Salvation And Sovereignty: A Review Essay -- By: Deidre Richardson

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 07:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Salvation And Sovereignty: A Review Essay
Author: Deidre Richardson

Salvation And Sovereignty: A Review Essay

Deidre Richardson1

In Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, Dr. Ken Keathley presents his Molinist system with clarity and excellence to academia and the church of Jesus Christ at large. Since I have profited by studying theology under Keathley, and will study under him once more this coming semester, I can affirm that he is a man who not only demonstrates grace and humility in disagreement, but also demonstrates grace in the classroom. There is a need for more God-honoring theologians like him in the world. However, in this review, I will point out points of both agreement and disagreement from my perspective with his views as presented in Salvation and Sovereignty.

Keathley accurately points out many flaws in the Calvinist system. I strongly affirm Keathley’s assertion that “God is not the Author, Origin, or Cause of Sin (and to say that He is, is not just hyper-Calvinism but blasphemy)” (7). In chapter one, Keathley provides a tenable, biblical case for Molinism. He articulates the three logical moments of God’s activity in Molinism (17–18) and examines both God’s absolute sovereignty and human freedom in the Scriptures.

One of the most compelling aspects of Keathley’s presentation on creaturely freedom is his “The Foreknowledge Entails Necessity Objection” (31), in which he distinguishes between “necessity” and “contingency.” He makes the case that God’s foreknowledge of an event does not mean that the event is causally determined by God; rather, divine foreknowledge exists because of the contingent choices of humans. This is essential if God has given persons creaturely freedom, which He has. Not only does Keathley present a strong case for contingency philosophically, but he also uses scriptural evidence to arrive at his conclusion. Biblical passages such as 1 Sam. 13:13–14, in which Samuel said to Saul, “the Lord would have permanently established your reign over Israel,” demonstrate the existence of contingency: that is, the word “would” indicates a possibility, not a determined outcome. God “would” have established Saul’s reign longer, but Saul’s own evil choices ruin him (37). Keathley’s convincing evidence regarding God’s sovereign control and creaturely freedom make Molinism a very appealing system. I was initially drawn to Molinism because of “middle knowledge.” Middle Knowledge Calvinists, such as Bruce Ware in God’s Greater Glory, make a good case for Molinism as well. Ware argues in his work that were it not for middle knowledge the open theists would be right. God can never know too much.

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