Sovereignty, Freedom, and the Philosophers (pt. 2)

Another view that attempts to reconcile God’s foreknowledge and human free-will is called Molinism (named after Luis de Molina) or Middle-Knowledge. Probably the best known proponent of Molinism is the Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig. Middle-knowledge states that God not only knows what we will do, but what we would do in any circumstance that we were in. So he not only knew in advance as a matter of fact that I would freely take a shower yesterday, He knew that if circumstances had been different (perhaps getting home late and going immediately to bed) I would have freely chosen not to take a shower. So since He knows what all human beings would freely do under any circumstance, He chooses to actualize (create) the world that goes the way He wants, perhaps the one that has the largest number of people getting saved. So this view keeps God’s sovereignty, since things are going the way He wants, and it retains human free will, since He isn’t causing humans to act in a certain way. If God knows that Sally will freely choose chocolate ice cream if she entered an ice cream shop on Tuesday, and He wants that event to happen, he will actualize the world in which Sally went to an ice cream shop on Tuesday and she’d freely choose chocolate ice cream. If Sally instead freely went to the ice cream shop on Wednesday and freely chose mint ice cream, God would actualize the world in which those circumstances to happen, if indeed that’s the desired result He wants to bring about. Under the actual circumstances of the world right now, I have a truck. However, God knows that if I were richer, then I’d have a porsche. If His desired result was for me to have a porsche, then He would have actualized the world in which I was richer. I think you get the idea.

It’s a very clever idea and one I like to play around with in my head. As far as I can tell, it seems to nicely fit together God’s foreknowledge and my freedom to choose without making it look like God is the one causing all of my actions. My only issue is that it goes beyond what the Bible actually says. It doesn’t seem to contradict the Bible, which is better than open theism, but I’m not comfortable endorsing the view myself since the Bible doesn’t seem to say this is how God works. Does that make the view completely illegitimate? I don’t think it does. This doctrine of middle-knowledge is simply a model that philosophical-theologians use to fit together the Biblical data on God’s sovereignty and human free-will nicely. The doctrine of the Trinity is the same way. It fits together the Biblical data on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a coherent way that makes sense out of the teachings. The doctrine, of course, uses some terminology and descriptions that the Bible doesn’t use, like saying that God is three persons but one substance, but otherwise it doesn’t go into much speculation. I guess that’s mostly my problem with middle-knowledge: much of it feels like speculation. After some research I’ll probably get back into this topic.

So do I have my own view? I don’t have any well formulated view of my own yet. As a philosophically minded person, I want to seek out knowledge in these areas, but I’m with the Psalmist when he says “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it,” (Ps. 139:6). I’ll continue to seek knowledge on this since I’m made in the image of God, but with the humility of knowing that I am “dust,” and will not be able to fully understand most everything, especially God.

Here’s the interview with William Lane Craig on his view and a few others. His website, Reasonable Faith, has articles on it as well.

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