Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Quicksand of "Tension"

For the last six months, I’ve been reading everything I could get my hands on about Calvinism and Arminianism. After six months, I’ve learned a great deal about both systems; but there’s also much to learn about the other systems in the theological world. I guess you could say I’ve come to learn that there’s more to learn...

I decided to pick up a new book last night (a book I will return to rather frequently), called “Providence and Prayer: How Does God Work in the World?” by Terrance Tiessen. The book itself contains 11 models of providence and prayer—that’s right, I said it: ELEVEN MODELS! I highly recommend this book as a reference work and encourage you to return to it again and again.

In this book, regarding the Molinist model, Tiessen writes:

“God thus providentially arranges for everything that does happen by either willing or permitting it, and He causes everything to happen insofar as He concurs with the decisions of free creatures in producing their effects, yet He does so in such a way as to preserve freedom and contingency. Hereby, RESOLUTION OF THE TENSION between divine sovereignty and human freedom is addressed through the appeal to middle knowledge” (Terrance Tiessen, “Providence and Prayer: How Does God Work In The World?” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000).

Notice the words I have capitalized above? “resolution of the tension.” This phrase reveals that there is an underlying assumption of tension between divine sovereignty and human freedom. But the most disappointing part of the Molinist model is the fact that the model itself never gives a reason for why these two concepts are in tension! I’ve read Beilby and Eddy’s work on “Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views,” and William Lane Craig, in his section on foreknowledge, doesn’t give us a reason as to why such a tension exists! We are never given the justification for tension between these two biblical concepts. But I believe that such “tension” should be proven before it is assumed.

Tension is at the foundation of the Molinist model. This, to begin with, is a bad sign. It usually means that the rest of the Molinist system will be built on a shaky foundation...and without a sturdy foundation, no theological system can stand...

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