In scripture, there are countless places where God has the writers mention or allude to predestination and/or salvation in some way. Here are 24 large chunks of scripture, just to name a few!
- Matt 7 - Matt 10-13 - Matt 18-23 - Matt 25 - Mark 2 - Mark 4 - Mark 7-10 - Mark 12 - Luke 4 - Luke 6-16 - Luke 18-20 - John 3 - John 5-12 - John 14-15 - John 17-18 - 2 Cor 5 - Col 1-2 - 1 Thess 5 - 1 Tim 1 - Titus 2-3 - James 2 - 1 Pet 1-3 - 2 Pet 1-3 - 1 John 1-5
Obviously, this isn't exhaustive, but you get the picture. The Biblical question is not are we predestined by God. but rather how and to what are we predestined?
Recently, I've been working on a booklet that compares the different views on this issue. Once completed, this will be made available in the resources section of Baseline Christianity. Today, I wanted to share with you a small section from that booklet that explains what I believe to be a Biblical understanding of predestination. Please note, like all views on this issue, there are certainly elements of speculation. Please be mindful of this and remember to always approach this subject with humility and grace. With that being said, here is the view:
MOLINISM: GOD PREDESTINES THROUGH MIDDLE KNOWLEDGE Short Definition: Here is the short definition of Molinism: the belief that God created the universe in such a way that our free choices would result in His exact predestined plan.
Now, let's take a look at the long version. To understand Molinism, we need to start with the attributes of God himself - more specifically, His attribute of Omniscience.
God's Omniscience Like all orthodox Christians, the Molinist believes in the “omniscience” of God, that He knows everything. However, within this “knowledge of everything”, the Molinist would differentiate between 3 different “types” of knowledge:
Natural Knowledge (Is 40:13-14) This is God’s knowledge of everything possible & impossible. It’s His knowledge of what could & couldn’t happen in any creation He chose to create. For example, God knows if He created me and put me in a fancy restaurant that served caviar, I could choose to eat the caviar or choose not to eat the caviar, because both are logical possibilities. On the other hand, God also knows He could not create a “square circle” or “a rock too heavy for Himself to carry” because these things are not logical possibilities.
Middle Knowledge (Matt 12:7) This is God’s knowledge of everything feasible & infeasible. It’s his knowledge of what would & wouldn’t freely happen in any creation He chose to create. For example, God knows if He created me and put me in a fancy restaurant that served caviar, I would never freely choose to eat the caviar, even though I could. (Let me take this moment to point out that raw fish eggs are nauseating and ridiculously overpriced!)
Belief in this knowledge requires the rejection of the “Principle of Alternative Possibilities”, which states that a person would possibly make the opposite choice in the identical situation. God knows what a person would do in that situation, and does not have to wait until it actually happens to find out what that person would do.
It’s important to know that God doesn’t “obtain” this knowledge through deductive reasoning, as if the situation logically requires a specific outcome (my being in a fancy restaurant does not logically require me to not eat caviar). Rather, God knows what I would do intrinsically, as a part of His nature.
Free Knowledge (Is 46:9-10) This is God’s knowledge of everything real & unreal. It’s His knowledge of what has, hasn't, does, doesn’t, will, and won’t happen in the creation He decided to create. For example, God knows that since He created me and put me in a fancy restaurant, I won’t choose to eat the caviar, even though I could.
Free Knowledge about the future is sometimes called foreknowledge, though it’s important to note that God doesn’t get any knowledge by “looking ahead” as if He’s learning something new. To put it another way, He has this knowledge intrinsically (as a part of His nature) and not observationally (through learning).
The Nature of Man As you can see, Molinism teaches that God not only know what we could do, but what we wouldfreely do, in any set of circumstances. But what does freedom mean? To understand that, we must look at how God created humanity.
Molinists believe God created the entire universe out of nothing with just a few simple words (Heb 1:3). Specifically, He created humanity “in His image” (Gen 1:26-27). There is disagreement between Christians about what this means precisely, but the Molinist believes this means (in addition to other things) that God created humanity with Libertarian Free Will.
Libertarian Free Will or sometimes just called Free Will, is the position that individuals make decisions without any sort of determining basis outside of themselves. Each person is responsible for his choices because He is the only source for those choices (Duet 30:19-20). Now of course, you can talk about his motivations (what he wanted to do), but the Molinist believes those motivations don’t determine his choices; they just influence his choices.
This is based on the belief in Agent Causation which states that agents (people) can be “first-causes” of their choices. This is different from Event Causation, which states that every event is caused by the event before it (like dominoes falling in a line). The believer in Libertarian Free Will would say that people fall under Agent Causation and everything else falls under Event Causation.
Tying it Together So, if that's the case, and God created man with free will, and knows what man would do in any particular set of circumstances, than what does that mean for Predestination?
According to the Molinist, God created a world that would bring about His pre-determined plan naturally, as a result of our free choices. Thus, He allowed man to have free will, and yet still accomplishes His plan for who will be saved, as well as what those who are saved will do.