A Compelling Alternative to Calvinism?
“What shall a Christian do who is convinced of certain central tenets of Calvinism but not its corollaries? Specifically, what if I am convinced that God elects individuals to salvation but I am also compelled by the evidence of Scripture to reject the notion that Christ died only for the elect? What if I am also convinced that the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace – that God gives saving grace only to the elect while withholding it from others – has little or no biblical foundation?”
“Calvinism has at least three dilemmas: (1) reconciling God’s sovereign election of individuals with His genuine desire for the salvation of all; (2) adhering to a deterministic view of sovereignty without blaming God for the fall of Adam; and (3) adhering to limited atonement and irresistible grace while also affirming that the gospel is genuinely offered to everyone. There is an alternative to Calvinism – called Molinism which provides answers to these quandaries that are both biblical and logically consistent.”
So begins Kenneth Keathley’s book “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach” I stumbled on to this concept as I was wrestling with some of the weakness of Calvinism and Arminianism. I was having a conversation with another blogger, wondering out loud if God’s choice was the choice to actually make the world that he did. The blogger said, “that sounds a lot like Molinism” ‘Molly what?” So I Googled it and found out that some pretty serious evangelical theologians believe in it. So I picked up this book.
I found this 210 page book truly fascinating. It was easy and enjoyable to read. In fact, I could not put it down. If you are a hard-core, committed 5 point Calvinist, or a hard-core Arminian you may not like the book. It will severely challenge some of the truths you hold dearly. But if you are like me and a lot of other people, somewhere in between, you owe it to yourself to read it. I had no idea there was a viable third option in this debate.
So What is Molinism you ask?
“Simply put, Molinism argues that God perfectly accomplishes His will in free creatures through the use of His omniscience. It reconciles two crucial biblical truths: 1) God exercises sovereign control over all His creation, and (2) human beings make free choices and decisions for which they must give account. In other words Molinism simultaneously hold to a Calvinistic view of a comprehensive divine sovereignty and to a version of free will generally associated with Arminianism.” p. 5
“Molinism teaches that God exercises his sovereignty primarily through his omniscience, and that he infallibly knows what free creatures would do in any given situation. In this way God sovereignly controls all things, while humans are also genuinely free. God is able to accomplish His will through the use of what Molinists label His middle knowledge.” p.5
So why does the author of this book embrace Molinism?
“Because, like the Calvinist, I am convinced the bible teaches that (1) God is sovereign and His control is meticulous; (2) man is incapable of contributing to his salvation or even desiring to be saved; (3) God through Christ is Author, Accomplisher, and Completer of salvation (i.e. salvation is a work of grace from beginning to end); (4) individual election is unconditional; and (5) the believer is secure in Christ.
However, like the Arminian, I am also convinced the bible teaches that (6) God is not the author, origin, or cause of sin (and to say that He is, is not just hyper-Calvinisim but blasphemy); (7) God genuinely desires the salvation of all humanity (8) Christ genuinely died for all people; (9) God’s grace is resistable (this means that regeneration does not precede conversion); and (10) humans genuinely choose, are causal agents, and are responsible for the sin of rejecting Christ (this means that the alternative of accepting salvation was genuinely available to the unbeliever). As we will see, there is only one position that coherently holds to all ten affirmations, and that is Molinism.” p. 7
So did I change my view to Molinism after reading this book? The jury is still out for me on this topic and perhaps it always will be. I sometimes think that God has placed a “No Trespassing” sign in front of this topic. No one side of the issue wraps everything up neatly, they all have their problems. If your mind is not made up, this is an excellent book. I am very grateful I was led to the concept. My gratefulness is the primary reason for this post.
There are other alternatives to Calvinism that you might not be aware of. To go deeper on this issue, check out how the Eastern Orthodox view things. Read about it in our post “Is The Doctrine of Total Depravity Totally Depraved?”
Posted on May 12, 2011, in Christianity, Theology and tagged Arminianism, Calvinism, christian education, christianity, faith, God, Gospel, Kenney Keathley, Molinism, Not For itching Ears, philosophy, Radical Depravity, religion, Salvation and Sovereignty, spirituality, TULIP, Unconditional Election. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.