The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions
"Pt. 4: Divine foreknowledge - Ch. 21: The teaching of Tradition on divine foreknowledge"
405. Before turning to the tradition of Christian writers and the views of Christian theologians, it will be worthwhile to look briefly at the opinions of two outstanding pagan philosophers. A helpful light can be gained on the statement of the problem.
406. Aristotle:1 "[divine thought], then, thinks of itself, for that is best, and its thinking is a thinking on thinking."
Comments: In this passage Aristotle seems to say that God thinks of nothing but Himself. Thus He would not know anything outside Himself.
But, some commentators follow the interpretation of St. Thomas, who wrote:2 "However, it does not follow that all other things besides Himself are unknown to Him; for in knowing Himself, He knows all other things."
Many other commentators hold that Aristotle really did deny that God knows anything outside Himself. For example, W. D. Ross, who is eminent among Aristotelian commentators today, though he admits that Aristotle did say some few things which seem to contain "traces" of a different view, yet concludes:3 "Aristotle has no theory either of divine creation or of divine providence. . . . But there are traces in him of a way of thinking less arid than that which we have seen to be his deliberate theory. . . . in criticising Empedocles for excluding part of reality from God's knowledge, he, in effect, criticises his own limitation of God's knowledge to self- knowledge." F. Copleston, an outstanding historian of philosophy, writes:4 "Moreover, [according to Aristotle] God cannot have any object of thought outside Himself, for that would mean that He had an end outside Himself. God, therefore, knows only Himself. St. Thomas and others, e.g., Brentano, have tried to interpret Aristotle in such a way as not to exclude knowledge of the world and the exercise of Divine Providence, but, though St. Thomas is right as to the true view of God, it does not follow that this was the view of Aristotle."
It seems, then, more probable that Aristotle did deny that God knows anything outside Himself. For even though a few passages contain "traces," as Ross says, of another view, yet Aristotle does explicitly state that God thinks only on Himself and the reasons that Aristotle gives are such as to exclude the deduction St. Thomas wants to make. For Aristotle says:5 "It [is] out of place [for God] to think about some things." Therefore, for an a priori reason, as being unworthy of God, Aristotle excludes these things from the scope of divine knowledge. St. Thomas showed that Aristotle logically could have come to the true view, but it does not follow that Aristotle actually did so.
If, then, God knows nothing outside Himself, of course He does not foresee anything outside Himself.
407. Plotinus:6 "Then if the First thinks it will have something [added to it], then it will not be [solely] the First, but also the Second, and not the One, but also many other things, and all things, as many as it thinks. For even if it [thinks] only of itself, it will be more than one thing."
Comments: As the eminent Plotinian commentator, E. Bréhier, explains,7 Plotinus, in Enneads 5.6.2-6 presents ten arguments to prove that God does not think even of Himself. Especially, Plotinus says that if God thinks even of Himself, there will be multiplicity and distinction in God. But God is the One. Therefore, God does not know even Himself. Of course, it would be clear that He could not know or foresee anything outside Himself if He did not even know Himself.
408. Conclusions from the views of the pagan philosophers: We have seen that two of the best minds of antiquity-certainly, Aristotle is easily the greatest of pagan philosophers-found the problem of God's knowledge (not to mention foreknowledge) so difficult that Aristotle himself (at least probably) fell into the error of denying that God knows anything at all outside Himself; while Plotinus went so far into error as to deny that God knows anything at all, even Himself. Yet, all these conclusions were reached for reasons that seemed to them to be metaphysically necessary and inescapable.
We do not conclude from this object lesson that the human mind cannot reach truth by reasoning, but we ought to learn a sobering lesson: For if even such great minds erred so badly on the matter of divine knowledge, we should be warned against letting mere human reason stand against the transcendence of the divine intellect.
409. As we saw in chapter 13, very many Fathers teach that God does not reprobate before foreseeing demerits. But, if God does not reprobate before foreseeing demerits, it is evident that He foresees before making the decree of reprobation. Now the Fathers could not mean that God foreknows demerits by infallible decrees to permit individual sins, as the older Thomists hold, for that system of infallible decrees necessarily implies reprobation before foreseeing demerits, as these Thomists themselves say.8 But, the Fathers reject reprobation before foreseeing demerits. Hence, they also reject foreknowledge explained through the system of older Thomists decrees.
As a result, we can arrive at a helpful principle of interpretation: If any Father rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits, that same Father also holds that God can foresee at least sins without the use of infrustrable decrees as the means of knowing. We will briefly note below the Fathers for whom this is the case; the appropriate quotations and commentary can be found above in Chapter 13. (Of course, we do not suppose the Fathers would deny that divine causality is a prerequisite for the existence of beings and good things: but it is one thing to say that it is a prerequisite for the existence of beings-quite another thing to say that causality is the sole means of foreseeing everything).9
A. The Greek Fathers
410. St. Justin Martyr: We have already seen10 that St. Justin rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
411. Athenagoras:11 "But since we know that God is present day and night to those things which we think and speak, and since we are convinced that since He is all light, He sees the things that are in our hearts . . . it is not likely that we will willingly sin, under these conditions. . . ."
Comments: Athenagoras, as the context shows, is trying to prove that Christians do not live wickedly but well, since they know that God is always present and sees all, even the secrets of their hearts. He does not speak explicitly about foreknowledge. But he gives the reason why God can know even the secrets of hearts: the fact that He is present, and "since He is all light," He can see all things. So it at least seems that, according to Athenagoras, the reason why God sees the secrets of hearts is not that he always moves hearts infrustrably, but rather, because He is "all light" and is always present. He at least seems to attribute the power of seeing to the divine intellect rather than to the causality of His will.
412. St. Theophilus of Antioch:12 ". . . it pertains to the most high and omnipotent and true God not only to be everywhere, but also to see all things, and to hear all . . ."
Comments: St. Theophilus does not speak explicitly about foreknowledge. However he at least seems to suppose that God can know all things, even the secrets of hearts, because He is present everywhere. If He knew because He caused all things, St. Theophilus would speak in a different way. Especially the words, "see all things . . . hear all . . ." are in themselves more apt to suggest that God knows through the transcendent intellect rather than through causality.
413. St. Irenaus: We have already seen13 that St. Irenaus rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
414. Clement of Alexandria:14 "For God knows all things, not only the things that exist, but also the things that will be, and how each one will be; and foreseeing individual movements, 'He surveys all things and hears all things,' seeing the soul bare within; and through eternity He has the thought of each thing individually. And what is true of theatres and of the parts of each object in looking in, around, and at all together, is true also of God [i.e., of God's vision]. For in one look He sees all things together and each thing individually. . . ."
Comments: It is difficult to be sure of precisely all the implications of the theatre comparison. Clement seems to suppose that God sees all things at once because He is eternal, for he says that "through eternity He has the thought of each thing" and that "in one look He sees all things." But in the explanation of foreknowledge by eternity, there is no need of infrustrable decrees, as we shall see later.15
We have already seen16 that Clement rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
415. Origen:17 ". . . a thing will be not for the reason that God knows it will be; but because it is going to be, it is known by God before it happens."
Comments: Some theologians accuse Origen of teaching that God is passive in His knowledge. But Origen does not teach this. As St. Thomas himself explains:18 "Origen spoke having in mind the nature of knowledge [in itself] to which the characteristic of causality does not belong, unless the will be added. . . . But as to the fact that He says that God foresees some things for the reason that they are going to be: this is to be understood in respect to causality of consequence, not in respect to causality of [that produces] being. For if any things are going to be, it follows that God foreknows them: but yet the future things are not the cause of God's knowing."
It is especially clear that Origen holds that reprobation does not come before prevision of demerits, if we consider the context of his words. He was answering opponents who tried to prove from the words of St. Paul that free will contributes nothing to deciding our salvation so that God would be unjust and even the cause of sins if He reprobates anyone. Origen wants to show that free will really is decisive in determining whether one will or will not be reprobated. Hence he says:19 "So, in this way, neither does the cause of our salvation or ruin lie in the foreknowledge of God, nor does justification depend only on the call, nor is glorification totally removed from our control." Therefore, since he teaches that a man can "distinguish himself" in regard to reprobation, he makes clear, according to our principle of interpretation, that he holds that God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
416. Eusebius of Caesarea:20 "If it is necessary to speak, we will say that foreknowledge is not the cause of the things that happen (for God does not lay hold of the one who is foreseen as sinning when he does sin) but [we will say] a thing that is more unexpected but true: that the future thing is the cause of the foreknowledge of itself being such [as it is].
Comments: Eusebius says the same as Origen, and uses very similar words. Cf. the comments on Origen, above.
417. St. Cyril of Jerusalem:21 "Just as those who are about to make a military campaign scrutinize the ages and bodies of the soldiers, so also the Lord, enlisting souls, considers their free choices; and if He finds a hidden hypocrisy, He rejects the man as unfit for the true service; but if He finds [him] worthy, He readily gives him grace."
Comments: At first sight it might seem, especially in the first passage cited above, that St. Cyril teaches that God can foresee even positive things, beings, without decrees, as if man were able to accomplish positive goods of his own power. But this does not necessarily follow: he only wanted to teach that reprobation is in some way conditioned by human conditions. He did not investigate precisely the nature of the condition.22
We have already seen23 that St. Cyril rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
418. St. Gregory of Nazianzus: We have already seen 24 that St. Gregory rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
419. St. Gregory of Nyssa:25 "It is likely that He who knows the future as well as the past, prevents the progress of the life of the infant to full maturity, lest the evil which He foresees by His power of prevision26 be accomplished by the one who would have lived in that way. . . . We conjecture this about the death of newborn infants, that He who does all things reasonably, in His love of men,27 takes away the opportunity for evil, not giving to the [human] will the opportunity, that is known by His power of prevision. . . ."
Comments: In the citation given above, St. Gregory clearly teaches that God knows the futuribles, and he says that God knows these "by His power of prevision." He does not, then, give any reason to suppose that He thinks God knows these by way of decrees. Rather, he implies the contrary, for he teaches that God sends death early to some precisely so they will not live wickedly. But, if whether and when and what sins a person would commit were completely determined by infrustrable decrees, so that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for men to do otherwise,28 then there would be no need to send early death to prevent a man from sinning: all things would be controlled by the decrees.
We have already seen29 that St. Gregory rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
420. St. Epiphanius:30 "For we do not do these things because Scripture predicted it; but Scripture predicted it because we were going to do them, on account of the antecedent knowledge of God. . . ."
Comment: The words of St. Epiphanius seem to have the same meaning as the words of Origen, cited above. See the comments on Origen.31
421. St. John Chrysostom:32 "So His prediction [that scandals would come] did not bring scandals. Banish the thought! Neither did they happen for the reason that He foretold them; but He predicted them for the reason that they were definitely going to happen. . . ."
Comments: In the passage cited above, St. John teaches the same as Origen. See the comments on Origen.33 We have already seen34 that St. John rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.35
422. St. Cyril of Alexandria: We have already seen 36 that St. Cyril rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
423. Theodoret:37 "'Those whom He predestined, them also He called. . . .' Those whose purpose [Greek prothesis: which Theodoret interprets to mean men's dispositions] He foreknew, these He predestined from the beginning. . . . But let no one say that foreknowledge is the cause of these things. For foreknowledge did not make them such, but God, as God, foresaw far in advance what would be."
Comments: We have already seen38 that Theodoret rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees. But we note also that Theodoret says: "God, as God, foresaw far in advance. . . ." So he seems to attribute foreknowledge to God's transcendence. And since, as we have just seen, he attributes foreknowledge not to divine causality but to the divine intellect, we gather that he attributes foreknowledge to the transcendent divine intellect.
424. St. John Damascene:39 "It is necessary to know that God foreknows all things, but does not predefine all things. For He foreknows the things that are in our power, but does not predefine40 them. For He does not will that evil be done, nor does He compel virtue. So predefinition is the work of the divine foreseeing command. He predefines the things that are in our power according to His foreknowledge." And again:41 "On the one hand, the power of prevision of the powerful God does not have its cause from us, but, on the other hand, the fact that He foreknows what we are going to do is from us. For if we were not going to do [this thing] neither would He foreknow [it] nor would it be going to be. And the foreknowledge of God is true and inviolable, but it is not at all the cause of the future coming to be; but because we are going to do this or that, He foreknows."
Comments: In the first passage cited above, as we have already shown from a fuller citation,42 St. John teaches that God does not reprobate before foreseeing demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees. In the second passage cited above he says the same as Origen.43
B. The Latin Fathers, Doctors and Theologians before St. Thomas
425. St. Cyprian:44 ". . . the Lord commanded us to pray secretly . . . so that we might know that God is present everywhere, that He hears and sees all, and that, by the fulness of His majesty, he penetrates even into hidden and secret things. . . ."
Comments: St. Cyprian does not speak explicitly about foreknowledge, but he does explain God's knowledge of the secrets of hearts by God's presence. In speaking of knowledge through causality, there is no need to speak of presence. Further, he says that God penetrates all "by the fulness of His majesty." Probably, therefore, he has in mind the transcendence of the divine intellect. At least, he gives no reason at all to suppose he thinks God cannot known anything at all except through infrustrable decrees.
426. St. Hilary: We have already seen45 that St. Hilary rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
427. St. Ambrose: We have already seen 46 that St. Ambrose rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
428. St. Jerome:
1)47 "A thing is not going to be for the reason that God knows it is going to be; but because it is going to be, God knows it, since He foresees the future."
2)48 "Not that the foreknowledge of God brought the cause of the devastation, but that the future devastation was known in advance to the majesty of God."
3)49 "For Adam did not sin because God knew it would be so; but God, as God, foresaw that which he [Adam] was going to do by his own will."
Comments: In the first three citations above, St. Jerome, in various ways, repeats the opinion of Origen: he does this even though he himself is the great opponent of Origen in general! In fact, the first citation uses almost the very words of Origen. The comments, then, are the same as those given on Origen, above.50 We must add that St. Jerome does not attribute foreknowledge to the will of God, for he says that these things do not happen because God foreknew. So he attributes foreknowledge to the divine intellect, and to the transcendent intellect, for he says that "God, as God, foresaw" and that the devastation "was known in advance to the majesty of God."
We have already seen 51 that St. Jerome rejects reprobation before foreseen demerits. Therefore, he holds that God can foresee without infrustrable decrees.
429. St. Augustine:
1)52 ". . . there is one wisdom, in which are certain immense and infinite treasures of intelligible things, among which are the invisible and unchangeable reasons [principles] for things . . . that were made through it [wisdom]. For God did not make anything without knowing it-a statement that is true of any human artisan. Now if He made all things knowingly, He surely made the things that He knew. From this there comes to mind a certain wonderful but yet true thing: that this world could not be made known to us unless it existed: but unless it were known to God, it could not exist."
2)53 "Now it is not because they are, that He knows all His creatures, both spiritual and corporal; but they are because He knows them. For He did not fail to know what He was going to create. Therefore, because He knew, He created; He did not know because He created. Nor did He know the things created otherwise than He knew the things to be created: for nothing was added to His wisdom from them. . . ."
3)54 ". . . these gifts of God, [to begin to believe, to persevere, etc.], I say are not foreseen by God if the predestination we defend does not exist; but they are foreseen; this, then, is the predestination we are defending."
4)55 ". . . for the sake of brevity, we say only this to those [who follow the opinion of Porphyry] . . . : that Christ willed to appear to men at the time when and in the place in which He knew there would be those who were going to believe in Him. For at the times and in the places in which His Gospel was not preached, He foreknew that all would be such [in attitude] towards His preaching, as, not indeed all, but many were during His bodily presence. . . . And so those to whom it [the salvation of the Gospel] was not announced at all, were foreseen as not going to believe. . . . For what is more true than that Christ foreknew who would believe in Him and when and in what places? But whether, when Christ was preached to them, they would be going to have faith of themselves, or by God's gift, that is, whether God merely foreknew them, or also predestined them, I did not think it necessary to seek and discuss at that time. So that which I said: 'Christ willed to appear to men at the time when and in the place in which He knew there would be those who were going to believe in Him;'-this could have been stated also in the following way: 'Christ willed to appear to men at the time when and in the place in which He knew there would be those who had been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.'"
5)56 ". . . there can be no [predestination] without foreknowledge: but there can be foreknowledge without predestination. For in His predestination, God foreknew the things that He Himself was going to do. . . . But He is able to foresee even the things that He does not do; such as all sins. . . ."
6)57 ". . . God would have willed to keep the first man in that salvation in which he was made . . . if He had foreseen that he would have a perpetual will of remaining as he was made, without sin."
7)58 "Let us not dare to say: How does God know? Lest perhaps you expect of me, brothers, that I explain to you how God knows. I say only this: He does not know like a man, He does not know like an angel. And how He does know, I do not dare to say, since I am unable to know. I know one thing, however: that even before all the birds of the sky existed, God knew what He was going to create. . . . So great, then, is the knowledge of God, that they were with Him in some inexpressible way before they were created."
8)59 "Just as you, by your memory, do not force the things that are past to have happened: So God by His foreknowledge does not force the things that are to be done."
9)60 "For what is foreknowledge, except the knowledge of the future? But what is future to God, who walks above all times? For if the knowledge of God includes these things, they are not future to Him, but present; and so it can be called not foreknowledge, but only knowledge."
10)61 ". . . He is that which He has. And so He does not have knowledge in such a way that the knowledge by which He knows is one thing, and His being is another thing; but both are one."
430. Comments on the texts of St. Augustine: The opinion of St. Augustine is of great importance in this question not only because of his general eminence, but because, as we have seen, he not only taught, but is the very father of the theory of the massa damnata, of negative reprobation before prevision of demerits.
Now if one holds that God does not or cannot foresee in any way except through infrustrable decrees, he necessarily must hold also that God reprobates before foreseeing demerits, as we have already seen.62 But the converse is not true: For if one holds that God reprobates before foreseeing demerits, he could still hold that God can foresee by other means than through decrees. As we shall soon see, St. Augustine does hold this.
St. Augustine does hold that God foresees by means other than decrees, even though he had, in his very hands as it were, the premises out of which the older Thomists regularly draw the conclusion that foreknowledge is by way of decrees. For example, in the first citation above, St. Augustine compares God to an artisan who knows what he is going to make, and he adds: "unless it were known to God, it could not exist." In the same text he speaks of the reasons or principles of things in the divine mind. Again, St. Augustine explicitly rejects and contradicts Origen's famous dictum about foreknowledge (in the second passage above), probably because he wants to deny that God can be passive in His knowledge: "nothing was added to His wisdom from them." Nevertheless, as we shall soon see, St. Augustine does not follow the older Thomists' pattern, by drawing from such statements the deduction that God cannot foresee in any way other than by decrees.
Likewise, in text 3, St. Augustine seems to say that God would not foresee a man's perseverance if He had not predestined that man. But all he really means to say by these words is this: That which will not exist cannot be foreseen; and perseverance would not exist without predestination. Yet, as we shall soon see (from texts 5 and following) it does not follow from these words that God cannot foresee in any other way than by causing. Similarly, in text 4, he adds an explanation to a statement he had previously written, commenting that faith could not be foreseen unless God had decreed to give faith. But he does not infer that God can foresee only by the decree to give faith.
431. In text 5, he explicitly teaches that God can foresee without causing. For he says: "He is able to foresee even the things that He does not do; such as all sins. . . ." We notice that he not only says that God can foresee sins, which He does not cause, but he says: "such as all sins." So there is an implication that God can know even other things besides sins, which He does not make, without the use of decrees as the means of knowing (though, of course, not without the decree needed for the existence of positive things that are to be foreseen). What these other things are, St. Augustine does not say. But we especially-when we recall what we have already seen63 of St. Augustine's second theory on predestination-can explain that God is able to know both the evil specification in resistance, and the absence of resistance in man, even though God is the cause of neither of these.
432. Could we or should we suspect that perhaps St. Augustine really holds that God can foresee positive goods only by infrustrable decrees, and evils by infallible permissions, as the older Thomists hold? By no means. As we shall see, St. Augustine excludes this solution in several of the following texts. For, in text 6, St. Augustine speaks of God's foreknowledge of Adam's perseverance or lack thereof before Adam's fall. If St. Augustine were speaking of men after the fall, and following the theory of the massa damnata, he could have said that God deserts men because of original sin, before foreseeing their personal demerits, so that they infallibly fall-and that by such a permission, God can foresee the outcome, their sins. But such a train of thought does not apply to Adam before the fall. Instead, as we have seen above64 St. Augustine holds that God had given to Adam before the fall the help by which Adam could have actually persevered, if he had wanted to. Therefore, it was entirely in Adam's power to persevere or not to persevere, nor was anything additional required from God, beyond what God had already given to Adam. Nevertheless, speaking of Adam in such a situation, St. Augustine says in text 6 that God did not keep Adam in grace precisely because He could and did foresee that Adam would first fall of his own accord: "God would have willed to keep the first man in that salvation . . . if He had foreseen that he would have had a perpetual will of remaining as he was made, without sin." So it is obvious that St. Augustine believed that God actually foresaw the fall of Adam entirely without any infallible permission to fall, since God had already given Adam, in advance, all that was needed to persevere without a fall, so that the decision was entirely under Adam's control.
433. Text 7 confirms the fact that St. Augustine does not hold that God can foresee only through infrustrable decrees. For there, St. Augustine flatly admits that he does not know at all how God foresees: "How He does know, I do not dare to say, since I am unable to know." Furthermore, we must notice that in this text 7, St. Augustine is talking not about future free acts, but about future birds! Therefore, if he admits that he does not know even how God can foresee futures that are not free, all the more is he ignorant of how God foresees future free acts. And yet, in that same passage, St. Augustine had said that "God knew what He was going to create"-the very type of expression from which the older Thomists would deduce that God knows all by decrees. St. Augustine, in spite of that, simply confesses he cannot explain, and says that God knows "in some inexpressible way." We can gather, however, that this way, which he does not try to explain, must be through the divine intellect, since, as we saw in other texts above, St. Augustine does imply that God can foresee without the use of decrees of the will as means. Because he does not know how the divine intellect does it, he says he cannot explain: it is the divine transcendence that he cannot explain. He does, however, in text 8, make a comparison, saying that God's foreknowledge no more compels future free acts than the memory of man forces things that have happened. So the knowledge of God, as such, seems to St. Augustine to be independent of the line of causality, except that, as we gather from text 3, he knows well that no positive thing would exist without divine causality: and if it would not exist, it could not be foreknown. But it is one thing to say that causality is a prerequisite for foreknowledge inasmuch as things that will not exist cannot be foreknown-quite a different thing to say that causality is the means, even the only means, of foreknowing.
434. From text 9 we see that St. Augustine knows that all things are present to God's eternity. However, he did not add, as Boethius did later, that eternity is necessary to make the free futures knowable, since (according to Boethius) future free contingents do not have definite determined truth before they take place in the present. What St. Augustine would say about such a comment we cannot guess. He merely admits that God's knowledge is eternal. In text 10, he again shows that he realizes well that there is mystery in God's knowledge: God is His knowledge.
435. So St. Augustine is well within the line of tradition inasmuch as he clearly shows he holds that God can foreknow by His intellect even without the use of decrees of the will as means of knowing. He makes this clear in two ways, namely: in the texts in which he speaks of knowledge that is not by way of decrees, and in his explicit confession that he does not know how God can know even unfree futures. And he holds this position even though-often in the very texts in which he speaks of knowledge without the use of decrees as a medium-he uses some expressions which, when they occur in St. Thomas, lead the older Thomists to conclude to a theory of foreknowledge by means of decrees. We have, then, an excellent object lesson: Such expressions of themselves do not at all prove the theory of decrees.
436. But St. Augustine makes an advance over the previous witnesses of tradition when he says: "He is able to know even the things that He does not do, such as all sins." For these words seem to imply a distinction between positive goods, which require divine causality for existence as a prerequisite to foreknowledge, and non-beings, which do not, as such, need divine causality.
437. Further, we can add this: If, as we tried to show above,65 it is true that St. Augustine has a second theory on reprobation, placing it after foreseen demerits, then, following our principle of interpretation given above, we can deduce from that second theory the conclusion that St. Augustine held that God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
438. St. Prosper:66 "And because they were foreseen as going to fall, they were not predestined."
Comments: As one would expect, St. Prosper agrees with his master, St. Augustine, on foreknowledge. In the citation given above, he flatly teaches that some were not predestined "because they were foreseen as going to fall." From this we reach the same conclusion as we did from the texts of the second theory of St. Augustine, namely, that St. Prosper holds that God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
439. St. Cassian:67 "When God sees in us a certain beginning of good will, He at once illumines it [our will] and strengthens and arouses it to salvation, granting the increase to that which either He Himself planted, or which He saw has emerged by our effort."
Comments: It is admitted that St. Cassian taught Semipelagianism; and the text above provides an example of it. The orthodox Fathers rightly objected against this error. However, they never did make an objection against the other teaching implied in the passage cited, namely, that God can know in us even the things He has not caused. For this is merely the teaching found in the other Fathers as well: God can know even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
1) "Therefore, in regard to contingents of this kind [free future contingents] if, in [regard to one of two alternatives referring to] the future, one is always true, and the other always false, if one is determinately true, and the other determinately false, and if the realities are in accord with the words [of these future propositions], [then] it is necessary that all things be or not be; and whatever happens, happens by necessity; . . . neither will there be free will, nor any chance in things, for necessity rules in all."
2)69 "Neither do I approve that reasoning by which some [Origen and his followers] think they can dissolve the knot of this question. For they say that a thing is not going to happen because Providence foresees it will happen, but rather, on the contrary, that since the thing is going to happen, it cannot escape divine Providence. . . . But let us try to show this: that in whatever way the order of causes be, the outcome of the foreseen things is necessary, even if foreknowledge does not seem to impose the necessity of happening on future things. For if any one sits, the opinion that holds that he is sitting is necessarily true: and again, conversely, if the opinion be true of anyone that holds he is sitting, it is necessary that he is sitting. So in both there is necessity: in the one, the necessity of sitting, but in the other, the necessity of truth. Yet, the man does not sit for the reason that the opinion is true, but rather, this opinion is true since the man is already sitting. So although the cause of the truth comes from the other direction, yet necessity is common to both. We should reason similarly about Providence and future things. For even if they are foreseen because they are going to be and do not happen because they are foreseen; nevertheless it is necessary that future things be foreseen by God, and that foreseen things happen. This, alone, is enough to destroy free will. But how preposterous it is to say that the outcome of temporal things is the cause of eternal foreknowledge."
3)70 "For there are two [kinds of] necessities: one is simple [necessity] for example, it is necessary that all men are mortal; the other a [necessity] of condition [a conditional necessity], for example, if you know that someone is walking, it is necessary that he is walking. For what anyone knows, that cannot be other than it is known to be. But this conditional necessity by no means entails that simple necessity. For it is not the nature [of things] that produces this [conditional] necessity, but the addition of the condition. For no necessity forces a man to walk who is walking voluntarily, even though when he is walking, it is necessarily true that he is walking. Therefore in the same way, if Providence sees anything as present, it is necessarily true that it is so [as Providence sees it], even though by nature it is not necessary that it be so [i.e., as Providence sees it]. But God sees those future things that come from free will as present. These things, then, in relation to the divine view, become necessary by the condition of divine knowledge [i.e., if God knows them as present, they must be true]: but considered in themselves, they do not lose the absolute liberty of their nature."
4)71 "Eternity, then, is the perfect possession, all at once, of interminable life."
5)72 "Similarly, human reason does not comprehend that the divine intelligence looks on future things differently than it [human reason] does."
441. Comments on Boethius: The thought of Boethius is of special importance because of the influence it exercised on later theologians. In it we find many older teachings repeated but also some new elements.
In text 1, he holds that future contingents as future do not contain definite or determined truth before they happen. Therefore, as future, they are completely unknowable even to God. He takes this view from Aristotle, not from revelation.
In text 2, he rejects the view of Origen who tried to explain how a man can be free in spite of God's foreknowledge. Boethius says that Origen's view would make the creatures the cause of divine knowledge. Boethius is right in excluding passivity from God. However, as we saw above in the comments on Origen himself, Origen actually did not teach that God is passive in His knowledge. Boethius also says that even if the opinion of Origen were true, there would still be a certain necessity.
In text 3, he distinguishes between simple or absolute necessity, which comes from the nature of things, and hypothetical or conditional necessity by which if someone really knows that another is walking at the same time, it is necessarily true that the other is walking even though he walks freely. Boethius says that only this second necessity, conditional necessity, is present when God foresees. For God sees all things, even future things, as present and not as future. For in the present, when a man walks freely (as far as absolute necessity is concerned) it is still necessarily true (as far as conditional necessity is concerned) that he is walking while he is walking, even though before he walked, while his walking was still in the future, the truth about his walking was not yet definite or determined (text 1). God can see all things as present because the life of God is eternal, that is, it is the perfect possession, all at once, of endless life (text 4). We human beings find it hard to conceive this because we think about divine foreknowledge in a human way. But, just as our human senses cannot form a universal concept nor can they understand how our rational mind can do so, similarly, human reason cannot understand how the divine mind foreknows since it can think of the divine operation only in a human way (text 5).
442. We notice that two new elements have entered Christian speculations with Boethius: 1) The opinion that future free contingents, as long as they remain in the future, contain no determined or definite truth; 2) The opinion that precisely because of this, we must conclude that even God could not foresee future contingents without imposing necessity on them, if He did not know them as present to His eternity rather than as future. For in the present, even free acts are necessarily true while they are going on by conditional, not absolute, necessity.
It is important to note that these two elements come not from revelation but from philosophy. The first is taken from Aristotle; the second is an inference drawn by Boethius himself, to save liberty, given the fact the first element is true. If the first were not true, it would not be necessary to have recourse to eternity to explain the reconciliation of foreknowledge and human freedom.
443. Most of all we need to notice that infrustrable decrees have no place in the opinion of Boethius. For he merely supposes-without trying to explain the fact at all-that God can know whatever is present to him. In this view he seems to assume, as do all previous witnesses of tradition, that God is capable, in his divine intellect, of knowing everything precisely because His intellect is transcendent. If Boethius had had in mind infrustrable decrees, he could have said that precisely in virtue of the transcendence of the divine will, even though future contingents are not yet determined in themselves while they are future, yet they can be known by God by infrustrable decrees. For by such decrees He intends to move the wills of men so that they freely but infallibly will do the things He has decided on. Therefore, if Boethius had had these decrees in mind, he would not have needed to have recourse to eternity.73 So we gather that Boethius did not have these decrees in mind, not only because he never mentions them, but-and much more-because if he had based his explanation on them, he would not have found it necessary to have recourse to eternity. The older Thomists would like to say that Boethius had to have recourse to eternity even so, in order that the knowledge of God might be intuitive. But Boethius does not say he has recourse to eternity to make God's knowledge intuitive. He, as his reasoning itself shows, has recourse to eternity precisely because he knows no other way to reconcile foreknowledge and freedom. If he had thought of and held a system in which all would be ruled by infrustrable decrees, eternity would not have been necessary.
The earlier witnesses of tradition probably knew that nothing is future to God. St. Augustine, as we have seen, certainly knew this. But none of them seems to have drawn from this point the conclusions that Boethius drew.
444. St. Gregory the Great:74 "And because He sees those things that are future to us, which, however, are always present to Him, He is said to be foreseeing, although He really does not see as future what He sees as present. For whatever things are, are not seen in His eternity because they are, but they are because they are seen [in His eternity]."
Comments: It is well known that St. Gregory follows St. Augustine faithfully. In this text he simply repeats what we have seen in texts 2 and 9 of St. Augustine. Hence, they are to be interpreted in the same way as those texts of St. Augustine. We can presume that St. Gregory also holds the other teaching we saw in St. Augustine. Therefore, it seems that St. Gregory holds, with St. Augustine, that God can foresee without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
445. Rhabanus Maurus:
1)75 "There is a predestination which cannot be without foreknowledge; but there can be foreknowledge without predestination: for in predestination He foreknew the things that He himself was going to do, whence it is said: 'He made the things that are going to be.' But He is able to foresee even the things that He does not do: such as all sins. . . ."
2)76 "Those whom He foreknew would be to Him, He chose to receive the promised rewards . . . nor did He predestine anyone except those whom He foreknew would believe and follow His call whom He also calls elect. . . . In this way, neither does the cause of our salvation or of ruin lie in the foreknowledge of God. . . . For . . . a thing will be, not for the reason that God knows it will be; but because it is going to be, it is known by God before it happens."
Comments: Rhabanus Maurus is noted for transmitting the teaching of previous tradition. The first citation is almost word for word from text 5 of St. Augustine.77 So in it he must hold, with St. Augustine, that God can foresee at least sins in some other way than by decrees as means of knowing. In the first part of the second citation, he clearly teaches the same as does the second theory of St. Augustine78 and St. Prosper's interpretation of St. Augustine79 (except that Rhabanus speaks of positive and not only negative conditions). Therefore, since he holds that God does not reprobate before foreseeing demerits, it is clear, according to our principle of interpretation, that he believes that God can foresee without the use of decrees as means of knowing. In the last part of the second citation, Rhabanus merely repeats the words of Origen, even though St. Augustine, in text 2,80 rejected that view of Origen. Yet this is not too strange, for the words of Origen can be understood so as not to imply passivity in God, as we have seen from the comment of St. Thomas.81 If we take the words of Origen in the sense in which St. Thomas explains them, they not only do not contradict the views of St. Augustine on foreknowledge, but instead really express the same teaching as St. Augustine himself gave in many of the texts we cited from him, especially in texts 5, 6 and 7.
446. St. Peter Damian:82 "Clearly, he who sits in a theatre does not see all things at the same time; for when he looks ahead of himself, he does not see what is behind him. But he who sits not in the theatre but far above it takes in, in one gaze, the whole compass of the interior of the theatre, on all sides. So almighty God, because He is incomparably above all things that go on [below] sees all things at once presented to His gaze in a present manner."
Comments: St. Peter seems to give the same explanation of foreknowledge as does Boethius, since He says that God foresees all things because all things are present at once to Him. We have already seen that Boethius excludes foreknowledge through decrees. Therefore it is at least probable that St. Peter also holds that God can foresee without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
447. St. Anselm:
1)83 ". . . and I, in going over it often, was not able to find that I had said anything in it that did not harmonize with the writings of the Catholic Fathers, and especially, blessed Augustine."
2)84 "It remains now for us to consider . . . whether His knowledge is from things, or whether things have being from His knowledge. For, if God has knowledge from things, it follows that they are prior to His knowledge, and so are not from God. . . . But if whatever things exist take their being from the knowledge of God, God is the maker and author of evil works, and so He is not just in punishing the wicked. . . . However this question can be easily solved, if we first note that good . . . is really some being; but that evil . . . lacks all existence."
3)85 ". . . when I say that if God foresees something it is necessary that it be going to happen, it is the same as if I should say: If it will be, it will be necessarily. But this [kind of] necessity does not compel, nor does it prohibit, anything from being or not being. For it is said that it necessarily is for the reason that it is supposed that the thing is; . . . not that [this kind of] necessity compels or prohibits a thing to be or not to be. For when I say: If it will be, it will be necessarily, in this statement, the necessity follows on the fact that the thing is, and does not precede [the fact that the thing is]. . . . For this necessity means nothing other than that that which will be, cannot simultaneously not be. . . . A piece of wood is not always necessarily white, because at one time, before it became white, it was able not to become white, and after it is white, it can become not white. But a white piece of wood is always necessarily white; because neither before it [became white] nor after it became white, could it happen that it would be simultaneously white and not white."
4)86 "Thus without any contradiction, we say that some thing is changeable in time before it is [before it becomes what it is], which remains unchangeably in eternity-not unchangeably before it is, or after it is; but constantly, since nothing is there [in eternity] according to time. For this very thing is there eternally because temporally it is something, and before it is, it is capable of not being. . . . I think it is sufficiently clear . . . from these things, that the foreknowledge of God and free will are not contradictory. The force of eternity brings this about, which encloses all times and the things that are in all times."
448. Comments on St. Anselm: In text 1, St. Anselm shows that he wants to follow tradition most faithfully, and especially, St. Augustine. Therefore, from these words there arises the presumption that St. Anselm will hold the same view as tradition, including St. Augustine, holds namely, that God can foresee without the use of decrees as means of knowing. The presumption passes into certitude from the following texts. For in text 2, St. Anselm proposes the question: Is the knowledge of God from things, or are things from His knowledge? He at once rejects any notion of passivity in God, but still holds that not all things are caused by God's knowledge. For evil is not being, it is the absence of being, and so does not, as such, require divine causality. Thus in these words he teaches the same as St. Augustine states in text 5, namely: "He is able to foresee even the things that He does not do; such as all sins. . . ." As we saw above, St. Augustine does not, in these words, present the theory of foreknowledge by infrustrable decrees and infallible permissions! Therefore St. Anselm, who follows St. Augustine, is to be presumed to mean the same in text 2.
In text 3, he draws a distinction between simple necessity and necessity of condition or supposition. This distinction comes from text 3 of Boethius (cf. the comments on Boethius). Similarly in text 4, he gives Boethius' explanation that God can foresee without destroying liberty because all things are present to God by eternity. St. Anselm explicitly says that eternity explains the possibility of the simultaneous existence of free will and foreknowledge: "The force of eternity brings this about." Now as we saw in the comments on Boethius, such a theory leaves no room for the view that foreknowledge is possible only by infrustrable decrees.
Therefore it is clear that St. Anselm does faithfully follow tradition especially, St. Augustine and Boethius, and that he holds that God can foresee without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
449. Peter Abelard:
1)87 "Therefore, just as God cannot be ignorant of what He foreordains about the future, so neither can He not foresee the outcome."
2)88 "Now that we have considered [God's] power and its effects, let us discuss a bit about [His] wisdom. So in wisdom there is included providence or, what is the same thing, foreknowledge and predestination. For by His wisdom He foresees and foreknows all things before they happen or are. This providence can in no way be deceived. For when this thing has been foreseen, it cannot not happen. Hence, some, misunderstanding [this], have thought that all things happen necessarily. They are refuted both by reason and by the authority of philosophers. . . . For providence imposes no necessity on the outcomes of things, but things are foreseen to be in relation to the alternatives in the [same] way in which they are; [in relation to the alternatives]. . . . Since He, then, is such that no change of time hinders Him; since there is nothing between His eternity and the last movement of time; since, I say, this is the case, whatever has been or is or will be, is completely present to him. Notice then that providence or foreknowledge and the divine arrangement deal with both good and evil things, but predestination only with good things."
3)89 "Since, then, He foresaw that this man, who happens to be going to commit adultery, is going to commit adultery, it is necessary that he commit adultery. But if it is necessary that he commit adultery, this is inevitable; it is no longer in his power or free will to avoid this sin. . . . We, however, [to solve this objection] grant that he who is going to commit adultery is necessarily going to commit adultery, since God has foreseen it; but not for that reason is it proper to say simply that he will necessarily commit adultery. For this modal [necessity] does not entail that simple [necessity] with determination. . . ."
Comments: Although Abelard fell into some theological errors in other matters, for which he was rightly criticized by theologians, yet in this matter he follows the view of tradition, and was not criticized. In text 1, he shows that God can foresee because He foreordains. However, it does not follow from this that he thinks God cannot foresee in any way other than by decrees, as we learn from the following texts (and we already knew that other writers had made similar statements without meaning to restrict the means of foreknowledge to decrees). In text 2, Abelard opens by saying: "Now that we have considered God's power and its effects, let us discuss a bit about His wisdom." In the previous chapter he had spoken about the power and the will of God. Thus he makes clear that in this chapter he turns to the divine intellect, the wisdom of the divine intellect. He continues: "So in wisdom there is included providence or what is the same thing, foreknowledge and predestination. For by His wisdom He foresees and foreknows all things. . . ." Hence we see that he attributes foreknowledge not precisely to the divine will and power, but to wisdom or to the divine intellect. He explains foreknowledge, as does Boethius, by eternity, for he says: "Whatever has been or is or will be, is completely present to Him." He makes the same distinction as St. Augustine between foreknowledge of good and evil saying: ". . . providence or foreknowledge and the divine arrangement deal with both good and evil things, but predestination only with good things." The reason is that in evil deeds there is no need for the exercise of divine power so that negatives or non-beings may occur. In text 3 he presents the same distinction of two kinds of necessity that we saw above in Boethius, that is, in the foreknowledge of sin, sin is necessary in modal necessity, i.e., by conditional necessity (as Boethius said) or by the necessity that follows on the fact that the thing is (as St. Anselm expressed it).
Therefore, Abelard agrees with the other witnesses of tradition in teaching that God can foreknow without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
450. Hugh of St. Victor:90 "Sometimes [the word] knowledge is understood of good pleasure [i.e., as knowledge coupled with God's will of good pleasure], and then it is the cause of future things, but only of good things: St. Augustine, [in the passage cited above], took it in this sense. But sometimes it means mere knowledge or cognition, and then it is not the cause of future things, and it has the same relation to both good and bad things; and Origen took it in this sense, and in this way, foreknowledge is not the cause of future things, nor are future things [the cause] of foreknowledge, unless it be said that [they are] the cause without which there would not be [foreknowledge]."
Comments: Hugh had raised the question of whether St. Augustine and Origen contradict each other on foreknowledge. He replies by distinguishing between a foreknowledge that is the cause of things, and foreknowledge that is mere knowledge without causality. But he also notes, with St. Augustine (text 5), that God "is able to foresee even the things that He does not do, such as all sins. . . ." In speaking of mere knowledge, without causality, he says that future things are not the cause of God's foreknowledge but he adds that it is proper to say that before anything can be foreseen, it must be, so that, in this sense, the future thing is the "cause without which there would not be [foreknowledge]."
Therefore, since Hugh teaches the existence of non-causal knowledge in the same sense as St. Augustine, he certainly holds also, with St. Augustine, that God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
451. Richard of St. Victor:91 "But, although His foreknowledge is wonderful in both, yet it appears more wonderful in [foreseeing] evil things than good things. For we know that the things that are evil . . . happen merely by His permission, never by His working. Think also, if you can, how marvellous it is that He was able to foresee even those things which He left to another's will, and at that, to a will that did not yet exist, and which He was never going to make [evil]. For He never makes a will evil, although He permits it. Certainly, we marvel less that He is able to foresee from eternity the things that He Himself was going to produce. . . ."
Comments: Richard says that foreknowledge of evil is more marvellous than foreknowledge of good. The reason is evident: God makes all good things, even good will. So it is easy to see one way in which He can foresee good things. But He does not do evil things; He leaves them to another's will. Hence it is evident that Richard holds the same distinction that we have seen repeatedly in the tradition after St. Augustine. Now St. Augustine, as we have seen, certainly did not believe in foreknowledge of evil by way of decrees and infallible permissions. Therefore Richard, who follows him, did not either.
Furthermore, if the fall of a man were infallible as a result of divine permission, then, the foreknowedge of evil would be no more marvellous than the foreknowledge of good, for it could be easily foreseen through an infallible permission. But Richard says foreknowledge of evils is more marvellous, hence we see that he, in accord with all previous tradition, has no notion of such infallible permissions.
452. Peter Lombard:
1)92 "Here there arises a question that we cannot escape, namely, whether knowledge or foreknowledge is the cause of things; or whether things are the cause of the knowledge or foreknowledge of God. For the foreknowledge of God seems to be the cause of the things that lie under it and to impose on them the necessity of happening; for neither would any future things have been going to be if God had not foreseen them; nor can they not happen when God has foreseen them. . . . And so it seems that the knowledge or foreknowledge of God is the cause of the things that He knows. But if that is so, therefore He is the cause of all evils, for all evils are known and foreknown by God. But this [that God is the cause of evil] is far from the truth. . . . But neither are future things the cause of God's foreknowledge. For even though they would not have been going to be if they had not been foreseen by God; yet they are not foreseen because they are going to happen. For if this were the case, then something other and different from Him would be the cause of that which is eternal; and the knowledge of the Creator would depend on creatures. . . . Desiring, then, to remove this apparent contradiction, we say that future things are by no means the cause of the foreknowledge or knowledge of God; nor are they foreknown or known because they are going to be or have happened. In this way we explain the statement of Origen: 'Because it is going to be, it is known by God before it happens,' that is: that which is going to be, is known by God before it happens; and it is not known if it is not going to be; [but, we say this] in such a way that hereby no cause is designated except the cause without which there would not be [foreknowledge]. So also we say that the knowledge or foreknowledge of God is not the cause of the things that happen, except [that it is] such [that] without it they do not happen. [This is true] if by knowledge, we mean mere knowledge. But if in the term knowledge we include also [God's] will of good pleasure and arrangement, then it [His knowledge] is correctly said to be the cause of the things that God makes. For [the word] knowledge is understood in these two ways: as mere knowledge, or as knowledge together with [God's] will of good pleasure. Perhaps Augustine meant it in this way when he said: 'They are because He knew [them], that is, because it pleased Him the knower, and because knowingly He arranged [that they should be such].' And this interpretation is confirmed from the fact that in that passage Augustine is speaking only of good things, that is, of creatures and of those things that God makes, all of which He knows not only by [mere] knowledge, but also by will of good pleasure and arrangement. . . . But God knows and foreknows evil things before they happen: but [He does it] in mere knowledge, not with will of good pleasure."
2)93 "But they still press the question, saying: 'Either a thing can happen in a different way than God foresaw, or not. If not, then all things happen necessarily. But if [it can happen] in a different way, then the foreknowledge of God can be deceived or can change.' . . . In reply we say that such sayings as 'can happen in a different way than God foresaw' can be understood in more than one way. For example: 'That which God has foreseen, can fail to happen.' And: 'It is impossible that what God has foreseen fail to happen.' And: 'It is impossible that all things that happen be not foreknown.' And so on. For the two things can be understood together, so that there is an implied condition, or separately. For if you take the statement: 'It cannot happen in a different way than God foreknew' to mean: 'Both cannot simultaneously occur, namely, that God foreknows in one way and it happens in another way,' you understand correctly. But if you take them separately, so as to say that this cannot happen in a different way than it does and than the way in which God [actually] foresaw, [you understand] incorrectly. For this thing could have happened differently than it did, and yet, God would have foreseen the future in this way [in the way in which it actually would have happened]."
453. Comments on Peter Lombard: In text 1, Peter begins by proposing a dilemma: If things cause God's knowledge, God is passive. If His knowledge causes things, then everything is predetermined, and liberty perishes. He solves the difficulty by explaining the statement of Origen in the same way as St. Thomas does, and by means of several distinctions. First, he distinguishes between mere knowledge and causal knowledge. Following St. Augustine, he says that God has mere knowledge, i.e., knowledge without causality, of all things, both good and evil; but that God has causal knowledge or knowledge with will of good pleasure only of good things. Thus, speaking of good things, he says: "all of which He knows not only by [mere] knowledge, but also by will of good pleasure and arrangement." While he says of evils, that God knows them "in mere knowledge, not with will of good pleasure."
It is clear that he is proposing the same view as did St. Augustine (in his text 5). But, as we have seen, St. Augustine holds that God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing. Therefore the presumption is that Peter holds the same, since he follows St. Augustine.
In text 2, he distinguishes between two kinds of necessity. He at least seems to say the same as Boethius and St. Anselm, who spoke of the distinction between simple necessity and conditional necessity. However, Peter does not speak about eternity.
We conclude that he held the same view as St. Augustine and previous tradition, namely: God can foresee without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
454. Alain de Lille:94 ". . . it is impossible that what God has foreseen should not happen; not that God's providence imposes necessity on the outcome, but because this cannot happen, namely: that He foresee and it not happen: not that divine providence is a cause touching the outcome, but [it is] the cause accompanying the cause without which [it would] not [happen]. Hence this rule follows: It is necessary that what God has foreseen should happen, by consequent necessity, not [by necessity] of [the outcome] that follows. For that which is foreseen as going to happen, does not happen necessarily: but only this is necessary: that what has been foreseen will happen, so that there is a necessity of consequence, not [a necessity] of inability of the part [to be otherwise]. Just as this entire statement is necessary: that Socrates move if he runs. But yet it is not necessary that Socrates move or run."
Comments: Alain proposes the same distinction of kinds of necessity that we have already seen in Boethius, St. Anselm, and Peter Lombard. So he seems to follow the view of tradition in this matter. In the words "not that divine providence is a cause touching the outcome, but [it is] the cause accompanying the cause without which [it would] not [happen]" there seems to be implied the traditional view that God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
455. St. Albert the Great:
1)95 "God does not know through a medium other than Himself, but by Himself inasmuch as He is the principle by which all things are constituted both in substantial and in accidental being. He knows all things as an artisan knows all the works of his art by his art (which is the principle and rule that constitutes the works of his art)."
2)96 ". . . it is to be said that He knows through Himself, the cause. For Aristotle says, in the first [book] of Physics, that the principles of being and knowing are the same. Hence, knowing or understanding Himself inasmuch as He is the principle of being for all, He knows all things, and so, through Himself, the cause, He knows all things."
3)97 ". . . even in art, the art is not the cause of a defect, but it can foreknow it; just as art [i.e., an artisan] working on a knotty piece of wood, knows that the wood is not obeying [so as] to [produce] the beauty of the image to be impressed; and yet, he does not cause that defect but it happens from the defect of the wood. But there is a difference to this extent, that it is in the power of free will to remain in a defect, or to obey the artisan [so as to attain] to perfect beauty, and so divine knowledge knows both, but causes only the one."
4)98 ". . . the knowledge of God surpasses all knowledge. For even though an artisan preconceives the form of the whole work, and does not take it from the work; yet many things happen contrary to the [planned] work, from the operation of the instruments, and the inequality of the material, which he is not able to know except through the effect; but the supreme artisan transcends all knowledge in this, the fact that He foreknows everything that He will do, and whatever will happen to it from the mutability and defect of the secondary causes that operate under Him: for otherwise His knowledge would be imperfect. . . . the artisan cannot know the actual result and outcome of his work, but God knows all this, because of his infinite power in knowing."
5)99 ". . . the foreknowledge of God is in such a way over future things that it is not their cause, nor does it take away from secondary causes the proper characteristic of their causality, as Anselm says in his book on the agreement between foreknowledge and free will. Hence the things that are going to come from the [human] will remain contingently future. But the light of the divine intelligence, which is of infinite power and penetrates . . . into hidden parts, I mean, hidden in themselves and in [their] cause, as are singular contingents about the future, which are known to us neither in themselves nor in their proximate cause: it penetrates through all necessary things, and contingent things that have [already] come to be, and through things that are contingent [and not yet settled in regard] to both alternatives. So that, as Boethius [says] in his book on the consolation of philosophy, He foreknows and knows in which direction you are to turn yourself both in good and in evil. . . . And there is an example that Boethius gives: Just as if I see that you are walking, you necessarily are walking: for if it is granted that you are not walking, it follows that I see that you are not walking. . . ."
6)100 "'Whether the foreknowledge of God imposes necessity on things.' The solution of this question is to be taken from Boethius and Anselm. Boethius deciding it speaks thus. . . . 'For there are two [kinds of] necessities: one is simple [necessity], for example, it is necessary that all men are mortal; the other, a [necessity] of condition [a conditional necessity], for example, if you know that someone is walking, it is necessary that he is walking. For what anyone knows, that cannot be other than it is known to be. But this conditional necessity by no means entails that simple necessity.' . . . Anselm also intends to say this, in different words. . . . What the Masters say comes to the same thing, [namely], that there is a necessity of, [that compels] the thing that follows, and a necessity of consequence. And it is readily conceded that God's foreknowledge causes the necessity of consequence, but not the necessity [that compels] the thing that follows. . . . For God foresees all things, and produces even the things that naturally come to be: but because they do not receive the properties of His causality, nothing prevents them from being contingent and mutable in themselves. And the fact that God's knowledge of these mutable things can be certain, comes not from His taking away changeability from them, but rather from [His] infinite power of foreseeing whithersoever that which is mutable may turn itself. . . ."
7)101 "As the Master says in 1 Sent. 38 dist. . . . 'foreknowledge' has two meanings, just as 'knowledge' does, namely: the foreknowledge of simple understanding, and the foreknowledge of approbation or of [God's] will of good pleasure. In the first sense, foreknowledge extends to both good and evil things and so it cannot include causality towards the things that come under it. But foreknowledge of [God's] will of good pleasure or of approbation extends only to good things: for it includes a disposition for the work, and includes causality towards the things that come under it."
8)102 ". . . foreknowledge takes away from no being that works under it the characteristic of causing, and so some thing is done by these beings that work under foreknowledge that is not done by it [by foreknowledge]."
456. Comments on the texts of St. Albert the Great: In texts 1 and 2, St. Albert teaches that God knows all things through His essence, and He shows that God can know all beings precisely because He is the cause of all beings: just as an artisan can know the things that he makes or is going to make, so also God. However, as we shall see from the following texts, it does not follow from these statements that St. Albert denies that God can know also in another way than through the use of decrees as means of knowledge. This begins to appear in text 3, in which St. Albert makes the same distinction that we have seen in the texts of tradition, beginning with St. Augustine. For, just as St. Augustine had said: "He is able to foresee even the things that He does not do, such as all sins. . . ." so St. Albert said: "Even in art, the art is not the cause of a defect, but it can foreknow it: just as an art [i.e., an artisan] working on a knotty piece of wood knows that the wood is not obeying [so as] to [produce] the beauty of the image to be impressed and yet he does not cause that defect . . . divine knowledge knows both [good and defect] but causes only the one." Therefore, St. Albert restricts foreknowledge through causality to foreknowledge of good. Nor could it be said that St. Albert really means that God knows good things through infrustrable decrees and sins through infallible permissions. The permission will not be infallible because, as St. Albert points out, man is not like a piece of wood. Man can determine whether he will fail or not: "It is in the power of free will to remain in a defect, or to obey the artisan. . . ." In addition, it is at least to be presumed that St. Albert does not hold that all things are explained solely through causality and infallible permissions, since in the distinction that he draws between foreknowledge of good and evil, he clearly is following the tradition that begins with St. Augustine. But, as we have already seen, St. Augustine, and those who came after him, did not hold a theory of foreknowledge of evil by infallible permissions. This presumption that St. Albert is following tradition passes into certitude from the consideration of the following texts of St. Albert.
In text 4 he adds that the comparison of the artisan does not fully and satisfactorily explain the knowledge of God, since the knowledge of God is transcendent: "The knowledge of God surpasses all knowledge. . . . the supreme artisan . . . transcends all knowledge. . . ." And he explains more fully, saying that the artisan cannot foresee everything that will happen to his work, since there can be defects in the operation of the instruments and in the material. Hence it is only "through the effect" that the artisan will be able to know what may happen as a result of these defects. But God's knowledge transcends such knowledge, for it is able to foreknow even "whatever will happen . . . from the mutability and defect of the secondary causes that operate under Him." However-and this is specially important to note-even though, in such a context, it would have been completely easy to say: "God can know these because, even though the will of the human artisan is not always efficacious, God's will has transcendent efficacy," yet, St. Albert does not say this. Instead, he gives a different reason: God can foresee "because of His infinite power in knowing"-not in causing.
In text 5, St. Albert's position becomes still clearer. For he explicitly says that he is teaching the same as St. Anselm and Boethius-who, as we have already seen, taught that God can know even without the use of decrees as means of knowing. And he not only says that "the foreknowledge of God is in such a way over future things, that it is not their cause," but He gives the reason why God can foreknow even though His foreknowledge is not the cause: "the light of the divine intelligence which is of infinite power . . . penetrates . . . into hidden parts . . . as are singular contingents about the future. . . ." Therefore, foreknowledge is explained by the light of the divine mind-and not only by the causality of the divine will. For the divine intellect is "of infinite power," i.e., he appeals to the transcendence of the divine intellect.103
He asserts the same thing at the end of text 6, where he explicitly gives the explanation of foreknowledge: "The fact that God's knowledge of these mutable things can be certain, comes . . . from [His] infinite power of foreseeing whithersoever that which is mutable may turn itself." He does not say: it comes from the infinite efficacy of the divine will. Instead, since he is following St. Augustine (as we saw in text 3) and Boethius and St. Anselm (as we saw in text 4), he says that God's knowledge comes "from [His] infinite power of foreseeing," for "the light of the divine intelligence, which is of infinite power, penetrates" (text 5) all things and "transcends all knowledge" (text 4).
In the first part of text 6, he shows that he holds the traditional distinction between simple or antecedent necessity (which destroys freedom) and conditional, consequent, or modal necessity (which does not harm freedom). Hence, in text 7, he explains the distinction between knowledge of simple understanding and knowledge of approbation or of will of good pleasure. The first kind extends to both good and evil things, and "so it cannot include causality towards the things that come under it." But knowledge of the will of good pleasure "includes causality towards the things that come under it." Hence he can say, in text 8, that "something is done by these beings that work under foreknowledge, that is not done by it [foreknowledge]." So again, as in text 3, he is following the view that we saw was established in tradition since St. Augustine. But, in this traditional view, God can foresee even without the use of decrees as means of knowing.
From all texts, then, it is clear that St. Albert holds the traditional view that God can foresee without the use of decrees. It is important to notice that St. Albert holds this even though he also says that God knows all things by His essence, and even though He compares the knowledge of God to that of an artisan-in such a way, however, that the knowledge of God transcends that of an artisan. For the comparison to the artisan expresses-defectively, according to St. Albert, in text 4-only one way of knowing, the way of causality. It does not exclude the other way: that through the transcendent divine intellect.
C. Conclusions from tradition before the time of St. Thomas
457. 1) God can know and foreknow through the divine intellect so that the decrees of the divine will are not required as a means of knowledge, even though they are required for the existence of beings (but not, of course, for the occurrence of non-beings, among which are the bad specification in resistance, and non-resistance).104-Absolutely all Fathers and theologians, both in the East and in the West, who speak on the subject, teach this at least implicitly. There are no dissenting voices at all.
The reason underlying this assertion seems to be the fact that the divine intellect is transcendent. For example, they say that God can know105 "by the fulness of His majesty" (St. Cyprian), and that106 "God, as God foresaw" (St. Jerome) and:107 "from [His] infinite power of foreseeing" since "the light of the divine intelligence . . . is of infinite power" (St. Albert the Great).
Therefore, since they seem to attribute this power of foreseeing to the transcendence of the divine intellect, the Fathers seem to be speaking as witnesses of revelation.
Further, the number, importance, and unanimity of the Fathers who speak thus seems incapable of being explained unless we suppose that they reflect the true belief and tradition of the Church. For when the Fathers cited are very numerous, and include the greatest Fathers, and when, in addition, absolutely no one throughout so many centuries is found contradicting-it would be incredible to suppose that the Church held a different view.
Therefore, on the basis of this tradition it is at least highly probable that it is divinely revealed that God can foresee by His transcendent intellect, even without the use of the divine decrees as means of knowing (even though, of course, His causality is needed for the existence of beings-though not for the occurrence of non-beings ).
The same conclusion is certainly revealed implicitly in the revelation on the salvific will and on predestination, since as we have seen the system of infrustrable decrees and infallible permissions cannot be reconciled with any true universal salvific will, nor with the explanation of predestination which, as we saw, is implicitly revealed.
2) A few writers seem to speak of another way of knowing: through causality. In this regard, we must notice:
b) All who speak of knowledge through causality explicitly restrict it to knowledge of good things. Nor do they explain foreknowledge of sin through infallible permissions. Not even St. Augustine speaks of infallible permissions, even though they would have fitted in perfectly with his theory of the massa dammata. Rather, as we have seen, this theory is implicitly excluded.
c) These writers sometimes, though rather seldom, speak of God as being like a craftsman or artisan. But these expressions are not always necessarily used to explain the manner of foreknowledge, for they could be used only to show the fact that He does foreknow. This is especially likely to be the case with St. Augustine, who, though he does use such expressions, yet explicitly says: ". . . how He does know, I do not dare to say, since I am unable to know." But even St. Albert, who seems to intend by these expressions to explain the manner of foreknowledge (of good, not of evil things), still, in spite of this comparison, also teaches that God can foreknow without the use of decrees as means of knowing. St. Albert points out explicitly (text 4) the deficiencies of the artisan analogy.
The statement that God can know the things that He makes or does, does not seem to be precisely a revealed truth, but rather, a deduction from a revealed truth, i.e., from the fact that it is revealed that God causes all good things, we can deduce that He can know what He Himself does.
3) Absolutely no one of the witnesses of tradition pretends to be able to fully explain foreknowledge. On the contrary, many clearly admit that they cannot. However, certain partial explanations are found, especially in regard to certain elements of the problem:
b) The distinction between simple or antecedent necessity, which destroys freedom, and conditional necessity or consequent necessity appears in many western writers beginning with Boethius. This distinction is clearly the work of philosophy. It was worked out to reconcile the revealed truths that God can foresee and that man still is free.
c) The use of eternity to explain foreknowledge first appears clearly in Boethius. It is not found in all writers after him, nor do all seem to have understood him well. Three things are chiefly to be noted about this explanation:
2) The explanation through eternity is only partial. It does seem to explain well how infallible knowledge could be reconciled with created freedom. However, eternity is a condition rather than a means of knowledge. Eternity makes a thing knowable, even infallibly knowable, without destroying contingency and freedom. But, it is one thing to make something knowable; another thing to make it known. Eternity does not explain how the knowable thing becomes known. Boethius and those who follow him do not try to explain this: they seem merely to suppose that God, by His transcendent intellect, can know any thing, provided that it is knowable and present. As we have seen, the explanation of Boethius implicitly excludes foreknowledge by way of infrustrable decrees.
3) It is obvious that the explanation by way of eternity comes from philosophy rather than from revelation.
4) Some theologians think it is not necessary to have recourse to eternity. Bañez thinks this108 because he holds that free future contingents are determined in the First Cause, even before they happen. His theory that God can foreknow only by infrustrable decrees and infallible permissions is accepted by the Thomists, but it certainly conflicts with the revelation of the universal salvific will, as we have seen. Many other theologians, chiefly the Molinists, appeal to the transcendence of the divine intellect, and say that it can foresee what determination the creature is going to make, even though the creature is going to make it freely, and even though there is no determinism in the creature. In this explanation, eternity is not needed. Other Molinists say that the transcendent intellect can reach the future contingents in their objective truth. These explanations of the Molinists do not contradict revelation.