Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Foresight and Insight

Thoughtful people have been arguing about the subject of God's foreknowledge and his omniscience for ages. The wrench in the works, it seems to me, always lies in divorcing the timelessness of God's knowing from the sequence of things happening.

God sees the entirety of time, for lack of better words, all at once. He can see not only the free actions of agents in this way, but also his interventions within time along with their effects throughout time (talk about iterated loops!). Despite it appearing terribly confusing to us, God is able to put a screwdriver on the right nut in time in the way we can put one on the right bolt on a machine in front of us and adjust it's functioning to achieve our aims. Foresight.

Additionally, God knows his free moral agents transparently. He sees not only the biochemical processes that carry our soul's thoughts into the realm of physical existence, he also sees the spirit behind it all. He has a superb discernment into what we would do if our circumstances were different because he knows us, he knows what is in us. Though his knowledge of what we actually do is founded upon us doing it, there can be no doubt that he has us pegged, and can see whatever we do coming, so to speak. Insight.

There is no way to translate the scope of God's seeing and knowing into the confines of our ways of doing the same. What he tells us about himself--what he knows and sees, and what he will and will not do--are all that we have that is dependable on the subject. If one's hypothesis about these matters results in a conclusion that has God thinking, saying or doing other than what he's said of himself concerning these matters, then that hypothesis is false. Along those lines, I've come the conclusion that taken together, the biblical material dealing with such matters paints a picture of God's knowledge of the future that is best understood in overarching terms as simple foreknowledge.

The proponents of other approaches (e.g. Determinism, Molinism, Open Theism) would take exception to my conclusions, of course. Scripturally, a case can be made for and against any of those views. When varying theological conjectures arise which have this quality, it is usually because all of the views have only a piece of the puzzle without of acknowledging that the others have a piece too (note my interpretation of the timing of the Rapture). As I see it, all of them in some fashion are both right and wrong, and if so, how can any of them be true?