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Tuesday
Aug202013

Theological Term of the Week 

middle knowledge
A (supposed) third type of divine knowledge posited in Molinism, knowledge that exists logically between God’s natural knowledge and his free knowledge. It consists of God’s knowledge of what every possible creature would do in any possible set of circumstances, but because it’s logically prior to God’s free knowledge, it is independent of his will or decree. Also called scientia media.

  • Scripture that is sometimes used as evidence that God has middle knowledge, although there’s no reason to think it’s not simply free knowledge unless one has a prior commitment to the existence of middle knowledge and libertarian free will: 
    Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, kwho were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went lwherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. (1 Samuel 23:11 ESV)
  • From Molinism in a Nutshell: God Makes Do the Best He Can by Turretinfan: 

    The reason for having “middle knowledge” in the Molinistic scheme of things is a view that what a creature would do in any given situation is neither a matter of God’s choice nor a matter of absolute necessity. In other words, God cannot (according to the Molinist) decide what man would do in any given circumstance, he can simply decide whether or not to let the circumstance arise.

    One might liken the Molinist conception of God to that of a person playing Scrabble(R). You get a tray of tiles from which to form words, and you arrange them the best you can. God makes the best of the tiles he’s dealt, in terms of what creaturely free will woulddo in every possible circumstance.

Learn more:

  1. Paul Helm: Molinism 101
  2. James White: Explanation and Refutation of Middle Knowledge
  3. Turretinfan: Middle Knowledge - Part 2

Related terms:

Filed under Defective Theology

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