God’s Knowledge of Future Contingencies

Taken from Turretin in rough outline form:

A thing may be contingent in two ways:

  • by depending on God as first cause (as all of creation is thus contingent, since God didn’t have to create)
  • by depending on prior second causes (which produce or not produce their effects).  Turretin is speaking these contingents.

A future contingent implies both certainty of event and mode of production.  As future it is certain, but as contingent in its mode of production.   It has the former from the decree of the First Cause, the latter from the constitution of the second cause.

The mode of production is clarified by the Westminster Confession of Faith V.2:  It identifies God as the First Cause, corresponding with the first point made by Turretin, but notes that the First Cause orders the events to happen in three modes:  freely, necessarily, or contingently.

See also:  necessity of the consequence (contingent) and necessity of the consequent thing (absolute)

An event can be both infallibly certain yet contingent.  Thus, all things take place by the necessity of consequence, not the necessity of the consequent.  Turretin notes that man’s actions can be free because they are spontaneous and follow rational judgment, but necessary because of God’s decree (I: 211).

5 comments on “God’s Knowledge of Future Contingencies

  1. olivianus says:

    Excellent. Reblogging. Seeing your understanding of these issues further blossom beyond my own understanding exceeds the joy I receive from watching my beautiful plants grow. And that is a hard task with an anti-industrialist like me. A blessing on you sir.

  2. olivianus says:

    Reblogged this on Uncreated Light and commented:
    Excellent treatment of necessities and contingencies and free will from Jacob the Bayou Huguenot.

  3. olivianus says:


    It has been a while. Does Turretin deal with the issue of God’s foreknowledge and the quality of its causality?

    • As best as I can remember, he does indirectly. I know he says that G od is everywhere present in terms of effecient causality, or something like that. I am about three hundred pages into volume 1. At the end of May I had read a lot of Turretin, plus all the major journal articles, but the best month has been pretty rough for me and I had to put a lot of projects aside. I do plan to look back into it.

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