Q&A: God's Omniscience

God's Omniscience

What do we mean by God's omniscience?

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Answer

The word omniscience basically means knowing everything. It doesn't just mean knowing quantitatively everything, it means knowing personally and determinatively everything; the reason God knows everything is because he determines everything. Now, this doctrine is a very precious one for us because we don't know everything. We know partially, we know through a glass darkly, but we have one in the universe who does know everything. And this means that God doesn't have to think a problem through. You know, if you enjoy things like crossword puzzles or heuristic games, you love just pondering � now what's the letter that belongs here and what is that word? God doesn't do that. He has an instant omniscience, an instant knowledge of everything. His knowledge, as Van Til used to say, is coterminous with his being, his knowledge and his being are coterminous. In other words, it's two different ways of saying the same thing. We can't say that of human beings. We know, but we know through a process, and our being doesn't determine what we know outside of a relationship with God who reveals himself to us. So, this fact that God knows everything is one more way to show his utter distinction from the creature, his holiness, the wonder of his being, and it is a comfort to know that, whereas we can't figure out what's going on sometimes, and we suffer and we don't understand why, he knows. His omniscience is a comfort. When we get to the other side, I imagine God will explain things to us about things that were mysteries here, and he will gently chide us by saying, "Didn't you forget that I was omniscient and that I might have had a good reason for doing these things?"

Answer by Dr. William Edgar

William Edgar is Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary.