What is Molinism?

Molinism gets its name from a 16th century Spanish Jesuit theologian named Luis Molina (1535-1600). Molina came up with a theory to reconcile divine sovereignty, human free will, and grace using a concept known as middle knowledge (Lat. scientia media).

What is Middle Knowledge?

Middle knowledge is knowledge that God possesses logically prior to His decree to create the world and it consists of conditional statements about what free creatures would do were they placed in various circumstances.

Middle knowledge differs from both natural knowledge and free knowledge. God’s natural knowledge is his knowledge which he possesses necessarily. This is knowledge of himself and thus includes knowledge of all the possible ways He could create the world. God’s free knowledge is his knowledge of the contingent world He creates that follows from His decree to create the world. Thus, like natural knowledge, middle knowledge is prior to God’s decree and like free knowledge, middle knowledge is contingent.

What famous thinkers are Molinists?

Molinism was influential both historically and today. In the 16th century many famous Jesuit theologians including St. Robert Bellarmine, a doctor of the Church, were Molinist. Molina’s ideas were revived in the 20th century by Alvin Plantinga when he published his book God Freedom and Evil. Other prominent Christians who defend Molinism today include William Lane Craig (Protestant), Thomas Flint (Catholic), Alfred Freddoso (Catholic), and Kirk MacGregor (Protestant).

What problems does Molinism help solve?

Molinism helps to address the seeming incompatibility of God’s sovereignty with human freedom, God’s predestination, and many other issues. Molinism has been put forth to help explain things as varied as quantum mechanics, papal infallibility, biblical inspiration and many other topics. William Lane Craig once called Molinism “one of the most fruitful theological doctrines ever conceived”.

Articles on Molinism:

  • Could Molinism Become a Catholic Dogma?

    Molinism, that is the doctrine of middle knowledge (Lat. scientia media) has been a widely debated topic in Catholic and even Protestant theology for the past four and a half centuries. Despite Molina’s ideas being widely debated in the 16th and early 17th centuries, the Church under Pope Paul V chose not to pick a…

  • Errorstotle? Examining Aristotle’s View of Future Contingents

    Aristotle is widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He is perhaps most highly regarded by Catholics because of the influence his ideas came to have in Medieval Christendom. Figures from Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham referred to him as “the Philosopher”. Nevertheless, as widely regarded as Aristotle was, he…

  • God’s Knowledge of Future Contingents: A Molinist Account

    Recently, Alsdair MacIntyre, one of the most prominent Catholic philosophers of the past century, delivered his annual lecture at the Notre Dame fall conference. The lecture is available here. During the lecture, MacIntyre claimed that certain spontaneous acts (“singularities”) of free creatures could not be foreknown even by God. MacIntyre claimed that this was not…