What Do You Know?

I’ve started reading John Frame‘s Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. It’s been a feast so far! I wish I’d read this book sooner, since much of my reading has helped bring greater clarity to a few issues I’ve been mulling over in the past year or so as a seminary student.

In one of the sections, Frame talks about the limitations of human knowledge when compared to God’s knowledge:

To be a creature is to be limited in thought and knowledge, as in all other aspects of life. We are limited by our Creator, our Lord . . . the nature of our thought should reflect our status as servants. Our thinking should be “servant-thinking” (p. 21).

What does it mean to have “servant-thinking?” It means that, as we acknowledge our status as creatures in relation to our Creator, we must admit that our ability to comprehend truth is limited by our Creator. Frame says, “To say that God is incomprehensible is to say that our knowledge is never equivalent to God’s own knowledge” (p. 21).

For example, when we think about something like a rose, we should be aware that God thinks about that same rose differently — our thoughts and his thoughts about that same rose are never identical. This doesn’t mean we can’t know things about the rose, but only that we do not have God’s perspective. We can know truth but not have a full comprehension of truth.

It’s mind-boggling to think about God’s knowledge, since we’re so used to our own ways of thinking. As God says in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Frame lists out several differences between our thinking and God’s thinking (pp. 22-25), which I’ve summarized below:

1. God’s thoughts are uncreated and eternal; ours are created and limited by time.

2. God’s thoughts ultimately determine, or decree, what comes to pass. God’s thoughts cause the truths that they contemplate; ours do not…

3. God’s thoughts, therefore, are self-validating; they serve as their own criteria of truth. God’s thoughts are true simply because they are His…

4. God’s thoughts always bring glory and honor to Him . . . His thoughts are always self-expressions…

5. God’s thoughts are the originals of which ours, at best, are only copies, images…

6. God does not need to have anything “revealed” to Him; He knows what He knows simply by virtue of who He is and what He does. He knows, then, at His own initiative. But all of our knowledge is based on revelation…

7. God has not chosen to reveal all truth to us…

8. God possesses knowledge in a different way from us . . . a difference in the “mode” of knowledge.

9. What God does reveal to us, He reveals in a creaturely form. Revelation does not come to us in the form in which it exists in God’s mind. Scripture, for example, is in human, not divine language…

10. God’s thoughts, when taken together, constitute a perfect wisdom . . . His decrees constitute a wise plan . . . That is not always true of our thoughts, and we have no reason to suppose that even as we deal with revelation we may not run into truth that our logic cannot systematize…

11. …the more God reveals, the more facts we know, though we never reach the point where we know as many facts as God . . . there is not merely a realm of the unknown beyond our competence, but what is within our competence, what we know, leads us to worship and awe…

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One Response to What Do You Know?

  1. breadandsham says:

    Glad to find a seminary mate in blogosphere. I’m referencing Kline’s Creator/Creature distinction for a paper and I landed here somehow. The paper is for Tremper Longmann III for Genesis and Exodus, RTS Orlando. I’ll save the link to your blog, it’s good stuff.

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