Subtle Yet Significant Differences between Molinism and Theological Determinism. Does It Really Matter to the Reformed Tradition?
The subtle yet significant difference between Molinism and Theological Determinism lies chiefly in how God knows what would freely occur under all possible circumstances. The objects of such knowledge either influence the decree (middle knowledge) or are part of the decree (free knowledge).
After writing this article, a number of questions came my way from committed Calvinists. This brief installment is a result of some of those correspondences.
Molinism affords a strong view of divine providence along with a principle of free will such that if Luis freely chooses the chili dog at the carnival, then it is possible that he not choose the chili dog at the carnival. In other words, what would freely occur might not occur. And although Luis is free in a libertarian sense, God no less foreordains Luis’ free choice.
Because for the Molinist God knows what Luis would freely choose under all sets of circumstances, by sovereign decree God can weakly actualize Luis’ free choice of the chili dog by strongly actualizing conducive circumstances over which God has control. So, without causing Luis to choose the chili dog at the carnival, God can guarantee Luis’ free choice by ensuring sufficient circumstances obtain. Luis would end up freely choosing the outcome that God foreordains.
For the Molinist God’s decree takes into account his prior knowledge of what Luis would freely choose if at the carnival and presented a chili dog. Given the decree, God now knows what Luis will freely choose because God already knew what Luis would freely choose in all possible circumstances that God could orchestrate. Therefore, God knows what Luis will freely choose because God knows which possible world he has decreed and all the features therein. Those features include each would-counterfactual that God decreed to bring to pass by strongly actualizing the conditions that would result in the weak actualization of the free choice counterfactuals.