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Time Travel, Molinism, & the Problem of Evil in Now, Then, and Everywhen
But I happened to look in March when Now, Then, and EveryWhen was a selection, and to be honest, it was the cover that decided it for me. So let’s stop and appreciate the cover for a minute. The cover was designed by M.S. Corley. Great job.
Now, Then, and EveryWhen Summary
The book has two parallel story lines, one in 2304 and one in 2136, which converge in 1965. In 2306, we follow Tyson Reyes and the efforts of his fellow Chronos historians, time jumpers who observe the past. In 2136, a woman named Madison Grace discovers a key that allows her to time travel.
Reyes’s group follows strict rules that only allow them to observe history. They are not allowed to impact it in any way. Safety checks are run afterward through the Chronos computer to make sure that nothing has changed. “Even a small change—some tiny wrinkle that smoothed itself out in a year or so” would have earned him a warning. Reyes is on an assignment to observe the U.S. Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s but something goes amiss and he returns from his trip to find that history has been dramatically altered. People who had been in his timeline, the “right” timeline, never were.
On Molinism and Foreknowing
However, what I do like about the book is the illustration that it gives for Molinism. Some of the most heated debates among Christians have to do with the God’s character and the problem of evil, God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, and the question of free will. Calvinists take the position that God is entirely sovereign and man does not have true libertarian free will. That position simplifies the question of God’s sovereignty, foreknowledge, and what happens, but causes a major conflict with God’s character and the problem of evil.
“Molinism” is a view of God’s sovereignty put forward by a Jesuit priest named Luis de Molina that sought to reconcile this dilemma. In this view, Molina categorized God’s knowledge into three types. The site Theopedia describes it in this way:
- 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 
In the most simplistic explanation, natural knowledge is what is, middle knowledge is what could be, and free knowledge is what will be.
I’ve taken a class on Molinism with William Lane Craig, but it was this book that helped me truly understand it. God’s “middle knowledge” is like the CHRONOS computer that calculates every factor and every possible outcome, the computer that also knows how to “fix” the timeline, identifying the exact thing that needs to change to bring the desired end about. It is like the way Paul says in Romans 8:28 that God works “all things together for the good of those who love him.”
Job and the Good End
The thing about the good God is working towards is that the end is not here. It is not a particular timeline or a particular set of circumstances. The “good end” God is working towards is his eternal kingdom. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), but each of us gets to choose whether or not we will respond to God’s invitation. God knows in advance who will and so he works together circumstances, so that all who would and will respond in the right circumstances do.
Now, Then, and Every When illustrates another thing about God, goodness, and providence … we don’t know what seemingly minor thing will end in a good or evil end … but God does. This is what God is pointing out to Job in the last dialogue of the Book of Job. Job doesn’t understand why God has allowed calamity to hit him and he gets no response other than “Are you God? If not, you wouldn’t understand.”
We may not know why a particular thing happened. We may not understand why we weren’t saved from a specific thing. But God is good and just Job received a double blessing for his undeserved troubles, God will also treat us justly and we will receive a greater good in the end.