September 3rd, 2013
Far 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.
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May 21st, 2013
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. 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. 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.
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May 18th, 2013
Kudos 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.
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May 11th, 2013
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. Upon arriving at Rome in A.D. 400, the British monk Pelagius was horrified to see the open immorality prevalent among so-called Christians. 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. 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.
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.
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April 29th, 2013
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 2nd, 2013
Great site & I appreciate your comprehensive answers. Here’s a question that I’ve never been able to get a good answer for: If God doesn’t force us to do things, and we have free will, how did he know for sure that everything would play out exactly as it did when Jesus came to Earth? Say they made the choice not to put him on the cross, what if Peter went out of his way to make sure he didn’t deny him 3X, etc. Could you shed some light on this topic?
Surely, the biblical witness is that God sovereignly controls everything in creation, but it does not mean He causes all things. God knows what will happen because He makes it happen. God’s knowledge is wholly intuitive and relies on no existent entity and is completely compatible with divine aseity. According to Luis de Molina,
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February 13th, 2013
In the spectrum of human freedom there are typically four distinct positions: hard-determinism, soft-determinism, hard-libertarianism, and soft-libertarianism. Hard-determinism is the belief that free will is illusory and all actions/decisions are causally determined by antecedent conditions, which could be natural laws or God. Soft-determinism, also known as compatibilism, maintains that free will and determinism are compatible. Hard-libertarianism suggests that humans always have free will while soft-libertarianism commits to the belief that humans have free will at significant times.
There are five tenets of soft-libertarianism particular to Christianity.
- Ultimate Responsibility: UR indicates that an acting agent is responsible for the outcome and origin of decisions made.
- Agent Causation: A person is the source and origin of choices.
- Principle of Alternative Possibilities: At crucial times, the ability to choose or refrain form choosing is genuinely available. 1 Cor 10.13 promises that God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” It follows that any Christian who does not in some circumstance endure but succumbs to temptation had it within his power to take the way of escape instead, i.e., he had the liberty of opposites in those circumstances.
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February 8th, 2013
As advocated by St. Anselm, God is a maximally perfect being. If ignorance is an imperfection, all things being equal [according to Ockham’s razor], then it is greater to be knowledgeable. To prevent initial detractions from the classical definition of omniscience, omniscience should be understood as knowing all truths.
O. For any agent x, x is omniscient= def. For every statement s, if s is true, then x knows that s and does not believe that not-s.
If there are truths about future contingents, God, as an omniscient being must know these truths. Since there are truths about the future, that is to say, since statements about future contingents are either true or false, and they are not all false, God must therefore know all truths about the future, which is to say He knows future-tense facts; He knows what will happen. One may try to avoid this reasoning by contending that future-tense statements are neither true nor false, so that there are no facts about the future. Since the future does not exist, it is claimed that the respective future-tense statements cannot be true or false, simply without truth. To make this assertion is a misunderstanding behind the statement’s truth claim. For a future tense-statement to be true it is not required that what it describes exist, but that it will exist. In order for a future-tense statement to be true, all that is required is that when the moment described arrives, the present-tense version of the statement will be true at that moment. Nicholas Rescher gives an illustration for this assertion:
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