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Middle Knowledge. One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election. Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election. God is omniscient . That means He knows everything – but what does that mean?

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Middle Knowledge

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Middle Knowledge

One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • God is omniscient. That means He knows everything – but what does that mean?

    • First of all, He knows everything that is logically possible – including anything that might ever happen in any universe (world) He might ever create. This is called His Natural Knowledge.

    • On the basis of Natural Knowledge, God was free to create any possible world.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

Possible worlds would include:

  • Worlds in which the sky was green and the grass was blue.

  • Worlds in which you or I never existed.

  • Worlds in which you or I existed, but under very different circumstances.

  • Worlds in which we were not free to trust in Him or believe in Jesus.

  • A world such as this one, in which we have the ability to freely exercise our faith – or refuse to.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • Again, Natural Knowledge is God’s knowledge of all that is logically possible.

  • But we live in this world which God created.

  • This world only includes what God freely causes to happen or, at the very least, permits.

  • His knowledge of all that will really happen in this world, including whether or not we will trust in Him, is called His Free Knowledge.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • God’s Natural Knowledge is His knowledge of all that is logically possible.

  • God’s Free Knowledge is His knowledge of all that will actually happen, which is limited at some level by His will. (These two categories come from Thomas Aquinas.)

  • Between these two, is His Middle Knowledge (a term from Luis de Molina) the knowledge of what free creatures will freely do under any and all circumstances.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • Middle Knowledge is like Natural Knowledge in that it is logically prior to God’s decision to create a particular world.

    • We say logically prior, rather than chronologically prior, because technically time didn’t exist until God created it – another subject entirely.

  • Middle Knowledge is like Free Knowledge in that it is conditional. What can happen depends upon the world that God actually creates.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • God’s Middle Knowledge is, then, in the middle – somewhere between:

    • All that is logically possible (Natural Knowledge)

    • And all that will actually occur (Free Knowledge)

  • It shares some characteristics of both of these.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • The fact that God chose to create this particular world out of all possible worlds, and create you in it within a given set of circumstances out of all possible people in all possible circumstances, knowing what you would do in them, gives us a very substantial view of God’s election.

  • God from the beginning chose you for salvation - and had the ability to do otherwise.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

  • The fact that God chose to create a world in which His creatures were truly free, and create you and me among His creatures, means that we are genuinely responsible to Him.

  • He created us with love and grace in mind, but He is not forcing anyone to believe.

  • Our salvation is, therefore, a gift, which we must freely receive – or reject.

  • We have to believe in the truth.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

On this view:

  • We are not saying, “God chose you because He foresaw that you would believe.”

  • In that case, God’s choice would be almost meaningless, because you would have believed anyway. It’s really another way of saying that it’s all up to you.

  • Nor are we saying, “You believed simply because God chose you or decreed it to be so,” in a way that makes humans seem more like puppets doing only and exactly as God directs.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

On this view, we are saying:

  • There is no one who believes who is not elect.

  • There is also no one who is elect who does not believe.

  • Those who believe and those who are elect are, in effect, one and the same.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

On this view, we are saying:

  • Only God fully understands all the reasons why He created this actual world with these actual people in these actual circumstances.

  • His Middle Knowledge of what each person would freely do in any set of circumstances helps us to see how our faith and God’s election can both play a part.


Middle Knowledge: One Means of Balancing Our Faith and God’s Election

Additional Resources:

  • Craig, William Lane. Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism, Omniscience. New York: Brill, 1990.

  • Craig, William Lane. The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 1987.

  • http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/wes/phil3600/3600-pdfs/Craig.pdf

  • http://www.iep.utm.edu/middlekn/#SSH3c.i

  • Molina, Luis de. On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the Concordia. Translated by Alfred J. Freddoso (Ithaca: Cornell, 1988).

  • Plantinga, Alvin. The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon, 1974).


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