Apologetics Christian Living Philosophy Theology

My Journey From Molinism To Reformed Theology

Honestly, Molinism is a beautiful framework to understand God’s sovereignty. It’s a view that holds fast to the sovereignty of God but also allows for free-will of His creatures. Molinism posits that God, in knowing all possible worlds of free-willed creatures’ decisions, chooses to actualize one of those worlds. Deeply rooted in philosophy, it can be used to answer theological and moral questions. For me, Molinism and free-will were helpful when I was looking for answers to questions that would present themselves during my own theological contemplation. It was a way to better understand God, and admittingly, Molinism was comforting because I could always resort to free-will when struggling with concepts like the existence of evil, or God’s judgement on non-believers. Not to mention, I was attracted to Molinism because it’s intellectually stimulating, and, well, it’s pretty cool.

I favored Molinism over Reformed theology. I felt a deterministic theology didn’t provide God a “way out” of certain philosophical questions, and I certainly didn’t think that predestination was true. Or, if predestiniation was true, it could only be so if it included middle-knowledge and corporate election instead of individual election. Molinism just made sense from an apologetics standpoint – God has knowledge of all possible worlds of free-creatures. He elects one of those worlds. Thus, His creatures have free-will and he has sovereignty. It made sense to me.

Molinism also soothed me emotionally. I thought there was no way that God could predetermine some for destruction and some for salvation. “There’s no way it’s like that – He wouldn’t do that.” I often thought. But, the more I got into The Word the more I was confronted with texts that seemed to support the Reformed position. I began to admit to myself that Reformed theology had an argument exegetically, but I would just resort to philosophizing around the text to make it fit into a Molinist framework. If I could make it fit, I would.

Then, I began to watch a lot of Reformed guys. I liked their uncompromising boldness. Apologia Church, Steve Lawson, and Tom Pennington are some of the ones who stick out. James White was convincing. I found their arguments compelling, and all they did was stand on the authority of scripture without philosophizing or trying to fit God into a certain box. Instead, they just read what the text was saying, and I admired how eager they were to let scripture inform them. My issues with Reformed theology’s answers to the problem of evil and the moral stature of predestination began to fade. I found myself thinking, “Alright, I guess if no one deserves salvation, God has every right to not save some. And I guess if God saves someone unconditionally, isn’t that an act of divine love considering His holiness?

Eventually I was watching the aforementioned guys almost exclusively. If I needed sound biblical teaching, I went to Reformed content creators and pastors.1 But, I was stubborn, and still held to Molinism. I would frequently flee to philosophical interpretations of certain texts (like Ephesians 1: 4–5), but I did so in an act of cognitive dissonance. After digesting much of the Reformed teaching, deep down, I began to think that Calvinism might be true. I realized that I was trying to make God’s word fit into something that made sense to me. I didn’t like it, but I concluded that scripture might not care what I like or what I think.

The last straw was John 6:44, from the Lord Jesus himself, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” After reading this brief, blunt message from our Lord, I simply could not get around predestination and Reformed theology. I could try to jump through hoops, or philosophize over the text, but I found myself straying farther and farther away from what it was saying. My position was crushed by the sheer weight of the scriptures. It’s quite funny – this game of cognitive dissonance against the weight of the presented evidence is what led me out of atheism. Thank you, Lord.

After finally convinced, I began to read The New Testament without any philosophizing, and I read the text plainly. The Doctrines of Grace stuck out like a sore thumb. God’s word came to life. I gained new understanding and insights into what the text was saying. I was reading a completely different New Testament, and I even enjoyed reading scripture more with this new understanding. Epistles and parables were easier to understand but maintained a robustness to them, like Paul’s message to the Romans and our Lord’s words in John 10.

Now, instead of resting in a philosophical framework of God’s sovereignty, I rest in God’s ultimate sovereignty over His divine decree. Molinism was comforting and answered many questions for me, but my conscience is at peace when I reflect on the omniscience of our holy God who holds all things together. My finite knowledge of things is nothing compared to our Lord’s, and I may not know what’s going on when things get bad or I see terrible things happen – But that’s precisely the point – I don’t need to know what’s going on if I rest in His divine sovereignty. Even when things look bad and suffering abounds, I know my God is good, He has complete control, and will bring glory to His name.

Footnotes

  1. During this time my fiancé and I were looking for a church, so we didn’t exactly have a church home – If this weren’t the case I would have sought teaching from within my congregation.

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