Molinism terms and definitions

by Matt Slick
6/16/2017
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I have provided this list of terms and definitions used in Molinist discussions as provided by Molinists.  I used their direct quotes in order to most accurately represent their positions. After each dictionary quote there is documentation. I did not put these in footnote style because I wanted to enable others to copy and paste these definitions with documentation.

 

  1. Absolute will of God - That all people find salvation, do not sin, and no natural evil exist
    1. "While God’s absolute will is for each individual to find salvation freely, for no individual to sin freely, and for no natural evil to occur, it is logically impossible for God to create a world where this scenario would transpire. To use the terminology of the previous chapter, such a world is a possible world but not a feasible world. Hence God’s absolute will can be thwarted."  (MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI, Kindle Edition, 2015, p. 106)
  2. Compatibilist Free Will - The idea that human free will and God's sovereign providence are compatible with each other.  This means that the person acts according to his desires without coercion or hindrance from external factors.  These desires are consistent with his moral nature.
    1. "Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. Because free will is typically taken to be a necessary condition of moral responsibility, compatibilism is sometimes expressed as a thesis about the compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism." (plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/)
  3. Conditional will of God - That people are allowed to sin and rebel.
    1. "In his conditional will, God permits several actions by free individuals and stochastic processes that he does not absolutely will. But the infinitely wise God providentially orders which circumstances transpire (i.e., by choosing to create a feasible world comprising those circumstances) so that his purposes are achieved notwithstanding, and even through, sinful human decisions and natural evils."(MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI, Kindle Edition, 2015, pp. 106-107)
  4. Counterfactual - Something that does not exist but might exist based on foreseen knowledge of the choices of free will creatures.
    1. "A counterfactual is a conditional statement that has two distinctive features: (1) involves a condition that is contrary to fact (for example, “if Kennedy had not been killed in 1963, then he would have won reelection in 1964”); and (2) it expresses a truth that belongs to this actual world. In other words, a counterfactual is a statement that is contrary to fact yet possesses truth content." (Keathley, Kenneth. Salvation and Sovereignty, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, Kindle Edition, 2010, pp. 35-36)
  5. Foreknowledge - God's knowledge of future events that are contingent on
    1. "Foreknowledge should be understood as God knowing future contingents whereas middle knowledge is God’s knowledge of future contingents not causally determined by the present state of affairs (human free choices)." (Andrews, Max. An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and All that God has Ordered (The Spread of Molinism Book 1, Kindle Edition, 2014, Kindle Locations 391-392).
  6. Free Knowledge - the knowledge that God has about the actual world and everything that will happen in it.
    1. "In free knowledge, the third logical moment of Molina’s structure, God fully knows the actual world, including his foreknowledge of everything that will happen therein. This includes not only the circumstances God will directly cause and the decisions he will make, but also the free decisions that humans will make, the random actions of stochastic processes, and the contingent circumstances that will result from those decisions and actions." (MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI, Kindle Edition, 2015, p. 95).
  7. Libertarian Free Will - The ability to choose and accomplish both good and bad without coercion
    1. "By definition, the ability or power to choose or to refrain from choosing is what is called libertarian freedom." (Keathley, Kenneth. Salvation and Sovereignty,  (p. 26). B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 2010, Kindle Edition. p. 26)
  8. Middle Knowledge - The knowledge that God has concerning the foreseen choices free creatures would have made if their situations were different.
    1. "In middle knowledge...God knows all counterfactual truths, including that which every possible individual would freely do in any set of circumstances in which that individual found himself or herself and that which every possible stochastic process would randomly do in any set of circumstances where it existed." (MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI, Kindle Edition, 2015, p. 92).
  9. Natural Knowledge - The part of God's knowledge that he necessarily knows by virtue of his nature.
    1. "...God knows all possibilities, including all necessary truths (e.g., the laws of logic), all the possible individuals and worlds he might create, as well as everything that every possible individual could freely do in any set of circumstances in which that individual found itself and everything that every possible stochastic process could randomly do in any set of circumstances where it existed...God knows his natural knowledge, as Molina’s nomenclature suggests, as indispensable to his very nature, such that God could not lack this knowledge and still be God." (MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI, Kindle Edition, 2015, p. 92).
  10. Prevenient Grace
    1. "While Molina would disagree with these conclusions of Luther and Calvin, he did concur with one aspect of Calvin’s reasoning. Molina agreed that the impact of original sin upon humanity was so great that it incapacitated their mental faculty to choose freely to do spiritual good, including positively responding to Christ’s offer of salvation. 116 As a result, Molina deduced, along with Calvin, that humans left to their own devices could not freely choose salvation. But contra Calvin, Molina believed that God’s sufficient grace for salvation given to all humans by the Holy Spirit — namely, God’s prevenient grace — supernaturally restored their mental faculty to choose spiritual good." (MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge (p. 72). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)
    2. “Prevenient grace is the act of God where he lifts an individual out of the pit of damnation, culminating in regeneration unless the individual resists along the way.” (Kirk McGregor in email correspondence with Matt Slick, April 2017)
    3. “On Molina’s understanding, prevenient grace does not enable anything in a person, and it doesn’t change a person’s nature. Instead, it is God’s work where He arranges a set of circumstances (i.e., likely including the gospel presentation) and monergistically produces responses to those circumstances in the person. So long as the person does not resist God’s movement, God will regenerate the person. What God is looking for is that the person not resist his work. If the person resists, then God will let him have his way and the person does not get saved.” (Kirk McGregor in email correspondence with Matt Slick, April 2017, underline added)
    4. "Prevenient grace seems to be a legitimate postulation, that is, the grace that precedes salvation that enables one to repent and turn from sin." (Andrews, Max. An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and All that God has Ordered (The Spread of Molinism Book 1) (Kindle Locations 345-347). . Kindle Edition.
  11. Providence - The work of God in creation where he provides and arranges his good purposes
    1. "Molina defined providence as God’s ordering of things to their intended good purposes either directly by his own action or indirectly by secondary causes. As Molina explained, “Divine providence is therefore nothing other than the reason or conception existing in the divine mind to order things to their ends by himself or even to be committed to the execution of the intervention of secondary causes to bring about his purposes, or . . . is itself the very divine reason that disposes all things to their highest aims.” (MacGregor, Kirk R.. Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI, Kindle Edition, 2015, p. 107).

 

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.