What is molinism and is it biblical?



 

Molinism is named after the 16th century Roman Catholic, Jesuit theologian named Luis de Molina (1535-1600). It is an attempt to harmonize the sovereign omniscience and decrees of God with man's free will using what is called God's Middle knowledge.  In order to understand it, we must compare it with other proposed types of God's knowledge proposed by Molina.

  • Natural Knowledge - God knows all things that are possible and logically necessary. He knows all the possible combinations of all events and human choices. It is natural for God to know such things as logical truths, how many stars there are, and all potential events that might occur in different circumstances.
  • Middle Knowledge - God knows what any free will choice would be of any person at any time in any circumstance. This means that God's knowledge pertaining to people is contingent on human free will choices. Another name for Middle Knowledge is 'scientia media.' Two verses used to support Middle Knowledge are Matt. 11:21-24 and 1 Cor. 2:8. This is dealing with 'counterfactuals,' things that would have happened if circumstances were different but have not actually occured.
  • Free Knowledge - God necessarily knows in totality all that actually exists that He has freely chosen to create.

Middle Knowledge and Libertarian free will are the keys to molinism

Middle knowledge is the key to molinism. Again, it is the position that God knows what a person would have been like and done in different situations.  Based on this knowledge God then creates a world that best expresses his ultimate desires. The problems here are multifaceted.

First, it implies that God is not independent and self sufficient in all of his knowlege, because he must have middle knowledge of people's actions in different scenarios and then creates based on that knowledge.

Second, Middle Knowledge assumes libertarian free will which is the position that fallen man's choices are free from God's predetermination and any restrictions of human nature.  But, this goes against scripture. God's word says that the unregenerate cannot freely choose God. It is man who is deceitful (Jer. 17:9), full of evil (Mark 7:21-23), loves darkness (John 3:19), does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12), is ungodly (Rom. 5:6), dead in his sins (Eph. 2:1), by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3), cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), and a slave of sin (Rom. 6:16-20). Therefore, what is important is understanding that an unbeliever is incapable of understanding and accepting Christ given the condition of his nature in a fallen, unregenerate state. This is why the Bible says such things as it is God who appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48), chooses who is to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4), calls according to His purpose (2 Tim. 1:9), chooses us for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14), grants the act of believing (Phil. 1:29), grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-26), causes us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3), draws people to Himself (John 6:44, 65), predestines us to salvation (Rom. 8:29-30) and adoption (Eph. 1:5) according to His purpose (Eph. 1:11), makes us born again not by our will but by His will (John 1:12-13), and works faith in the believer (John 6:28-29).  Molinism, which presupposes libertarian free will, violates the revelation of Scripture concerning man's depraved nature.

Third, it implies that God shows partiality based on something in the person; namely, the forseen choices made by individuals. In other words, God might create the world one way because he sees that people will choose to believe in him in that particular world. But again, this is showing favoritism based on equality and the people - something Scripture rejects (James 2:2-4).

Fourth, Molinism does not answer why one person chooses God and another does not (in middle knowledge/libertarinaism) when it is God who makes the person and puts him in that place and time. In other words, what is it about the human free will that God has made that enables him to choose God or not in different possible worlds? Just saying it is up to the individual doesn't answer the question. The hard-core Molinist cannot answer this question adequately.

Conclusion

Based on the above four reasons, I must conclude that Molinism is not biblical and should be rejected.  It does does not properly represent God's eternal independence and non-contingency in his nature as well as his knowledge. It fails to properly represent man's depraved nature and enslavement to sin.  It implies that God shows partiality based on the foreseen good choices made by people and creates a world based in part on those foreseen choices, and fails to properly deal with why one person chooses God and another does not in molinist/libertarian position.

 

 

 
 

About The Author

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