The Foreknowledge Of God

Most Christians would agree that God knows the future.  Disagreement enters in when trying to determine how he knows the future.  Does he know because he foreordains everything, or because he is able to peer down the corridors of time and foresee everything that will happen?  Or, does God not know the future for certain, but instead knows the future as a set of possibilities that may or may not happen?

I have had a fairly diverse experience in teaching about God’s foreknowledge, having gone to Woodland Hills Church in Minnesota, sitting under the preaching of Greg Boyd (Open Theist), then having spent many years at Bethlehem Baptist Church under the preaching of John Piper (Calvinist).  And now at seminary, I am sitting under the teaching Roger E. Olson, one of the more outspoken Arminianists.

I will admit, it can be very easy to decide to believe one way or another simply depending on who you are surrounded by, and the influence that others around you have – especially pastors or teachers who clearly know far more than you do.  It is difficult to spend sufficient time personally studying topics such as this, and the tendency is to trust other people who have put in far more time and research than you.

We studied this topic in my Intro to Christian Theology class this week.  I found it very insightful, and it helped to better understand each perspective.  I have concluded that all three views have both convincing arguments, and issues.  None of them are perfect, as if it were that easy, the debate would cease to exist.  This borders along the lines of doctrine/opinion, and is not essential to the core of Christian belief.  The two most opposing sides, Calvinism and Open Theism, both believe in the all of the same foundational beliefs about God and Jesus that are essential to salvation.

I have decided that I am undecided.  There are things that make sense with each view, and the Biblical arguments are definitely interesting.  There’s just as good of a chance that none of these views is perfectly correct anyway!  I had to write an opinion paper on the topic for class, which is available for download if you wish to give it a read.

If you have any input, experiences, ideas, etc., please leave a comment.

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2 thoughts on “The Foreknowledge Of God

  1. I used to really struggle with this issue, but in the last couple of years have really felt settled about it. Truthfully, I have the most convoluted view… which is simply: “Yes.” When someone says, “God is sovereign and he elects.” I say, “yes he does!” Because the Bible says so (Rom 8:29-30). And if someone says, “It’s God’s will than no one would perish, so ANYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I say, “yes!” Because the Bible says so (John 3:16). I’ve become comfortable, somehow, being OK with this contrast. Rather than subscribing to an “ism,” I’ve chosen to accept what the Scripture says about it at face value and accept in faith that there’s a real tension there that God intends. For in truth, this tension is often on display in back-to-back passages. For example, with the story of Moses, God goes through this whole rigmarole of calling and wooing Moses into a position of leadership that he wasn’t looking for (election), but the very next chapter he sends an angel of death to kill him because of disobedience (choice). So which is it? Had God sovereignly elected Moses to be His ambassador or was his election as a leader dependent upon his actions? The answer: yes. The Bible itself doesn’t seem to have a problem with this type of tension, so I’m resolved not to either. Honestly, since I made that decision a couple years ago, I’ve not lost any more sleep over it. It may not work for you (or anyone else), but for me–it’s been something I can really rest in!

    • Scott! Great to hear from you man. Thanks for sharing this. This is ultimately the conclusion I have currently come to as well. As I said in my paper, I think each view has Biblical arguments that make sense for their case, but there are also potential Biblical arguments against each as well. And, when listing Biblical arguments, interpretation comes into play as well. The problem with the ‘isms’, as you say, is that once you land on a certain belief, it transforms the way you interpret the Biblical references that are both for and against your view so that they support your view. Thanks again for sharing.

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