Neo-Molinism: A Traditional- Openness Rapprochement? -- By: Paul Kjoss Helseth

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 07:3 (Fall 2003)
Article: Neo-Molinism: A Traditional- Openness Rapprochement?
Author: Paul Kjoss Helseth

A Traditional- Openness Rapprochement?1

Paul Kjoss Helseth

Paul Kjoss Helseth is Associate Professor of Christian Thought at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Helseth co-edited Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity (Crossway, 2003) with John Piper and Justin Taylor and is the author of several scholarly articles. He is currently co-editing a critique of postconservative evangelicalism with Millard Erickson and Justin Taylor entitled, Constructing a Center: Evangelical Accommodation in a Post-Theological Era (Crossway, forthcoming).


In his response to Gregory A. Boyd’s exposition of the open view of foreknowledge in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, William Lane Craig suggests, among other things, that Boyd’s view of the future compromises “a biblically sound doctrine of providence” because it denies, “that the Principle of Bivalence holds for future contingent propositions and CCFs [counterfactuals of creaturely freedom].”2 Boyd’s distinction between a class of future events that can be known and a class of future events that cannot be known not only “undermines divine omniscience” and “winds up destroying [both] contingency and freedom,” Craig contends, but it also jettisons God’s providential control of world history because it cannot account for the “coalescence of human freedom and divine sovereignty” that work together “toward his previsioned end.”3 The philosophical challenge facing open theists in general and Boyd in particular, Craig insists, is “to defend the claim that the Principle of Bivalence fails for future contingent propositions and CCFs, and. .. to show that. .. [the open] view alone is able to affirm real possibilities in the world”4 without undermining God’s sovereign rule over the unfolding course of world history. Open theists will remain unequal to this challenge, Craig concludes, as long as they continue to ignore “the Molinist alternative” to Calvinistic determinism on the one hand and Free-Will theism on the other.5

Later in the same volume, Boyd responds to Craig’s exposition of the classical Molinist view of foreknowledge by insisting that the open view, in fact, “could perhaps more accurately be labeled neo- Molinism.”6 “In essence,” Boyd suggests, “[neo-Molinism] differs from the classical Molinist position only in that it expands the co...

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