Originating From a Secret Bunker Dug By William Hosea Holcombe and J.B. Gambrell Somewhere Off the Square in Oxford, Mississippi
While some may acknowledge that Molinism is a kind of election, they may also believe that their personal salvific choice still plays a significant role as to who is in fact elected unto salvation (including and especially their own salvation). Below I will attempt to show why this is blatantly false.
The closest U.S. presidential race in modern history occurred in the year 2000 when George W. Bush edged Albert Gore by a few hundred votes in Florida, which in turn gave Bush the victory in the Electoral College. While that vote was extraordinarily close – triggering a recount in the state – it is important to remember that if any single voter in Florida had changed his/her vote, the outcome would have been exactly the same. In other words, no single vote determined who was elected President of the United States.
Of course, we sometimes hear of local elections decided by extremely narrow margins. I remember years ago a local election in Lafayette County (Mississippi) that wasn’t decided until the absentee ballots were counted, and even then the incumbent won by less than five votes. Still, the changing of one single vote in that election would not have changed the outcome. In fact, it is stunningly rare to have an election of any type decided by a single vote. And when you are talking about elections involving millions of people voting – the U.S. Presidential race, for example – it just doesn’t happen. This is because the larger the number of people voting in an election, the less likely that any one vote will make the difference.
As referenced in a previous post, Molinism teaches that God actualizes the one possible world where He foresees the largest number of people with libertarian free will choosing salvation for themselves. In essence, it is an election involving billions upon billions of people choosing (or voting) within a nearly limitless number of possible worlds. So what’s the chance that my one choice would determine the outcome? Well, if we were talking about just the number of people alive at this moment in this one actual world, the chance of an election being decided by one vote out of 6 billion votes cast is something like 0.00000003 percent, which statistically speaking is a zero percent chance. Now add on the billions of other people who have existed but are now deceased and multiply that by myriads upon myriads of possible worlds – a number so large only God can comprehend it – and you begin to see the utter hopelessness of your choice deciding the outcome. You would have a much greater chance of winning the lottery a thousand times per second every second of your life. That may sound absurd, but that’s the point – we are talking about something that is utterly absurd and impossible.
Without Jehovah ordaining the outcome of all free will salvific choices, then we’re left to chance. And make no mistake, with Molinism, there is no chance whatsoever that one libertarian decision for or against Christ determines anything at all. Period. Not a chance.
According to an article published by the website, SBC Today, Dr. Eric Hankins, made the following statement in 2013 about a belief system called Molinism. He said “We need to be able to account for the relationship between God’s foreknowledge and His predestination, and we need to be able to account for how freedom does not impinge on God’s glory or His sovereignty. I think Molinism gives the best account to date for these things.”
So what’s Molinism? Briefly, Molinism is a philosophical system, a Christianized version of modality, that attempts to harmonize the concept of God’s absolute sovereignty over salvation with libertarian freewill while bringing salvation to as many people as possible. It is extrapolated (not exposited) from Scriptures like Matthew 11:21, which reads, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Molinism rests heavily on counterfactuals like the phrase “if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon . . . they would have repented long ago . . .” From this Molinists postulate that there is not only a possible world where Tyre and Sidon would repent, but more importantly there are myriads of possible worlds, too numerous for us to comprehend, that God in His omniscience knows all too well. So Jehovah, before creation, looked at all these possible worlds – using something called middle knowledge – and in His sovereignty actualized the one possible world where the largest number of people would freely choose salvation. And make no mistake, with Molinism this actualized world will come to pass – it is predestined.
So clearly with Molinism, the doctrine of election still exists, but there is no special electing love for me individually. Rather God elects people based on their future choices in relation to the choices of every other person who has ever lived or will live. So to be elect according to Molinism, my right choosing must also occur in the one possible world where the largest number of other people make that same choice, that is, I must be on the winning team. Why? Because God’s electing purpose is not my salvation per se, but to save the largest number of people possible. In fact, I might have made the salvific choice in most possible worlds. I might have even made the salvific choice in all but one possible world, but if the one world God actualizes is the one where I choose wrongly, then I’m completely out of luck just like the residents of Tyre and Sidon mentioned above. You see, Molinism’s election is really not about you or me specifically. It’s about maximizing results.
So why is understanding the Molinist idea of election important? Because while many Southern Baptists reject the doctrine of election, their reason for doing so is not because they seek to defend libertarian free-will as a concept. That’s not the issue. Rather, they see free-will as the vehicle whereby fairness (or justice) is preserved in the actual world, not in a plethora of possible worlds. Consequently, Molinism, when rightly understood, would be no better in their eyes than Calvinism, maybe even less so. At least with Calvinism your destiny is determined by the all-wise counsel of an infinitely good God alone. With Molinism, you are predestined by the winning team.
Blog Note: Dr. Eric Hankins has left First Baptist Church in Oxford, and our prayers are with him and First Baptist. His leaving does not appear to have any direct connection to the Traditional Statement pro or con. So for the moment, as opportunity arises, the Oxford Baptist Underground will continue to interact with Hankins’ public comments and the comments of others who support the Traditional Statement.