Logic and Interpretation Need not Apply

A couple of weeks ago I had the unfortunate experience of running into a preaching couple on campus. Like your typical southern evangelist that shows up on campus, this pair’s purpose for coming to campus was to damn every person that walks by for being a sinner, and, condemn them to Hell. Last week it was Brother Micah and his wife on campus. Normally I never talk to these people, because there is pretty much nothing you can say or do that will win any favor with them. They will simply pull verses out of context and use the verses themselves as reasoning. Indeed, this past week was no different. Brother Micah was on campus to presumably try to bring others to Christ – a fact for which I actually condoned him for. For too many of us Christians spend day to day as functioning atheists, not looking for opportunities in which we can serve Christ or at least better preparing ourselves for that time. Instead of bringing anyone to even want to learn more about Jesus, Brother Micah initiated a response that I can only imagine is probably a common theme across his campus tours… Women took off their clothes, men kissed other men, and women kissed other women, simply to spite Brother Micah and his wife.

As I mentioned, I normally don’t care to talk to these guys, but a few Tuesdays ago I actually decided to just stop and listen. After Micah had finished talking with someone, I went up to him and said, “Hey, I respect you actually getting out and wanting to draw people to Jesus, but I’m not sure if this is the best way to go about it.” He blew up on me. Indeed he condemned me for everything you could imagine. He said I had no chance of being saved, and even said, “I know you’re not saved because you have not quoted any scripture to me word for word.” Absolutely insane. All I wanted to do was try and have a conversation — understand his perspective even — as to why he thought this approach was better than actually, you know, loving and serving your neighbor as yourself. I unfortunately didn’t get any of that.

Instead, I wonder now what is the basis for his beliefs. And, I am pretty sure, he is using scripture as an idol. Indeed the level of certainty he had was the equivalent to the level of “faith” he had. In John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Indeed, Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35) and all throughout the New Testament we are called to look like Jesus, which looks like the cross (1 John 3:16, Romans 5:8). It is on the cross in which we see the fullness of God’s love demonstrated. But if you’re not looking like the cross but yet judging as only God can judge then you must be wonderfully certain that your knowledge of scripture is what leads your to salvation. Case in point is when he told me I would not be saved because I hadn’t quoted any scripture. Brother Micah lives his life very much like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time in which he has memorized scripture thinking in the scripture itself had life.

Gregory Boyd in Benefit of the Doubt puts it wonderfully when he says (alluding to John 5:39-40), “This episode demonstrates that the way we believe what we believe can transform what we believe into an idol that actually blocks us from getting life from Christ – even when what we believe is completely true! And this happens whenever we are confident we are okay with God because of what we believe rather than because of our relationship with the one true source of life. If what makes us feel okay with God is our confidence in the correctness of our beliefs, then our confidence in our beliefs is, in effect, our god. This is what gives us our false sense of life.”

Economic Background of Christian Teaching

I had to recently write a paper for my history of economics class about either an economist or school of thought. I chose to do the economic background of Christian teaching and focus on the Austrian school of thought. My paper is below.


The aim of this paper is first, to explore the economic conditions at the time of Jesus Christ, then to explore what Christ taught in relation to the economic conditions of the time. Lastly, the paper will discuss current economists that intertwine economics, Christianity, and morality.

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God has a plan for us All…?

If you are a Christian, how many times have you heard that, “God has a plan for us all”? Or perhaps if something you desired didn’t turn out the way you want, “…I guess it was just not in His plan”. Maybe you’ve heard that, “we must trust His plan”, or the non-religious version, “there’s a reason for everything.” These phrases and derivatives of these phrases float about in the Christian world all the time. Simply hang out after a church service and you are likely to hear several forms of them.

For me however, I have always had difficulty accepting this line of thought. If God gave us free will and also has an individual plan for us, how are we suppose to know which one of our free willed choices (in any certain scenario) is following His plan ? Can we screw up His plan by making incorrect choices? If we are simply following His script, do we really have any free will at all? Furthermore, one reason why I hate this thought, is how offensive it sounds in the wake of tragedy. Was 9-11 part of God’s script? If you suddenly lost a loved one in an accident, would you be comforted in knowing that it was part of His plan? Or what if you made a terrible mistake of driving while drunk and killed somebody? I don’t think anyone wants to believe that killing somebody would be part of their creator’s plan for their life. And chances are that you’d actually probably be pretty pissed off at God too. (Why me, God?!) Not to mention I find it difficult for such a loving and merciful God to create a plan in which people are tragically killed for the sole purpose of carrying out said plan.

So – How does one still believe in the Truth of God, while rejecting that we are all on a pre-destined script, ala Calvinism. Enter: Molinism. I first heard of Molinism in my History of Economic Thought class. Molinism was created by Luis de Molina – a theologian/economist that lived in the 1500s. Funny enough, many early economists were also deeply religious and wrote religious books (including Adam Smith, the “father of economics”). Molinism provides a solution that allows for God’s sovereignty while also allowing for human beings to have self-determined freedom.  In a very basic sense, God knows how you would react in any given circumstance. To further break it down, there are three variations in God’s knowledge. I have quoted below, but just Google Molinism, and you’ll get basically the same thing.

“The most famous distinctive in Molinism is its affirmation that God has middle knowledge (scienta media). Molinism holds that God’s knowledge consists of three logical moments. These “moments” of knowledge are not to be thought of as chronological; rather they are to be understood as “logical.” In other words, one moment does not come before another moment in time, rather one moment is logically prior to the other moments. The Molinist differentiates between three different moments of knowledge which are respectively called natural knowledge, middle knowledge and free knowledge.”

  • Natural Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of all necessary and all possible truths. In this “moment” God knows every possible combination of causes and effects. He also knows all the truths of logic and all moral truths.
  • Middle Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of what any free creature would do in any given circumstance, also known as counterfactual knowledge. It is also sometimes stated as God’s knowledge of the truth of subjunctive conditionals.
  • Free Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of what He freely decided to create. God’s free knowledge is His knowledge of the actual world as it is.

God knows how his creatures would react if placed in any circumstance. Think of this as potential “If….then” statements. Jesus talks about this in Matthew 11:23, “And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. (NLT)” This is in line with God’s Middle Knowledge – Jesus is says that if he had performed miracles in Sodom, they would have repented.

A slight derivative of Molinism (and this is how it was explained to me in economics) is that instead of God knowing exactly how one would react in a given situation, is that God knows the probability of how would would react given the choices present. Given a certain situation, God knows that there is a certain chance you would choose option ‘A’ and a certain chance you would choose option ‘B’. This would be as if all your life actions were laid out on a probability tree. I like the idea of the probability tree the most. Because God is timeless, He still knows the ultimate outcome of every situation, but it seems to line up with how humans with freedom make choices everyday. Given any situation, there are certain probabilities that we choose one path or another. I also think the probabilities line up with how Jesus talks about prayer and faith. Jesus talks a lot about being consistent with prayer (Luke 11:5-13, Luke 18:1-8). I like to think prayer actually makes a difference. If we believe that Molinism is true – praying, but more importantly – being consistent with prayer could increase/decrease the probabilities of what path you go down. Now I cannot think of any scripture where Jesus talks explicitly about probabilities to cite them, however Molinism can be cited in many other verses other than Matthew 11:23 I listed above, and Molinism has the backing of William Lane Craig. I think prayer, free will, and pre-destination are one of the most interesting topics in Christianity. I have a hard time with pre-destination/Calvinism, and Molinism seems to provide a lot of good answers and not create many problems.

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