Do non-cals believe in omniscience?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Luke2427, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    I know the answer brethren and sisters. For the vast majority of you, the answer is an emphatic YES!

    Most of us, Calvinists and Arminians and other orthodox Christians, believe that God has always known all there is to ever know about everything.

    God has never learned anything because he has always known all there is to ever know.

    God sees the future as clearly as he sees the present and the past and he has always known everything that would ever happen.

    Because we all believe this, both major soteriological systems have problems.

    The problem is that we cannot, neither one of us, offer an emotionally satisfying explanation of the origin of evil and the damnation of souls.

    Both the Cal and Non-cal say, "God knew before he made the world exactly what would happen. He knew that evil would enter the world and that billions of people would die lost. Yet God went right ahead and made this world anyway."

    It is a problem for both of us, isn't it? I confess, Calvinism does not scratch my itch on this issue.

    But what I am not willing to do, and what I believe most of us are unwilling to do, is REDEFINE omniscience to pretend as if God did not know that if he built this world that billions would perish.

    I don't fully know why he did it. But I will not, like most of you, make God less than God just so I can exonerate him in my own mind.

    To make God less than truly eternally all-knowing is to make God less than God.

    Addendum: I am not saying God KNOWING what would happen is what CAUSED it to happen. I am saying that God knew what would happen if he built this world and he went right ahead and built it any way. I can't explain that, and neither can, I suspect, anyone who is unwilling to redefine omniscience.

    Skandelon will try at this point to turn this into another debate- one about determinism and God's knowledge being causally effectual of everything that happens. Since I am not saying that at all here, this thread should not be highjacked to talk about those things.

    HERE IS THE QUESTION: Can ANY theological system which embraces the omniscience of God really explain this difficulty in any emotionally satisfying way? I contend that neither Calvinism nor Arminianism or any other non-cal system can.
     
    #1 Luke2427, Feb 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2012
  2. preacher4truth

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    The only emotionally satisfying way we can embrace this is to do so in complete trust in Him.

    There is no way one can understand all of this in ones finite state. To undo this truth and attribute of God, as some do within their theology is to make attempt to downgrade the Godhead to fit into mans reason. Therefore there are some who reject the truth of Gods Omniscience because it is against their own reason.

    God bows to nothing, neither man, reason, nor logic.
     
  3. Don

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    Gentlemen - I agree.
     
  4. jbh28

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    God is good.
    God is great.
    Evil exists.


    Any two of these is easy to believe. It's when we try to put them all together that we have problems. This is one of the biggest issues non Christians have. As Luke said, we cannot sacrifice biblical truth to help us understand. God is omniscient all the time. He has always known everything! Praise be to God!
     
  5. jbh28

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: x's 10
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    A pastor friend of mine and I were having lunch.

    During our conversation, he asked "Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurs to God?"

    The answer to that question is important. If something occurs to God, he is not omniscient. Nor is he immutable, because the new thought would represent a change in God.
     
  7. Tom Bryant

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    Great answer! The Bible teaches God's omniscience clearly.
     
  8. Amy.G

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    :thumbsup: to all.

    When someone figures out God, let me know.
     
  9. Iconoclast

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    Only Satan and those who follow him would believe otherwise. Satan as opposed to God, sought to change God's word.
    He believing that "free will" existed thought he could dictate to God what was right and wrong, and he sought to think evil thoughts about God and his Holy attributes.
    His discontent with all God has created and given meaning to ended up in his sinful rebellion,and tempting of Adam to do likewise .....to believe the lie!
    many who are still in Adam ...do so today,unless and until God opens their eyes by His grace and mercy.
    They fail to see that to go against the love of God In Christ is to remain in darkness and the realm of evil.
    One purpose of evil seems to be to magnify and teach a contrast to God's holiness and we will understand this eternally, and also to teach the elect angels who never sinned the evil of sin and eternal death.
     
  10. drfuss

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    The OP raises some very good questions.

    Here is something to consider. Perhaps God created man to have fellowship with Him (Them). It started out that way in the Garden of Eden.

    You cannot have fellowship with something unless it has a free choice to have that fellowship with; such as, you cannot have fellowship with a chair. So God created man for fellowship. Fellowship is a two-way street. Both parties must have a choice and want it to continue.

    God knew man would choose to break that fellowship which Adam did by sinning. Jesus came to provide a sacrifice for our sins so that the fellowship could be restored. For those of us who are Christians, that fellowship will be restored for eternity. The time the fellowship was broken is a short time compared to eternity.

    Man will appreciate that fellowship more throughtout eternity since it was once broken and then restored by God. His sacrifice also demonstrates just how much God loves us and treasures our fellowshsip.
     
  11. quantumfaith

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    :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:

    PS, JB, questioning one another's understanding of "biblical truth" is not of necessity "sacrificing" biblical truth. Just wanted to be clear on that point. The wonderful exchanges between Luke and Skan are not "sacrificing" biblical truths.
     
  12. JonC

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    I think that our understanding of God’s omniscience is by nature anthropomorphic, so it will always be incomplete. But I don’t know that we cannot offer an emotionally satisfying explanations of the origin of evil and the damnation of souls (of course, this is very subjective – what satisfies me regarding this issue is certainly not by necessity applicable to others).

    The best explanation that I've found regarding the problem of evil and the omniscience of God presented evil as a wound. Evil is not a real thing. It is real, but real in a sense that a wound is real (it’s not a thing to be created). A man may have a wound on his arm – his arm is a real thing, the wound is real but only in relation to the arm. Evil is only real in relation to something (God, in terms of sin). Satan, then, authored his own evil. Likewise, men are the author of their evil. This only explains to me that God is not the author of evil – but what about omniscience?

    Why would God create Adam if He knew Adam would fall? I believe for His glory. Paul indicates that this is why God creates those who will perish. It’s also why He creates those who will be saved. The question then is, why would not an omniscient God create a world that is the best possible one for His purposes? I believe that He did. Keeping the end in mind, realizing the words that “all things work for the good of those who love God” were given to people who were going to suffer and die for their faith, I am emotionally satisfied that an omniscient God created exactly what He intended to create.
     
  13. glfredrick

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    Ah, the (from a human standpoint) age-old problem of evil.

    I presume that God's perfect holiness has a sufficent resolution in His infinity that our finite minds simply cannot comprehend and that is sufficent for me.

    I don't have to understand it. I DO have to bow before God and admit it.

    I DO BOW before my Sovereign God and King and bare my neck for His sword; but every time He picks me up and tells me He loves me and sends me back into the battle! Oh, how He loves us through the completed work and imputed righteousness of Christ!
     
  14. Tom Bryant

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    Luke,
    First of all, thanks for being clear that most all of us - cal's and non-cals -believe in the Biblical doctrine of God's complete and total knowledge of everything... after all that is what the "omni" means.

    I agree with you about the non-satisfying aspect of whatever sytem we believe. I just know that is what the Bible says and it's one of the many things I don't understand and cannot explain thoroughly about our eternal God. Just because I can't explain it doesn't make it any less true. Why we think that the God of the Bible and His divine actions can be explained to our satisfaction eludes me.
     
  15. Luke2427

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    I could not agree more.

    God's motive was his own glory. That is the highest of all motives. God is right to worship himself because he is the highest.

    And I agree with your theodicy.

    This is Augustine's evil as privation and it is my theodicy as well.

    Does that satisfy all of my questions? No.

    Does it satisfactorily exonerate God in my emotions and finite reasoning from the existence of evil and the damnation of souls? No.

    Do I trust him anyway? Absolutely!

    Am I willing to redefine Him, his omniscience, his exhaustive sovereignty, to exonerate him in my mind from these things? Absolutely not!

    As God he must be eternally all-knowing and he must be Sovereignly in control of everything, even our decisions (which are mysteriously real, btw).

    I will not redefine omniscience or divine Sovereignty and make God less than God to exonerate him in my mind.

    Since the vast majority of my non-cal brothers and sisters will not do this either, by any means, we find ourselves in the same boat sharing the same problems- but also in that boat we find a bunch of people who say, "I can't explain the origin of evil. But I trust God! I know somehow He is Holy and he is Love and he does ALL THINGS RIGHT!"
     
  16. Skandelon

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    :thumbs: I can't believe it but we actually agree on this point.

    The point you bring up regarding this being 'from a human standpoint' is paramount because that is the basis for this dilemma. Notice Luke's basis of reasoning when he writes, "God has always known all there is to ever know about everything."

    Notice the problem with this statement. He speaks of God's knowing as if it is past tense thus thrusting God into our linear timeline and makes him subject to our laws of cause/effect.

    He goes on to say,
    Showing once again how the problem is created by looking at God 'from the human perspective.' As if God is on a human like time line in history foreseeing what all will come to pass and then pushing the button to make it happen exactly as he foresaw it would be. I suppose it probably is a bit more complex than that. The PROBLEM or DILEMMA is not created by the Bible, it is created by judging God from the human perspective. He doesn't KNOW things in the same way we KNOW things. He doesn't make choices in the same way we make CHOICES, yet the whole set up for this 'dilemma' is based on the assumption that He does. And then he concludes...

    Why do we need to offer an emotionally satisfying explanation unless we accept the premise that God foreknows, chooses, creates in a linear time bases cause/effect construct prior to when He created time? It makes NO SENSE.

    To me, though it is still speculative, the 'eternal now' explanation of God's complete omniscience is much more reasonable, but it was dismissed out of hand as it was arbitrarily concluded that the only two viable speculative theories were Determinism or Open Theism, both of which make the same error.
     
    #16 Skandelon, Feb 15, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2012
  17. glfredrick

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    While God indeed stands apart from time, He is not absent from time. Beware that you do not carry God's transcendence to a point where God is also unknowable and non-existent.

    Even in the Revelation, God caused to be said, "before" and "after" -- and that AFTER the end day when we inherit eternity.
     
  18. Skandelon

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    Luke, you said you agree with JonC yet did you notice the first line of his post?

    He wrote, "I think that our understanding of God’s omniscience is by nature anthropomorphic."

    Yet, you are basing your entire premise on your understanding of God's full knowledge of all things, his choices of those things (which you already admitted were anthropomorphic), at a "time" when "time" itself didn't even exist yet. How can you conclude there is a dilemma that must be answered if you concede these things are mysterious and unknown to us...the very argument I've been making all along for what else is LFW, if its not an appeal to mystery?
     
  19. Skandelon

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    You make a valid point. I do agree that we are to understand God within time, what other option do we have really? But, I think you would agree, that understanding must be firmly rooted in His revelation, not our logical constructs. I've been arguing the 'appeal to mystery' from the beginning on this subject because I believe where the scripture is silent so should we be.

    I've also argued that if God chose to reveal himself using anthropomorphic terms then it can't be wrong for us to understand him according to those terms.

    This is why I have rejected speculative conclusions such as, "If God knew it prior to creating it then He must have determined it to be." The bible doesn't say that.
     
  20. Luke2427

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    What I think we're all trying to express is that we are unwilling to redefine God as not knowing all there is to ever know about everything just to exonerate him in our own minds.

    I think it is clear from JonC's post that he believes that- so we agree.
     

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