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Wednesday
Dec152010

Theological Term of the Week

 

Molinism
A philosophical system named after Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, a system which sought to maintain both the autonomy of human beings and the sovereignty of God by claiming that God’s knowledge of the free decisions of any human beings in any given circumstance was logically prior to his decree of what would happen in the world he would create.

  • Scripture used to argue for Molinism, although it simply proves that God knows what would have happened under different circumstances, and not that this knowledge is logically prior to his creative decree:

    Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:20-21, ESV)

  • Scripture that argues against Molinism by suggesting that God himself is the source of all knowledge:

    Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
    or what man shows him his counsel?
    Whom did he consult,
    and who made him understand?
    Who taught him the path of justice,
    and taught him knowledge,
    and showed him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14 ESV)

  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1689:

    Chapter III- Of God’s Eternal Decree

    I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

    II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

  • Herman Bavinck (Reformed Dogmatics) is critical of Molinism because in it

    God does not derive his knowledge of the free actions of human beings from his own being, his own decrees, but from the will of creatures. God, accordingly, becomes dependent on the world, derives knowledge from the world that he did not have and could not obtain from himself, and hence, in his knowledge, ceases to be one, simple, and independent – that is, God.

Learn more:

  1. Theopedia: Molinism
  2. Paul Helm: Molinism 101
  3. Third Millennium Ministries: Does Matthew 11:20-24 teach Molinism (Middle Knowledge)?
  4. James White: Explanation and Refutation of Middle Knowledge (YouTube video)
  5. Turretinfan: Middle Knowledge (series of YouTube videos)

Related terms:

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (1)

That's a great quote from Bavinck.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHollie

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