What is molinism and is it biblical?


Molinism is named after the 16th century Jesuit theologian named Luis de Molina (1535-1600). It deals with what is called "Middle Knowledge" and is an attempt to harmonize the sovereign omniscience of God and the position known as the libertarian free will of man. Libertarian free will is the teaching that fallen man is still sufficiently free to be able to equally choose or reject God if only presented with the right information. Middle knowledge is best understood when compared with other issues pertaining to God's knowledge.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Free Knowledge - God necessarily knows in totality all that actually exists that He has freely chosen to create.

Basically, we can see Molinism as the teaching that God knows what the potential free will choices of people will be and chooses who will be saved based on that knowledge. In other words, God sovereignly predestines and saves those whom He knows will choose Him.

The problems here are multifaceted. First, it means that God looks into the future to see what people will do and saves them based on their choices. Therefore, God reacts to man's choices, and God saves a person based on some quality (the ability to make a right choice) that the person possesses. But this is showing partiality (favoring one person over another based on a quality in/of that person)--something that God condemns (Rom. 2:11). Also, Molinism does not answer why one person chooses God and another does not 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? Just saying it is up to the individual doesn't answer the question. The hard-core Molinist cannot answer this question adequately.

Second, Middle Knowledge means that God learns what the actual choices of people will be only when they occur. God would then be ignorant about man's future choices. This violates the scripture that says God knows all things (1 John 3:20)--not just all things that actually happen. In fact, the very verses used by Molinists to support Middle Knowledge (Matt. 11:21-24 and 1 Cor. 2:8) can be used to show that God's knowledge is absolute when it comes to potential events, not developing. He doesn't learn. He knows!

Third, Middle Knowledge (as it relates to human freedom) fails to properly understand the depravity of man. The scriptures do not say that the unregenerate can freely choose God. In fact, the contrary is taught. 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 here 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).

Though God does know all things actual as well as potential, He also knows exactly what choices we will make at any time and not because God is a good guesser but because God has predestined and ordained whatsoever comes to pass (Acts 4:27-28; Eph. 1:11).





About The Author

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