June 12th, 2012
A few years ago Ken Keathley, Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented a paper at the SBC’s Building Bridges Conference. Keathley is a Molinist and the title of his paper [on election] was “How to be a Consistent Infralapsarian.” This paper was the primary content in the chapter on election in his book Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach. There is an audio version of his presentation but all the links I found online were broken. Be sure to download the draft of the paper in the link above and read through it. He outlines a very robust model of election and reprobation. (As a Molinist I, of course, affirm much of what he argues.) Nonetheless, you cannot deny that he is being biblical and consistent in his model of election.
I had a review of Salvation and Sovereignty published in the Midwestern Journal of Theology you can read. Concerning Keathley’s chapter on election, his paper, this is what I had to say:
Keathley’s understanding of sovereign election, which he calls “consistent infralapsarianism,” follows from his understanding of overcoming grace. Under this view, God elects all individuals who would freely cease to resist his saving grace. God will so arrange the world, via strong and weak actualizations, to bring about a person’s experiences and circumstances in which they would freely refrain from rejecting him.
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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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February 9th, 2012
Theology Thursday is a new feature on the blog, which gives a brief introduction to a theological person of significance.
Theologian: Karl Barth (1886-1969)
General summary of his theology: Barth has made man contributions to Christian theology. In this post I’ll discuss general theological ideas in Barth’s thought.
If the word of God the task of theology then there is a problem: of all disciplines theology alone is confronted with an unanswerable question [for us]–What is before birth and after death?. The question that my finite self overcomes nihilism. Theology, whether preaching or teaching, the theological task is impossible but necessary because the question must arise in we existing human beings; and so, theology as the human speaking the word of God as God’s own speaking cannot be done; therefore, No. Yet, theology, in seeking to speak the word of God, to human finitude and human need must be done. In recognizing that theology cannot be done and cannot answer the question while still pursuing and seeking after the answer is to do two things: glorify God and may open the field (when God allows it) to the possibility that an answer may come from God to existing human beings. No human being, though, can say or speak absolutely and unambiguously the word of God as God’s own speaking. Therefore, any true word of God that comes through our human speech is again still NO and YES, YES and NO, because it both is and is not the word of God.
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February 1st, 2012
The Word of the Week is: Supralapsarianism
Definition: From the Latin, supra (prior to, below, before), lapsis, (fall). A term used to denote the logical moment of God’s election of the saints. Supralapsarianism if the belief that God chose the elect logically prior to the fall of man.
More about the term: Supralapsarianism is generally held by Calvinists and a few Molinists. Supralapsarianism places the moment of divine election logically prior to the fall of Adam as opposed to logically posterior to the fall, which is known as infralapsarianism. When God chose the elect he did so without viewing them or considering them in their fallen state. God chose them in a pre-fallen state. This position can create controversy and may have unsavory implications. One of the implications is what’s known as double-predestination. This is the idea that God chose the reprobates (the non-elect) in the same fashion in which he chose the elect. This isn’t a necessary implication of supralapsarianism since God’s decree of reprobation may be logically posterior to the fall.
This view of soteriology is held by Alvin Plantinga, who is a Molinist with Calvinistic tendencies (there’s a wide spectrum of Molinism ranging from supralapsarianism to Wesleyan). Plantinga uses this idea in his theodicy, ‘O Felix Culpa’ (O happy sin). The reason why evil exists is because God first desired the cross of Christ–the means by which God would get the most glory. In order to bring about the cross there must be sin, thus God permits sin to happen because he desires the cross (which is why evil exists–so God may be glorified by atoning for it).