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Dear Gramps,

While keeping in mind the idea that each man has agency could you please explain how it is that God knows our actions before they are performed? It would seem as if this would lead to the idea of destiny instead of ordination, thank you.

Mike, from Utah

Dear Mike,

Your interesting query asks the question of whether foreknowledge implies predestination. If such were the case, there would always be a causal relationship between the knowledge of a pending event and the event itself. In many cases, of course, there is. For instance, we each determine our own course of action, and have knowledge beforehand of what will occur-the shorter the time, the greater the certainty that a planned or forecast event will transpire. However, man’s knowledge is at best partial and imperfect, while God’s knowledge is absolute and sure.

O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it (2 Nephi 9:20).

The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord (D&C 130:6-7).

Now God has made man responsible and accountable for his own actions; and has instituted rewards for righteousness and punishments for sin. If man could not control his own actions and did not have responsibility for them, no just God could impose rewards and punishments for things for which only He is responsible. It simply would not be just for a person to receive a reward or a punishment for any circumstance that was out of his or her control. So, in order for theology to be consistent with itself, the foreknowledge of God cannot imply the predestination of man. Philosophically, there is no way to find a causal tie between knowledge possessed by one person and the actions of another.

Gramps

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