Thursday, January 24, 2008

Four Views on Divine Foreknowledge

Here is a helpful summary of the various views on foreknowledge from Dr. Sam Storms:

Four views of divine foreknowledge:

1. Open Theism – God knows both the past and present in exhaustive detail but knows the future only to the degree that the future is logically knowable. God can foreknow what he, God, intends to do independent of human involvement. But God cannot know what we, humans, will do until we do it. God knows the range of possibilities and potentialities but not actualities, insofar as the latter do not exist as objects of knowledge until such time as free moral agents bring them into being. Hence the future is truly “open” for both God and humans.

2. Simple Foreknowledge – Those who advocate this view contend that God “simply” knows what is going to come to pass. The future is not “open” from God’s perspective, but neither is God’s foreknowledge based on his foreordination. God “simply” foreknows what free agents will do.

3. Middle Knowledge – Advocates of this view argue that God foreknows not only what will come to pass but also what would have come to pass under any and all circumstances in any and all possible worlds. God chose to create this world because he foresaw that what would come to pass in it, as compared with all other possible worlds, best served his objective of glorifying himself while preserving the freedom of his creatures. This view is based on the belief that God has eternal knowledge of how free moral agents would act in all possible circumstances in all possible worlds.

4. Calvinist View – God foreknows everything that will come to pass in the future because he has foreordained everything that comes to pass. Humans are free moral agents insofar as they act voluntarily according to their desires. But all such desires and subsequent volitional activity fall within the sovereign and pre-temporal (or eternal) purpose of God.

4 comments:

The Taras Family said...

Oh boy, talk about heart failure. I just started reading #1 not realizing that you were listing all views- and I thought you had flipped your lid! One of the verses I have been meditating on this week is Psalm 139:1-4 It came flooding back to my memory!

Thats neat though, to have a list of all the different views. I was even talking with someone this week who is very confused on this issue. (As far as when "bad" things occur, is it really God- or do things just happen in our world because it is fallen) I took her to Job 2:10- and talked about God's providence/sovereignty. But I am thinking now that Foreknowledge would be better to explain.

justin said...

Dallas and Sarah,
Sorry to scare you.

Of course, I am firmly planted in the Calvinist/Biblical view of God's Exhaustive Foreknowledge.

Ginnie said...

Excellent post! This will be an excellent resource to point others to that are struggling with understanding foreknowledge.

I see you saved the best view for last.

The Taras Family said...

ahh, all is right with the world then! J/K! I was pretty sure that you were a calvinist. So I was pretty confused there for a minute!

Yeah, we just had an AMAZING conference this weekend. Steve Lawson came to our church and preached on the doctrines of grace. It really helped me a lot in my understanding of each point.

It was really refreshing to watch this man with such great understanding also be so humble at the same time. I have been noticing that a lot of times when we understand such deep truths, there is a tendency to be arrogant and harsh- I know this has been true of myself. But he just brought out how calvinists should be the most humble people on the planet and then he displayed that humility. It was a neat time!

-Sarah