Middle Knowledge Thursday, Feb 26 2009 

I first came across the term “Middle Knowledge” only a couple of years ago. To put it in simple terms, this is basically the view that God’s omniscience encompasses things which — from our time-bound perspective — we would call counterfactuals. In other words, if I’d come straight home from work today instead of going to the grocery store first, what would I have done? What would I be doing now? If I’d added political science as a second major as an undergrad instead of linguistics, what would I have done after graduation? Etc.

I read about this in the context of a book on theology from the Arminian perspective, so I took this as a typical part of Arminian theology. Indeed, although pulling yourself out of the space-time continuum is quite a mind stretch, I think having Middle Knowledge as part of Arminian theology makes a lot of seeming contradictions go away. How does man choose God, but God chose man first? Because God created the particular world that would eventually lead to that man choosing God. Why do I give God all the ultimate glory and credit for something I physically did myself (ie., God didn’t supernaturally swoop down and do it for me)? Because He is ultimately responsible for every single factor that led to my success. The first time I heard about the Middle Knowledge concept, and thought it through a bit, I was overwhelmed by a sense of God’s omniscience and omnipotence, simply His greatness, in a way I probably hadn’t been in a long time (it’s easy to take that for granted as a long-time Christian). And, I suppose it’s something I’d always believed, but never really thought about it, certainly never thought through its implications.

So, I never really thought about whether Calvinists believe in Middle Knowledge. Recently though I came across this blog post, which provides a lengthy quote from noted Calvinist RC Sproul which indicates it is indeed a part of Calvinism. And, with only a half-second’s thought, it makes sense. This basically gets at the omniscience of God, and I certainly don’t believe orthodox Calvinists believe in any less (or more) of an omniscient God than orthodox Arminians do.

I suppose, then, it’s in the implications of Middle Knowledge where we differ. It seems to me that M.K. is less impactful (which is not to say less glorious or awe-inspiring!) within Calvinism, because God’s choosing of man is viewed much more “directly,” if that’s the word. In Arminianism, even if you apply M.K. in quite a deterministic way, you still have God permitting man a genuinely free choice (=he could have decided otherwise, but God, not bound by time, knew exactly which choice he would make in the particular world He created), whereas in Calvinism “freedom” is redefined to entail someone “freely” choosing what God has decreed he choose.

Just something I’ve been thinking about lately. As always, I’m looking forward to the day when we’re seated at Jesus’s feet and he corrects all of us. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

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Current Entertainment Monday, Feb 23 2009 

I happened to wind up over at my old blog, and realized I’d forgotten all about the various random things I’d posted there. I came across one that was interesting to look back at, “Current Entertainment.” Since it was interesting to look back at the old one, I decided to write a new one. Friends and family, feel free to share what you’re watching/reading etc. in a comment.

Currently reading: Well, I just finished reading Perspectives on Election. It was OK. Sometimes I can only take so much of the polemical kind of stuff. It’s in the “5 views” series, with 5 contributions plus responses from two Calvinists (one supra- and one I guess infra-, I’ve already forgotten precisely), one Arminian, one open theist, and one Christian universalist. I think I found the Christian universalist chapter most interesting because it was a view I was unfamiliar with (though I can’t say I was convinced by the author’s argument). At least the book was mostly in good spirit — 4 of the 5 authors were considerate and respectful in their responses. The fifth, a fellow named Reymond (the supra-), ended several chapters saying he was praying for the authors to see the error of their ways and basically came off as quite smug, arrogant, and condescending. On the whole, not a bad book if you’re interested in what the various views are out there among the broader Christian community.

I hate starting books (love reading them but hate starting them…if that makes any sense), so I haven’t started it yet but I have from the library Peace Like a River, which my friend Amy told me about. That’s next on the list.

Currently watching on TV: Monday nights are a killer! I would need to take a day off work to watch all this in one day. At 8 I watch Chuck and House. House is beginning to annoy me a bit, but I still watch it so far. Chuck I used to think (from the first episode and maybe part of another) was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen. But recently I’ve seen a few more episdoes and found it hilarious. One of my favorite recent TV lines comes from here, “I was having a great time until the terrorists stole my pants and tried to kill me.” It really captures the spirit of the show, too. It’s kind of silly, but fun and with a really good heart. Kind of like Chuck.

At 9 I watch The Closer and 24. The Closer (along with Battlestar Galactica) has really become my only must-see TV. I had gotten to where even though I watched every 24 episode, it was mostly because you had to to get what was going on. But this season is different. The new FBI agent partner brings a human face to what had become almost a joke of “who’s going to get tortured in this episode?”. Seeing it through her eyes, in my view, makes it fresh again.

At 10 I watch one of the two shows I had to miss on my DVD recorder, if I managed to record them. Otherwise I watch them online later.

Normally I actually don’t watch too much TV anymore.

Most recently watched movie: Ummmmm…oh my gosh, I actually can’t think of one. I saw The Village a month ago or so at a friend’s house. That was pretty good. Oh, my most recent in-house movie was Consenting Adults. Rated R but not nearly as sketchy as it might sound from the title. I’d wanted to see it for some time because a young Kimberly McCullough, who grew up on General Hospital in the 80’s-90’s and is still on today, was in it. Not worth it for that, BTW. I don’t think she even had lines. The movie was pretty disappointing on the whole. The plot had promise, I guess, but somehow I never really bought into those characters, except maybe for Kevin Spacey’s character, the bad guy.

Most recent movie watched in the theater? Oh, my, couldn’t say. I’d’ve liked to’ve seen the new James Bond movie, and also the new Liam Neeson movie Taken, but it never worked out. Maybe Mamma Mia was it? Found that one extremely disappointing. It is wrapped up in happy bouncy songs and happy bouncy people, but it is at it’s heart a celebration of hedonism and lack of responsibility. I think a lot of people missed all that amidst the happy bounciness. I did really like the dance scene to “Lay All Your Love on Me” (I song I LOVE from Information Society, didn’t know ABBA did it first) where the guys are out on the dock and they all jump off.

Around the same time I saw the new X-Files movie…extremely disappointing is putting it mildly.

Currently listening to: In the morning when I wake up, the radio. My CD player alarm broke. It’s not even a good wake-up station. There is a good wake-up station, but for some reason I can’t pick it up well in the master bedroom. In the car, I’m seriously missing my free SIRIUS subscription and my favorite channel, 22. I’m listening to the radio or to one of three CDs — Burek by Dino Merlin, Big Thing by Duran Duran, or Who We Are by Lifehouse. That is more or less random, the CDs that happened to be there.

Time to go set up those other Monday night shows to record!