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WordWolf

What Does God Know?

216 posts in this topic

Ok, we haven't discussed this in a long time, if ever.

There's different schools of thought about God's knowledge.

What does God know, and when does He know it?

Whenever I think of this, I keep flashing back to a classic Doonsbury,

where someone said to one President.

"Sir, as your special counsel, I have to know what you knew and when

you knew it."

It was a jigsaw puzzle, and-when assembled- it missed one piece-

which was the President's reply. Which was apt.

So, that's what we're discussing-in theory- here.

What does God know, what did God know, and when?

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If he knows the hair on your head and the stars in the heavens, I'd think He's got everything covered. Wouldn't you have to be bigger than God to challenge that?

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I want to wait a bit before adding my opinions to this discussion.

I want to give posters a fair change to present THEIRS without me interfering.

That's why my opening post was so neutral.

It would be appreciated if you could provide the verses for your assertions

whenever there are verses-

especially if you could post the actual verse.

That's not a rule, but really a request, if you please.

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I once read a paper or something on "the limited foreknowledge of God." I can't remember the details of it, I only remember critically reading it and thinking the writer had his lights on, but nobody was home.

My best shot is that God knows the past, present, and future... one as perfectly as the other.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
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I believe God knows all.

He inhabits eternity.

I used to wonder how the "eternal present" (to paraphrase St. Augustine) worked. As I mused, I thought of this.

I closed my eyes and thought of something in my past from childhood.

I then thought of something I had planned and would be doing in the future.

As I sat there in the present, where was I?

I was in the present. I had also been in the past and in the future, while in the present.

Its remotely similar I think to how God operates - in the eternal present yet knowing all.

Edited by Sunesis
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I see nothing to disabuse me of the trafitional doctrine of omniscience. He is all wise and all knowing.

The limited foreknowledge stuff is utter hooey.

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In this case, yes. Certainly, the caveat that you can prove most anything using bible verses applies. In this case, I think the weight of scripture as a whole amply supports omniscience.

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Imo, there are far too many examples in the Bible that suggests that God may not be omniscient. For instance you have:

Genesis 22 – In this account you have Abram preparing to sacrifice his son.

In verses 11 and 12 it says "And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

In a simple reading of the text it seems apparent that God's knowledge is limited. In other words – How is it possible for this statement "now I know" to be true if the theology of God having fore-knowledge is true? In other words -- the verse seems to indicate that prior to Abram actually going as far as he did God didn't know Abram "fearest" Him. An all-knowing God would have known even before this that Abram did indeed "fear" Him.

An interesting point of view and/or argument on this subject can be found here. There are many others.

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Deu 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

It would seem logical that if God would speak the future to a prophet and the test of a true prophet is does the thing come to pass, then God has to know the future.

As to how long: evidently for quite awhile. The Savior was to come from Abraham.

There are numerous examples of God foretelling the future to prophets.

Luk 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

He does things after the counsel of His own will.

I don’t think the point of Gen. 22 is that God didn’t know. I think the point is He wanted Abraham to prove it. Abraham was called the father of all who believe. That would require actual acts of believing as opposed to theory or foreknowledge. If you read about Abraham, there are several times God promises he would have fantastic progeny. It seemed to take awhile (Ishmael, for example) to get to the place he absolutely did take God at His word. This record of the sacrifice of Isaac parallels God sacrificing His own son. And, something I just realized. If God expects believing from us, He must have it Himself. One of the manifestations is the manifestation of believing.

If God wanted to, he could raise up stones to be whatever He wanted them to be. The point is He wanted it to be based on faith/believing as a freewill decision, and from that premise the Savior would come. He only asked one person to do it in terms of the grand scheme of things. Later Mary and Joseph also believed.

And now, way off topic I suppose…

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I don’t think the point of Gen. 22 is that God didn’t know. I think the point is He wanted Abraham to prove it.

Yet, we are left with a few questions. Would you say sacrificing your son would be evil? Either way you answer the question presents more theological problems. If you answer in the affirmative then it contradicts the verse that says God cannot tempt man with evil. If you answer in the negative then why are there no commandments directing anyone to sacrifice their own children (I know there's something written in the Bible that strictly prohibits this ritual). But, in any case -- If God already knew what Abraham would do -- to whom was it being proven to?

And now, way off topic I suppose…

Not really.

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I am with Sunesis, Evan and whomever else believes he is all knowing. I b elieve he knew the story of time before time ever was and knows the futire after time is in the past.

I know I get a headache when trying to picture God being present forever, being as I am limited by time, but I feel I am limited by time not him.

In the begining God..... Not in the begining of God, but he was already around when time came into being.

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In the begining God..... Not in the begining of God, but he was already around when time came into being.

What is time? Is it not a measurement of events? There is no such thing as a future time -- only an anticipation for it. The past no longer exists -- only the memory of it exists. All we have is the present moment.

Now, if it's true that time is simply of measurement of events -- then wouldn't God's decision (when He made it) to create the Universe be an event in God's time? If no time existed prior to the creation of the Universe then the Universe has always existed. Otherwise, the Universe was a future event in God's time.

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Sure sacrificing my own son would of course be evil if it was my will. My own premise is God is good always. I don’t believe God ever had any true intention of Abraham sacrificing his son. I think there is a difference between test and temptation. Until a thing is tested, it isn’t proven. There is both a Hebrew and Greek word for this. The benefit isn’t for God so much, but for man’s, except that God’s premise is evidence of believing with regard to the Savior.

As I said before, it took Abraham awhile to get to the place He took God at His word. It is similar to the story of Meshak, Abednego, and (the other guy). Oh Shadrak. (sp? for all). They didn’t know if God would deliver them or not, although they believed God was able. Likewise, Genesis 22 states Abraham believed God would supply an alternative sacrifice, which He did. If not, he was prepared to do it anyway.

Was God sacrificing His own son evil? On a human level, I would have to say yes, even if it sounds terrible to say. Somehow, God deemed it proper and the only way. That is one part of the Bible I’ve ALWAYS found hard to digest. There are only two choices: either believe God is good always whether I understand or not, or the opposite. I assume I know less than God. Mmmmm….and a whole host of people!!!!!! That means more than a few…

I reckon you’re right, Larry. God’s foreknowledge and God’s will are closely related, as I think about it.

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Sure sacrificing my own son would of course be evil if it was my will. My own premise is God is good always. I don’t believe God ever had any true intention of Abraham sacrificing his son. I think there is a difference between test and temptation. Until a thing is tested, it isn’t proven. There is both a Hebrew and Greek word for this. The benefit isn’t for God so much, but for man’s, except that God’s premise is evidence of believing with regard to the Savior.

As I said before, it took Abraham awhile to get to the place He took God at His word. It is similar to the story of Meshak, Abednego, and (the other guy). Oh Shadrak. (sp? for all). They didn’t know if God would deliver them or not, although they believed God was able. Likewise, Genesis 22 states Abraham believed God would supply an alternative sacrifice, which He did. If not, he was prepared to do it anyway.

Was God sacrificing His own son evil? On a human level, I would have to say yes, even if it sounds terrible to say. Somehow, God deemed it proper and the only way. That is one part of the Bible I’ve ALWAYS found hard to digest. There are only two choices: either believe God is good always whether I understand or not, or the opposite. I assume I know less than God. Mmmmm….and a whole host of people!!!!!! That means more than a few…

I reckon you’re right, Larry. God’s foreknowledge and God’s will are closely related, as I think about it.

Another, pardon me for not addressing your whole post. You bring up some interesting points to consider. The comment I highlighted in red is something that especially caught my attention. Did God really sacrifice His own son or did Jesus sacrifice himself? I mean -- Jesus did have a choice -- right? I think the reason it's believed that God sacrificed him is John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son . . ." I'm not sure "giving" is the same thing as "sacrificing" because what actually did He sacrifice if God knew He was going to raise him anyways? On the other hand -- Jesus had to have faith in God that He would raise him from the dead.

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I should think God sacrificing and Jesus sacrificing were both true. There is Scripture for both. It was the will of God, and as such it was the will of Jesus, although Jesus wasn’t all that excited about it (records of His prayer beforehand sweating great drops of as of blood, or something like that). And giving on the part of both are true. In the military, a soldier may give up his life, but the doing of it is sacrifice for others. In theory. (As a person who detests war…well, another subject, hmmm?).

So Jesus gave Himself up in sacrifice for others and His faith was God would raise him from the dead, so that it wasn’t for nothing. He wasn’t doing it just for the fun of it. God likewise gave His Son as a sacrifice for something. For the greater good.

Well, Wordwolf: I’ll just let you take this back to where ever. Even if the discussion is far removed from what you planned, well, the questions are being asked. As such, IMO ok. I never was real good with rules. Not to mention I learned some things.

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”On the other hand -- Jesus had to have faith in God that He would raise him from the dead.”—Larry.

That’s actually a pretty powerful point, Larry. It truly is. It really, really is.

Connect that with Abraham. Abraham had nothing to go on but the promises of God. He staked his life on it and the life of his son.

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I grew up in a Presbyterian family. Presbyterians believe in "pre-destination". After my Membership Class, at age 12, I asked my dad why we pray for things if God already has it all planned out. He said "God doesn't necessarily know everything, but He has the ability to know everything". Hmmmmmmm. I never much liked that answer, but I sure have remembered it for a long time.

And -

I have sometimes wondered about the Isaac and Abraham situation, why God would put Abraham through such a heart-wrenching ordeal. Likewise why He required Abraham to put Ishmael and his mom out of the camp. These were difficult demands for old Abe. But I think there are some parallels between these requests and the way God later handled his own Son and sons.

In the Ishmael story, he was not the favored son for sure. But apparently he was salvagable, because God ended up protecting him, and promised to give him many descendants. And we know He was true to His promise. Maybe Ishmael was the template for the Gentiles who were later welcomed into Christianity, even though they weren't the first targeted group. In the long run, they were salvagable. ?????

As for Isaac, obviously there are parallels with God giving his own Son, who like Isaac was also delivered (resurrected) later on.

They say that Abraham was "a friend of God". Could it be that God used his "friend" to do a test run, as He planned out how He would address the future? Sorta like the old cereal commercial, where the two brothers say "Let Mikey taste it". Maybe God was thinking, "If it works for Abraham, it might work for me".

OK. I'm out there.

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Lol, Shifra. I understand you. I only laugh because these are hard questions, not because they are funny. Just we are, I think. I really hope you get what I really mean. I’m just going to trust you do rather than edit my post.

I think God does know everything. At the same time, I think He works His best in light of our decisions. We don’t particularly know His will, even if we think we do. I think His grace covers our lack of understanding/knowledge. We just ask, and He does according to His own will and timing, knowing we are far from perfect, yet not requiring us to be so.

I think you are right in a symbolic reference to Ishamel and the gentiles. Makes perfect sense to me, but I hadn’t thought of it before. Or read it anywhere.

As far as Abraham and a test run: I just think God wanted Jesus to come as a result of His will and faith. As it turned out, the faith of Abraham. I think God just wanted someone to believe. Otherwise He could have turned stones into sons of Abraham. And yeah, it was hard. I think God sacrificing His Son was hard. And gut wrenching. Does it all make sense to me? Not perfectly. Maybe it has to do with giving your most precious possession, else it’s not that great of a gift. I dunno. Would you give no matter what it cost you? Jesus did that. Hard thing to wrap your brain around, imo. In any case, Abraham was a special case. From him God chose to bring about Israel and Jesus. God wanted him to put his believing on the line in an unequivocal manner. No one else has been asked to do that.

I’ve lived most of my life with military members. After all these years, I still don’t get their mindset. My middle son is in the Army. He has already done one tour in Iraq. He doesn’t regard it as a big deal to go back. We are NOT on the same page on that topic.

1Jo 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.

I’m not there…I have serious doubt I ever will be. At the same time, I appreciate those who did. Just being honest. I think of those whose lives were martyred for Jesus (and God). Could I do that? Deep down I have doubts. Yet Hebrews talks of those who died. Some got deliverance, and some did not. But again, God isn’t asking most of us to do that.

As I think this over, I conclude something. The point of believing God is to do so, whether we see an immediate personal benefit or not, and trusting in an ultimate justice. Otherwise, we are just serving ourselves and using God to do so.

For now we see through a glass darkly.

God gets to decide what is good and what is evil, whether we get it or not. That’s a big part of the trust. Do I want to reduce God to my own terms, or accept Him on His, even if I don’t get it?

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If you take a few steps back and ask where is Jesus in the story of Abraham and Isaac things become clearer. It's when we get lost in the minutia of this or that phrase, phrase-by-phrase that we get lost in the trees.

The story is a picture of Christ to come, of his sacrifice to come, and the grace that comes with yielding our all to God's will. And why would we yield our will to His if He doesn't quite know the way?

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I wish I had known ahead of time that WordWolf was going to start this thread – I would have been better prepared :biglaugh: . Great posts, everyone! Lots to think about!

I read an interesting book on the subject: What does God know and When does He know it? The Current Controversy over Divine Foreknowwledge by Millard Erickson, Zondervan, 2003. On page 12 & 13 he notes four major viewpoints in the divine foreknowledge controversy:

1. Simple foreknowledge. God simple "sees" at it were, the future. Generally, this view is allied with God as atemporal, that is, standing outside of time.

2. Middle Knowledge. On this basis, God knows not only all that will be, but all the other possibilities in every possible world. Out of these possibilities, He chooses to bring into existence one possible world, a world in which each person will freely choose to do what God has chosen for the person to do.

3. Calvinism. God knows everything that will happen because He has chosen what is to occur and thus brings it about that it actually happens. This makes God's knowledge of the future a function of His will. He works in relationship to the person's will in such a way that the person chooses what God has decided. This is compatibilistic freedom, the freedom to do as one chooses, but that choosing is not pure spontaneity or ability to act in ways inconsistent with one's character.

4. Open theists. A challenge to the conventional view. God has a complete and perfect knowledge of the past and that he also has an exhaustive and accurate knowledge of all present truth. He even knows part of the future. However, there are other future events that God does not know, and these are those that involve free human will. In most cases, God does not know what a given human is going to do until that person actually decides and acts.

Erickson says on page 15, "historically there have been several views of how God knows the future, but there has been basic agreement among advocates of simple foreknowledge, middle knowledge, and Calvinism that God does know the future." Whereas, to the open theist there are limitations to His foreknowledge.

I hold to the simple foreknowledge view. What I found in reading this book are some issues on both sides – traditional and open theist. Like on pages 23, 24:

"…2 Kings 20:1-20. In this passage, King Hezekiah is ill and anticipates dying. He reminds God of his past faithfulness to God, and God decides to increase his life by fifteen years. This is a key passage leading Boyd to the open theist position [Gregory Boyd, God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000, page 8]. It seems clearly to represent a change in what God is going to do because in v. 1 Hezekiah is told to prepare himself, since he will not recover from the illness and will die. The original declaration would not have been made if God knew that Hezekiah would cry out as he did.

Here again, however, a feature of the narrative presents a problem for the open theist position. Bruce Ware in particular points out that Jehovah does not just tell Hezekiah that he will extend his life. He is much more specific: his life will be extended by fifteen years.

Ware says:

'Does it not seem a bit odd that this favorite text of open theists, which purportedly demonstrates that God does not know the future and so changes his mind when Hezekiah prays, also shows that God knows precisely and exactly how much longer Hezekiah will live? On openness grounds, how could God know this? Over a fifteen-year time span, the contingencies are staggering! The number of future freewill choices, made by Hezekiah and innumerable others, that relate to Hezekiah's life and well-being, none of which God knows [in the openness view], is enormous.'" [bruce Ware, God's Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism, Wheaton Ill.: Crossway, 2000, page 95-96]

End of Excerpts

In regards to practical issues, Erickson says the open theist has fewer problems addressing prayer and the problem of evil. But on guidance, he says the traditional view has the advantage [page 253, 254]…Sorry if I've bored everyone – thought I would mention a few books if anyone was interested in extra credit…It could come in handy – you never know when WordWolf will throw a pop quiz. :biglaugh:

Edited by T-Bone
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steak.gifSorry if I've bored everyone – thought I would mention a few books if anyone was interested in extra credit…It could come in handy – you never know when WordWolf will throw a pop quiz.

LOL!

OK, this pot is admitting that the Potter knows better than he! If WW gives a quiz, I'm toast!

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tbone

Yeah i think the foreknowledge one is the "good pick" Inquiries into trying to control a limitless supply of foreknowledge would seem to get ones panties or underwear in a bunch.

Don't quite understand the living outside time limit part?, Yawn

Edited by sky4it
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Let's see, God kind of knows, or maybe not fully, but then he doesn't know how someone will choose, but maybe he really does...

There have been so many "new" teachings, not just on this, but other topics cropping up in the last few years, it amazes me how people run after them. Itching ears, new doctrines.

Maybe we should make it easy, if God doesn't have foreknowledge, if he's not omnipotent, omniscient, let's just say the obvious,

there is no God.

In fact, I have foreknowledge of what I'll be doing tomorrow, I guess I'm smarter and have more foreknowledge than he does. Thus, I must be God.

Edited by Sunesis
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