More on God’s Knowledge

I came across this quote in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics and quite frankly, I think (?) he missed the mark here. To be honest, I do like everything that I have read in Bavinck up until now. But this one just rubbed me the wrong way. Commenting on God’s communicable attributes in volume 2 of RD, page 192:

In addition God is conscious of and knows all that exists outside His being. Scripture nowhere even hints that anything could be unknown to Him. True, the manner in which He obtains knowledge is sometimes stated in striking anthropomorphic language (…) but He nevertheless knows everything.

Two questions in response to the bold parts of the quote:

1. Can anything exist outside God’s being?

2. If God obtains knowledge, then what greater source of knowledge does God turn to in order to gain a bit of knowledge that He did not already have? Does He know everything or does He not?

If something is obtained, what is implied is that you do not already possess what is to be obtained.


One thought on “More on God’s Knowledge

  1. Wow. I know this is 5 1/2 years too late of a reply, but I’ll give it a shot.

    I’ve just started reading his Dogmatics. My response would be that, from what I know of Bavinck, he was battling liberalism fiercely. Thus, I don’t think we should be too picky about his word choice here. He was well aware of it, I’m sure. By “outside His being” he is not trying to imply that something existed without God. He is speaking of things that are not of his person. For example, I am outside God’s being. Of course, I was made by him and God is totally omnipresent. However, I still am not God. Even though he is everywhere and is the source of all things, there’s still a separateness between creation and himself. I believe he means “outside” in the sense of “not of”. As for his choice regarding “obtaining”, again, I don’t think we should read too much into it. Bavinck would never say that God obtains information in the sense that he at one time lacked it. He is using the word “obtained” for the sake of argument, acknowledging the fact that even the Scriptures themselves use anthropomorphic language to describe God’s knowledge. We have to read the last statement, “He nevertheless knows everything,” to see what Bavinck believes and affirms.

    I wouldn’t worry about Bavinck. He is well inside orthodoxy and Reformed theology. 🙂

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