De Moor IV:36: Answering Objections to God's Knowledge of Free and Contingent Futures, Part 1

"To the Word, and to the testimony..."

They Object, 1. passages of Scripture, in which Expectation, Repentance, or Acquisition of Knowledge, are attributed to God, Isaiah 5:4; Genesis 6:6, 7; 22:12; etc.: see HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, tome I, book II, chapter III, section III, pages 358-360.

Response: α. That all human Affections are to be removed from God, as inconsistent with the manifold Perfections of God, we have given proof in § 26. Thus in particular, with the Blessedness and Sufficiency of God is not able to be reconciled the Hope and Expectation of acquiring any good to Himself, which is especially regarded in Expectation, and whereof God in great sorrow might esteem Himself to be disappointed thereafter; or even Repentance or troublesome sorrow concerning His own work previously accomplished; following upon which, neither would the mutation of God’s Counsel agree at all with His Immutability and Independence. β. And so these Affections, as it was advised before, are to be explained of Effects, so that God’s Expectation asserts the Decency of an Event, frustrated Expectation the Indecency of an Event, Repentance an altered work of God. The Jew, Menasseh ben Israel, in his Concilatore[1] on the Pentateuch, on Genesis 6:6, question XXIII, will be able to put the Socinians to shame, writing: “Repentance implies an ignorance of the past, present, and future, a mutation of will, and error in counsels, nothing of which is able to fall to God. Nevertheless, God is said metaphorically to be brought to Repentance. To the extent that we are ever penitent over some matter, we rescind that which we had previously done: which is able to be done without such a mutation of will, whereby now the man does something that afterwards, with his mind altered, he repudiates. And so, when it is said that God is led to Repentance, it is be understood from the effect, to the extent that man, whom He had created, He now destroys by a flood. Certainly thus in similar cases do Rabbi Moses and the learned Ibn Ezra always make use of these words, דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם, the Torah speaks according to the speech of men, that is, it accommodates its words to bodily and sensible things, so that they might be the better received.” That formula occurs in Ibn Ezra, for example, both on this place in Genesis 6:6, and on Jonah 3:10, etc.; as we have also already added above on § 26 out of Michlol Jophi on Genesis 6:6. γ. And so, just as those human Affections have no proper place in God, so neither does that from which Affections properly follow, namely, ignorance of future things.

A similar response is to be given to passages in which Ignorance and acquired Knowledge appear to be attributed to God, Genesis 18:21; 22:12. For, if, α. the things that are read there concerning the Knowledge of God are to be understood properly, God would be ignorant, not only of future things, but also of present and past things: and so what things have been said by way of συγκατάβασιν/ condescension ἀνθρωποπαθῶς/anthropopathically, come again to be expounded θεοπρεπῶς, in a manner suitable for God. β. In the prior place God discourses concerning past things, which He shows to be sufficiently known to Him: but, by the added word, speech taken from human Judges diligently inquiring into a case, He shows the righteousness of His judgment to be inflicted upon the Sodomites. γ. With respect to the second passage, already before this the piety of Abraham had been sufficiently observed by God, Genesis 18:19; but what is said of the Knowledge of God in Genesis 22:12 is to be expounded of the matter itself being known: now I know, that is, now it is evident by the matter itself and by manifest trial that thou art fearing God, since thou hast not withheld thy son: which God was also approving, by a knowledge, not of bare speculation, but of approbation, whereby He had already previously known the piety of Abraham, but to which now He was openly and manifestly giving testimony; compare Psalm 1:6. δ. And in what manner was God ignorant of the matters related in the passages cited, upon whose Decree and Providence the same were completely dependent? ε. David asks to be tried and searched by God, Psalm 139:23, 24, to whom he had already previously confessed all his thoughts, words, and way to be quite thoroughly opened, verses 1-4: compare HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, tome I, book II, chapter III, section III, pages 360-364; LILIENTHAL, Oordeelkundige Bybelverklaring, chapter IX, § 36-40, part 4, pages 199-206.

[1] Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657) was a Portuguese Jewish scholar. His El Conciliador was an attempt to reconcile difficult and seemingly contrary portions of the Old Testament. He established the first Hebrew printing press in Amsterdam.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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