Rothe On The Limitations Of Divine Foreknowledge -- By: J. P. Lacroix
BSac 32:125 (Jan 1875) p. 137
Rothe On The Limitations Of Divine Foreknowledge
The omniscience of God is a doctrine which has always been held not only by all branches of the Christian church, but also by all mere theists. And it has generally been taken for granted that omniscience must include a knowledge of all that is future. The relation, however, in which this attribute of God stands to the future actions of imperfect moral creatures, has been a matter of controversy from the very beginning, and is far from being settled even yet. The two great currents of theology, the determinists and the libertarians, have taken a precisely opposite view of this relation. The former say, these actions take place because God foreknows them; the latter say, God foreknows them because they are going to take place. Both parties, with few exceptions, hold as unquestionable both that God does foreknow such actions, and that he knows them infallibly. The reasons respectively adduced by the two parties as to the possibility of such foreknowledge, are not, however, equally good. The determinist is strictly logical in saying: God can foreknow the future actions of imperfect mortal creatures, because these actions form a constituent part of his eternal world-plan. For there is here a clearly rational nexus between the subject and the object. But it is far from clear that the libertarian is logical in saying: God can foreknow such actions without thereby precluding their freedom, seeing that he foreknows them not as pre-determined but as free. Here the nexus between the subject and the object is not only not clear, but it is absolutely inconceivable, — at least for the human mind. Free-willists do not even attempt to discover this nexus, but admit it to be one of the points which will forever
BSac 32:125 (Jan 1875) p. 138
baffle finite reason. But why do they persist in believing in the possibility of such foreknowledge? Manifestly because they are driven thereto by their unhesitating clinging to the doctrine of omniscience in its tacitly-assumed, traditionally-orthodox form.
So far, then, the determinists have the advantage of rational consistency over the free-willists. Unless some other interest calls for a change of base, they can rest in the confidence that their view enables them intelligibly to follow the whole sweep of cosmical development from creation to the final consummation of things.
But is not such an interest found in the doctrine of human freedom? If this doctrine is taken in full earnest, then the notion must be given up, that all the actions of human beings can form an organic part of the eternal world-plan of God. For such a foreknowledge precludes the conception of the freedom of such actions. Such, at least, is the position...
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