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  • Theology Club: How Omniscient is God?

    It is assumed that God knows everything. If I should decide to commit a crime ten years from now, God already knows whether I will or not, because He knows all things, past, present and future.

    But is this so?

    In human affairs, as an example, should someone hear me say, " I will commit a murder ten years from now", they have become knowledgeable of my intention. Now, is that person responsible to reveal this to the authorities, or may he choose to keep it to themselves?

    Ten years pass, and I do indeed follow through and commit the crime. What of the person who knew beforehand that I planned on doing this, but chose to do nothing about it? Is that person in any way responsible for the crime I committed by keeping it to himself?

    If it was uncovered that this person knew ahead of time that I would commit the crime, a court of law would judge him to be an accomplice. Though he may not face the same penalty, nevertheless he will be held accountable for not telling the proper authorities of my intention, seeing that he could have prevented it.

    It is my belief that God knows intimately every detail of what has ever happened in the past with all of His creation. Which ant died in what part of the world, what animal was eaten in a pack of hyena's, no detail or action is beyond the recollection of God. He is especially aware of our every aspect of our being, and is likewise totally knowledgeable of everything we have ever done and our motivations.

    But, does He know what the future is?

    Of a certainty, God can and does orchestrate all things. He holds sway over every man and nation. No one can withstand His will, for He alone has the ability to exercise His will freely, without outside influence. He will adjust the paths of men to fulfill that will. The future that God plans will come to pass, and He will make it so.

    What is the consensus? Any thoughts?

  • #2
    I think that before you begin a discussion on omniscience (literally 'all knowledge'), you need to be clear on what you mean by knowledge, how knowledge exists, how it is formed and communicated and what is its function.
    Total Misanthropy.
    Uncertain salvation.
    Luck of the draw.
    Irresistible damnation.
    Persecution of the saints.

    Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
    (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

    RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
    Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
    Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by fivesense View Post
      But, does He know what the future is?
      He said he knows the end from the beginning. For us time is sequential, for God it is not.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jamie View Post
        He said he knows the end from the beginning. For us time is sequential, for God it is not.
        Interesting thought.

        When you say 'time is sequential' presumably you mean events happen sequentially.
        And presumably you also mean that for God events don't happen sequentially, which would be the same as saying that events all happen at once, which would in turn be the same as saying that no events happen at all, which would be tantamount to saying nothing happens.
        Total Misanthropy.
        Uncertain salvation.
        Luck of the draw.
        Irresistible damnation.
        Persecution of the saints.

        Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
        (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

        RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
        Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
        Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by fivesense View Post
          It is assumed that God knows everything. If I should decide to commit a crime ten years from now, God already knows whether I will or not, because He knows all things, past, present and future.

          But is this so?

          In human affairs, as an example, should someone hear me say, " I will commit a murder ten years from now", they have become knowledgeable of my intention. Now, is that person responsible to reveal this to the authorities, or may he choose to keep it to themselves?

          Ten years pass, and I do indeed follow through and commit the crime. What of the person who knew beforehand that I planned on doing this, but chose to do nothing about it? Is that person in any way responsible for the crime I committed by keeping it to himself?

          If it was uncovered that this person knew ahead of time that I would commit the crime, a court of law would judge him to be an accomplice. Though he may not face the same penalty, nevertheless he will be held accountable for not telling the proper authorities of my intention, seeing that he could have prevented it.

          It is my belief that God knows intimately every detail of what has ever happened in the past with all of His creation. Which ant died in what part of the world, what animal was eaten in a pack of hyena's, no detail or action is beyond the recollection of God. He is especially aware of our every aspect of our being, and is likewise totally knowledgeable of everything we have ever done and our motivations.

          But, does He know what the future is?

          Of a certainty, God can and does orchestrate all things. He holds sway over every man and nation. No one can withstand His will, for He alone has the ability to exercise His will freely, without outside influence. He will adjust the paths of men to fulfill that will. The future that God plans will come to pass, and He will make it so.

          What is the consensus? Any thoughts?
          It is not necessary that God know the details irrelevant to His plans, whether past, present or future.

          Originally posted by jamie View Post
          He said he knows the end from the beginning.
          Where is it recorded He said that?
          sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lighthouse View Post
            Where is it recorded He said that?
            Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like Me declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure." (Isaiah 46:9-10)

            Christ knew from the time of Moses that he would be resurrected on a Sunday in order to fulfill the wave offering.

            Comment


            • #7
              Where is it recorded He said that?
              I think this is what they are looking at.

              Isaiah 46:10

              King James Version (KJV)

              10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
              He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

              Jim Elliot

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Desert Reign View Post
                When you say 'time is sequential' presumably you mean events happen sequentially.
                And presumably you also mean that for God events don't happen sequentially, which would be the same as saying that events all happen at once, which would in turn be the same as saying that no events happen at all, which would be tantamount to saying nothing happens.
                The implication is not that nothing happens, but that everything is always happening. Though, that is not a helpful concept either.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fivesense View Post
                  It is assumed that God knows everything. If I should decide to commit a crime ten years from now, God already knows whether I will or not, because He knows all things, past, present and future.

                  But is this so?

                  What is the consensus? Any thoughts?
                  This is a topic not in dispute except among process theists and their open theist cousins.

                  For the orthodox view within Christianity you may find the following of interest:

                  http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...01#post1531901

                  http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...35#post1535835

                  http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...65#post1538465

                  http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...05#post1540205

                  http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...72#post1523072

                  A related, but lengthy, excursion on the topic here for anyone wanting to dig a wee bit more into the topic:
                  Spoiler

                  Isaiah 46:10-11 is exemplary of the Scriptural teachings of the divine foreknowledge of God:

                  Declaring the end from the beginning,
                  -Makes officially (not qualifiably) known everything

                  And from ancient times things that are not yet done,

                  -God's knowledge of things to come not yet done-the future

                  Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,

                  -[I]God not subject to other's for His will

                  Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
                  -God ordains Cyrus to deliver His people from the Chaldeans; Cyrus has no libertarian free will to do otherwise; Cyrus, living in a land far from Babylon knew nothing of God's people in Babylon, yet God will use Him to fulfill His secret will.

                  Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

                  -Words spoken by God through the prophet would indeed certainly occur. He decreed it. He will make it happen. He had a reason for it. He does it. While God has much in His purposes that are not in His prophecies, God has nothing in His prophecies other than His purposes. God does not say, "I will see to it that it happens", God says, "I will do it".


                  If God is not wholly sovereign (as normally understood by classical theism), He has no certain plan, for nothing God plans is a knowable factuality. God cannot guarantee any plan with autonomous creatures in the mix, whose acts He cannot know in advance. In fact, God cannot even know when to plan.

                  The act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system.

                  In other words, for something to be true and knowable there must be something we or God can access that makes the claims in question true. There are two aspects of this claim. First, truth requires a truthmaker. Second, by accessibility, I mean that whatever these truthmakers are, truthmakers must be knowable. Since God is infallible, what He knows He knows infallibly. So if God holds a belief about a certain event that is based upon something else, then the basis itself cannot leave open the possibility of the belief being mistaken, else God would be mistaken, and therefore, not infallible.

                  For truthmakers to function as knowable truthmakers, and thereby allow the unsettled theist to claim that some parts of the future are known, the features truthmakers possess would have to be something about God or about the world. I would assume that such a claim by unsettled theists would be something about what God ordains about the future. Let’s say that God ordains a certain event in the future will occur and this ordinance itself is a knowable truthmaker for the future truth. There is no problem to propose that God’s possesses the self-knowledge needed for Him to know what He ordains and what He does not ordain. That said, it is not easily defended that such ordinances are in fact truthmakers. Why? For a truthmaker to be a truthmaker, the thing in question must entail the truth in question. For example, if God ordains it will be windy tomorrow, it must logically follow that it will be windy tomorrow. That is, it is impossible for the ordinance of God with respect to a windy tomorrow to presently exist and it not rain tomorrow.

                  As a classical theist, I have a simple explanation and solid defense why the entailment is indeed present: God’s character is immutable, thus God cannot will one thing to occur at one time and then change His mind to will something else. But open theists see God’s nature changing in response to the indeterministic unfolding of the world He has created. Thus, unlike the classical theist position, the ordinances of God have no such immutable character to the open theist. Consequently, God’s ordinances cannot be functioning as truthmakers, for they do not entail the content of the ordinance. If God’s will is not immutable, God could very well ordain that it will be windy tomorrow and yet tomorrow it does not rain because God changed His mind in the meantime. Restating: the act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system. God’s immutability is that further property of God.

                  From this it should be apparent that from the open theist’s position, no part of the future can be known as true.

                  Yes, God could be (and is) far more competent, powerful, able, and effective than any human being who does not possess exhaustive foreknowledge. But, if the underlying assumption of your response is to then argue that God could accomplish His purposes by respecting the liberty of indifference (libertarian free will) of His creatures, and thus not being able to know the future, I contend that such an position gives no guarantee of the eschaton to God’s children in Christ.

                  If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

                  In other words, God's knowledge of His own actions in the future is at best probabilistic. Thus, God's statements that He will ultimately triumph over evil is no absolute guarantee. But, you and I will agree that God is not a liar, so the assumptions by open theists about God's knowledge must therefore be incorrect. The problem then, lies with open theism’s assumptions of what God knows and God's sovereignty.

                  If God is not wholly sovereign (as normally understood by classical theism), He has no certain plan, for nothing God plans is a knowable factuality. God cannot guarantee any plan with autonomous creatures in the mix, whose acts He cannot know in advance. In fact, God cannot even know when to plan.

                  The act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system.

                  In other words, for something to be true and knowable there must be something we or God can access that makes the claims in question true. There are two aspects of this claim. First, truth requires a truthmaker. Second, by accessibility, I mean that whatever these truthmakers are, truthmakers must be knowable. Since God is infallible, what He knows He knows infallibly. So if God holds a belief about a certain event that is based upon something else, then the basis itself cannot leave open the possibility of the belief being mistaken, else God would be mistaken, and therefore, not infallible.

                  For truthmakers to function as knowable truthmakers, and thereby allow the unsettled theist to claim that some parts of the future are known, the features truthmakers possess would have to be something about God or about the world. I would assume that such a claim by unsettled theists would be something about what God ordains about the future. Let's say that God ordains a certain event in the future will occur and this ordinance itself is a knowable truthmaker for the future truth. There is no problem to propose that God's possesses the self-knowledge needed for Him to know what He ordains and what He does not ordain. That said, it is not easily defended that such ordinances are in fact truthmakers. Why? For a truthmaker to be a truthmaker, the thing in question must entail the truth in question. For example, if God ordains it will be windy tomorrow, it must logically follow that it will be windy tomorrow. That is, it is impossible for the ordinance of God with respect to a windy tomorrow to presently exist and it not rain tomorrow.

                  As a classical theist, I have a simple explanation and solid defense why the entailment is indeed present: God's character is immutable, thus God cannot will one thing to occur at one time and then change His mind to will something else. But open theists see God's nature changing in response to the indeterministic unfolding of the world He has created. Thus, unlike the classical theist position, the ordinances of God have no such immutable character to the open theist. Consequently, God's ordinances cannot be functioning as truthmakers, for they do not entail the content of the ordinance. If God's will is not immutable, God could very well ordain that it will be windy tomorrow and yet tomorrow it does not rain because God changed His mind in the meantime. Restating: the act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system. God's immutability is that further property of God.

                  From this it should be apparent that from the open theist's position, no part of the future can be known as true.

                  Yes, God could be (and is) far more competent, powerful, able, and effective than any human being who does not possess exhaustive foreknowledge. But, if the underlying assumption of your response is to then argue that God could accomplish His purposes by respecting the liberty of indifference (libertarian free will) of His creatures, and thus not being able to know the future, I contend that such an position gives no guarantee of the eschaton to God's children in Christ.

                  If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

                  In other words, God's knowledge of His own actions in the future is at best probabilistic. Thus, God's statements that He will ultimately triumph over evil is no absolute guarantee. But, you and I will agree that God is not a liar, so the assumptions by open theists about God's knowledge must therefore be incorrect. The problem then, lies with open theism's assumptions of what God knows and God's sovereignty.

                  The openists that argue God cannot know any part of the future are the more consistent with open theism, but expose themselves to all manner of conundrums, such as any irrefutable hope that God knows the exact day and time of the eschaton, as discussed above. This view creates in effect, the Survivor® God, ever engaged in outwitting, outlasting, and outplaying His creatures since He does not know what they will do next. In their view, God accretes knowledge, since He learns new things as His presumed autonomous creatures act. Oddly, this means God knows more now than He did in the time of Moses. Now open theists will counter that God is so powerful and knowing what can be known, however, that He can be a darn good predictor of what a person's next move will be. No matter, in this view God ultimately is but a probabilistic being playing the odds with His autonomous creatures.

                  The other camp of open theists, who claim God knows some things that are settled fall into a logical trap that if God knows anything about the future He must necessarily know all things about the future. If not, as noted above, God is somehow giving Himself a lobotomy all in favor of somehow not micro-managing His supposed autonomous creatures' precious liberty of indifference. This camp also waves off the common claim of the openist that God will not interfere with a person's libertarian free will. Instead they will argue that God can and does do exactly so, but "in general" does not. It is sort of like nailing jello to a wall when trying to get a solid systematic position from these openists.

                  No matter which flavor of open theist you encounter, they will all argue, well, God has a plan and is smart and powerful enough to actualize that plan even in the face of these limitations of His knowledge or power. To this orthodox Christendom rejoins, if God is not wholly sovereign (as normally understood by classical theism), He has no certain plan, for nothing God plans is a knowable factuality. God cannot guarantee any plan with autonomous creatures in the mix, whose acts He cannot objectively know in advance. In fact, God cannot even know when to plan. If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

                  All orthodox Christendom has denounced open theism as a small movement with roots in humanism, making God in the image of man. The open theist seems to struggle with any conception of God that would be qualitatively different than his own conception of himself. Hence, the open theists focus on quantitative aspects of God, e.g., He knows more than we know, He has always existed, but we have not, and so on. That God dwells in a high and holy place escapes their attention and the Scripture's view of the immense distance between the Creator and the created is always trying to be bridged by open theists. It is not just that we exist and God has always existed; it is also that God necessarily exists in an infinitely better, stronger, more excellent way. The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle, the ocean and a raindrop, the arctic ice cap and a snowflake, etc. God’s being is qualitatively different. Unfortunately, the open theist movement strives to project creaturely limitations and/or imperfections onto their conceptualization of God.

                  A useful, and freely downloadable, resource book on the entire topic of open theism, can be obtained here:
                  http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf.../books_bbb.pdf



                  AMR
                  Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; November 16th, 2013, 08:09 PM.
                  Embedded links in my posts or in my sig below are included for a reason. Tolle Lege.



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                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jamie View Post
                    Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like Me declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure." (Isaiah 46:9-10)
                    Christ knew from the time of Moses that he would be resurrected on a Sunday in order to fulfill the wave offering.
                    Try again, jamie. That passage does not say that God knows the end from the beginning.
                    sigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by COLA76 View Post
                      The implication is not that nothing happens, but that everything is always happening. Though, that is not a helpful concept either.
                      When you say that some particular thing 'happens' you automatically assume that there is a sequence of events. God didn't create time; he created things. 'Time' is just a general catch-all word to convey that events happen sequentially. Time isn't a thing in itself. If events happen sequentially for God then God can be said to be in time. The alternatives are 1) that nothing happens for God 2) events happen randomly with no connection to each other.
                      Total Misanthropy.
                      Uncertain salvation.
                      Luck of the draw.
                      Irresistible damnation.
                      Persecution of the saints.

                      Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
                      (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

                      RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
                      Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
                      Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
                        This is a topic not in dispute except among process theists and their open theist cousins.

                        For the orthodox view within Christianity you may find the following of interest:

                        http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...01#post1531901

                        http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...35#post1535835

                        http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...65#post1538465

                        http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...05#post1540205

                        http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...72#post1523072

                        A related, but lengthy, excursion on the topic here for anyone wanting to dig a wee bit more into the topic:
                        Spoiler

                        Isaiah 46:10-11 is exemplary of the Scriptural teachings of the divine foreknowledge of God:

                        Declaring the end from the beginning,
                        -Makes officially (not qualifiably) known everything

                        And from ancient times things that are not yet done,

                        -God's knowledge of things to come not yet done-the future

                        Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,

                        -[I]God not subject to other's for His will

                        Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
                        -God ordains Cyrus to deliver His people from the Chaldeans; Cyrus has no libertarian free will to do otherwise; Cyrus, living in a land far from Babylon knew nothing of God's people in Babylon, yet God will use Him to fulfill His secret will.

                        Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

                        -Words spoken by God through the prophet would indeed certainly occur. He decreed it. He will make it happen. He had a reason for it. He does it. While God has much in His purposes that are not in His prophecies, God has nothing in His prophecies other than His purposes. God does not say, "I will see to it that it happens", God says, "I will do it".


                        If God is not wholly sovereign (as normally understood by classical theism), He has no certain plan, for nothing God plans is a knowable factuality. God cannot guarantee any plan with autonomous creatures in the mix, whose acts He cannot know in advance. In fact, God cannot even know when to plan.

                        The act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system.

                        In other words, for something to be true and knowable there must be something we or God can access that makes the claims in question true. There are two aspects of this claim. First, truth requires a truthmaker. Second, by accessibility, I mean that whatever these truthmakers are, truthmakers must be knowable. Since God is infallible, what He knows He knows infallibly. So if God holds a belief about a certain event that is based upon something else, then the basis itself cannot leave open the possibility of the belief being mistaken, else God would be mistaken, and therefore, not infallible.

                        For truthmakers to function as knowable truthmakers, and thereby allow the unsettled theist to claim that some parts of the future are known, the features truthmakers possess would have to be something about God or about the world. I would assume that such a claim by unsettled theists would be something about what God ordains about the future. Let’s say that God ordains a certain event in the future will occur and this ordinance itself is a knowable truthmaker for the future truth. There is no problem to propose that God’s possesses the self-knowledge needed for Him to know what He ordains and what He does not ordain. That said, it is not easily defended that such ordinances are in fact truthmakers. Why? For a truthmaker to be a truthmaker, the thing in question must entail the truth in question. For example, if God ordains it will be windy tomorrow, it must logically follow that it will be windy tomorrow. That is, it is impossible for the ordinance of God with respect to a windy tomorrow to presently exist and it not rain tomorrow.

                        As a classical theist, I have a simple explanation and solid defense why the entailment is indeed present: God’s character is immutable, thus God cannot will one thing to occur at one time and then change His mind to will something else. But open theists see God’s nature changing in response to the indeterministic unfolding of the world He has created. Thus, unlike the classical theist position, the ordinances of God have no such immutable character to the open theist. Consequently, God’s ordinances cannot be functioning as truthmakers, for they do not entail the content of the ordinance. If God’s will is not immutable, God could very well ordain that it will be windy tomorrow and yet tomorrow it does not rain because God changed His mind in the meantime. Restating: the act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system. God’s immutability is that further property of God.

                        From this it should be apparent that from the open theist’s position, no part of the future can be known as true.

                        Yes, God could be (and is) far more competent, powerful, able, and effective than any human being who does not possess exhaustive foreknowledge. But, if the underlying assumption of your response is to then argue that God could accomplish His purposes by respecting the liberty of indifference (libertarian free will) of His creatures, and thus not being able to know the future, I contend that such an position gives no guarantee of the eschaton to God’s children in Christ.

                        If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

                        In other words, God's knowledge of His own actions in the future is at best probabilistic. Thus, God's statements that He will ultimately triumph over evil is no absolute guarantee. But, you and I will agree that God is not a liar, so the assumptions by open theists about God's knowledge must therefore be incorrect. The problem then, lies with open theism’s assumptions of what God knows and God's sovereignty.

                        If God is not wholly sovereign (as normally understood by classical theism), He has no certain plan, for nothing God plans is a knowable factuality. God cannot guarantee any plan with autonomous creatures in the mix, whose acts He cannot know in advance. In fact, God cannot even know when to plan.

                        The act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system.

                        In other words, for something to be true and knowable there must be something we or God can access that makes the claims in question true. There are two aspects of this claim. First, truth requires a truthmaker. Second, by accessibility, I mean that whatever these truthmakers are, truthmakers must be knowable. Since God is infallible, what He knows He knows infallibly. So if God holds a belief about a certain event that is based upon something else, then the basis itself cannot leave open the possibility of the belief being mistaken, else God would be mistaken, and therefore, not infallible.

                        For truthmakers to function as knowable truthmakers, and thereby allow the unsettled theist to claim that some parts of the future are known, the features truthmakers possess would have to be something about God or about the world. I would assume that such a claim by unsettled theists would be something about what God ordains about the future. Let's say that God ordains a certain event in the future will occur and this ordinance itself is a knowable truthmaker for the future truth. There is no problem to propose that God's possesses the self-knowledge needed for Him to know what He ordains and what He does not ordain. That said, it is not easily defended that such ordinances are in fact truthmakers. Why? For a truthmaker to be a truthmaker, the thing in question must entail the truth in question. For example, if God ordains it will be windy tomorrow, it must logically follow that it will be windy tomorrow. That is, it is impossible for the ordinance of God with respect to a windy tomorrow to presently exist and it not rain tomorrow.

                        As a classical theist, I have a simple explanation and solid defense why the entailment is indeed present: God's character is immutable, thus God cannot will one thing to occur at one time and then change His mind to will something else. But open theists see God's nature changing in response to the indeterministic unfolding of the world He has created. Thus, unlike the classical theist position, the ordinances of God have no such immutable character to the open theist. Consequently, God's ordinances cannot be functioning as truthmakers, for they do not entail the content of the ordinance. If God's will is not immutable, God could very well ordain that it will be windy tomorrow and yet tomorrow it does not rain because God changed His mind in the meantime. Restating: the act of ordaining by itself does not entail that future things will happen. What is needed in order to secure that future things will happen is some further property of God. This is true of any Christian belief system. God's immutability is that further property of God.

                        From this it should be apparent that from the open theist's position, no part of the future can be known as true.

                        Yes, God could be (and is) far more competent, powerful, able, and effective than any human being who does not possess exhaustive foreknowledge. But, if the underlying assumption of your response is to then argue that God could accomplish His purposes by respecting the liberty of indifference (libertarian free will) of His creatures, and thus not being able to know the future, I contend that such an position gives no guarantee of the eschaton to God's children in Christ.

                        If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

                        In other words, God's knowledge of His own actions in the future is at best probabilistic. Thus, God's statements that He will ultimately triumph over evil is no absolute guarantee. But, you and I will agree that God is not a liar, so the assumptions by open theists about God's knowledge must therefore be incorrect. The problem then, lies with open theism's assumptions of what God knows and God's sovereignty.

                        The openists that argue God cannot know any part of the future are the more consistent with open theism, but expose themselves to all manner of conundrums, such as any irrefutable hope that God knows the exact day and time of the eschaton, as discussed above. This view creates in effect, the Survivor® God, ever engaged in outwitting, outlasting, and outplaying His creatures since He does not know what they will do next. In their view, God accretes knowledge, since He learns new things as His presumed autonomous creatures act. Oddly, this means God knows more now than He did in the time of Moses. Now open theists will counter that God is so powerful and knowing what can be known, however, that He can be a darn good predictor of what a person's next move will be. No matter, in this view God ultimately is but a probabilistic being playing the odds with His autonomous creatures.

                        The other camp of open theists, who claim God knows some things that are settled fall into a logical trap that if God knows anything about the future He must necessarily know all things about the future. If not, as noted above, God is somehow giving Himself a lobotomy all in favor of somehow not micro-managing His supposed autonomous creatures' precious liberty of indifference. This camp also waves off the common claim of the openist that God will not interfere with a person's libertarian free will. Instead they will argue that God can and does do exactly so, but "in general" does not. It is sort of like nailing jello to a wall when trying to get a solid systematic position from these openists.

                        No matter which flavor of open theist you encounter, they will all argue, well, God has a plan and is smart and powerful enough to actualize that plan even in the face of these limitations of His knowledge or power. To this orthodox Christendom rejoins, if God is not wholly sovereign (as normally understood by classical theism), He has no certain plan, for nothing God plans is a knowable factuality. God cannot guarantee any plan with autonomous creatures in the mix, whose acts He cannot objectively know in advance. In fact, God cannot even know when to plan. If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

                        All orthodox Christendom has denounced open theism as a small movement with roots in humanism, making God in the image of man. The open theist seems to struggle with any conception of God that would be qualitatively different than his own conception of himself. Hence, the open theists focus on quantitative aspects of God, e.g., He knows more than we know, He has always existed, but we have not, and so on. That God dwells in a high and holy place escapes their attention and the Scripture's view of the immense distance between the Creator and the created is always trying to be bridged by open theists. It is not just that we exist and God has always existed; it is also that God necessarily exists in an infinitely better, stronger, more excellent way. The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle, the ocean and a raindrop, the arctic ice cap and a snowflake, etc. God’s being is qualitatively different. Unfortunately, the open theist movement strives to project creaturely limitations and/or imperfections onto their conceptualization of God.

                        A useful, and freely downloadable, resource book on the entire topic of open theism, can be obtained here:
                        http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf.../books_bbb.pdf



                        AMR
                        I started to respond, then I read through these links. The answer to the question has already been neatly and thoroughly engaged.
                        Last edited by chairistotle; November 19th, 2013, 07:18 AM. Reason: fixed the tense of the sentence

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Desert Reign View Post
                          'Time' is just a general catch-all word to convey that events happen sequentially. Time isn't a thing in itself. If events happen sequentially for God then God can be said to be in time. The alternatives are 1) that nothing happens for God 2) events happen randomly with no connection to each other.
                          I agree that genuine sequence implies that God is in time. I see what you mean by saying that nothing happens with a static view. My point was that a more precise description would be that everything is always happening. I see now that "happening" isn't the term that I ought to use. To say that everything always exists may be a better phrasing. Accordingly, all things, including the scenarios or events in which things are involved, must eternally exist. Which, again, is a problematic concept.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by COLA76 View Post
                            I agree that genuine sequence implies that God is in time. I see what you mean by saying that nothing happens with a static view. My point was that a more precise description would be that everything is always happening. I see now that "happening" isn't the term that I ought to use. To say that everything always exists may be a better phrasing. Accordingly, all things, including the scenarios or events in which things are involved, must eternally exist. Which, again, is a problematic concept.
                            Thank you. I am glad you agree that God being outside of time is problematical. Personally, I woud say that it is even ridiculous. But what about my original question? What is knowledge, how does it come about, what is its purpose, how is it framed?

                            Any ideas?
                            Last edited by Desert Reign; November 19th, 2013, 12:22 PM.
                            Total Misanthropy.
                            Uncertain salvation.
                            Luck of the draw.
                            Irresistible damnation.
                            Persecution of the saints.

                            Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
                            (The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

                            RevTestament: It doesn't matter to me too much that the "New Testament wasn't written in Hebrew.
                            Dialogos: Calvin, as a sinner, probably got some things wrong.
                            Brandplucked: I'm shocked that other people disagree with me.

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                            • #15
                              I believe in the total omniscience of God.

                              Ecclesiastes 3:11

                              King James Version (KJV)

                              11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
                              He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

                              Jim Elliot

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