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Dr. Tim Stratton on the Apologetics 315 podcast to discuss free will and divine sovereignty

I really enjoyed this interview of Dr. Stratton from the Apologetics 315 podcast. I’ve had non-Christians in previous workplaces raise the problem of free will vs divine sovereignty. After all, they say, how can humans be responsible for their choices if God is all-powerful? If God is all-powerful, then surely he must control everything, and there’s no space for free will. Right?

The episode can be heard here.

Here is the show description:

In this episode, Brian Auten and Chad Gross interview Tim Stratton of Free Thinking Ministries. They discuss the topic of Molinism as it relates to God’s sovereignty, human free will, and why it matters. Tim’s book on the subject is Human Freedom, Divine Knowledge, and Mere Molinism: A Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Philosophical Analysis.

1:03 – Intro to Tim Stratton
1:41 – Why Molinism on the podcast?
3:20 – Welcome to Tim Stratton
3:54 – How Tim became a Christian
9:37 – God as a maximally great being
10:43 – Tim’s dissertation
11:18 – What does Tim find compelling about Molinism?
12:42 – The Mere Molinism Facebook group
16:14 – What is the problem that Molinism is trying to solve?
22:47 – How to briefly summarize Molinism?
23:41 – Defining terms: Middle knowledge and counterfactuals
31:39 – Scriptures that affirm counterfactuals / middle knowledge
41:53 – Why us the term “mere” Molinism?
46:22 – Can Molinism be applied to salvation?
48:21 – Does this chess analogy work?
52:10 – Objection: Molinism is not derived from scripture
58:23 – Objection: Who cares? That’s just for scholars and theologians
1:02:45 – How Molinism saved Tim’s marriage
1:06:20 – Where to find Tim’s resources

Tim Stratton’s reconciliation of divine sovereignty and free will is interesting to me. He keeps God as the sole initiator of salvation. And that’s good. But it also makes sure that human who resist God’s leading are responsible for their choice to resist God, and that’s also good. We want salvation to be 100% by faith alone in Christ alone. But we don’t want God to be the cause of people not being saved. On Stratton’s view, God wants everyone to be saved. If anyone is saved, it’s because God did ALL THE WORK to lead them and secure their salvation with the death of Jesus on the cross. But, on Stratton’s view, humans do get a choice – the choice to trust God or not. And so, if a person is not saved, then it’s their fault – not God’s.

If you hear this challenge from non-Christians, be sure to listen to the podcast. You can find a written version of his argument on his web site, Free Thinking Ministries.

2 thoughts on “Dr. Tim Stratton on the Apologetics 315 podcast to discuss free will and divine sovereignty”

  1. People overcomplicate this to try to get God off the hook for eternal damnation. But is they who put him on the hook!

    Their foundational problem is forgetting that the default destination for everyone (after Adam and Eve, who could have chosen otherwise) is Hell. So everyone deserves to go there, but by God’s mercy and grace, He elects and predestines to save some. So they are always the cause of them not being saved, not God.

    I’ve yet to see someone with orthodox Christian beliefs (i.e., who doesn’t support the falsehood of open theism) come up with any alternative besides these reasons for why people end up in Hell:

    1. God didn’t elect them (Reformed)
    2. God couldn’t persuade them (Arminian or Molinism)
    3. God wouldn’t persuade them (Arminian or Molinism)

    Option 2 means that even if God sovereignly put the Wintery Knight next door to you and gave you had lots of encounters with solid Christians (i.e., good experiences with Christianity and complete access to the facts and logic behind the faith) that you’d never be persuaded by it. Sounds Reformed to me, as it means that God created these people knowing that nothing would persuade them to believe because in his foreknowledge He elected not to make them spiritually alive (a la John 3:8). They allegedly had the ability to freely choose him but He was powerless to convince them.

    Option 3 means that God could have persuaded them but elected not to (reminder: He is under no obligation to save anyone – it is only by his mercy and grace that any are saved). Again, sounds Reformed to me.

    I’ve heard of people trying to use Molinism to get around this, saying that God picked the universe where the most people would choose him. But that means that some would go to Hell in this universe but wouldn’t have in another universe, so God chose them to go to Hell. They unwittingly end up with the same (false) scenario they are trying to explain away.

    It is much more biblical and logical to say that people have “free will” within their given nature. But as you can’t choose to fly like a bird because it isn’t in your nature, you can’t choose Jesus when it isn’t in your spiritually dead nature. But if God makes you spiritually alive (again, John 3:8) then you can and will choose Jesus because it is now in your nature to be able to do so.

    “After all, they say, how can humans be responsible for their choices if God is all-powerful?”

    If only the Holy Spirit would have anticipated that argument :-). Romans 9:19–20 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

    Bonus question: Why would Paul anticipate that argument if he was arguing for Molinism or Arminianism?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I find this argument weak and also a misunderstanding of Molinism. We need to first go back to Adam and Eve. This author believes the first couple did have freedom to choose, but chose to sin. If that is true, why did they chose to sin? Reformed say God determined that they sin. That makes God the author of sin. If a Reformed says God did not determine they sin, but gave them free choice, then was He sovereign? Of course. Yet He gave them free choice? Many Reformed deny this. Those that do not deny it have to admit God can be sovereign and humans have free will. God is sovereign if it’s HIS choice that people have free choice, and then He allows them to chose. If so, then even though man is now sinful, God can give prevenient grace to all to enable them to accept or reject the Gospel, and still be sovereign. Man would not be the author of his salvation. It would still be God. Molinists do accept God’s election of the saved. But not because He chose who He would save and who He would pass over. Rather God knew BEFORE he created this world that I would reject Christ, then chose to make me anyway. By making me, He ELECTED that I be lost, but not because He wanted me to be, or passed over me. Simply because He knew what i WOULD do and made me anyway. Is God all-powerful? Then why cannot he make a world where everyone would be saved? Because He knows in ANY world He creates some humans would reject Him. Unless he makes them accept Him, some will chose otherwise. Omnipotence does not mean God can do the logically impossible. God cannot make a rock so large He cannot lift it. God cannot make a square circle. Such statements are logically meaningless. And God cannot MAKE a person FREELY choose. Either I chose to sin, or God makes the choice for me. It cannot be assured that God’s omnipotence means He could persuade everyone to be saved if He wanted to.


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