May 1st, 2012
The grounding objection asks the question: By what means or grounds does God know what he knows (particularly middle knowledge)?
Suppose I have an argument similar to the grounding argument from the grounding objection claiming that contingent truths are not self-explanatory but must simply exist, from all eternity, as an ungrounded, metaphysical surd. How would I, as a Molinist, respond?
This objection is merely the result of misunderstanding the means by which God knows what he does. God’s knowledge is wholly intuitive and relies on no existent entity and is completely compatible with divine aseity. According to Luis de Molina,
God does not get his knowledge from things, but knows all things in himself and from himself; therefore, the existence of things, whether in time or eternity, contributes nothing to God’s knowing with certainty what is going to be or not to be… For prior to any existence on the part of the objects, God has within himself the means whereby he knows all things fully and perfectly; and this is why the existence of created things contributes no perfection to the cognition he has of them and does not cause any change in that cognition… [And] God does not need the existence of those things in his eternity in order to know them with certainty.
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April 25th, 2012
The task of a Molinist perspective of middle knowledge is to remove the perceived dilemma between human freedom and divine foreknowledge. There are a minority of philosophers and theologians who hold to this Molinist doctrine. On a promising note, middle knowledge is in modern philosophical debate and works advocated by some of the most prominent philosophers such as Thomas Flint, William Lane Craig, Ken Keathley, Kirk MacGregor, and perhaps one of America’s greatest philosophers, Alvin Plantinga. These leading Molinists serve in prominent societies such as the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Philosophical Association, and the American Academy of Religion, who serve as witnesses to middle knowledge amongst leading Calvinists, Openness Theologians, atheists, and philosophers of other schools of thought. Middle knowledge, when implemented into modern discussion, serves as a defense to the many forms of the problems of evil (most notably the soteriological problem of evil), a plausible solution with explanatory scope and power for issues such as predestination, the doctrine of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, and is compatible with every other orthodox doctrine.
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February 16th, 2012
FOCUS: Can a born-again believer lose his or her salvation while simultaneously affirming God’s sovereignty and human free will while being consistent with Scripture?
An Examination of the Perseverance of the Saints Doctrine
Apostolic warnings against apostasy pose a difficulty for the classic doctrine of perseverance of the saints because either the warnings seem superfluous or else it seems possible for the believer to fall away after all. The attempt to construe the warnings as the means by which God effects perseverance fails to distinguish the classical doctrine from a Molinist doctrine, according to which believers can fall away but in fact will not due to God’s extrinsically efficacious grace. A Molinist perspective is coherent and, unlike the classical doctrine does not render superfluous the apostolic admonitions.
The traditional doctrine of perseverance states that not only will the saints maintain grace and salvation, but literally cannot fall from grace. (It is very important to approach these and understand these texts in light of appropriate exegesis.) However, this seems to ignore numerous Scriptures, which warn the danger of apostasy of those who deliberately fall from grace:
Rom. 11:17-24; I Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; I Thess. 3:5; I Tim. 1:19-20; II Tim. 2:17-18; Jas. 5:19-20; II Pet. 2:20-22; I Jn. 5:16
Perhaps the most prominent:
Therefore leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on the maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the death and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings for the vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed and it ends up being burned. Heb. 6.1-8 (NASB)
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February 13th, 2012
For a context of where I’m coming from concerning Molinism please see my previous posts:
- Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
- Why I’m Not an Arminian
- Why I’m Not a Calvinist
- God Controls Everything–Good and Bad
- Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
- The Pelagian Equivocation
- The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
- Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes
- Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
- Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism
- Holds a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to an equal and uncompromising view of human free will.
- Provides a better model for understanding how it is simultaneously true that God’s decree of election while His rejection of the unbeliever is conditional.
- Affirms the genuine desire on the part of God for all to be saved in His universal salvific will (which is problematic for the Calvinist) claiming that God loved the whole world (John 3:16) yet, Christ has a particular love for the Church (Eph. 5:25).
- God control’s all things, but does not cause all things.
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March 28th, 2011
Motivated by a Bible study discussion last night, I decided to give an outline of the singular redemption view of the atonement. This view (unlimited) was the view that was advocated by John Calvin. This outline is certainly not meant to be exhaustive. To list a few proponents of singular redemption:
- John Calvin
- Moise Amyraut (Calvinist, developed Amyrauldianism)
- Richard Baxter (Calvinist)
- Bruce Ware (Calvinist)
- Millard Erickson (Calvinist)
- Kenneth Keathley (Molinist)
- Timothy George (Molinist)
- Robert Picirilli (Arminian)
- Matthew Pinson (Arminian)
A brief distinction in common views:
- Universal Atonement: Christ died for all and the atonement is applied to all (universal salvation).
- General Atonement: Christ obtained salvation for all but secured it for none. It holds to a government view of the atonement. Christ did not die for your sins he died for you. It’s a general amnesty. The penalty for sin is eternal perdition and no one could do that. Christ suffered for everyone so the Father could forgive those who repent. (Notice the problem with the government view of atonement 1 Cor. 15.3, Gal 3.13, 1 Jn. 2.2–it was a penal substitionary atonement).
- Limited Atonement: Christ secured salvation for the elect and only the elect. Christ died for the particular person and because some die without Christ, Christ did not die for that person. (Substitionary)
- Singular Redemption/Unlimited Atonement: Christ provides salvation for all but the benefits of salvation are secured for those who believe. (Substitionary)
Common verses supporting universal/general atonement (corporately):
- Jn. 1.29
- Jn. 3.16-17
- Jn. 4.42
- 2 Cor. 4.14-15
- 2 Cor. 5.19
- 1 Tim. 4.10
- Heb. 2.9
- 2 Pt 2.1
- 1 Jn. 2.2
- 1 Jn. 4.14
- Acts 2.21
- Rom. 10.13
- Rev. 22.17
Common verses supporting particular atonement:
- Mt. 1.21
- Jn. 10.3-4, 14-16, 25-27
- Rom 5.8
- Rom. 8.32-35
- Eph. 5.25
Singular redemption presumes that God wills for every individual to be saved. Antecedently, God wills all to be saved; consequently, because of the individual’s sin and rejection of the Gospel, God wills for that person to be damned. There is a temporal distinction in when the elect becomes elect, an elect person temporally prior to their conversion is just as lost as an unelect person. God does incorporate contingency in his sovereign plan (i.e. Ez. 3.17-18). There is also a distinction between the extent of the atonement and the intent of the atonement. The death of Christ is the basis for the salvation of all men, but Scripture does not call upon men to believe in a salvation they already have. The gospel does not inform the elect that they are saved, it exhorts all to repent and believe so that they will be saved.
What does many and world refer to in these passages?
- Calvin advocated that these may not be limited to the elect only, rather the whole human race. He contrasts many to one.
- World does not mean “the world of the elect.” Calvin argued this point as well (arguing from Jn. 3.16). He believed man is doubly-guilty for rejecting Christ. Unbelievers who turn away from him and who deprive themselves of him by their malice are doubly culpable.
What about equating Christ’s intercession as Hight Priest and the atonement? (argument for LA)
- The Bible does not equate the two in extent.
- Intercession relates to the believers only after they exercise faith
- Intercession illustrates that blessings of the atonement are experienced only by those who place their trust in God.
Does non-limited atonement lead to universalism?
- No, but the objection works only if the biblical necessity of faith is ignored.
- Faith is conditional for salvation.
Double-Jeopardy: If Christ died for some who die lost, then their sins are paid for twice!
- This assumes what it wishes to prove –that the death of Christ actually secures salvation for the elect and applies the benefits prior to the exercise of faith.
- Until faith is exercised, an elect persons is just as lost as the non-elect.
Limited atonement is logically inconsistent with a well-meant offer of the gospel.
- If an unelect is presented with the gospel, it really wasn’t meant for that person.
- The claim, “God loves all of you and died for all of you” is a lie (David Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel, 88 [a Calvinist himself]).
- Does God love the world? Would we attempt to restrict any other perfections of God to the elect only?
Limited atonement teaches that the non-elect are condemned for rejecting Christ when in fact he did not die for them.
- Man cannot reject what doesn’t exist.
- This falls in line with Calvin’s double-guilt argument from Jn. 3.16.
Again, this isn’t exhaustive and there may certainly be objections [and rebuttals] but this is a brief outline. For more check out Ken Keathley’s book Salvation and Sovereignty (the source for this information).