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God's knowledge of future sins Chas Tuesday, January 1, 2013


The other day during the homily this priest who I have heard preach before has really good teachings. He comes from an order who I know their teachings are very traditional and sound. But I was taken aback at a statement he said. I asked my wife if I heard him correct and she heard the same thing. He said that God does NOT know our future sins. Otherwise He would not have created Adam and Eve if he knew they were going to sin. He said it is because of "free will" that he does not know if we will sin or not.

I would like to talk to him or to write to the head pastor or even the head of his order if necessary. I know God is omniscient and knows the past, present and future and knows if we will commit a sin tomorrow or ten years from know. I know that if God does not have perfect knowledge, then there would be a deficiency in His nature and He would not be God.

Where would I find solid Catholic teachings that I can show this priest, maybe from the CCC, that he was in error in that statement. Of course I would approach the situation with a possibility that we misunderstood what he said, which I hope we did.

Thanking you in advance I remain....


Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OMSM(r), LTh, DD

Dear Chas:

Just when I thought I heard it all, comes yet another story of a priest who needs slapped upside the head, and removed from ministry until he gets an education, to prevent him from teaching error to the Faithful. <sigh> The extent of this priest's theological knowledge is remarkably ignorant. How did this fella get through seminary? This issue is one of the most fundament issues in all of theology. It is something one learns in Theology 101, and even before that, in the Baltimore Catechism.

In Baltimore Catechism #4, question 18 states, "Does God know all things?

Answer: Certainly God "knows all things." First, because He is infinitely wise, and if He were ignorant of anything He would not be so. Secondly, because He is everywhere and sees and hears all. Darkness does not hide from His view, nor always prevent Him from hearing. How could we send if we thought of this! God is just here, looking at me and listening to me. When I do what I am going to do now if I knew my parents, relatives, and friends were watching me? What I'd like him to know that I'm thinking about things sinful, and preparing to do shameful acts? No! Why then should I feel ashamed to let God see and know of this wicked thought or action? They might know it and yet be unable to harm me, but He, all-powerful, could destroy me instantly. They, more; not only will God see you know this evil deed or thought; but, by His gift, the Blessed Mother, the Angels and Saints will know that and be ashamed of it before God, and, most of all, my guardian angel will deplore it. Besides, this will be revealed to the whole world on the last day, and my friends, relatives, and neighbors will know that I was guilty of it.

In addition, we have Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Part I, §20, Divine Knowledge or Knowing (this is rather technical, but if this priest actually went to seminary, he should be familiar with this):

1. God's Knowledge Is Infinite. (De fide)

The Vatican Council [I] says of God that in His power of cognition He is infinite (intellectu infinitus) See Denzinger 1782].  Holy Writ designates God is the God of knowledge (Deus scientiarum : 1 Samual 2:3) and declares that His wisdom is without measure : Sapientiae eius non est numerus (Ps. 146:5). Cf. Ps. 138:6; Rom. 11:33.

Speculatively, the infinity of the Divine knowledge may be based:

a) On the reality of created intelligence, for according to the relationship of cause and effect, the supreme created perfection must be contained in God as its origin, and indeed in an infinite manner.

b) On the order of finality of the world, which postulates a Creator and Director of the highest intelligence.

c) On the absolute and immateriality of God; for the immateriality is the foundation of knowing, and the degree of the power of cognition is determined by the degree of immateriality. Cf. Summa Théologie, St. Thomas Acquinas, I 14, 1 : Cum sit in summo immaterialitatis, sequitur, quod ipse sit in summo cognitionis. (Since God is at a summit of immateriality it follows that He is at the summit of knowledge.")

2. God's Knowledge Is Purely and Simply Actual

As God is pure act (actus purus), there is in His knowing no transitions from potency to act, no habitatus, no succession, and no progress from the known to the unknown. God's knowing is neither potential or habitual, neither successive nor discursive. God knows all in one single indivisible act (simplici intuitu). Cf. Summa I 14,7.

3. Gods Knowledge Is Subsistent

God does not only possess an activity of knowledge, but he is Himself knowledge. His knowing is, in consequence of His absolute simplicity, really identical with His Essence. Cf. Summa I 18, 3 ad 2 : Deus est suum intelligere. (God is His own understanding.) Summa I 14, 4 : intelligere Dei est eius substantia. (The understanding of God is His own substance.)

4. God's Knowledge Is Comprehensive

From the infinity of His power of knowing it follows that God completely encompasses His infinite knowledge, and thereby comprehends Himself. (Cf. Summa I 14, 3 : Tanta est virtus Dei in cognoscendo, quanta est actualitas euis in existend .... Unde manifestum est, quod tantum seipsum cognoscit, quantum cognoscibilis est. Et propter hoc seisum perfecte comprehendit. "God's power of self comprehension is as great as His reality in Mean.... Therefore it is obvious that he comprehends Himself as far as He is comprehensible. Therefore The comprehends himself perfectly." Holy Rick bears witness to the comprehensive character of the Divine knowledge in 1 Cor. 2:10 : "the Spirit searches all things yea, the deep things of God." Cf. Mt. 11:27.

5. God's Knowledge Is Independent of Extra–Divine Things

The Divine intellect is not determined to knowledge from without but from within through the Divine Essence. Extra-Divine objects are not the cause (causa determinans), but only aim (terminus) of the Divine knowledge. Further, God does not know the extra-Divine objects to intelligible "species" imprinted from without; for it and select which knows by means of a species distinct from itself stands in the same relation to this as does potency to act. God, however, is actus purus (pure act). Cf. Summa I 14, 4 : In Deo intellectus et id, quod intelligatur, et species intelligibilis et ipsum intelligere sunt omnino unum et idem. (In the intellect understanding and the pain understood by the same reality and the intelligible species and the act of understanding itself are entirely one and the same.)

God knows extra-Divine things in His Own Essence, as He is the causa exemplaris and the causa efficiens of real things and for possible things — the Exemplar.

Fall exhaustively knowing His creative causality He also knows there and all the operations which flow or which can flow from this, and indeed, just as comprehensively as He knows Himself. ! John 1:5 : "God is light and in Him there is no darkness."

The bottomline is that the dogma, God's Knowledge Is Infinite is De fide, which means that is a defined dogma. Anyone denying this dogma is therefore a heretic.

This priest better get an education. He is teaching heresy.

God is in the "eternal present." That means that all of the past, all of the future, is NOW to God. God is outside of time and space. He knew us for all eternity past, long before the universe was even created.

The fact that God has knowledge of our actions and all of our sins that we have not done yet, does not interfere with our free will at all. A simple and imperfect analogy is found in a married couple who have been married for sixty years. The wife knows her husband so well that she can "know" what he is going to do before he does it. She did not rob him of his free will to choose what he is going to do, rather she just knows him so well as to be able to predict very accurately what he will do.

God knows us perfectly.

But, the source of God's perfect and complete knowledge of all of history is that He is knowledge itself. He is knowledge that stands in the eternal present.

I would advice that you talk to this priest to be sure you heard him correctly. If you did hear him correctly, then we have a big problem. Ask him to show you where his assertion is supported by any Church document. You can show him the quotes above from the Baltimore Catechism and from the Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, which references the Summa written by the Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

If he resists re-considering his view, then you need to contact his superior. This is not a trivial issue as it has to be with defined dogma vs. heresy.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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