If before the creation, God had planned everything from A to Z of the life on the earth since it's created until the end of day and every life of each individual from A to Z since he/she was born until he/she dies and who is going to hell/heaven - then what does it mean "omniscience" ?

I mean, a movie maker - based on his scenario story, while he himself also as the actor in that movie, when he is about to start the making of the movie - before he show the story to other actors, isn't he can be called "omniscience" ?

I have tried something like this :
The movie maker there is more like a puppet master, how the other actors respond is staged by him.

For example : (before making of the movie)
In the scenario the movie maker WhatsApp actor-A : hi, where are you now ?
Then he himself stage the respond from actor-A in WA : I'm in the kitchen now.

God is different. Before the creation, God did not stage actor-A's reply but He knows that actor-A will reply "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." after He ask "where are you ?".

if like that above - the problem to me is :
when trying to understand it in chronological order - it's still made me think that God doesn't know everything because (before the creation, in His plan) He has to know first that He himself is going to ask "where are you ?" to actor-A, after that then He know how will actor-A respond.

So, what does it mean "omniscience" actually ?

If I try to connect it with the Election doctrine (Predestination), where between A B C D E God elect B and D which automatically God knows that in the day of judgment A C and E will go to hell, B and D will go to heaven.... then this is more similar to my illustration of the movie maker.... which I think there's no need to have a term "God is omniscience" here, because as the movie maker staged that actor-A will bla3x, actor-B will blu3x at the end of the movie - it's the same thing where God staged B and D will go to heaven, A C and E will go to hell.

So, what does it mean "omniscience" and what is the important thing that "God is omniscience" according to the Calvinist ?

I've checked this site, and found a link which describe Omniscience :

Furthermore God's omniscience is therefore not constrained to temporal thinking; he knows everything in the present. He has no conflict with what will happen in the future, and the future does not limit him, because for him there is no future - all of existence is now.

God's choices happen in the eternal-present and in no way limit him because they are made according to his perfect and infinite nature.

But still I can not understand what does it mean of those sentences.

What does it mean :
1. God omniscience is not constrained to temporal thinking
2. God knows everything in the present
3. God's choices happen in the eternal-present

How do people illustrate those 3 points above ?

  • 2
    I think it would help to edit this down to be more concise and tight.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 20, 2018 at 0:55
  • @curiousdannii, I realize that my three questions are not tight because the first question is more "fit" for non-Calvinist, the second question is more "fit" for Calvinist and the third question is for general Christian. Please give me time to see if there is another answer. If no more, I will separate the first question as a new question. Thank you for your suggestion.
    – karma
    Feb 21, 2018 at 17:21
  • Before He made everything, in His eternal plan he did know he would ask "Where are you?" and He did know what how actor-A would respond. Why do you have a problem with this? He knows everything about the past, the present and the future. In fact just as others have said, there is no past, present and future with God: He is outside of Time. Its hard to see where your objection is. Sep 18, 2019 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


First, it would be helpful to just define the term for the sake of clarity. Omniscience means "all-knowing" and this is derived from "omni" which is a prefix taken from Latin meaning "all", and "scientia", from Latin for "knowledge."

According to many (perhaps most) Reformed theologians, God has foreknowledge of everything NOT because he somehow looks into the future and "sees" what man will do and acts in response; but He Himself has foreknowledge because He has decreed that certain things will come to pass: he does not decree (act in a certain way) because he foreknows, but He foreknows (knows prior to all human action) because he decrees. He knew from the foundation of the world that the elect would be saved and the reprobate would be damned because He decreed that these things would come to pass.

Even though there has been some criticism about a supposed reconciliation between the two, it usually tends to lean toward Arminianism, and so Reformed thinkers have rightly refused any such efforts. One Reformed thinker that holds this view (or some slight variation of it) would be Loraine Boettner:

Foreordination in general cannot rest on foreknowledge; for only that which is certain can be foreknown, and only that which is predetermined can be certain. The Almighty and all-sovereign ruler does not govern Himself on the basis of a foreknowledge of things which might haply come to pass. Through the scriptures the divine foreknowledge is ever thought of as dependent on the divine purpose, and God foreknows only because He has pre-determined. His foreknowledge is but a transcript of His will as to what shall come to pass in the future, and the course which the world takes under His providential control is but the execution of His all-embracing plan. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 99.

Taking the controversial passage in Romans (8:29) that "those whom He foreknew, He predestined..." Calvinists interpret foreknew to be relational, that this indicated a special relationship between God and his elect:

Calvinists contend that the passage teaches that God set His heart upon (i.e., foreknew) certain individual; these He predestined or marked out to be saved. Notice that the text does not say that God knew something about particular individuals (that they would do this or that), but that God knew the individuals themselves: those whom He knew He predestined to be made like Christ. The word "foreknew" as used here is thus understood to be equivalent to "foreloved"--those who were the objects of God's love He marked out for salvation. The Five Points of Calvinism, Steel, Quinn, Thomas. 158

Arminians take it on face value, meaning that even though God is active in influencing them to repentance, that it is a reference to God's knowledge of their future actions, and does not necessarily have any relation to God's action (or lack thereof) in bringing this about. Prominent Arminian theologian says,

...all true Arminians believe in predestination, but not in Calvinist foreordination. That is, they believe that God foreknows every person's ultimate and final decision regarding Jesus Christ, and on that basis God predestines people to salvation or damnation. But Arminians do not believe God predetermines or preselects people for either heaven or hell apart from their free acts of accepting or resisting the grace of God. Arminian Theology, 180.

More could be said, but any further discussion would revolve around specific definitions of omniscience, debates about free-will, debates about future contingents, and attempted reconciliations of divine sovereignty and human freedom and the origin of sin/evil, of which last debate, Calvinists have generally fallen into two camps: the first, that we have no idea how the first sin (whether by Lucifer or Adam) came about. R.C. Sproul held this view:

We sin because we are sinners. We were born with a sin nature. But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don't know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know. In spite of this excruciating problem we must still affirm that God is not the author of sin. Chosen by God, 31.

Second is that God did it but this in no way compromises His holiness since there is no standard to which God is subject. Gordon Clark, a famous presuppositional Calvinist apologist held this view:

God's causing a man to sin is not sin. There is no law, superior to God, which forbids him to decree sinful acts. Sin presupposes a law, for sin is lawlessness...the laws that God imposes on men do not apply to the divine nature. Reason, Religion, and Revelation, 240.

In response to the 3 follow up questions about meaning:

God's omniscience is not retrained to temporal thinking: these aren't necessarily technical terms, but conservative Christian thinkers believe that God's knowledge is not limited by free actions (unless, like certain Calvinists, you don't believe in free actions or define freedom compatibilistically), and God's knowledge is not in any way imposed upon by the passage of time. God does not learn anything new or come to believe something that He once believed false, or vice-versa.

God knows everything in the present: this is generally to say that God does not reflect upon any given event as past or future, but is aware of it as a present reality. This is mostly to say that, again, God's omniscience is not restricted by the passage of time. This also is a subject of much debate.

God's choices happen in the eternal-present: this is a rather crude metaphor for God's actions and their performance not being defined by our tensed descriptions of time. To say "eternal-present" is like saying "every moment is now" which is a contradiction, which is why God is often described as transcending time, and so His actions are thus "outside" time.

  • 1
    Good answer, but could be improved by quoting some of the people you mention on the subject and formatting it so that it isn't just a wall of text. Welcome to the site, by the way!
    – Birdie
    Feb 22, 2018 at 4:13
  • First, time. Sorry! Thanks for the welcome. I'll definitely get to that when I can.
    – D.Driscoll
    Feb 22, 2018 at 4:14
  • Driscoll, "we have no idea how the first sin (whether by Lucifer or Adam) came about". I think you show it in your answer which is : it is because God has decreed that certain things will come to pass. The Omniscience is not yet when he design the plan, but after He had finished designing His plan. Before He start doing all the things in His plan - of course He know everything what are in His plan. The first thing in His plan is to create angels and have one of the angel (Lucifer) sin. So, he create the angels - and when Lucifer sin, He's not surprised because it already decreed in His plan.
    – karma
    Feb 22, 2018 at 11:41
  • Karma, I don't disagree with your interpretation; I was merely pointing out that Reformed thinkers don't all hold the same view. I added citations, so I hope that will make my points clearer. Having said that, there is considerable disagreement among people who call themselves Calvinists about this subject, as there is about every petal on the TULIP. Just think of the Infralapsarians and the Supralapsarians, which is sort of about that very issue.
    – D.Driscoll
    Feb 23, 2018 at 7:03

The Calvinist position is that God knew before the creation of the world everything that would occur. He also predestined the elect to everlasting life, and foreordained the reprobate to everlasting death. However, humans are not puppets, in that God is neither the author of sin, nor their liberty removed; only in salvation is there a necessary intervention by God to change the nature of man and redeem the elect.

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

  • Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 3, Articles 1-3
  • Birdie, "He also predestined the elect to everlasting life, and foreordained the reprobate to everlasting death" ---> that's what I mean that is no differ than the illustration. The movie maker "predestined" his elected actor-A to be bla3x and actor-B to be blu3x at the end of the movie. The movie maker knew everything that would occur in his movie before he start making the movie is just as the same as you wrote "God knew before the creation of the world everything that would occur"
    – karma
    Feb 21, 2018 at 17:09

This site - https://study.com/academy/lesson/omnipotent-omniscient-and-omnipresent-god-definition-lesson-quiz.html

..has this to say,

quote - "Omnipotent, God's power is infinite, or limitless. Omniscience means all-knowing."

One can be all knowing but still be allowing mankind's and people's choices to run their course. One can be all powerful and al-mighty and allow mankind, and people's doings and choices to run their course. Logically, one might do this in order to be teaching something.

Humanity is chewing the fruit of knowing (learning, understanding) good from evil.

Deuterononomy 30:19 says ".. I have set before you life and death.. therefore choose life" which seems to suggest life and death is the same as good and evil.

Calvinism believes God can save all but chooses some. Arminianism says God would save all (choose all) but cannot (due to man's will).

But here is what looks like a more complete comparison - https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-are-the-main-differences-between-calvinism-and-arminianism/

Christian Universalism believes God can save all (Calvinism), and will (ultimately) choose and save all. Those called the elect, being ones chosen to come to the faith during this lifetime.

More on comparing the three - http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/partuniv.html Quote - "All the various denominations of professing Christians may be classed under three heads: Calvinists, Arminians, and Universalists. A chart of the agreement and the difference in the religious opinions of these three classes on the most important doctrines of Christianity may be delineated as follows.."

  • Marie, "One can be all knowing but still be allowing mankind's and people's choices to run their course". I'm sorry I don't understand the sentence. How can "allow" happen if God always knows everything ?
    – karma
    Feb 19, 2018 at 15:40
  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question. The question as I understand it wants to know the Reformed understanding of the relationship between God's omniscience and God's election. It also just links to several sites without extracting the relevant information, which I understand to be not recommended practice for StackExchange answers.
    – Birdie
    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:25
  • @Birdie, actually the point in my question is about "omniscience" itself. Because either it's in non-Calvinist point of view or Calvinist point of view the result is the same which is "God knew everything of His plan" at the time He start the creation. About the links in my question, they are from Christianity SE site.
    – karma
    Feb 21, 2018 at 17:33
  • @karma I was commenting on marie glen's answer, not on your question. Your question is fine, although a bit messy.
    – Birdie
    Feb 22, 2018 at 0:26

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