The Canary in the Coal Mine? America’s Oldest Seminary Is Closing

Ministry Matters reports that Andover Newton Theological School is closing its doors. Established 208 years ago, Andover Newton is the oldest seminary in the country.Colby_Chapel,_Andover_Newton_Theological_School_-_IMG_0341 Dan Aleshire of ATS warns that the school’s closing is just the beginning:

Either way, Andover Newton’s move is likely a harbinger of what lies ahead for about 80 percent of America’s 100 mainline seminaries, according to Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools. Built more than a century ago, they’ve relied primarily on residential education models that are fast becoming unsustainably expensive and ill-suited to current needs.

Mainline seminaries are not the only schools feeling the pinch. A number of evangelical schools are also closing. Like manufacturing and a host of other industries, education is undergoing disruptive change. Nowhere is this more evident than in theological education. The rest of the article can be found here.

We’re Better Off Than We Think

Hans Rosling has a remarkable gift for communicating ideas that generally are very difficult to get across.Hans Rosling In these two videos, Professor Rosling explains that, economically speaking, things are going in the right direction. This first video clip is as cool as it is informative:

In a second clip, Rosling explains what this progress has meant for individuals for individuals:

The takeaway: contrary to the perceptions of many, we are making remarkable progress on a lot of the world’s problems. (2nd takeaway: in the right hands, data is beautiful.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

So What Is Molinism?

[Note: On January 3-8, 2016, I’m scheduled to teach a course entitled “Providence and Divine Sovereignty.” The course will be taught from a Molinist perspective, and a significant portion of the class will be devoted to understanding Molinism. For those who are interested in taking the course for credit (or auditing) but cannot attend on-campus, a online option is available. Please let me know if you are interested.]–kk

Named after its first proponent, Luis Molina (1535–1600), a sixteenth-century Jesuit priest, Molinism holds to a strong notion of God’s control and an equally firm affirmation of human freedom. In other words Molinism simultaneously holds to a Calvinistic view of a comprehensive divine sovereignty and to a version of free will (called libertarianism) generally associated with Arminianism. As Doug Geivett argues, the fact that Molinism is the one proposal that tries to hold simultaneously to both is a point in its favor, since both “are prima facie true.”

Molinism teaches that God exercises his sovereignty primarily through his omniscience, and that he infallibly knows what free creatures would do in any given situation. In this way God sovereignly controls all things while humans are also genuinely free. God is able to accomplish his will through the use of what Molinists label his middle knowledge. Middle knowledge is a technical term which refers primarily to God’s infinite knowledge of what free and morally responsible creatures would do in every possible scenario.

So Molinism formulates a radical “compatibilism,”—a “Calvinist” view of divine sovereignty and an “Arminian” view of human freedom—and for this reason is often attacked from both sides of the aisle. Calvinists such as Bruce Ware and Richard Muller consider Molinism to be a type of Arminianism, while Roger Olsen and Robert Picirilli (both card-carrying Arminians) reject Molinism for being too Calvinistic.Molinistproblems However, Molinism is attractive to many leading Christian philosophers of our day, such as Alvin Plantinga, Thomas Flint, and William Lane Craig.  One of the main reasons is that it demonstrates it is logically possible to affirm divine sovereignty and human freedom in a consistent manner.  Even open theist William Hasker, who is no friend to Molinism, admits,

“If you are committed to a ‘strong’ view of providence, according to which, down to the smallest detail, ‘things are as they are because God knowingly decided to create such a world,’ and yet you also wish to maintain a libertarian conception of free will—if this is what you want, then Molinism is the only game in town.”

As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I want because I believe Molinism is faithful to the biblical witness. The Molinist model is the only game in town for anyone who wishes to affirm a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to a genuine definition of human choice, freedom and responsibility.  William Lane Craig goes so far as to describe the Molinist notion of middle knowledge as “the single most fruitful theological concept I have ever encountered.”  When we apply Molinism to the vexing questions of predestination and election, the reasons for his enthusiasm become evident.

(From Salvation & Sovereignty pp. 5-6)


Thankster or Crankster?

Guest post by Penny KeathleyPennyJane

One of the characteristics I appreciate most about my sweetheart is that he is perpetually thankful.
“Thank you for breakfast!”
“Thank you for taking care of me!”
“Penny, we have so much to be thankful for!”

Ken is usually a thankster, not a crankster. I like to think his attitude of gratitude has rubbed off on me, but often my heart tends more toward complaints instead of thanks.

Recently I read a book by Hannah Whitall Smith in which she stated,

“The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything;
the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing…
It is true we cannot always give thanks for the things themselves,
but we can always give thanks for God’s love and care in these things.”

Like me, you may have someone in your life who is suffering terribly from either a chronic or life threatening illness – someone whose child or spouse is not reconciled to God – someone whose heart is breaking over the death of a loved one or a great financial burden.
Let us remind ourselves this Thanksgiving that it is not because these things are good that we are to thank the Lord, but because He is good.

My husband is fond of asking from the pulpit, “Do you know what the best thing about being a Christian is? God! God in our life is the best and great gift of the Gospel!”
That might be a good place to start…by thanking God for who He is; our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Sovereign Lord. Jesus is not only King of Kings, but a friend to sinners like you and me. His Spirit leads, guides, comforts and intercedes for us. Every breath God allows us to take is an opportunity to serve Him, praise Him, and tell others how wonderful He is!

We used to sing a hymn at Thanksgiving with the chorus, “Count your many blessings, name then one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
If you want to be a thankster and not a crankster, start counting your blessings – it may surprise you what the Lord has done!

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations. – Psalm 100