Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Theological Thoughts: Open Theism - Installment 2

It is not difficult to build the Biblical argument that God does know the future in certainty and that He does so because he determines it. Here are some of the fundamental arguments for God’s knowledge of the future as reality and not simply as possibility.

(1) Before we have even completed the first story of man God declares what will be in
the future. In Genesis 3:15 God tells of the destruction of Satan by the coming of
Christ, that Christ will be born of a woman and that Satan will strike a blow against
Christ, yet Jesus will strike the greater blow against Satan.
(2) This, then, opens the door to all the various prophecies that are in Scripture. Though
there are dozens upon dozens of messianic prophesies1, these are only a fraction of
the number of prophecies in Scripture. Many of these prophecies contain such
specific information (e.g. the exact time of a person’s birth; the exact name of a
person; the length of captivities; the names of leaders of nations that do not yet
exist…) that they cannot be simply accurate predictions based on possibilities or the
result of God influencing people’s choices and actions. They can be nothing less than
the declaration of what God has determined ahead of time.
(3) The Scripture declares that God’s knowledge is without bounds, that it is infinite. For
example, Psalm 147: 5, “Great is our Lord, and of great power, his understanding is
infinite.” He sees all that is at once and He knows it. For example, Job tells us that
God “looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole of heaven” (Job
28:24). In other words, all things are before Him at once. And, this is not limited to
just the major events, but the minutest details are known by God (e.g. the falling of a
sparrow and the number of hairs on one’s head). He also knows the actions, thoughts
and intents of all men. In fact, John tells us that God “knoweth all things”
(I John 3:20)
This knowing of all things is not limited to the past and the present, but Scripture definitely includes the declaration that it includes the future, not in just possibility, but in actuality. God knows all that is to happen, because He declares it to be so, either actively or permissively. We have already considered the many, many prophecies in Scripture that are filled with details that only one who knew the future in actuality could accurately and consistently make known ages before they take place. Now, we can look at some Scriptures that directly declare that God’s knowledge of the future is certain because He has decreed, or declared it, to be what it is.

(4) God knows all things future because He determines it. God Himself declares that He
knows the future because He determines it. Here is what God told Isaiah:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God,
and there is non like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient
times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do
all My pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

This doctrine of God is affirmed also in the following passage of Scripture in Isaiah:

“I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my
praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things
do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42: 8, 9)

Wayne Grudem, in his extensive work Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, continues the discussion of God’s omniscience, particularly of the future, as follows:

“…He [God] knows the tiny details of every one of our lives, for Jesus tells us,
‘Your Father knows what you need before you ask him’ (Matt. 6:8), and, ‘Even the
hairs of your head are all numbered’ (Matt. 10:30).
“In Psalm 139 David reflects on the amazing detail of God’s knowledge of our lives.
He knows our actions and thoughts: ‘O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar’
(Ps. 139:1-2). He knows the words we will say before they are spoken: ‘Even before
a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, you know it altogether’ (Ps. 139:4). And he
knows all the days of our lives even before we are born: ‘Your eyes beheld my
unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were
formed for me, when as yet there was none of them’ (Ps. 139:16).” (Grudem, pg. 191)

To Be Continued...

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