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:
The real contingency of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom: a response to Ron Digiacomo
Ron Digiacomo published an article over at philosophical-theology.com critiquing Molinism for failing to preserve the real contingency of the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. Digiacomo argues that because Molinism holds that God cannot actualize certain worlds based on the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, that these words are not as contingent as Molinists want to think. Molinism […]
Luis Molina’s Theory of Middle Knowledge as a Catholic Response to the Reformation
This paper was presented at the undergraduate Medieval and Early Modernists of North Texas and Oklahoma 2019 Conference in February of 2019 at the University of Dallas The Protestant Reformation was undoubtedly the most important theological event of the 16th century and perhaps the most important historical event of that time outright. Since the Reformation, […]
Was Luis Molina Condemned by a Pope? A Refutation of Jacob Imam
Jacob Imam badly misquotes Innocent X’s decree against Jansenists. What it really says is quite contrary to what Imam says in the debate.