by James Anderson
Molinism is a theory that purports to reconcile a robust doctrine of divine providence and foreknowledge with a libertarian view of free will by appealing to the notion of divine middle knowledge: God’s eternal knowledge of the so-called counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, that is, contingent truths about what possible creatures would freely choose if they were created by God and placed in particular circumstances. In this series of posts I propose to explore these questions with reference to some key biblical texts. I will focus in particular on how Molinism compares to Augustinianism, which is arguably its leading competitor among orthodox Christian theologians. (Note: I’m using the term Augustinianism simply as shorthand for causal divine determinism. Nothing is assumed about whether St. Augustine himself actually held to Augustinianism in that sense! But Augustinianism so defined would include most confessional Calvinists and, I think, many conservative Thomists.)
How well is Molinism supported by the Bible? Part I
There are at least two components to the question at hand. First, is Molinism consistent with the Bible? In other words, does the Bible teach some things that are (or appear to be) inconsistent with the tenets or implications of Molinism? Second, does the Bible offer any positive support for the distinctive claims of Molinism, i.e., those tenets that distinguish Molinism from its major alternatives such as Augustinianism or Open Theism?
How well is Molinism supported by the Bible? Part II
In Part II, I examine one candidate for the proposition that moral freedom is incompatible with determinism (which Molinists invariably affirm, but Augustinians typically deny). I answer the question, does the Bible support incompatibilism?
How well is Molinism supported by the Bible? Part III
In this post I’ll consider a second candidate for the proposition that God desires all to be saved.
How well is Molinism supported by the Bible? Part IV
Is Molinism more biblical than Calvinism because the latter makes God the author of sin? We deny: This is quite a common objection for Molinists to level against Calvinists (and Augustinians more broadly). For example, William Lane Craig raises this complaint in his contribution to the book Four Views on Divine Providence. (I’ll examine his criticisms more closely below.) The thrust of the charge is that Augustinianism, on account of its commitment to divine determinism, makes God the author of sin in a way that Molinism (which rejects divine determinism) does not.
Dr. James Anderson is an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Dr. Anderson came to RTS from Edinburgh, Scotland, and specializes in philosophical theology, religious epistemology, and Christian apologetics. His doctoral thesis at the University of Edinburgh explored the paradoxical nature of certain Christian doctrines and the implications for the rationality of Christian faith. His research and writing has also focused on the presuppositionalism of Cornelius Van Til, particularly his advocacy of the transcendental argument. Dr. Anderson has a longstanding concern to bring the Reformed theological tradition into greater dialogue with contemporary analytic philosophy. Before studying philosophy, Dr. Anderson also earned a Ph.D. in Computer Simulation from the University of Edinburgh. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Prior to joining RTS Charlotte, Dr. Anderson served as an assistant pastor at the historic Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh where he engaged in regular preaching, teaching, and pastoral ministry. He is active now in service at Ballantyne Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. He is married to Catriona and they have three children.