Quick question. In my Free Grace walk, I have often been categorized as Arminian. I recently ran across a term I had not heard before: Molinism. As I read an article on the topic, I liked what I read. My question is this: is Free Grace theology in line with Molinism, or am I reading too much into it?
Thanks for your amazing teaching.
Yes, Free Grace is compatible with Molinism or “middle knowledge.” I’ll tell you why.
Free Grace is about salvation, whereas Molinism is a theory about God’s foreknowledge. Those are two different subjects in theology that don’t necessarily conflict. So you can believe in both.
Let me say a little more about that.
According to Free Grace, we believe that salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ, apart from works (Eph 2:8-9). And because salvation is not something we can earn through our behavior, it’s also not something we can lose. By the very nature of the case, the believer is eternally secure. If someone thinks he can lose his salvation, he probably has some legalistic thinking to work out. (You can read Lucas Kitchen’s book Eternal Clarity for free here.) Free Grace people are sometimes called Arminians because we believe in free will. And that commitment to free will explains why both Free Grace people and Arminians are interested in Molinism. Why?
Because Molinism—also called “middle knowledge"—is a theory about how God can know the future without violating human free will. How is that possible? According to the Molinists, God has three kinds of knowledge: God knows everything that could have happened, everything that will happen, and everything that would have happened. That last kind of knowledge is what Molinism is all about. According to that view, God knows what people would have freely chosen to do had they been put in different circumstances. And He can use that knowledge to achieve His purposes without violating our creaturely free will.
For example, let’s say God wanted you to become a preacher and He knows you’ll freely choose to become one if you get a scholarship to a seminary. In that case, God could arrange for you to get a scholarship so you’d freely choose to go to seminary and become a preacher. That way, God achieves His purposes, and you’re still free.
Long story short, since Molinism or middle knowledge has nothing to do with the condition of salvation, it’s compatible with Free Grace thought. I know at least one Free Grace author who wrote a book defending Molinism, John Correia’s Refreshing Grace. It’s a good introduction to the topic.
In the recent past, I thought middle knowledge was supported by a couple of passages in the Bible. But after revisiting some of the literature on it, I'm not as confident about that, but I still think it's an option worth investigating.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.