Is Middle Knowledge Really Helpful to Calvinists?

A popular philosophical viewpoint regarding the relationship between God’s knowledge and human free actions is Molinism.  I will attempt to keep this simple and non-technical, so Molinism can be roughly defined as the view that God not only knows what people will do in the future but what they would  or would not do in any given circumstance.  In fact, the former is more or less based on the latter; God knows what every single person would or would not do in any world he could create, and then he decides to create a particular world, of which he then knows all future actions and events (“world” here does not mean the earth but rather a possible “universe” or state of affairs).

The reason this view is popular among Christian philosophers is that it promises to harmonize two common aspects of Christian theology: Human free will and God’s sovereignty/providence.  More specifically, it seeks to harmonize human libertarian free will and a meticulous view of God’s providence.  Arminians and other non-Calvinists tend to espouse human libertarian freedom, the idea that external causes (such as God) do not determine a human choice because otherwise it would not be free.  Many therefore often conceive of sovereignty in more general terms: God is in control, but that does not mean that God decides every little detail of creation.  A plethora of Bible verses can be mustered for their position, though of course that does not necessarily mean they are interpreted rightly.

Reformed theologians, on the other hand, have built an entire system based upon an all-causing view of God’s sovereignty; R.C. Sproul famously argued that if God did not directly control every last molecule of the universe, that one molecule could lay waste to creation.  They therefore seek to change the typical understanding of free will by advocating compatibilism, the belief that determinism and free will can be compatible if free will is understood a certain way.  God ultimately determines human choices, but human beings are still morally responsible for their actions, not God.  Needless to say, such a view of freedom gives them decided amounts of trouble in explaining evil, but they too are armed with a host of Bible references (though again, it is up for debate if Reformed people interpret these correctly).

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Ramblings About the Curious Popularity of Donald Trump Among Christians

Because I like logic, I typically dislike politics and positively hold most politicians with contempt.  I understand that politics are unavoidable, whether in government, business, or church, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it; it is, in my estimation, one of the clearest evidences that humanity is fallen.  Politicians irk me with their rhetoric full of fluff and fallacies; it then irks me even more when I see that it works on people, many of who then become mouth-breathing supporters incapable of critical thinking.  There simply is no arena of debate more soiled with raw and selfish emotionalism than politics.  Therefore, I often ignore politics, which isn’t always a good thing, but it’s just so much less aggravating to read about things like sports (which is saying something because we all know that sports fans can lose their minds).

Still, because it is election season, I cannot help but be aware of the races to find each party’s nominee.  Naturally enough, every candidate will have their lovers and haters, but there is perhaps no one more divisive than Mr. Donald Trump.  Even among conservatives, he is a polarizing figure; many dislike him greatly, but there is a surprising amount of support for him such that he remains the front-runner for the Republican party.  Not only does he have some support from conservatives in general, he has received support from some conservative Christians, including high profile ones such as Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist, Dallas.

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Inerrancy or Nothing?

A popular tactic by many anti-Christian critics is to find an alleged contradiction, wrong fact, or mystery in the Bible, no matter how small it may be, and then announce that all of Christianity is false.  This is due, in part, to the doctrine of inerrancy that many conservative Christians hold to, the belief that the Bible is without error in all that it teaches and affirms.  Many critics therefore view Christian belief as a house of cards: Find something Christians cannot explain, even in a tiny detail that affects no major doctrine, and the whole thing comes crashing down.  It’s actually interesting that many Christians seem to view this somewhat the same way.  In fact, many people claim to have lost their faith because their belief in inerrancy was broken (I was made aware of a study by a Biola PhD student about this, but right now I cannot find the link).  Also, when some evangelical Christians do not affirm that one needs to hold to inerrancy to be a Christian, they are sometimes attacked as “liberals” who may not even be true Christians.  Norman Geisler, for all the good that he has done, has developed a bit of a recent reputation of being bullish on this, while several Christians were unhappy that William Lane Craig stated that finding an error in the Bible is not the same as refuting Christian doctrine.

However, scholars like Craig and Daniel Wallace seem correct here: I do not think belief in inerrancy is a requirement for salvation, and I do not think that refuting inerrancy necessarily entails the collapse of the Christian faith.  Now, notice what I did not say: I did not say that Christians should not believe in inerrancy, nor did I say that I do not believe in inerrancy.  I do hold to inerrancy, and I think it is healthy for Christians to believe in it.  I just do not think that the entire Christian faith rests on it.

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