Do you guys remember the “Ludvig Von Drake” cartoons by Disney? I remember watching the TV Show House of Mouse, and rolling my eyes every time one of his cartoons would come on. I thought the character was incredibly ridiculous. In his title song, Ludvig sings about how superior his knowledge is: “He is a genius, make no mistake, then people say Ludvig what makes you so smart, I find it’s just my superior mind!” However, in all of Ludvig Von Drake cartoons, something always goes wrong in his inventions.
I know so many people with the Ludvig-esque attitude – they know everything, and you know nothing. (Not even in a sexy Jon Snow-knowing-nothin’ kind of way.) It’s the idea that a person has all the answers and understands everything about our universe.
In reality, there is only one person who can claim such a thing, and that person is God! This doctrine is called God’s omniscience. According to Webster’s dictionary, omniscience is “Knowing everything.” The omniscience of God means “all-knowing”, having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight; possessed of universal or complete knowledge. 1 John 3:20 says, “For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
A.H. Strong explains this in his Systematic Theology:
“God knows His inanimate creation; He has knowledge of brute creation; of men and their wills; of hearts of men and their thoughts; of our wants; of the least things; of the past; of the future; of men’s future acts; of men’s future evil acts; of the ideally possible; from eternity.”
Unlike man, God has not acquired knowledge over a period of time, but rather, He has known everything for eternity, with no initial point. However, all such knowledge is incomprehensible to men, because at one and the same time it embraces the past, present, and future.
Norman Geisler, a Christian apologist, responds in this way, “God knows the changing times, but He does not know them in a changing way. He has unchanging knowledge of the changing, and eternal knowledge of the temporal.”
Yet, our free will seems to go out the window immediately. If God knows what we will do – let’s say – tomorrow, how can we be free to do otherwise? You may remember in my omnipresence post that I referred to C.S. Lewis’s timeline explanation: “But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today’. All the days are ‘Now’ for Him.” In other words, because God is not bound by time, He is present during all your actions, and He knows about each one. However, that does not necessarily mean by knowing them, God controls them.
It would be like you getting into a time machine, and witnessing something happening in the future. Maybe you saw a widespread massacre of thousands of people. Did you control those people’s actions? No, you just observed them. When you return to the past, do you control those events by knowing they will happen? No, because again, you observed them. The only way you could somehow control the course of events is by suggesting someone not to engage in the massacre. However, that still does not diminish the person’s free will, because they could choose to do it anyway.
Chuck Missler also explains that God’s omniscience is like a parade. Imagine you are standing on the side of the parade, watching the floats go past. Someone comes up and says, “I’m looking for Float A.” You respond, “Ah, that float has already passed. You need to go ahead to catch it in time.” After the person leaves, someone else comes up, “I’m looking for Float B.” You reply, “Oh, that float hasn’t gone past yet. You need to go back towards the float’s entrances to see it.” Your point of view allows you a perspective of the parade in linear format – all floats are either behind or ahead of you.
Yet, imagine for a moment that there is a hot air balloon overhead, and there is a man inside it watching the parade. There is no such thing as a float that is, was, or will be, because he can see all the floats at once. Since he is over the parade, not in the parade, all floats are passing at once before his eyes.
That is exactly how God sees time – He can see all things at once, because He is outside of it. We are the audience who sees time in terms of is, was, or will be.
Instead of hiding away from God, though, we should realize how finite our own knowledge is. You know, it’s actually comforting – because we don’t know everything, we don’t always have to know how to solve things. Thus, God is our source of comfort and strength in times of need when we don’t know the answer. Often, when I’m in a “jam”, I pray for wisdom and discernment. I find that situations become clearer to me, and I’m able to better handle myself to make better choices. This is because the Holy Spirit has illuminated my mind to the truth of the situation, so I can make better decisions.
For example, I recently had a confrontation with someone concerning business matters. I could not believe how disrespectful and unprofessional the person was being during the conversation. Yet, when I prayed over the ordeal later, God continued to bring to my mind how this person had been hurt by a pastor a few years ago. The pastor had raped several girls in their church for years, and many of those girls had been this person’s friends. This person was shaken up by what the pastor had done, as he had looked up to and respected the pastor. Thus, I realized that this person wasn’t retaliating to me in such obtuse anger due to any of my actions – it was a retaliation against any other Christians and the injustice this person felt over what the pastor had done. I am now able to better pray for this person and forgive him.
In 1 Kings 3:5, God asks King Solomon of Israel what he desires. Solomon asks for wisdom, so that he may better rule his country in a way that would be pleasing to God. 1 Kings 4:29-30 says, “Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.” Thus, because God is omniscient, He is able to provide wisdom, which is knowledge put to good use, to us.
If God was not omniscient, then knowledge would be nearly or completely impossible. Thus, we can rely on God for the answers, especially in our trials.
What about you? What does God’s omniscience illicit in you? Tell me below!