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  • Dr. Jerry Root

Foreknowledge and Freewill

Many struggle with the concept of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will. If God knows what I will do before I do it, am I free. Furthermore, if I have little choice but to do what God foreknows, why should I ever be judged for anything I do, or rewarded for anything I do since both were predetermined? The early medieval philosopher, Boethius addressed this matter in his The Consolation of Philosophy, Book V. In C. S. Lewis’s The Discarded Image, he wrote of the amazing influence Boethius had on medieval thought. Lewis said apart from the Bible Boethius was the most quoted author on that period of literature. Dante, Guillame de Lorris, Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, and a host of others quote Boethius. In fact, Lewis says up to two hundred years ago, a person was not considered educated if they did not know The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius sets forth a solution to the problem with such simplicity that we begin to wonder why this was ever such a problem for us.


Lewis commenting on Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy, Book V, observes:


“Can there, then, be foreknowledge of the indeterminate? In a sense, yes. The character of knowledge depends not on the nature of the object known but on that of the knowing faculty”.


Lewis explains,


“Eternity is quite distinct from perpetuity, from mere endless continuance in time. Perpetuity is only the attainment of an endless series of moments, each lost as soon as it is attained”.


He continues,


“God is eternal, not perpetual. Strictly speaking, He never forsees; He simply sees. Your ‘future’ is only an area, and only for us a special area, of His infinite Now. He sees (not remembers) your yesterday’s acts because yesterday is still ‘there’ for Him; he sees (not foresees) your tomorrow’s acts because He is already in tomorrow. As a human spectator, by watching my present act, does not at all infringe its freedom, so I am none the less free to act as I choose in the future because God, in that future (His present) watches me acting”.1


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1. LEWIS, C. S. The Discarded Image. Pp. 88-89. Lewis writes this similar comment in Mere Christianity, “He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never suppose that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing”. Book IV, Chapter 3, Para. 11, Pp. 148-49. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis also writes “All times are eternally present to God”. New York: Macmillian, Nineteeth Printing, 1977. P. 49.


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