What Is Molinism?

Posted By on December 7, 2019


the Catholic counter-reformer Luis Molina was deeply disturbed by the implications of Calvin and Luther’s view that God’s sovereignty over human history precludes and destroys the significant freedom of human beings. And so what Molina
wanted to find was a way to reconcile divine sovereignty and human freedom, not denying either but affirming both. And Molinism, which is named for Molina, is
the theory that he developed to reconcile divine sovereignty and human
freedom, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. Once you understand this
theory, it sheds light on so many other Christian doctrines and illuminates them
in exciting new ways. And what Molina’s theory held is that God, in addition to
knowing everything that could happen and everything that will happen, he also
knows everything that would happen under different circumstances. So for example he knows what you would have done if you were the procurator of
Judea in the first century, and Jesus of Nazareth was dragged before you for
trial. He knows whether you, like Pilate, would have condemned him to the cross or whether you would have let him go. In any circumstance that you might be in, God
knows what you would freely do. And it’s important to understand that Molina’s
affirming here significant libertarian freedom. It’s not,
emphatically not, that you’re causally determined in those circumstances to do
what you would do. Rather, you act freely; it’s just that God,
in His omniscience, knows what you would freely choose to do. And so by creating
certain persons in certain circumstances, God can
orchestrate and providentially direct the course of human history through the
free actions and decisions of human beings. He is completely in control in the sense that it’s up to him what circumstances
exist and who exists in them, but he doesn’t treat people like puppets by
making them do what they do in those circumstances.He allows them to freely
choose; he takes hands off, so to speak, and says you make the choice what you
want to do in these circumstances, but God knows what they would do, and thus he
can direct the course of human history to his ends without obliterating human
freedom. And so Molina’s theory provides a dramatic reconciliation of divine
sovereignty and human freedom, affirming that God is in control of everything
that happens, and yet at the same time that he gives to human persons
significant libertarian free will.

Posted by Lewis Heart

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