What, LeRon Shults asks, is “knowledge” like for God and for us — that is, after the turn to relationality? His answer is very important for each of us. What God knows cannot be reduced to cognition, or to knowledge of objects and propositions and ideas, as we know — say — how the grass grows or what kinds of birds begin to feed at our feeders when the weather heads south. Here’s what Shults contends God’s knowledge is:
Does God know “about” us or is God’s knowledge an intimate, faithful, knowing “of” us? Does the distinction matter. Much in every way. The former leads us back to the modernist God whose mind is beyond ours; the latter to being known and to the capacity of then knowing God and others.
God’s knowledge is omniscient faithfulness. God’s knowing “embraces all things” (207). God’s faithful ominscience is an intimate knowing. Faith and knowledge are not opposites; they are bindings of one to another.
Shults provides a way out of the Arminian-Calvinist debate about foreknowledge: if God’s knowledge is omniscient faithfulness, then it is not that God knows “about” us in our decision making, but that God’s knowing of us enables us to know God. Election, then, is God’s making of us into a being-coming-into-being through relationship with and to God. It is being known to, by and in God. Foreknowledge, in other words, is more than cognition; God’s election on the basis of foreknowledge is to be chosen to become who we are by being known to and by God. (I’m trying to come to terms with “omniscient faithfulness” as God’s knowledge.)
“God’s pro-gnosis, then, [is] an acknowledging embrace of human creatures, calling them to a new life of knowing and being known in the Spirit of Christ” (224).
Knowledge, then, must be conceived of in a Hebraic (yada) way rather than a scientific way.
Our knowledge of God, our naming of God with words, is to learn to be named in faithful communion with God. It is to be named and it evokes a longing to name and to be named.
The teleological argument, then, is to acknowledge and participate in the divine intention that evokes noetic desire on our part to be known and to know.
Here is one of Shults’ favorite expressions: “the omniscient faithfulness of the trinitarian God of the Bible is the origin, condition, and goal of the noetic desire of creatures.” Our yearning to know, our noetic desire, is the Spirit-induced drive to participate intimately in the trinitarian “knowing” of the Father, Son, and Spirit.