Posts tagged ‘Molinism’

March 14th, 2014

Upcoming Paper on Divine Sovereignty and Omnipotence

by Max Andrews

Several months ago I was approached by an editor for a journal (Testamentum Imperium) requesting that I submit a paper. The theme of the issue is   “Divine Sovereignty in Reformed Theology.” They are backlogged with some people having withdrawn before submission. I suspect I’ll be the token Molinist. Naturally, I’ll be offering a defense of a Molinist model of divine sovereignty. Below is the abstract for my paper titled, “The Sovereignty of God and Omnipotence”.

Abstract: The means by which God conducts his sovereign rein over creation has varied amongst theologians and philosophers of religion for centuries. I will argue that omnipotence is a modal function and is a bilateral means in conjunction with omniscience by which God sovereignly controls creation. Without having these two attributes (as well as goodness, love, etc.) functioning together then there are deleterious theological consequences for the actualization of states of affairs.

March 3rd, 2014

The Problem of Bad “Biblical” Rhetoric

by Max Andrews

If we are pursuing truth then there are many means to discovering what the truth is [about God, reality, etc.]. It’s incredibly naïve to dismiss something because it is not in a preferred category. If we are pursing truth then it would be a category error to dismiss a challenging viewpoint simply because of categorically dismissiveness. Throwing words around like unbiblical, sub-biblical, and non-biblcal are rhetorical devices used in a debate when both parties (or more) believe that they are defending a biblical position. You may believe that something is one of the aforementioned categories but to continuously bring it up is quite the rhetorical effort, and I admit, probably effective to the listeners and debaters, but it doesn’t help and it’s simply annoying. The same thing goes for the claim of “meaningful exegesis” (some people may recognize that line). The two parties in the debate sincerely believe they are doing meaningful exegesis but it simply rhetoric and places the person categorically below the other one by trumpeting their position as being [the only] biblical position. It’s like political public opinion. If you repeat something long enough, be it true or not true, they’re going to start believing it (analogically speaking, the audience or listeners).

February 12th, 2014

Boethius, Foreknowledge, and Human Freedom

by Max Andrews

Boethius discusses the problem in reconciling genuine human freedom with God’s foreknowledge in “Divine Foreknowledge and Freedom of the Will” (proses III-VI).  He bases his whole discussion on whether or not something that is foreknown happens by necessity.  He offers the disjunctive option of the necessity of either thing, which are going to happen be foreseen by God or that what God foresees will in fact happen—either way, he argues, human will is removed.  When discussing the uncertainty of future events he concludes that, for God, there must be no uncertainty in these events because it’s then reduced to possible conditionals, or could-counterfactuals.  Hence, the law of excluded middle is true for knowledge of future tensed events.  He makes an interesting point when discussing aspects about Cicero’s contribution to the problem.  If foreknowledge is removed then the events of human will are no longer necessary. Considering all of the discussion so far he believes that everything that happens does so by necessity.

February 6th, 2014

Encouraging Email from a Reader

by Max Andrews

writing a letterDear Mr. Andrews,

I want to thank you for inspiring my son, Elijah.  Elijah is 14-years-old and an avid reader of your blog and of all things philosophical and theological.  He is a true believer in Jesus who is endlessly reading and learning in order to strengthen and understand his faith.  He seeks out debates to watch online, and is most recently consumed with a book on Molinism.  One of his great thrills was meeting Dr. Robert George of the Witherspoon Institute when he spoke last semester at Clemson University on the topic, ‘Was Jesus a Socialist?’  Of course, today he was also thrilled that you responded to a comment of his on your blog.

Elijah is that rare creature of the mind whose interests are wide-ranging, from ancient history to physics.  He is an excellent mathematician who recently finished his first college math class.

I want to encourage you, as a father and fellow believer, to continue to inspire your readers and students whenever that opportunity should arise again in the future.  We little know the effect of the ripples we send out, but yours have touched the life of a young man who may yet be a scholar (or who knows what).  Certainly, a young man who might be your graduate student someday!

November 7th, 2013

Truth Will Rise to the Top Through a Free and Open Exchange in the Marketplace of Ideas

by Max Andrews

The English poet John Milton did well when he said that “Truth will rise to the top through a free and open exchange in the marketplace of ideas.”  I am so encouraged when I have and see a substantive dialogue with someone concerning an issue.  This is certainly important in every day discussions, blogs, and teaching.  I assist in managing and teaching an Intro. to Philosophy course at university and I always encourage my students to make us work hard to convince them of what we believe to be true.  Do not simply sit there and take what I say and teach prima facie–challenge me, challenge the thoughts, challenge your thinking.

October 28th, 2013

Top Ten Podcasts for the Christian Thinker

by Max Andrews

The following are a list of podcasts that I’ve been following and listening to that have been quite helpful in my philosophical, scientific, and theological studies.  The criteria for consideration are based on 1) quality of content, 2) accurate presentation of the material, 3) constructive and respectful criticism of opposing views, 4) frequency of podcast release, and 5) a broad range of topics/issues discussed.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.24.53 PM#1. Unbelievable? – Hosted by Justin Brierly with Premier Christian Radio.  Unbelievable? is a UK-based public radio program, which airs every Saturday afternoon with an occasional podcast posting mid-week.  Justin brings in several leading scholars in theological and philosophical matters and they debate and dialogue particular issues ranging from ethics, comparative religions, the existence of God, science, doctrinal differences, and current events.

September 3rd, 2013

Theological Elites and Their Dismissiveness of “Philosophy”

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 11.01.34 AMFar too often I find Christians dismissing something because it’s “philosophy” and not from the Bible, a creed, a confession, etc. In my experience, many people tend to accuse Molinism as philosophy. To follow this brief tangent, middle knowledge and Molinism isn’t a philosophical grid being laid over Scripture; rather, it’s a derivation of a commitment to certain principles already obtained from Scripture. (See The Molinism Directory for more on that issue.) Well, it just happens to be the case that I saw a tweet yesterday making this same claim about Molinism being philosophy. (This particular tweet simply categorizes Molinism as philosophy but it’s still dismissed in the long chain of preceding and succeeding tweets.)

If we are pursuing truth then there are many means to discovering what the truth is [about God, reality, etc.]. It’s incredibly naïve to dismiss something because it is not in a preferred category. If we are pursing truth then it would be a category error to dismiss Molinism simply because it’s philosophy (according to the person making the claim). Feel free to disagree with Molinism but do so on a consistent basis and refute it via Scriptural witness, theological reflection/considerations, logical and metaphysical consistency, etc.

May 21st, 2013

Jesus, Transworld Damnation, and Molinism

by Max Andrews

The Matthean account of Jesus pronouncing judgment on the cities of Choarzin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum may be found in Matthew 11.20-24.  This passage of Scripture contains a historical context of six particular cities that were condemned for their depravity.  The following contains a grammatico-historical examination of the text, which is an example of the doctrine of revelatory judgment applied, a verse often used to support the soteriological problem of evil, and is a problem passage for the doctrine of transworld damnation.  The purpose of Jesus’ pronouncement of judgment on these cities was to convey the depravity of man.

Before any critical examination of the text can be made a conclusion on the genre must be established.  The book of Matthew is a Gospel, which is a genre in and of itself.  Many studies performed in modern scholarship of the Gospel literature link the Gospels with Hellenistic biography.[1]  Hellenistic biographers did not feel compelled to include all periods of an individual’s life or to narrate in chronological order.  The selected events were carefully ordered to promote a particular ideology.[2]  In slight contrast to Hellenistic biographies, Robert Guelich proposes formal and particular genera for the Gospels:

Formally, a gospel is a narrative account concerning the public life and teaching of a significant person that is composed of discreet [sic] traditional units placed in the context of Scriptures… Materially, the genre consists of the message that God was at work in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection effecting His promises found in the Scriptures.[3]

May 18th, 2013

Help! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!

by Max Andrews

coverKudos to Brendan Burnett for sending these to me. These are real children’s books that are designed to teach the doctrines of grace.

Help! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!

Help, Mom! There are Arminians Under My Bed!

Come along on a journey with Mitchell, as he recalls his nightmare for his mother. Mitchell was in a land of darkness and gloom, when due to no cooperation of his own, a Knight in shining armor saved him and all the other captives He intended to save. “Help! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!” is a children’s allegory designed to teach your kids the Doctrines of Grace through the use of creative story-telling.

May 11th, 2013

Original Sin and Libertarian Free Will

by Max Andrews

The teaching of Scripture seems to assert that post-Genesis 3 humans possess libertarian free will, including freedom to choose between opposites on matters pertaining to salvation or any other spiritual good.  This immediately raises questions surrounding the concept of original sin.  Augustine first used the expression “original sin” in the wake of the Pelagian controversy.[1]  Upon arriving at Rome in A.D. 400, the British monk Pelagius was horrified to see the open immorality prevalent among so-called Christians.[2]  This was the direct result of Theodosius I nineteen years earlier (381) declaring Christianity to be the state religion so decreeing that anyone living within its borders to be Christian. This was a transformation of Christianity from a voluntary religion (one that people freely choose to join) to a natural religion (one into which people are born) spawned immense immorality in many people who bore the name of Christ without ever having personally committed their lives to Jesus.[3]  Pelagius exhorted the Romans to live worthy of their Christian calling with an argument logically summarized in two steps:

1.  Humans possess libertarian free will.

2.  Humans should use their libertarian freedom to be good enough people to earn their own salvation.[4]

Unfortunately, as so often happens in the history of thought, one extreme position meets the response of an equally extreme opposing position, thus swinging the ideological pendulum from one side to the other.  Very rarely is prudence taken in shifting the pendulum back to the center, where the truth is most likely to be found.