Richard Coords, “Omniscience”

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Divine omniscience is the characteristic of an all-knowing God, and although we believe that God knows everything, we candidly admit that we do not know how God knows anything. The same perplexity also exists concerning God’s eternal nature. Although we believe that God is timeless, we cannot explain how God can exist and yet not have a beginning. This is not necessarily a logical contradiction, but rather a mystery that awaits the revelation of God’s essential nature when He chooses to reveal the full aspect of His nature to mankind.246

What do Calvinists believe?

Greg Welty: “For example, given God’s foreknowledge, God creates at least some people whom He knows will never come to faith. Thus, He knows they will end up in hell if they are created. Knowing this, God creates them. Why would He do a thing like that? Why create people whom He knows will end up in hell when it was in His power not to create them?”247

Greg Welty: “Or again, clearly it is an evident fact of history that multitudes of people are born, live, and die without ever hearing the gospel, even though it would be a trivial thing for divine omnipotence to directly reveal the gospel message to them. Again, why would God not ensure they get the gospel message when He could do so?”248

Greg Welty: “Presumably, God infallibly knows who will and who will not come to faith, and He has known this from all eternity. How can God sincerely offer salvation to those whom He knows will never accept it? Is God sincerely hoping that His infallible foreknowledge is mistaken?”249

Our reply:

Calvinists cite divine omniscience to advance several arguments:

  1. Why would God purposely choose to create, or simply opt not to halt the birth of, those whom He knows will never receive Him and ultimately perish in Hell forever?


  1. What about those who never hear the gospel? God knows that some will never hear the gospel, and yet He loves and desires their salvation equal to everyone else?


  1. Can God be sincere in offering salvation to those whom He knows will never receive Him?


  1. If God is omniscient and His knowledge is infallible, then what He knows will happen must happen, and if the future unfolds exactly as God foreknows it, then is not the future fixed, and if the future is foreordained, how can mankind be free or have free-will?


One can become easily confounded by such conundrums, but there are simple and easy answers to each of them:


  1. Jesus addresses the matter of human interconnection in the parable of the “Wheat and the Tares” at Matthew 13:24-30. First of all, God does not sow the tares, but rather an “enemy” has done that. Secondly, while God may know that a certain man would be born and grow up to reject God’s offer of salvation and ultimately perish in Hell, what if God also knew that such a man would have a son who would one day grow up to become a Christian and have children of his own, with subsequent generations of Christian offspring? If God prevents the birth of the father, then none of the Christian children could be born. This is how people are interconnected and why it is unsurprising to see the instructions to the angel not to uproot the tares since it would otherwise disturb the wheat, and that all things will all get sorted out in the final harvest.


  1. First, God does not accept blame for the unreached but instead holds believers accountable for not getting the message out, even to the point of saying that the blood of the unreached is on the hands of His followers (Ezekiel 3:7-9; Acts 18:5-6). Second, light given is proportional to the level of light received, so that more light may be justifiably given. If people reject the light that they do have, why should God give more? Of course, such light alone does not save, but what it does do is prompt God to give more light. Throughout history, God has sent missionaries to all sorts of places. For instance, we know that He sent the prophet Jonah to warn wicked Nineveh of impending judgment. God has always been an active evangelist to the world, calling missionaries to the furthest reaches of the globe.


  1. Jesus offered discipleship to the “Rich Young Ruler” at Mark 10:21-23, which was genuine since Jesus “felt a love for him.” Therefore, some Calvinists assume the rich young ruler must have been “elect” and later converted, though the Bible never says that.


  1. God’s knowledge of our future, self-determined choices does not cause our choices but reflects them, such that if we would have chosen something different in the future then God’s knowledge would reflect that instead, and therefore what God foreknows is our self-determined future choices, including His own, and hence omniscience does not contradict free-will at all. God necessarily must have known that Adam and Eve would choose to disobey Him in the Garden of Eden, so knowing this eventuality does not necessitate that He determined it. Moreover, God desires a creation with whom He can share in a relationship with, which then necessitates the freedom to choose to either love or not to love, all being essential to possessing a free and independent will.


246 See also the discussions on Determinism, Foreknowledge, and Middle Knowledge in Richard Coords, Calvinism Answered Verse by Verse and Subject by Subject, © 2020.

247 A Southern Baptist Dialogue: Calvinism (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2008), 230.

248 Ibid.

249 Ibid., 231.

[This post has been excerpted with permission from Richard Coords, Calvinism Answered Verse by Verse and Subject by Subject, © 2020.]