Tuesday, August 10, 2004

from Dr. Hodges

Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges writes in re: middle knowledge:

Dear Kevin,

Bill can answer this better than I, but he may be busier than I am at the moment.

Middle-knowledge philosophy/theology is an attempt to reconcile God's omniscience and grace with human free will. Basically, it's a description of the logical structure of God's omniscience.

Distinguish between chronological and logical sequence. God's omniscience about the free acts of humans is chronologically prior but logically after those free acts, i.e., he knows beforehand, but his knowledge depends logically upon the fact of the act.

Assume that human actions are free in the libertarian sense (philosophical, not political, libertarianism) despite omniscience because God's knowledge is logically based upon the fact of the act, not vice-versa.

Note three logical "moments" in God's knowledge: natural, middle, and free.

In God's natural knowledge, he knows all necessary truths, and all possibilities -- what could be true if God were to create worlds, including what free creatures could do. This knowledge is essential, or "natural" to God as God.

In God's free knowledge, he knows the true propositions about an actual world, including his omniscience of what will happen, e.g., what free creatures will do. It is "free" knowledge because it depends upon God's free act of creation. This knowledge is not essential to God's nature.

Between these two logical moments of God's knowing lies his middle knowledge, the knowledge that God has about particular worlds that he has not yet created but may freely create. This knowledge includes knowledge of what every free creature would do (not just could do). Like God's natural knowledge, this knowledge is logically prior to his free act to create, but like God's free knowledge, the content of this knowledge is dependent upon the actions of free creatures. Thus, "middle" -- between the other two types -- of knowledge.

This is a thumbnail sketch, under 500 words. If you need a more detailed explanation, I can provide one.

You could also read more about middle knowledge here:


I'm not expert, but I find middle knowledge fascinating. Milton, incidently, seems to have used it in his thinking about God's knowledge. Hence my interest.



I don't have time to comment right at the moment, but would like to offer some thoughts on this when I have a couple hours.

UPDATE: Dr. Hodges offers this post scriptum--

P.S. I should have added that I am greatly in the debt of William Lane Craig for my understanding of middle knowledge. My explanation should be footnoted to his book The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000), 128-131.


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