Perichoresis 16.2

Perichoresis 16.2 (2018)


Divine Determinism and the Problem of Hell

Tim Stratton , Jacobus Erasmus


Divine determinism, though affirmed by many Calvinists, implicates God in the decisions people make that ultimately damn them to the terrible destiny of hell. In this paper, the authors argue that this scenario is a problem for divine determinism. The article contends that determinism is inconsistent with God’s love and the Scriptures that explicitly state that God does not ‘desire’ anyone to go to hell. Even human love for others strongly suggests that God, who is ‘love’, will not determine anyone to hell. On the other extreme, those who argue for universalism, though appealing to Scripture, often do so with questionable exegesis. PDF

Mere Molinism: A Defense of Two Essential Pillars

Tim Stratton , Jacobus Erasmus


Molinism is founded on two ‘pillars’, namely, the view that human beings possess libertarian free will and the view that God has middle knowledge. Both these pillars stand in contrast to naturalistic determinism and divine determinism. In this article, however, the authors offer philosophical and theological grounds in favor of libertarian free will and middle knowledge. PDF

Molinist Gunslingers Redux: A Friendly Response to Greg Welty

Kenneth D. Keathley


Philosopher Greg Welty contributed a chapter entitled ‘Molinist Gunslingers: God and the Authorship of Sin’, to a book devoted to answering the charge that Calvinism makes God the author of sin (Calvinism and the Problem of Evil). Welty argues that Molinism has the same problems as Calvinism concerning God’s relationship to sin, regardless of what view of human freedom Molinism may affirm. The Molinist believes that God generally uses his knowledge of the possible choices of libertarianly free creatures in order to accomplish his will. (This knowledge is typically categorized as residing within God’s middle knowledge.) But affirming libertarian freedom for humans, he argues, does not help in dealing with the question of God’s relationship to evil. Therefore, Molinism is no better than Calvinism, at least concerning this issue. In response to Welty, (1) I agree with him that Molinism does not have a moral advantage over what he calls ‘mysterian, apophatic’ Calvinism, but Molinists don’t claim that it does, and (2) I argue that, contra Welty, Molinism indeed does have a moral advantage over the Calvinist versions that do employ causal determinism. Welty does not take ‘intentions’ into consideration in his argument, and this is a serious flaw. In the libertarian model of Molinism, intent originates in the doer of evil. However, in the compatibilist model of causal determinism, ultimately God implants intent. Thus, adherents of causal determinism have difficulty not laying responsibility at the feet of God. PDF

Super Mario Strikes Back: Another Molinist Reply to Welty’s Gunslingers Argument

Tyler Dalton McNabb


Molinists generally see Calvinism as possessing certain liabilities from which Molinism is immune. For example, Molinists have traditionally rejected Calvinism, in part, because it allegedly makes God the author of sin. According to Molina, we ‘should not infer that He is in any way a cause of sin’. However, Greg Welty has recently argued by way of his Gunslingers Argument that, when it comes to God’s relationship to evil, Molinism is susceptible to the same liabilities as Calvinism. If his argument is successful, he has undercut, at least partially, justification for believing in Molinism. While I concede that Welty’s argument is successful in that it does undercut some justification for believing in Molinism, this concession does not entail that, as it relates to the problem of evil, the Calvinist and the Molinist are in the same epistemic position. In this article, I argue that, when it comes to God’s relationship to evil, the Molinist is in a superior epistemic situation to the Calvinist. I do this in two steps. First, I argue for what I call the Robust Felix Culpa Theodicy. Second, I argue that the Robust Felix Culpa Theodicy is incompatible with Calvinism. PDF

Molinism, Question-Begging, and Foreknowledge of Indeterminates

John D. Laing


John Martin Fischer’s charge that Molinism does not offer a unique answer to the dilemma of divine foreknowledge and human freedom can be seen as a criticism of middle knowledge for begging the question of FF (foreknowledge and freedom)-compatibilism. In this paper, I seek to answer this criticism in two ways. First, I demonstrate that most of the chief arguments against middle knowledge are guilty of begging the question of FF-incompatibilism and conclude that the simple charge of begging the question cannot be as problematic as some suggest. Determinists and open theists incorporate FF-incompatibilist notions into their respective versions of the grounding objection, their conceptions of risk and libertarian freedom, and their requirements for divine foreknowledge. Thus, while I admit that Molinism does rely upon Ockhamist and Augustinian principles in its approach to the dilemma and is guilty of presupposing FF-compatibilism, I deny that this undermines its strength as a model of providence. Second, I argue that, although all models are guilty of question-begging moves, they are not all on par with one another. Molinism offers a more orthodox and robust approach to providence than open theism and process theology, and it handles empirical data (e.g., from science) better than all of its competitors. PDF

Monergistic Molinism

Kirk R. MacGregor


Several philosophers and theologians (including Stump, Cross, Timpe, Keathley, and Evans) have attempted to formulate monergistic, soft libertarian accounts of salvation. These accounts hold that the sinner has the ability to either resist or to do nothing at all with God’s universally given saving grace, in which latter case God will save her. However, I wonder with Cyr and Flummer whether these accounts go far enough because the nonresistant sinner voluntarily remains quiescent and is therefore arguably praiseworthy. I aim to remedy this alleged weakness by formulating a possible account on which it never crosses the nonresistant sinner’s mind to resist, making her quiescence an involuntary omission. For all sinners whose minds it crosses to resist, they, on the proposed account, freely choose to resist. Combining Molinism with the scriptural notion of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, I proceed to explain why it may cross the mind of some sinners and not others to resist. PDF