What is Molinism?

My young friend, Tyler, asked me recently about Molinism.  Molinism is a doctrine developed by a 16th century theologian, Luis de Molina, that attempted to reconcile the sovereignty of God with man’s free will.

Molina posited the idea that God possesses a special kind of knowledge, known as middle knowledge (scientia media), that effectively lets him know what free creatures would do given different circumstances.  In effect, God’s middle knowledge allowed him to “try out” many possible worlds to see what his free creatures would do.  He then picked one world based on this knowledge.  That is the world we are living in today.

Molinism is an orthodox Christian doctrine (not heretical) and, indeed, still has adherents today.  Some evangelical Christians, such as William Lane Craig, are proponents of this doctrine, or a form of it.

The Southern Baptist Convention, of which I am a member, takes no position on Molinism.  The Baptist Faith and Message states that

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

It also states:

God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.

In other words, Baptists are OK with any doctrine that affirms both God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.  This encompasses a wide range of doctrines from Calvinism to Arminianism and everything in between (including Molinism).

  • Kevin Simmons

    Hey Billy.

    You can’t have a summary of Molinism without including counter-factuals, Plantinga just died a little.

    I’m just kidding. My brother told me you had a blog up so I figured I would troll around and try to argue with you over something stupid.

    Anyway, everything here looks real useful–keep up the good work.

    Kevin Simmons

  • Bill Pratt

    Hey Kevin,
    You’re right about counter-factuals and Plantinga. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness, but only in a counter-factual way. 🙂
    Thanks for the kind words and I hope all is well with you!

  • Kevin Simmons

    Lol. Counter-factuals are so much fun: “If God created Kevin, knowing that Kevin would be a jerk, does that mean that God wanted a world of Jerks?” Hmmmm…its so much easier being a Calvinist in my opinion 🙂

    Everything is well with Julie and myself. We’re moving back to G-boro this summer so you’ll probably see us at some point in the future.