Posts tagged ‘Molinism’

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.

Aside from my ‘official’ list I have my own podcast: EavesdroppingEavesdropping provides a conversational, informal podcast that is sometimes a monologue or dialogue with guests concerning various topics including philosophy, theology, science, contemporary events, and random meanderings of a philosopher. The primary focuses are philosophy of science, multiverse scenarios, and Molinism.

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.

May 6th, 2013

Q&A 21: John 6, Calvinism, and Free Will Revisited

by Max Andrews

Question:

Hey! My name is Josh. I’m a young college student by day (and christian apologist by night, jokes). But in my personal life, apologetics is important to me.

Aside from that, I have a question I think you could help me with. I’m a Calvinist (hold the tomatoes) because I think, Biblically, it’s the most accurate putting together of scriptural truth (basically the best systematic theology). My problem is this:

Total Inability and free will. How are we morally responsible if we cannot choose otherwise? And since no one seeks God (Romans) and no one can come to Christ unless the Father brings them (John 6), how is it that we can really talk about free will? How would this be the best possible world where most free creatures choose Christ, when they cannot choose Him unless He first removes their inability? It seems that it doesn’t matter what world God created becaue technically speaking, He could remove the inability from all people, resulting in everyone freely choosing Christ. I hope my questions make sense. I’m eager to hear your response.

April 29th, 2013

Grounding the Grounding Objection

by Max Andrews

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.[1]

April 22nd, 2013

Q&A 19: Calvinism and Free Will

by Max Andrews

Question:

Hey! My name is Josh. I’m a young college student by day (and christian apologist by night, jokes). But in my personal life, apologetics is important to me.Aside from that, I have a question I think you could help me with. I’m a Calvinist (hold the tomatoes) because I think, Biblically, it’s the most accurate putting together of scriptural truth (basically the best systematic theology). My problem is this:
Total Inability and free will. How are we morally responsible if we cannot choose otherwise? And since no one seeks God (Romans) and no one can come to Christ unless the Father brings them (John 6), how is it that we can really talk about free will? How would this be the best possible world where most free creatures choose Christ, when they cannot choose Him unless He first removes their inability? It seems that it doesn’t matter what world God created becaue technically speaking, He could remove the inability from all people, resulting in everyone freely choosing Christ. I hope my questions make sense. I’m eager to hear your response.Keep up the good work. I love your website!God Bless :)

Answer:

Josh,

Thanks for your question. Since I’m not a Calvinist my answer will probably be a little different from what you were anticipating. First, I’ll respond to you question from within the Calvinist system (as best as I can). Then I’ll give you  my response and thoughts on the issue as a Molinist.