A Defeater For Molinism ?

For those that are confused about what molinism is I’ve included a video by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason that I’ve found helpful. He also includes reasons why he’s not a molinist.

In my last post I pointed out that 1 Corinthians 10:13 poses a possible exegetical problem for the Reformed as it seems to presuppose a libertarian view of the will that is incompatible with Reformed thought. One possibility not mentioned already is that Paul is promising that Christians won’t apostatize, the text therefore being a proof for the perseverance of the saints, not libertarian freedom. 

Regardless, it’s not the case that molinism is without any difficulties. The clearest and simplest difficulty I see is that its reliance on libertarian freedom renders it unable to deal with texts like Ephesians 2:8-9, which highlight the sheer graciousness of God’s grace:

For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one may boast.

The problem here is that for the molinist, those who possess Christ can boast. After all, they chose Christ and others didn’t. Any theological construct that allows for a conclusion like that must have gone wrong somewhere.

Roger Olson in his Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities recognizes the problem:

At this point, of course, we know that some Calvinists will object that Arminianism is still nevertheless human-centered insofar as the person being saved makes a free choice and thus contributes the decisive element to his or her own salvation. Arminians reject that. The decisive element of salvation is grace; the only ‘contribution’ of the human person is nonresistance. Saying that mere acceptance of a gift is the decisive element is bizarre. Imagine a woman on the verge of bankruptcy boasting that her endorsement and deposit of a gift check that saved her from financial ruin was the decisive element in her financial rescue. Anyone who heard her and knew the true circumstances of her situation would consider her an ingrate or a lunatic. The decisive element was the gift of a check. (157)

Olson’s analogy just won’t work. A truer picture would say that there were 50 women who were facing bankruptcy and a generous donor wrote them all checks to bail them out. 10 deposited the checks. The other 40 didn’t. Why did the 10 deposit the checks while the rest didn’t? Olson cannot explain this without appealing to some sort of human merit. He does try to wiggle out of the problem by saying that the only ‘contribution’ that the woman gives is nonresistance, but this won’t due either. As Steven Cowan has said in a review of another book, “(the) point that his model requires a person only to refrain from acting has no teeth. It is obvious that refraining in a case like this requires an active choice! “Refraining” here means something like “acquiescing,” and acquiescing is doing!

Complicating this even further is that the gospel is something that must not just be believed, but ‘obeyed’ (2 Thess. 1:8, 1 Pet. 4:17). So what Olson takes as mere nonresistance is much more complicated. Those who don’t believe have disobeyed the gospel, whereas those who have accepted it have not. Unless you’re a monergist, there’s merit and grounds for boasting everywhere.

What do you think?