism, including papal infallibility , prophecy , and prayer.
Molinists have often argued that their position is the biblical one by indicating passages they understand to teach God's middle knowledge.
Molina advanced the following three texts: 1 Samuel —14 , Proverbs , and Matthew Other passages which Molinists use are Ezekiel —7 , Jeremiah —18 , 1 Corinthians , Deuteronomy —57 , Matthew —32 , Matthew , Matthew , Luke —31 , and Luke — Craig cites the following passages: Matthew , John , John —24 , John , Luke —44 and Matthew In order for this knowledge to be middle knowledge, it must be logically prior to God's free knowledge, something the biblical texts mentioned do not seem to affirm or deny.
Thus, we have good reason for thinking that if such counterfactuals are now true or false, they must have been so logically prior to God's decree. Thomas Flint claims the twin foundations of Molinism are God's providence and man's freedom.
Molinism has been controversial and criticized since its inception in Molina's concordia. The Dominican Order which espoused strict Thomism criticized that novel doctrine and found fault with the scientia media , which they think implies passivity, which is repugnant to Pure Act. The Thomists disputed it before the Popes, as bordering on Semi-Pelagianism , and afterwards there were ten years of debate in the famous Congregation de Auxiliis.
The grounding objection is at present the most debated objection to Molinism, and often considered the strongest. The argument claims that there are no metaphysical grounds for the truthfulness of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. As Hugh J. McCann puts it,. Knowledge, as we have seen, is not merely a matter of conceiving a proposition and correctly believing it to be true. It requires justification: one must have good reasons for believing.
But what justification could God have for believing the propositions that are supposed to constitute middle knowledge? The truth of subjunctives of freedom cannot be discerned a priori, for they are contingent. It is not a necessary truth that if placed in circumstances C, I will decide to attend the concert tonight.
Nor can we allow that God might learn the truth of C from my actual behavior — that is, by observing that I actually do, in circumstances C, decide to attend the concert. For God could not make observations like this without also finding out what creative decisions he is actually going to make, which would destroy the whole purpose of middle knowledge.
Thus, there are no "truth makers" that ground counterfactuals. Opponents to middle knowledge claim that the historical antecedent of any possible world does not determine the truthfulness of a counterfactual for a creature, if that creature is free in the libertarian sense.
Molinists naturally accept this, but deny that this entails that counterfactuals of creaturely freedom lack truth values. Many philosophers and theologians who embrace the grounding objection prefer to claim that instead of counterfactuals of freedom being true, probable counterfactuals are true instead.
Molinists have responded to the aforementioned argument two ways. First, as Alfred Freddoso states, "it seems reasonable to claim that there are now adequate metaphysical grounds for the truth of conditional future contingent Ft P on H just in case there would be adequate metaphysical grounds at t for the truth of the present-tense proposition p on the conditions that H should obtain at t. But why should God need to create such universes to know how events would unfold, and couldn't how they would turn out ground statements about how they would turn out?
Further objections at this point lead to a second line of response. Alvin Plantinga responds to the grounding objection by saying "It seems to me much clearer that some counterfactuals of freedom are at least possibly true than that the truth of propositions must, in general, be grounded in this way.
This essay describes the Molinist picture of providence, a picture that results from attempting to combine a strong, traditional notion of divine providence with a libertarian account of freedom. After showing how the Molinist picture seemingly allows one coherently to resolve the tensions that this combination engenders, the essay recalls the two general objections that have typically been offered against the Molinist view and briefly sketches the two alternative views of providence open theism and Thomism that typically flow from these objections. Two other general anti-Molinist arguments—less common but perhaps of greater potential interest—are then examined. Finally, directions in which the discussion of Molinism might most profitably proceed are suggested. Keywords: providence , Molinist , Molinism , middle knowledge , Thomism , open theism , freedom , Christian , libertarian.
Catholicism portal. Molinism , named after 16th-century Spanish Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina , is a view about the providence of God in light of human free will. The view affirms a strong notion of God's control of events in the world, alongside an equally firm view of human freedom. According to Kenneth Keathley, author of Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, Molinists argue that God perfectly accomplishes his will in the lives of genuinely free creatures through the use of his omniscience. The first is God's knowledge of necessary truths or natural knowledge.
SALVATION AND SOVEREIGNTY: A MOLINIST APPROACH – By Kenneth Keathley. James Beilby. Bethel University. Search for more papers.
Though the review is hard-hitting, it is judicious and fair. I also thank Tom Ascol for giving me the opportunity to give a brief response. The three of us met at the Building Bridges Conference at Ridgecrest in , and I am glad to call both men my friends and brothers in Christ. Both Dr. Nettles and I have signed the Abstract of Principles , the statement of faith which guides the Southern Baptist seminaries in which we teach Southern and Southeastern, respectively.
Edited by Charles B.
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