Herman Bavinck – Foreknowledge of God

Consequently — strictly speaking — one cannot speak of foreknowledge in the case of God: with him there are no “distinctions of time.” He calls the things that are not as if they were and sees what is not as if it already existed. “For what is foreknowledge if not knowledge of future events? But can anything be future to God, who surpasses all times? For if God’s knowledge includes these very things themselves, they are not future to him but present; and for this reason we should no longer speak of God’s foreknowledge but simply of God’s knowledge.” “Whatever is past and future to us is immediately present in his sight.” “However the times roll on, with him it is always present.” The division of God’s omniscience into foreknowledge, the knowledge of sight (the present), and reminiscence is a human conception through and through. Scripture, however, often conveys the idea that God’s omniscience temporally precedes the existence of things. And without this auxiliary image we cannot even speak of God’s omniscience. In theology, as a result, the question arose: How can this divine omniscience be squared with human freedom? If God indeed knows all things in advance, everything is set in concrete from eternity, and there is no longer any room for free and contingent acts. Hence, Cicero already denied God’s omniscience, since he could not harmonize it with free will. Along with omnipotence and goodness Marcion also denied omniscience to God on the ground that he allowed humanity to fall into sin. In a later period the Socinians taught the same thing. God knows all things, they said, but all things according to their nature. Hence, he knows future contingent (accidental) events, not with absolute certainty (for then they would cease to be accidental), but as contingent and accidental; that is, he knows what the future holds insofar as it depends on humans, but not with infallible foreknowledge. If that were the case, the freedom of the will would be lost, God would become the author of sin, and he himself would be subject to necessity.

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