Q&A Forum: What Is Molinism?

What is molinism and does Scripture support it?

Molinism is a well-intentioned attempt by honorable Christian thinkers to do the impossible. It tries, by way of a sophisticated philosophical argument, to describe the indescribable; it aspires to explain the ways of an inscrutable God, and to reduce His redemptive purposes to intellectually acceptable human propositions.

First described by 16th-century Jesuit priest Luis de Molina (1535-1600), it attempts to reconcile God’s absolute sovereignty with man’s “free will.” His theories, actively promoted by a number of Christian philosophers today, revolve around a device called “God’s middle knowledge.” An elegant form of Arminianism, it ultimately diminishes God’s rights and simultaneously denies man the right to freely choose. Regrettably, “middle knowledge” can be neither verified nor falsified by Scripture. It is based on human assumption and proposition, not divine revelation (i.e., truth stated clearly in the Bible), and, hence, is of no practical value. It sounds elegant and sophisticated but, like all its related “-isms,” is merely conjecture.

Solomon, himself much wiser than us, knew that human knowledge has definite boundaries; he reckoned that God had decreed that man “shoulde not comprehende the ground of his workes which he doth from the begynnyng to the ende” (Ecc 3:11 Bishop’s Bible). Like his father David, he grasped that when we think about what God thinks, we discover that His “thoughts are very deep” (Psa 92:5). We all need Job-like humility; brought finally into God’s awesome presence, he brokenly confessed, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3 ESV). God proves, in the end, to be bigger than His biographers.

God is not “solvable,” regardless of what an empirical worldview demands. He is not reducible, by human wisdom, calculation or machination, into a manageable, explainable Being who fits our speculative categories (Isa 55:9). He is utterly and supremely transcendent in being and in activity. He does not operate by contingency; He rules by sovereign and eternal decree. Therefore, we cannot “find out God” (Job 11:7); our puny efforts to describe (or circumscribe) His sovereign ways, outside of explicit revelation, are, effectively, an insult to His infinite wisdom. And this is not pandering to lazy indifference; it is the acknowledgement that we ARE ignorant of the incalculable “beyondness” of our Creator and Lord. Our proper response is not the clatter of endless speculation, but face-down, prostrate awe before the Almighty God of eternity.

It is of more than passing interest that the assembly gospel workers of the 19th and 20th centuries rarely, if ever, mentioned these abstract philosophical views; they were content to preach a crucified Christ and call for men to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh, that we would be more devoted to simple, Christ-exalting gospel preaching! We aren’t here to win philosophical arguments but to win perishing souls.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:33-36 ESV).