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:

  • 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…

  • Some Great Resources on Molinism

    Below are links to some great articles, books, and videos on Molinism by Molinist and non Molinist scholars alike. Articles Banez’s Big Problem: The Ground of FreedomJames Dominic Rooney OP Rooney argues that while Molinism has to deal with the grounding objection, the main Catholic alternative to Molinism, Banezianism, has itself a problem in regards…

  • Molinism Defended: A refutation of Steven Colborne

    Steven Colborne has published an article over at his blog perfectchaos.org offering three very brief critiques of Molinism. In this brief rebuttal I will respond to all three. The Critiques 1. Freedom is Impossible Colborne writes: God, by His very nature, is omnipresent, which means that there are no boundaries to God’s being. If God…