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Jul 27, 2006, 1:55 pm

Has anybody seen the article on Middle Knowledge by Campbell in the Westminster Theological Journal? From what I have read about scientia media, it is bad news for the Reformed Churches. I don't go to Frame or Nash or other modern theologians for guidance here. I go straight to Turretin and the other Reformed Scholastics because they are (in my opinion) better, more reliable guides. Richard Muller is incomparable as an Historical Theologian (a different discipline from Church History) and has done great service to the Reformed minded through his excellent books.
In my research on scientia media and the fact that Arminius had embraced these views, I found a link to the Muslim Sunni views on the ideas behind middle knowledge and found that they rejected it because it diminished God's attributes of absolute foreknowledge (blessed be his name!).

2james_gibson First Message
Jul 27, 2006, 4:27 pm

I have not read the Campbell article. But if Campbell is defending MK and claims to be Reformed, I am not shocked at this connection. Tiessen's book, Providence & Prayer, attempts to give a Calvinist reconcilation with MK. I also wouldn't pay much attention to Frame and Nash (well, Nash is gone now, so he's no help). I've found Turretin and Muller helpful in the past, especially Muller. What exactly is the problem you're having with Campbell's article? I don't have time to read that, but if you can give a brief precis, maybe I can comment on it.


Jul 27, 2006, 5:29 pm

I have no problem with the Campbell article. It is a good brief explanation of the modern debate. It's just that I prefer reading the past debates.
I also have problems with the NPP folks. For replies to them, I recommend Waters and Westerholm.
On the Eucharist, I would go with John Calvin and Peter Martyr Vermigli. I don't like Keith A. Mathison's: "Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper". Knowingly or unknowingly, a sleight of hand occurs. Did Calvin use the expression, "Real Presence" the same way that Mathison would have us believe or did Calvin clean up his theological vocabulary and redefine it as a "True and Spiritual" Presence? I think it was Peter Martyr Vermigli (or was it Bullinger) who cautioned him on using "Real" Presence.

Jul 27, 2006, 9:52 pm

I used to be a Molinist, and even wrote a paper defending it for a William Lane Craig class (one of its leading proponents).

When was this article published in WTJ? As much as I like John Frame, I haven't seen anything from him on middle knowledge. Ronald Nash said he toyed with the idea for awhile, but eventually dropped it without giving any satisfactory reason why.

There's something of a debate as to whether or not Arminius was actually a Molinist. There's a two-volume dissertation somehwere arguing he wasn't (I can try to find the reference if you'd like). However, I think most are agreed he utilized Molina's philosophy quite knowingly- see Eef Dekker's article in The Sixteenth Century Journal Volume XXVII No. 2 Summer 1996 "Was Arminius a Molinist?"

Tiessen gave a paper last year at ETS attempting to promote a Calvinist interpretation of middle knowledge, I didn't know it's in a book as well. I never really came to a conclusion about what to think of his position. It sounded fishy, but I couldn't figure out why. William Lane Craig has argued that Calvinists can be Molinists. The problem is that we would have to say libertarian freedom exists and for whatever reason he doesn't see why that's in conflict with Calvinism.

Where has Muller discussed Molinism? I probably have it somewhere and never saw it :) I didn't think Turretin was very convincing when I was a Molinist, but it'd probably do be good to return to him now that I'm on the other side.

I found no philosophical problem with Molinism- I didn't think the the grounding objection ultimately had much weight. But I became convinced of Reformed Theology and specifically compatiblism and since it seems to be the case that Molinism dependce on libertarian free will, it had to go. If it is true that libertarian free will is necessary to Molinism, then it can have no place in Reformed Theology. There's my twenty five cents, sorry for the long comment :)

Jul 27, 2006, 10:51 pm

Muller discusses middle knowledge in his Post-Ref Dogmatics (vol.3). Basically, Muller claims that the Ref. Schol. criticism of MK is not the question about *how* God knows, but rather has to do with the possibility of such knowledge. The idea is this. Take some counterfactual proposition, p, where p is "If Jones were in C, Jones would freely A." Take freely in the sense required by some libertarian model. According to the Molinist, God knows that p. But we might then ask, what is it that grounds the truth of p? That is, what is the truth maker for p? Well, if one is a libertarian and - as I take it to be a central feature of libertarian views - the free agent (Jones) is to bring about A, in a sense, all on "his own", Jones' free decision at whatever time he's in C is what grounds the truth of p. But, Jones is free to refrain from doing A. Hence, possibly ~A. P is true iff Jones A's in C. So it looks like what is required for MK to be possible is for the proposition in question to have truth makers which are external to God (otherwise it looks like determinism) and yet are subject to falsify the counterfactual in question, and those truth makers (like Jones) do not yet exist - or at least they didn't eternally exist. Thus, it seems that MK, as traditionally presented, is not possible without those subjects to make the free actions necessary to make propositions like p true. Obviously, there are philosophers who have tried to offer more Leibnizian (or essentialist) views to overcome these sorts of problems. But that's the idea as I recall from Muller's discussion.

By the way, I myself don't find MK objectionable qua Calvinistic considerations... considerations very limited to the so-called five points of "Calvinism" - a misnomer for a variety of reasons (as you all know, "Calivinism" is often used in a much bigger sense than the five points). Someone could, it seems to me, offer a sophisticated version of MK that incorporates all five points. The best objections to MK turn out, in my view, to be objections from God's attributes and foreknowledge (though foreknowledge itself wouldn't necessarily present a problem if libertarian views don't require alternate possibilities for freedom and/or moral responsibility); and second, MK seems to be a superfluous doctrine if a robust theory of libertarian agency is not available (c.f. Randy Clarke's book, Libertarian Accounts of Free Will).

Jul 30, 2006, 8:44 pm

Nov 10, 2009, 11:54 am

I love dreamers. I just don't worship a God who is a dreamer.

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