What's in the truth?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Benjamin, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. Benjamin

    Benjamin
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    Is it necessary that God is truth? Or does it happen to exist? Doesn’t He have the ability to make conscious decisions and those decisions must be truth and if so then God, who has no beginning or end, did He make it true or was it already true? Where did the truth come from since God is self derived? What makes things be true? Did God make it true or is it necessary that it be true? God, whose knowledge comes from Himself, then does He self imposing a condition upon Himself that must be truth or was it necessary to already be the truth and He follows that?

    While contemplating a middle knowledge or looking into Molinism the question comes up, is God grounded in the truth or is the truth grounded in God.

    Thinking about aseity here, does one depend on the other? Is there a necessary existence of truth for God to be perfect?

    I’m thinking God possesses everything, even truth. His knowledge of this truth must come from himself and He has the power to do so along with His volition (the ability to make conscious choices or decisions) within the scope of truth. He is perfect, and since we are not, in comparison we can make a choice which is not the truth or even not understand the truth. God must know everything about what our choices might be, but is it true that He knows what that choice will be before it happens? If it was His will, knowing all, to create truth and follow it, then it could be His will to say something will happen and it must be true, but He has a choice in this matter and I think He gives us a will that is free to make choices also and it is necessary for it to be true, but He carries the truth.

    Ok, my brain is tired now.
     
  2. Humblesmith

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    Fun stuff! Best I've seen here in a while!! Here's my take:

    Because God is a necessary being, then what he is, he is necessarily. So God is truth necessarily.

    Yes, God has the ability to make concious decisions. But things are not true merely because he chose them, but because they are consistent with his own nature. He always chooses things that are consistent with his nature. His nature is against stealing, so he could not decide that stealing is good. He will always choose that stealing is bad. So the thing that makes things true is God's nature. In this sense, the things he chooses are necessarily true.

    It is not proper to say that God is imposing a condition upon himself, but that his nature and his choices are always consistent. His nature must be truth and his will follows his nature.


    I don't know.....I'll have to look this one up. But I suspect it's the same answer....the truth comes from his nature, and he's consistent with his nature. His will is consistent with his necessary nature. (middle knowledge is spoken of in poor terms in our chambers...)

    Aseity is the attribute of God that shows he is self-existent. I'd have to think about this one, but I don't think His will "depends on" his nature, but is grounded in it, is consistent with it.

    Yes, most definitely. Very good, you've gotten this correct. You get extra points.

    I'm not sure that it's proper to say he "created truth". Truth came from his perfectly truthful being. Truth certainly didn't come from his will. He couldn't have decided that lying is good. But you are correct in that what he says must be true, and that he gives us a will that is free to make choices.


    Your brain is tired or your mind? They're different, you know.

    Fun stuff.
     
  3. Benjamin

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    Well, starting at the beginning, couldn’t God have created a world where Adam would not have sinned? and Adam still have free will? This would not be a truth, would it?

    God knew under the given circumstances that He made what Adam would do, but Adam had a decision if he had free will. If this is a truth then He by the attributes of His nature must have had to make the decision to let man fall, but not make man fall. God would know under any given set of circumstances what the truth would be and how we will react, but if He gives us free will then the circumstances could be ever changing. I think this is what a Molinist theology is based on when middle knowledge is brought up.

    I don’t think that God would do something that He knew was going to fail. Would God choose to make a sinful act be true?

    Molinism seems to be a theological position about God and His nature with a lot of truths pointing toward Him having some kind of a middle knowledge.

    This is new to me and I don’t know what it will lead to other than to maybe cause some problems with the theology of Calvinism, but I find it interesting. I don’t know if this is taboo around here being I always thought of Baptist as having the Bible as the ultimate authority in searching for the truth.

    I would go with that and add His attributes of truth also go along with love. So, how would God express His love in full if Adam hadn’t sinned?

    (Joh 15:12) This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

    (Joh 15:13) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

    (Joh 15:14) Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

    How would God show us the truth of how deep His love goes without the fall of man?


    Exactly, and I’m thinking these choices change circumstances that make the truth come alive in love which is what He wants and commands of us, why He gave us a free choice.
     
  4. HankD

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    God is the truth

    KJV John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    and God defines the Truth for us:

    KJV John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

    HankD
     
  5. Humblesmith

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  6. Benjamin

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    I agree, God could do anything including create a world where Adam could not have sinned but would He do it if it wasn’t true by Adam having a free will?

    No, He knows everything but I think according to Molinist in order to allow free choice and for that to be true He uses a middle knowledge. I’m on the edge of my competency here myself about this. I don’t think it’s about Him learning, but Him allowing.

    I’m trying to make sense of this myself so let me put it differently. BTW I’m not trying to defend Molinism only to figure out what the philosophy is. It does support an omniscient-omniscience God as far as I know.

    2+2=4 that is a truth so as for Adam:

    Would God who omniscient and omniscience and has only good is His will, create a world that is evil? Well, in order for good to exist there must be evil; that is a truth like 2+2=4. God could not be ignorant of the evil that the fall of man would bring about, but God does not look upon sin or create sin. So the truth is He gave us a free will choice knowing only the truth and love, but not looking upon that man would fall to evil? That hinges back (as far as my understanding of Molinism) or to some kind of middle knowledge.

    At the end of the 6th day God saw everything that He had made and is was “very good.” So when the circumstances changed after man being left alone with that tree of “knowledge” and the influence of Satan, God could have destroyed His creation and been done with it but He (did choose?) not to condemn us but to show us His love and offer salvation because His creation was good (He said it and it must be true) I guess the point is that God can only be in the truth, that is the truth, and to allow free will there must be some kind of middle knowledge otherwise 2+2=5 and that is not the truth.


    His knowledge can not be limited and comes from Himself, and He is always in the truth. God doesn’t change His knowledge or learn of things but does He allow things to change along with man having free will. Does God limit himself to the “truth” by His nature? Could He make 2+2=5? I guess He could do what ever He wants but that would not be the truth.

    I would never say God is limited by anything including time; He made us for His pleasure, does He allow the time to enjoy it? I’m sitting here laughing. Sorry! It is fun.

    This is a fuzzy topic and Yes, He is the truth and His Word is truth and in scripture there are at least a couple of passages that are very interesting on this subject of middle knowledge that I need to further study and see if I can come to some understanding before presenting them.
     
  7. Benjamin

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    OK upon further research and in simpler terms what we’re talking about is reconciling omniscience with free will. I’ve been using the logic of truth and God’s nature to try and see if Molinism adds up. On a side note looks like I brought in the omnibenevolence of God along with the problem of evil. I see Molinism also addresses this problem.

    POE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil

    Molinism is a religious doctrine that attempts to explain these problems in theology from God having a “middle knowledge”. Molinism still claims an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent God, so in at least this aspect is not heretical, although in contrast to Calvinism doctrine’s attempts to explain these things.

    So anyway, Molinist support their case of middle knowledge of omniscient God with a free will agent under a different set of circumstances with Matthew 11:23 from Jesus’ statement:

    (Mat 11:23) And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

    Jesus claims knowledge of how the Sodomites would have responded under a different set of circumstances from those that actually occurred.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molinism

    There is more scripture that seems to support a “middle knowledge” and I need to look into it.
     
  8. Humblesmith

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    hmmmm.......thinking...........thinking........
     
  9. Humblesmith

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    I think we have more than one concept that we're struggling with here.

    Voluntarism is the teaching that things are true because God wills them to be true. A voluntarist says that God willed 2+2=4, so this is true. However, God could have willed 2+2=5, and if He had, then it would be true. God willed stealing to be evil, so it is. But God could have willed "thou shalt steal" and this would have been good.

    On the other hand, essentialism is the teaching that God wills things to be true because they are really, actually true. The essentialist says that God willed (or commanded, or revealed) that 2+2=4 because it's true that 2+2=4. The criticism immediately comes up "Well, the essentialist is making God subject to something greater than himself -- God would be subject to a greater truth than Himself." But the essentialist responds that no, this criticism is not true, because the basis for the truth of 2+2=4 is not external to God, but internal. Things are true because in God's being, they are true.

    The voluntarist would say that God could have willed the universe to be non-logical, but he didn't....he willed it to be logical, but it could have been non-logical. But the essentialist says that God's nature is logical, so the world is logical, and God makes logical decisions.

    Essentialism is the correct view. Truth is true not because God willed it or commanded it to be true, but because the truth is grounded in God's nature.

    Now, my exposure to Molinism (although admittedly limited)is from the writings of William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, who are Molinists and who hold to middle knowledge. In their book "Philosophical Foundations" they seem to try to base middle knowledge not on external perceptions that God perceives, but rather God "knows, simply on the basis of his own internal states and without any need of any sort of perception of the external world, that Peter will freely deny Christ three times." However, they go on to speak of God "discerning all the truths there are" and also speak of "God's knowledge of future contingents."

    So it seems to me that the key is determining where the middle knowledge is supposed to be based. Is it based in God's nature? Or is it based on God's discerning what a contingent creature will do?

    If it's based in God's nature, I don't see how it could be "middle knowledge." For God's knowledge is not sequential......he does not consider facts and then make decisions.

    My knowledge of the criticisms of middle knowledge & Molinism come from the writings of Norman Geisler, who says that "Molina insisted that God's decisions are based on what He foreknows will actually occur, should He choose to create that kind of world -- this is dependent knowledge." He goes on to say that classical theists hold that "God's knowledge is not based on anything outside of himself" but "is based on knowing Himself and all other things as they preexist in Himself as their Primary Cause."

    So I can only assume that the answer to the middle knowledge question depends on whether it is knowledge that is based in God, or based in the actions of created beings.

    Further, Geisler quotes a guy named Sanders who points out that "It is impossible that God should use a foreknowledge derived from the actual occurance of future events to determine his own prior actions in the providential governance of the world. Such a deity would then know what he is going to do before deciding what to do."

    But Craig and Moreland give a pretty decent explanation of Molinism in "Philosophical Foundations." But they hedge on the criticisms, merely saying that the critics haven't been able to refute it, but not saying what or why. Craig also is supposed to have another book "The Only Wise God" that might have more. Geisler is a Thomist, and I follow him. So far, I'd say the Molinists appear to be pulling a fast one by sneaking in dependent knowledge (knowledge dependent on the actions of creatures.) So far, Thomism has sunk everything that's come up against it, so far as I've seen. God's knowledge is eternal, non-sequential, and infinite. He does not learn.

    But I agree that God knows all possible worlds, as you pointed out in Matt. 11:23.

    A side note: two posts up, you said "for truth to exist there must be evil." No....
    Evil is like rot to a tree, or cancer to a body. The tree can exist with no rot, but rot cannot exist without the tree. There can be infinite good without the existence of evil, but there cannot be infinite evil. Evil can only go as far as the good, and good must exist in order for evil to exist.

    Sorry for the long response, but it's good to find someone to discuss this stuff with.
     
  10. Humblesmith

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    Another key concept:
    You're saying "God is in the truth."

    More properly, God is truth. Jesus said "I am the truth" in John 14. The reason is because God is an indivisible, non-compound (i.e., simple) being.

    The analogy is like a stone, made of one element. The stone is gray, hard, and dense. It is fully gray, through and through. It is also fully hard, through and through. Every part of the stone is gray and hard, and it can be 100% gray and 100% hard at the same time.....it is not true that the stone is partly gray and partly hard. So, since the stone is simple, then any attribute the stone has, it is. If the stone has density, then it is dense. If it has grayness, then it is gray.

    Similarly with God, who is simple...He is not made of parts or components. So whatever He has, he is. If he has knowledge, He is knowledge. If He has truth, He is truth. So when Jesus said "I am the truth" he was correct literally. He wasn't "in the truth" in the sense that truth was external to His being, as if He could be in it or out of it.

    [ December 05, 2005, 09:53 AM: Message edited by: Humblesmith ]
     
  11. Benjamin

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    That helps to have the concepts spelled out and I also agree with essentialism because if God could have willed the world to be non-logical it would not be truth which would be against His nature.

    So God’s nature “is” truth and therefore truth will always be logical or is limited to logic by His being, which would be perfect logic. God being omniscient is/was/always has been, able to think sensibly and come to rational conclusions based on facts in truth.

    Then with essentialism we are saying in a sense God is truth and perfect in logic? It seems improper to say God is limited to anything but by His own nature His being “is” truth which only comes from perfect logic.

    I would lean toward saying it is both God’s nature and logical to be contingent (true only under certain conditions or existing conditions) God all knowing what a creature would do given a set of changing circumstances and those circumstances where and are free to change, otherwise how would you logically solve the POE (problem of evil) from an omnibenevolent-omniscient God? Logically God allowed free will choices in spirit breathed man which was only good along with the truth of certain existing conditions or circumstances that could change from good. He did not make evil but man took the fall by choosing the knowledge of good and evil and then we HAD to keep choosing between it. Seems free will and changing circumstances are a factual logical truth from our beginning.

    If God’s knowledge is not sequential then it may be true that He has more than one kind of knowledge “middle knowledge” contingent on free changing circumstances from free will. This seems to give Middle knowledge some merit.

    You say: Essentialism is the correct view which seems to be the case, but for God to be logical and His knowledge to be not sequential and allow man free will to sin He must allow circumstances to change, that would seem to be a middle knowledge which I might add is rather incomprehensible to us regarding an omniscient God comparing to what that dreaded tree would reveal to Adam and Eve.

    You are comparing a physical tree to a spiritual/invisible truth of nature. You can’t logically reverse to rot without first a tree, but I reverse the words good and evil around, and still have the logic of one not existing without the other.

    "There can be infinite evil without the existence of good , but there cannot be infinite good . Good can only go as far as the evil , and evil must exist in order for good to exist."

    That would be against the truth of God’s omnibenevolent nature in the world that He made so only thereby is not logical truth for man which was made only good in the likeness of God, but with choices.


    Philosophically the objection could be said “true” but could also run into theological fatalism because of omnibenevolence, God can not lie, logically and biblically there is a good example in 1Sam 23 of scripture supporting some kind of "middle knowledge". What God said would happen was contingent on circumstances not changing otherwise it would make God a liar.
     
  12. Benjamin

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    God is truth and truth is limited to logic… otherwise one could say, “If God can do anything, can He make a stone so big even He can’t lift it?”
     
  13. Benjamin

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    Me too, I don’t know if we’re getting anywhere other than learning some new terms and ideas. I just hope you’re not answering me in 15 minutes or something or you are WAY ahead of me.
     
  14. ituttut

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    I thought I was telling you something you did not understand, and perhaps I am; and then again perhaps not.
     
  15. Humblesmith

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    Ben:
    Help me out with what you mean when you speak of changing circumstances. I'm not sure I fully grasp what you're implying.

    I guess I keep thinking of one of the classic problems.....the example that comes to mind is the one we've just studied in Romans 9. It speaks of Jacob and Esau, where in Rom. 9 God says that before "the twins had done anything good or bad: He chose one over the other to be the child of promise. Yet in Genesis, Esau, by his own free choice, sold his birthright. So Esau freely chose to "change a circumstance" yet God chose Jacob before time began. What are you saying about God in this example? Are you saying that God "depends on" knowing what Esau will (or would) do in this given situation? If so, I think this is the criticism of Molinism, that it ultimately leans on God depending on a creature's actions. I guess I need to learn more about how they define middle knowledge.

    I maintain that these are not in conflict at all.....God can be the primary cause, and we can be the secondary cause. God did not "depend on" knowing what Esau would do for Him to choose Jacob.

    I'm also not 100% sure I understand what you mean with evil......when you switched the words around, I maintain this does not work. It is possible to have infinite good, but not infinite evil. Rather, evil is dependent on good. Good can exist without evil, but evil cannot exist without good. We only know what is evil because we have a standard of good to measure it by. Therefore without a standard of good, you can't have evil. You can't have the rot unless the tree exists.

    The ultimate answer to evil is that God will reconcile all accounts in the end. Evil has not yet be vindicated, but it will.
     
  16. Benjamin

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    Just trying to figure some things out.
     
  17. Benjamin

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    I’m not sure if you believe we have free will or not; I think we do but am trying to reconcile that with our omniscient God.

    I’m mostly thinking out loud here about the truth and the way free will comes about; please forgive my tendencies to jump around on thoughts and subjects, I understand I can be hard to follow. As for changing circumstances:

    In 1Sam 23 David being told that the Philistines fought against Keilah inquired of the Lord what he should do and He said, “Go get um and save Keilah” But David’s men weren’t to sure about this so he inquired again and the Lord said, “piece of cake, I’ll deliver them in your hand” so David went down and slaughtered them. Afterward David was warned that Saul knew of this and also knew that now he was trapped within the walls of the city and Saul planned to down to Keilah and besiege David and his men in this predicament. So once again David asked the Lord:

    (1Sa 23:11) Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.

    (1Sa 23:12) Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.

    But David said, “I’m outa here!”

    (1Sa 23:13) Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbore to go forth.

    The Lord told David the truth as it was, but David having free will changed the circumstances and it did not happen.

    My question to you is, How do you explain that what the Lord (who does not lie) said would happen didn’t?

    Molinism claims this is evidence of middle knowledge.

    I think God must have boundaries that He will or will not allow, I think He created us with the possibility to choose Him or reject Him, to return love or not to, He knows our hearts. I don’t know if God knew Jacob would lie to his father about who he was or if God just knew the hearts of the “twins” and under those circumstances who would receive the blessing. God sees things as true, He knows truths, does He have to force them to happen?

    Don’t think God would have to know exactly what they would do to know how things would end up.

    Of course in the end good will triumph over evil, but for now I don’t see how in our world of understanding and knowledge good could exist without evil.


    No doubt!
     
  18. Humblesmith

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    I think the answer to the 1 Sam passage is to view God's message as saying "If you stay here, they will deliver you up." I'll have t think about it more, but that's my first reaction.

    Yes, we have free will. Scripture says we do, in many places. For example, near the end of Deut. God says "If you do these, you will be blessed. If you don't do these, you will be cursed. I set before you life and peace, death and evil. Choose life." That's a paraphrase, but that's what it says. There are many other examples of free will. Free will cannot be forced.

    I'll keep studying on this.
     

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