Turretin 3.12.18 - A Few Questions

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TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
Wrestling through a tough section on God's knowledge in Turretin's Institutes Topic 3, Question 12, part 18:

XVIII. The principal foundation of the divine knowledge about future contingent things is not either the nature of second causes (which is supposed to be indifferent [adiaphoros]) or simply the divine essence, as immutable by creatures and as capable of producing them because it is the foundation of the possibility of things; the decree alone by which things pass from a state of possibility to a state of futurition (in which he sees them as it were determined and certainly future); and because the decree of God is not occupied about the thing, but also about the mode of the thing (i.e., that the thing may take place according to the nature of its cause, necessarily if necessary, freely if free, God sees them in the decree not only as certainly future, but also as certainly future contingently).

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 210.

My questions:

  • What does "indifference" refer to regarding the nature of second causes?
  • Does Turretin come to a positive conclusion in this section or does he simply rule out several options? The punctuation (semicolons) and language are giving me some trouble. I can't tell if he is affirming God's decree alone as the foundation of divine knowledge or not (I would suspect "yes"...)
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
"Indifferent" there means that it's not in the nature of second causes to incline to one result more than another. That's not to say that one second cause doesn't produce one effect rather than another, but that "second causality" as such is capable of producing disparate effects.

Yes, Turretin rules out:
1. The nature of second causes (because they are indifferent, among other reasons);
2. The divine essence (because that tells you what could happen but not what will happen);
And opts instead for the divine decree as the principle of God's knowledge of the future. God knows what will happen, and whether it will happen necessarily or contingently, because it's what he freely determined to have happen, from the whole range of possibilities falling under his limitless power.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you Ruben! This has been a very challenging section and your explanation is a great help.
 
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