Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 14:4 (Winter 2010) p. 110
Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach. By Kenneth Keathley. Nashville: B&H, 2010, xiv + 232 pp., $24.99 paper.
Finding both classic Calvinism and classic Arminianism problematic for articulating the sovereignty of God in our salvation, Kenneth Keathley proposes an alternative to both. As Keathley understands these historic traditions, classic Calvinism upholds strong divine sovereignty but fails to account rightly for true human freedom and evangelistic zeal, whereas classic Arminianism accounts well for the role of human freedom in our salvation but is unable to account for strong divine sovereignty. Keathley’s “Molinist approach” is offered to bring together both of these strengths—i.e., strong divine sovereignty and true human freedom in our salvation—while avoiding the weaknesses of each. As he asserts, “The Molinist model is the only game in town for anyone who wishes to affirm a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to a genuine definition of human choice, freedom, and responsibility.... The attractiveness of Molinism is that it presents a logically coherent view of providence, which holds that God is meticulously sovereign, while at the same time humans are genuinely free” (6, 9).
Keathley begins (chapter one) by outlining his biblical case for Molinism, which, he suggests, succeeds precisely in its understanding of and appeal to the divine omniscience. Neither mere foreknowledge of what we will do (as in classic Arminianism) nor omni-causal divine control of all human choices and actions (as in classic Calvinism) can yield a model that has the qualities of both strong sovereignty and genuine human freedom. But for Keathley, understanding rightly the divine omniscience holds the key to satisfying both concerns. Molinism proposes that God not only knows all that “could be” (i.e., knowledge of all possible states of affairs that could be true in one or more possible worlds—called God’s “natural knowledge”) and all that “will be” (i.e., knowledge of all actual states of affairs that make up the real world in which we live—called God’s “free knowledge”), God also knows all that “would be” (i.e., knowledge of all things that free creatures would choose in various possible worlds in which circumstances vary from one world to another—called God’s “middle knowledge”). And importantly, this “would be” or “middle knowledge” category is both in between God’s knowledge of all possibilities and all actualities (hence, it is “middle” knowledge), and it is logically prior to God’s choice to bring into existence this particular world. In other words, God’s middle knowledge (i.e., his knowledge of what “would be”) is “pre-volitional”—it is logically prior to his volitional
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