De Moor IV:38: Refutation of the Doctrine of Middle Knowledge

In a few words our AUTHOR comprehends many things, whereby he energetically refutes this error.

1. By this, says he in his Medulla Theologiæ, the Creature is made independent in its action, and God dependent in His Knowledge. A cause, created of itself, shall determine itself by some prerogative of its own: but the Creator shall follow that predefinition of the creature both with respect to His Knowledge, and with respect to His Will. Which things are plainly absurd and contradictory: for nothing ought to be ascribed to God that is not in every way Independent; nothing ought to be attributed to the creature that is not in every respect dependent. And what is dependent in Being upon God as the First Cause, is not able to be independent of Him as the first Agent in operation; since the mode of operation follows the mode of being. Neither is it sufficient for that Dependence of the acting Creature, that its Will is said to be created, and that its Liberty has been given by God: for, even if in this manner it depends upon God in being, yet it shall not depende upon Him in operation, which two things, nevertheless, follow each other by an inviolable bond: Thus the creature will no longer be a second cause, but the first, and the first beginning of its determination, if its individual acts depend not upon the determination of God.

2. And either a thing is certainly going to be, in which case there will be the Knowledge of Vision, and an intrinsic necessity in the things; or a thing is uncertainly going to be, in which case it is certainly not able to be known by God; or it is not going to be, in which case it will pertain to things merely Possible. By this disjunctive Syllogism also, our AUTHOR shows that Middle Knowledge of this sort in God is neither necessary, nor even possible.

α. By that God will certainly know Contingent and Free Future Things under Condition: but, says our AUTHOR, that Condition with its Consequence either is going to be, or is not going to be. If it is not going to be, and does not appear to the divine Intellect as future, it pertains to the class of merely Possible Things, and is known by God by His Knowledge of Simple Intelligence. If it is certainly going to be, it is known by God by His Knowledge of Vision, which is conversant with all Future things. But thus the Futurition of this sort of Condition with its Consequence will also be determined by decree of the divine Will, which will have preceded the knowledge of this event as future. From which the Necessity of this Middle Knowledge falls, since every Knowable thing either is merely possible or is going to be, and so is comprehended under Knowledge Natural or of Vision: the Possibility of this Middle Knowledge also falls, since, if a Condition of this sort with its Consequence, as mentioned, is going to be, the divine Knowledge of it is not able to precede the special/particular determination of the divine Decree, which determined the same for futurition; but it must rather follow the same.

β. But if you say, This matter is indeed certainly future and is known as such by God; but this Knowledge is to be reckoned as anterior to the Decree. Response: Show us then the foundation of this certain futurition. I myself acknowledge no other foundation, by which things possible pass into a state of futurition, than the will of the decreeing God alone. We find no other cause of futurition in God, while no things outside of God are posited by the Knowledge of God, even because He foreknows the same; but because He predetermined the same for futurition by the Decree of His Will. But if you seek the foundation of futurition outside of God, an inner nexus, hidden and fatal, must be established in second Causes, by which are determined the same in their operation, but also God in knowing and consequently disposing. In which manner, not only is Fate introduced, but also the entire nature of Contingency and Liberty in things perishes: but also the Independent Liberty of the divine Will is altogether removed; to such an extent that it is able to determine nothing except precisely that which it already foreknows that the creature is going to choose antecedently. Our Adversaries maintain that there can be no Liberty without Indifference. Lest anything of detriment be admitted in man, they feign that the determination of the created Will is foreseen, before the Will of the Creator ordains. But in this manner what place then, I ask, is left for the Liberty of His Will?

γ. But if you rightly refuse to acknowledge a fatal nexus of this sort in matters themselves outside of God, there is nothing left but to affirm that those Contingent and Future things under condition before the Decree, if they pertain not to the class of merely Possible things, are to be called, a. things merely doubtfully Future; in that, with the Decree of God removed, no foundation is given, on account of which anything contingent, and indifferent to opposites, might be believed to be future, rather than non-future. Whence it follows, b. that all Knowledge of a doubtfully future event of this sort is also uncertain and merely conjectural, which sort of Knowledge does not at all befit God, whose Intelligence/Understanding has no limit: indeed, His Knowledge is not able to be made more perfect by a transition from Knowledge imperfect and conjectural to Knowledge perfect and more certain. It does not help to say that, although a matter may be Contingent and Indifferent in itself, God certainly foreknows by His Infinite Power of understanding to which side moral persuasion is going to incline the will, otherwise free to choose the opposite. For Infinity of Knowledge does not change the nature of things, neither by it is God able to see a thing certainly coming to pass, which is contigent: certain foresight of a matter uncertain and indifferent is not granted. And so THOMAS rightly says, Summa, part I, question XIV, article 13, “Whoever knows a contingent effect in its proximate cause only, has only a conjectural knowledge of it.”

3. Finally, as this devise has been contrived to prop up the grace of Predestination from things Foreseen; so from the true doctrine of Predestination an argument is to be sought to refute the same. Indeed, with this Knowledge posited, the reason for Predestination could be assigned outside of God beyond His Intention and εὐδοκίαν, good pleasure;[1] because the foreseen assent of Jacob’s will, ordered in such a disposition, would at least be the condition without which God would not have predestinated Jacob to salvation, rather than Esau: but no reason for that Election is able to be given from Paul except God’s εὐδοκίαν, good pleasure, Romans 9:11-13: see below in Chapter VII, § 10. Compare SPANHEIM’S Decadum Theologicarum VI, § 9, numbers V, VI, Opera, tome 3, column 1233.

[1] See, for example, Ephesians 1:5: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure (κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν) of his will…”


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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