Podcast: God’s Foreknowledge (Class)

Podcast: God’s Foreknowledge (Class)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

How can God know the outcome of the world? How is it that we are predestined? Do we have free will? Above, I go over the three, big theories on this. The class notes follow:

What are the three views commonly called?

 1.______________, 2._______________, 3.______________

  1. ________
    1. JC, early-mid 1500s
    1. Often summed by “TULIP.”
      Total depravity—we are totally depraved and unable to choose good. 
      Unconditional election—we are unconditionally elected to salvation (God pre-decrees who will be saved and who will not). In other words, election is not based on man’s future response.
      Limited atonement—the work of atonement by Jesus is limited to only those God pre-chose.
      Irresistible grace—humans cannot choose to not love God if God has decreed that they will be part of the elect.
      Perseverance of the saints—given the above, humans which are part of the elect are saved without condition and are eternally secure.
    1. Often supported by:
      -Romans 8:29-30, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
      -Romans 9: 14-24 (See Bible due to length.)
    1. Has difficulty with:
      -1 Timothy 2:4, “God our Savior wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”

-2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 23:37 and in Ezekiel 33:11 and 18:3; God wants all men to be saved.
-2 Thess 2:10, “And with all wicked deception for those who are

perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

  • ___________
    • Jacobus A, late 1500s to early 1600s.
    • Holds tenets of man’s free will, conditional election based on that free will, universal work of Christ, resistible grace, and the ability to fall from grace.
    • Often supported by: the verses that challenge Calvinism, as above in point 1d, and others, such as Rev 2:10, 2 Pet 1:10, Mat 10:22, Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:4-6, Acts 8:9-24, etc.
    • Has difficulty with: the verses which Calvinism typically utilizes as in point 1c, and others, such as John 10:26-30 (explore this passage), Acts 13:44-52, etc.

  • ____________
    • Luis de Molina, mid-1500s to 1600.
    • Is a more-metaphysical take on how to reconcile verses which seem to compete; attempts to utilize logic and reason to explain how such verses can be concomitantly true.
    • Believes that God is sovereign, that man has libertarian free will (example of Tivo), that God has middle knowledge, 
    • Divides God’s knowledge into “logical moments,” often called natural, middle, and free.
      • Logical moment 1. Natural knowledge. God knows the range of possible worlds. O O O O O O O O O O O O O O OO
      • Logical moment 2. Middle knowledge. God knows the range of feasible worlds. O  OO      O   OOOO  OOO       O
                                  DIVINE CREATIVE DECREE
      • Logical moment 3. Free knowledge. God knows the actual world. (The best, feasible world.) O
    • What is the difference between a possible world and a feasible world? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
      (Example of bachelor, example of Peter, etc.)
    • Free knowledge because free decree.
    • Arminianism is simple foreknowledge: what will happen. (But could be too “late” for God.) Molinism relies on middle knowledge…
    • God knows what people *would* do in any given situation at moment 2. He then chooses to actualize that world; to make it be “the world.” Because He chooses a world with free will, certain options are immediately limited; you cannot make someone love you freely. Consider suffering. It is possible that only in a world suffused with suffering that the most people might freely come to Christ. Perhaps He could have actualized a world in which there was little suffering, but far more eternal corruption. He could have actualized a world without free will. Etc.
    • By choosing to actualize this world, God has not determined our actions for us. (example of Judas and Jesus’ prediction) He has placed us in a position where we can make actions, however, and is much like an infallible barometer. A barometer does not determine the weather; it will tell you with absolute certainty what the weather is going to be, but it does not cause the weather.  The weather would determine the readings of the barometer. In a similar way, God’s foreknowledge will give you absolute certainty about what is going to happen, but it’s not as though the foreknowledge determines what will happen. God foreknows as He does because this is how people will choose, and then He ordains that it will happen in virtue of his foreknowledge. So he’s sovereign because He foreknows what’s going to happen in the future. 
    • Works favorably with certain scriptures; consider Joseph and his brothers. “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good and has brought this to pass.”

      -1 Samuel 23:9-14, is the story of David who is holed up in the city of Keilah and he’s being pursued by Saul. David gets a divining device called an ephod and asks the ephod, “If I stay at Keilah, will Saul come down and attack the city?” And the ephod says, “Yes, Saul will come down.” And then David asks the ephod, “If Saul comes down and attacks the city, will the men of Keilah turned me over to Saul?” And the divining device says, “Yes, they will turn you over,” whereupon David flees Keilah with his men and as a result Saul does not come down and therefore the men of Keilah don’t turn David over to Saul. So what the ephod was giving David was not knowledge of the future (Saul didn’t come down; they didn’t turn him over it); it was giving him knowledge of these subjunctive conditionals (counterfactuals) – if you were to remain in Keilah, Saul would come down, and if Saul were to come down, the men of Keilah would deliver you over to him. And knowing those truths, then David flees the situation so that none of it comes to pass.

      -Jeremiah 38:17-18, “17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from them.’”

      -Mark 4:10-12, Matthew 26:24, John 18:36, John 15:22-24, Phmn 1:14, Deut 30:10-20

    • The main difficulty for Molinism is primarily centered around the concept of freedom.   If you were to do X when placed in situation Y, and God knows this, then could you do Z instead? Because Molinism deals with counterfactuals and logical priority, the answer is “yes.” But God would not know that you would do Y, instead knowing that you would do Z. That is, God’s  knowledge is based on all true propositions (all things that actually would happen), and if Y event were not to happen, God would not know it, as it is not a truth.
    • Middle knowledge reconciles predestination with human freedom and ensures that the most feasible, actualizible good comes to pass.
    • Lastly, God’s absolute intention is that all should repent and be saved. This is frustrated by creaturely freedom. God’s conditional intention, which are based on middle knowledge, cannot be frustrated in such a manner.

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