Is Molinism Biblical?

The first time I heard and read articles on Molinism, it flies in the face of my feeble understanding of God’s sovereignty as clearly stated in the Scriptures. As I listened and read to the proponents of Molinism, I cannot find it consistent with what the Bible teaches concerning the Supremacy of God and the creatureliness of man. I collated the most recent discussions on Molinism plus James White and Tim Stratton’s opening statements during their debate in order to help us understand the real issue.

Opening Statement: Tim Stratton

My Argument: 
1- If scripture implies both
(a) humans occasionally possess libertarian freedom and
(b) all human activity is predestined before creation, then scripture implies Molinism.
2 - Scripture implies both (a) and (b).
3- Therefore, scripture implies Molinism.

1 - If Christians possess the opportunity to exercise an ability to choose among a range of options each compatible with their regenerated nature at a given moment, then Christians possess libertarian freedom. 2- At the moment of temptation, Christians possess the opportunity to exercise an ability to choose between giving into temptation or taking the way of escape God promises to provide.
3 - Therefore, Christians possess libertarian freedom.

1 - If God causally determines White to affirm false belief X (in the actual world), then White does not possess the opportunity to exercise an ability to infer a better or true belief about X (in the actual world). 2- If EDD (Exhaustive Divine Determinism) is true, then God causally determines all Christians (including White) to affirm false theological beliefs (no one's theology is infallible).
3 - If God causally determines all Christians to affirm some false theological beliefs, then White stands in no epistemic position to know which of his theological affirmations are true and which of his theological affirmations are false.
4- If White does not stand in a position to rationally affirm his theological beliefs, then White possesses a defeater against (a reason to doubt) his theological beliefs.
5 - If White possesses reason to doubt his theological beliefs, then White cannot rationally affirm his theological beliefs.
6- Therefore, if EDD is true, White cannot rationally affirm his theological beliefs.

BOTTOM LINE: The Bible clearly describes two things:
(a) humans possess libertarian freedom and
(b) all human activity is predestined before creation.

It's logically impossible to causally determine a libertarian free choice. (This is true by definition)

Middle knowledge is the only way to predestine a libertarian free choice.

If predestination prior to creation is true, then there seems to be only two ways for God to ensure it:
(a) God could determine everything to occur exactly as predestined.
(b) God could use His middle knowledge to ensure what He has predestined.
There is, therefore, no contradiction between being a Bible believer, and holding to Molinism.

Opening Statement: James White

In the strictest sense, to be biblical is to be derived from the necessary teaching of scripture via the sound methods of exegesis and interpretation. Most Molinists admit that the system is not in fact a necessary result of accurate biblical exegesis. Instead, the argument generally is that Molinism is consistent with the over-all tenor of scripture, while not being derived directly therefrom. I submit that given Molinism's over-arching claims, it cannot be merely "consistent with" but must be derived from the text.

1) Existence of "true subjunctive conditionals," the so-called counter-factuals of human freedom, that 'delimit" and determine what "possible worlds" God can actualize.
2) The denial of the Reformed doctrine of effective, sovereign grace, whereby the spirit of God MUST raise the dead, enslaved, rebel sinner to spiritual life, i.e., regeneration. That is, the taking out of the heart of stone and the gracious granting of the heart of flesh.
3) The assertion of libertarian free will, or complete human autonomy, in reference to the concept that human actions are not only free from the constraint of the divine creative decree, but must be free so as to remove any culpability for human evil from God. That is, Molinism asserts incompatibility.

The heart of the theological claim of Molinism is its assertion of middle knowledge. Logically placed between God's natural knowledge, and his free knowledge, middle knowledge is the claim that God knows what every person would do in any given circumstance, while many might grant such a claim, as stated, this is insufficient. The central claim that energizes Molinism is that this knowledge comes before God decrees to create any person, and, vitally, does not come from God's will, intent, or purpose. Further, God cannot alter or change this knowledge. This means, on the Molinist position, the choices of as yet undecreed, uncreated persons are already fixed, separately from any other considerations.

Where does this knowledge arise from, since in Molinism, this knowledge is the very basis that determines what 'worlds" God can actualize and which he cannot. Humans choices are the result of a myriad of internal and external factors, all of which flow from God's decree and intention.

It is on the basis of this concept of middle knowledge that Molinism asserts that there are possibly certain people who could never be saved, even if God desired to do so, and certain worlds God could never create, again, even if he wanted this is a denial of God's fundamental freedom.

No scriptural writer, prophet, or apostle, ever mentioned, considered, or operated on the basis of such a theory. All subjunctive statements about what people would do, such as in the case of David in Keilah in I Samuel 23, concern God's knowledge of what He has already decreed and created.

The concept of uncreated, inalterable true subjunctive conditionals of human actions separate from and outside the will of God as creator is utterly unbiblical, in both the strict and broader senses, and is, in fact, in opposition to clear and compelling biblical truth.

Molinism posits true knowledge of human beings separate from not only the conditioning reality of God's divine decree, which establishes all the contexts in which we live, but [also] from the biblically mandated need for regeneration, the granting of spiritual life, the freeing from the slavery of sin.

The Bible teaches that the unregenerate cannot submit to the law of God (Romans 8:7) while this is the delight of the regenerate person. So clearly, what a regenerate person would do in certain circumstances is different than an unregenerate person: yet, regeneration is a Divine act, performed by Jesus (john 8:36) through the spirit. Clearly, then, the regeneration of God's elect people is a part of the decree of God, and is in no way limited by, nor determined by, middle knowledge hence, the bible's teaching on the fallenness of man makes Molinism unbiblical.

Directly related to this point is the biblical reality that God's decree of election flows not from considerations of possible worlds based upon subjunctive conditionals related to human choices, but solely from the eudokia of His will (Eph 1:4). The kind intention God's will determines the elect, not middle knowledge.

Central to the claims of Molinism is the assertion of categorical human freedom of choice which assumes in its very definition a denial of the prior and conditioning reality of the divine decree. But the human freedom revealed in scripture is not categorical, but conditional. Specifically, the Bible presents God's exhaustive Divine decree as coming freely from His will, and man's actions and decisions in time being free in the sense of creaturely freedom: man acts (and is judged) on the basis of His desires, not on the basis of possessing categorical freedom or an ability to alter God's will.

Molinism is not biblical in the strict sense as it is not taught by direct teaching, by example, or by necessary consequence of any text properly exegeted. Molinism is not biblical in the less strict sense as its foundational assertions are contradicted by direct Biblical revelation.

Here are some of the points that I picked up from the above discussions/dialogues/debate on Molinism:

  1. Natural knowledge – God’s knowledge of Himself and what He “could” do including what creatures He could make.
  2. Free knowledge – God’s knowledge of what He “will” do according to His decree and a comprehensive knowledge of what He has created.
  3. Middle knowledge – In an attempt to resolve God’s sovereignty and human responsbility. God’s knowledge of what He “would” do which find its grounding “before” the decree and does not arise from the will of God. Between Natural and Free, in the logical moment, where God knows what any creature He could make would do in any given circumstance. It allows him to determine what feasible worlds he could create to accomplish His goal.

The heart of Molinism is Libertarian Freewill. The Scripture is clear that God is God and we are not. God alone is absolutely free. Molinism’s favorite verse to argue for counterfactuals is Matthew 11:21-24. However, it is important to recognize that no one’s denying that God has counterfactual knowledge. We deny the Middle knowledge that precedes God’s decree, limits God, and makes way for man to be free. The Molinist’s main error is the grounding of God’s knowledge and Libertarian Free Will. Middle knowledge is a body of knowledge that limits what God can do and what worlds are feasible. This knowledge exists outside of God’s will and limits what God can do.

I cannot fully understand the nitty-gritty aspects of Molinism (as I find it unbiblical) let alone the compatibility of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. In all these, I confess (with James White) that if we make the creatures as the center of the answer is to lose the significant role and absolute rule of God over His creation. God cannot give His glory to false idols, and He won’t give it to His creatures.

To God be the glory!

  • James White, during his dialogue with William Craig, made reference to Jonathan Edwards’ understanding of the phrase “God as the author of sin”. Read here: Is God the Author of Sin? Jonathan Edwards’ Answer. You can also read Jonathan Edwards on Part IV, section IX on The Freedom of the Will from “The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume One” pp. 725-726
  • For further reading on Molinism, the reader is invited to check Greg Welty’s “Molinist Gunslingers” on Chapter 2 in Alexander, D., & Johnson, D. M. (2016). Calvinism et the problem of evil. Eugene, Oregon Pickwick Publications. He demonstrated that Molinism gained nothing by their approach (that their view of divine providence is preferable to a classical Calvinist view because Calvinism makes God the author of sin) to the issue either exegetically or morally.

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

11 thoughts on “Is Molinism Biblical?

  1. If a human being has libertarian free will that does not mean the human being is “absolutely free”. Free will is limited but real. Otherwise Genesis 3 did not happen as recorded. Adam and Eve needed enough free will to sin. If God knew in advance what they would do, then they do not have enough free will to sin.

    “Predestination” need not mean that every action performed by a human being is determined from the beginning. That is what an atheist would believe who claims we are determined by natural laws. God is not a natural law or impersonal cosmic force field. What makes more sense is that God predestined ALL of us for heaven. However, we have enough free will to reject God. It is our responsibility that we fall.

    Failure to maintain that we are the ones responsible implies God is not righteous. That is a serious problem It means that God is not good. It implies that atheists win the logical problem of evil.

    Neither Molinism nor the compatibilist free will that both atheists and reformed theologians promote are adequate explanations for evil in the world. One should consider some version of open theism. Or some other alternative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By the way, no one is denying free will but it has to be qualified. No one is denying genuine human responsibility, I affirmed that as well.


    2. “Predestination” need not mean that every action performed by a human being is determined from the beginning. That is what an atheist would believe who claims we are determined by natural laws. God is not a natural law or impersonal cosmic force field.


      That’s what the Bible says about Predestination, “He declared the end from the beginning. He works ALL things according to the counsel of His own will.”

      Sovereign predestination or theological determinism does not entail what “an atheist would believe” as you mentioned above. God works through natural laws, physical laws, but is not limited by those laws. God directs “events both through second causes and apart from second causes” (James Anderson, “Calvinism and the First Sin).


  2. God is omnipotent so He can declare the end from the beginning according to His own will as you quoted.

    Note also 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (NASB) So God wants ALL of us to come to repentance. If He works all things according to the counsel of His will we will all be saved, but that doesn’t seem right. Some of us will reject Him in spite of His will.

    As I see this God predestined all of us to repentance and salvation otherwise He is not righteous. However, He does not predetermine this because He gave us enough free will to reject Him since we were made in His image (Genesis 1). Some of us may reject Him. He does not know who in advance (which is why it is of value to preach the Gospel as He commanded). The end that He declared from the beginning is those who reject Him will perish. He will guarantee that by his omnipotence.

    Perhaps our disagreement is on what we think God can know. I maintain that God is omniscient. He knows everything there is to know. However, the precise choice of a creature to whom He has given free will is not something that is there to know until the creature exercises that choice. None of that means we can be saved without Jesus’ sacrifice and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. We cannot do it without Him. But we have enough free will to reject Him.


    1. “the precise choice of a creature to whom He has given free will is not something that is there to know until the creature exercises that choice.”

      You’ve thrown out omniscience here.


      1. I have not thrown out omniscience. I have thrown out logical contradiction by claiming God cannot do logically contradictory things like make 1 = 2, create a square circle, know that a false statement is true, or precisely know in advance the choices of creatures He has made free.

        Rejecting contradiction implies God is righteous in the presence of evil. It also protects my position from the attack of an atheist who might attempt to drive me into a corner by pointing out a contradiction (aka “mystery”) in my worldview.


        1. For God to know in advance the choice of creatures that God made with genuine creaturely freedom is not a contradiction. God knows because He decreed all things that will come to pass.

          By the way contradiction is not equal to mystery. God knowing (and determining) beforehand what His creatures will do and His creatures choosing freely what they will do are compatible.

          I’ll post more on this.

          Thanks for your insights, it sharpens my thoughts and let me think through what the Bible teaches about this difficult subject.

          Please review the passages I cited here:


    2. 2 Peter 3:9

      1. “God wishing” in this passage refers to God’s eternal decretive will or revealed/prescriptive will?
      2. “any” and “all” – do these refer to all men without exception?


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