John Laing makes a strong case for the concept of middle knowledge as an explanation of the providence of God. In doing so he upholds both human freedom and divine sovereignty. No doubt he writes in a highly divisive category among theologians and will probably get some pushback, but in my view has done well in writing a detailed, scholarly examination with careful biblical and logical accuracy.
Though he uses a lot of down-to-earth examples, this work will still be tough for newcomers to the debate. The logical analysis has not an ounce of fluff and so I suspect this work will be more appreciated by those with some theological background.
In a lengthy introduction he discusses what the doctrine of providence is, he examines the various models of providence, and he addresses the assumptions that are in play in arriving at a position. This information is extremely helpful in grasping the theological landscape. In chapter 1 he defines the doctrine of middle knowledge. He introduces the specialized vocabulary involved and shows several examples.
Chapter 2 is on the grounding objection, which he feels is the most important element in explaining middle knowledge. In chapter 3 he reviews the circularity objection before getting into the more debated chapter 4 on divine foreknowledge and free will. By chapter 5, he enters the most explosive battleground when he addresses predestination and salvation in regard to these theories.
Chapter 6 addresses the problem of evil and how it impacts each of these viewpoints. There’s a chapter on inerrancy and inspiration and its effect on this debate as well as one on science and theology. Since middle knowledge comes from Molinism, he addresses the biblical evidence for it in chapter 9. Chapters 10 is a conclusion upholding middle knowledge.
I can see myself referring to this book in the future any time the subject of providence in these debated areas comes up. I imagine the reader’s viewpoint may impact the rating of this work by reviewers more than the work itself. Again, it may be a little too strong for students due to the subject, but that’s not to say it’s written too opaquely. It’s the subject that’s tough. For me, it will likely be my go-to book on this lively subject.
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