“Molinism” is a Christian belief system that claims to be a “middle position” between Arminianism (man has total free-will) and Calvinism (God is sovereign over all including man’s salvation). It was named after 16th Century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina.
In the exceedingly tight conundrum that both Arminians and Calvinists find themselves there has evolved this third option called Molinism. It is claimed to be a sort of “balance” between Calvinism and Arminianism.
My first and foremost objection to this view is that no one outside of a theologian or philosophy major could even grasp its most basic definition. It is the most difficult position to pin down and define. Here are the thoughts of someone who claims to be a Molinist:
“I am more in the line of thinking that God, in His omnipotence and omniscience, created us with Free Will, but KNOWS what we will do and how all decisions affect everything, and plans around it. We have Free Will, but he knows all and controls all too. Our free will only extends so far as that it doesn’t impact God’s desire to do something contrary to it.”
From an explanation of Molinism on Wikipedia:
“Molinists believe that God does not only have knowledge of necessary truths and contingent truths but that God’s middle knowledge contains, but is not limited to, His 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 claims that even if Bob is never in Tahiti, God can still know whether Bob would go swimming or sunbathing. The Molinist believes that God, using his middle knowledge and foreknowledge, surveyed all possible worlds and then actualized a particular one.”
Does the first make sense to you? Does the explanation from Wikipedia sound like Good News? Does it in any way settle the fact that God does not sovereignly actualize a world in which all are saved? According to Molinism, to actualize a world in which all are saved would not have been God’s best possible world. But then, we are told, “God is not willing that any should perish.” The confusion continues and our “sovereign God” appears to be demoted to the impotent Arminian God once again.
Willaim Lane-Craig, the renowned apologist, is the leading voice and defender of the Molinist position. But granted you need a mind like Lane-Craig to comprehend it!
If Molinism has become your refuge against the extremes of Calvinism and Arminianism and the “heretical” Evangelical Universalism then I ask you to think again. It is indeed your last defense and only choice to avoid the three options mentioned. I guess you are free to believe it …if you can define it.
We actually believe it is the precursor to Evangelical Universalism simply because those who have ended up ascribing to Molinism have done so because they have encountered and experienced the utter dead-ends of Calvinism and Arminianism. But next comes their inability to explain this so-called middle ground to others…like unbelievers and children. Remember, the Gospel is Good News which means it must first be coherent and make sense. It must resonate.
We believe as more and more Christians go searching for a “balance” between Calvinism and Arminianism they will find that their only option is to acknowledge that Scripture reveals the vital elements of both: that God is both willing and able to save all …that He is both desirous of all to be saved and powerful enough to make it happen and that He who sent out His word to make “all thing new” and “reconcile the world to Himself” is the same God whose “Word will not return to Him empty and void.” (Rev 21:5; Isa 55:11)
Interestingly here is a post on Molinism and how one blogger (a Calvinist) saw how it was a logical path to universalism:
Dr. William Lane Craig has an article called A Middle Knowledge Perspective on Biblical Inspiration. In this article he offers Molinism as the answer of how God can work with man to write inspired Scripture. This preserves man’s freedom while still giving God a level of control of the outcome. If this position is satisfactory for the inspiration of written Scripture, why is it not satisfactory for other areas in which God works in peoples’ lives?
Taking Craig’s conclusion built upon Molinism of how the Bible was inspired and applying it to salvation seems to offer no valid reason why all are not saved. The first paragraph below are Craig’s actual words. The second is my re-written paragraph using Craig’s position, but applying it to salvation.
In conclusion, it seems to me that the traditional doctrine of the plenary, verbal, confluent inspiration of Scripture is a coherent doctrine, given divine middle knowledge. Because God knew the relevant counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, He was able to decree a world containing just those circumstances and persons such that the authors of Scripture would freely compose their respective writings, which God intended to be His gracious Word to us. In the providence of God, the Bible is thus both the Word of God and the word of man.
My version re-written and applied to salvation.
In conclusion, it seems to me that the traditional doctrine of hell and damnation due to free will choices of men outside of inspiration is incoherent, given divine middle knowledge. Because God knew the relevant counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, He was able to decree a world containing just those circumstances and persons such that the “would be” condemned would freely compose their respective free choices, which God intended to be His gracious gift to us. In the providence of God, the choice to believe the gospel is thus both of God and of man.
by Mark of Here I Blog: http://hereiblog.com/could-molinism-support-universalism/
It is interesting to note how Alvin Plantinga, also a “Molinist,” is naturally moving into a more Evangelical Universalist position:
“Like any Christian, there is therefore an afterlife, and his afterlife goes on indefinitely. Christians sort of, traditionally, classically, think there are these two states after death. There is heaven and there is hell, and the people who are chosen by God or have faith in God or accept what God requires them to, they wind up in heaven, others wind up in hell. I’m not so sure the Bible actually teaches that. There are lots of passages in the Bible that suggest that everybody winds up in heaven. So St. Paul says something like ‘as through one man sin entered the world, so through one man shall all be saved. As the one man all sinned, so through the one man all shall be saved. It is the same word, same greek word in those two occurrences that suggest that everybody will be saved. Maybe people get second chances, third chances, after death, fourth chances, extra chances…(he quotes CS Lewis’s The Great Divorce about posthumous chances).
That’s called universalism. And I don’t myself quite believe it, but I don’t disbelieve it either. I think it’s something that a Christian should at least hope for.”
(This excerpt is from a video that has recently been removed from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhohcPhMdxs&feature=share)
“Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21
We find it interesting that most Christians don’t believe God is going to do that which is “infinitely more than all we could ever ask or imagine.” But thankfully some like Plantinga admit that Christian universalism is something “we should at least hope for.”