Divine Foreknowledge: Two Accounts -- By: Matthew Graham

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 08:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: Divine Foreknowledge: Two Accounts
Author: Matthew Graham


Divine Foreknowledge: Two Accounts

Matthew Graham

One of the more hotly debated topics in evangelical circles today is that of divine foreknowledge. Many Christians find it difficult to see why holding a particular view on this topic is important. However, those who have looked into this issue understand that the view one holds of God’s foreknowledge has implications that reach into almost every facet of theology.

The most popular and heated discussion surrounds the issue of the relation between divine foreknowledge and human free will. This article will outline two views of God’s foreknowledge. Special focus will be given to two issues in the debate. One deals with the supposed incompatibility of foreknowledge and free will. The other issue asks whether or not God has dependent knowledge.

The views to be discussed are as follows:

1. The Molinism of William Lane Craig

2. A Thomistic view of divine foreknowledge

The Problem of Foreknowledge

Before beginning the discussion, it will be beneficial to highlight some of the problems these views are trying to alleviate. The first problem is that of necessary knowledge and free will. If God knows all future events infallibly, then He cannot be wrong about what will happen. If God cannot be wrong about what will happen, it seems we are determined to do the things God knows that we will do. For if we did that which God knew we would not do, then God would not have known infallibly. But this is to deny God’s omniscience. Since God is omniscient, we are determined to act in accordance with His knowledge. This immediately brings into question the reality of human free will.

The second problem is that of dependency. Is God informed by what will happen, or does God know reality by means of Himself? In other words, does God know something is going to happen because He sees it happening in reality, or does He know it because He caused it? If God knows something because He caused it, it would seem to follow that creatures do not have free will. If, on the other hand, God knows what will happen because He sees it happen, then it seems that God has dependent knowledge. If God has dependent knowledge, it seems that God has learned something that He did not already know “before” creation. If God learned something, it would follow that He is not omniscient, since an omniscient being knows everything.

Molinism

To begin, we will look at how the Molinism, named after sixteenth century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, advocated by William Lane Craig, reconciles the above mentioned issues. Molinists maintain that God’s knowledg...

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