Last edited by Kevin Jackson; April 12th, 2012 at 06:44 PM. Reason: typo
I think the most reasonable reading of this passage is that Jesus had genuine foreknowledge of his disciples actions (and the actions of others) before they made them. Jesus knew that his disciples would do these things, but he did not cause their actions. His knowledge was certain, but it was also based on the free will actions of the disciples themselves.
So I think there are only two reasonable options: 1) Classical foreknowledge with free will - God has passive knowledge of the future, but we still have free will and make the decisions. or 2) Process theology. For me, option #1 creates the least amount of tension, but I also prefer #2 over open theism, because I don't think God is ever coercive.
I also don't recall open theists saying that God can "pre-settle the future." I remember them saying that God can determine beforehand what he himself will do (just like any of us can, though we can be limited and hindered by outside forces). But I don't remember them saying that God ever "pre-settled" the future choices of free agents.
Have I missed something that Open Theists themselves have said? Or have I just missed the arguments made by those arguing against it in favor of some other alternative?
I do not believe God is coercive either.
For me classical foreknowledge precludes free will. If God is not coercive then another force has made the decision and made immutable the apparent choice. So, it is problematic, that's why I tend to lean towards process.
You can be right or you can be in relationship
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a
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Let me know what you think about this. It seems that no one would want to claim that God is unable to do or know anything. We don't want to say that God is weak, but that God is capable of doing whatever He pleases. But then we begin to have some conversations that begin to sound like we are limiting what God can do, and that becomes a problem for some. Is that correct?
We know that God can't send a flood to destroy the world again. Because He promised He wouldn't and God doesn't break promises.
We know that God can't kill himself. (At least I hope not.)
We know that God can't be something that He is not. Many would say that God can't be evil. But then we debate how evil exists if God created.
Then we get back to how can something exist that is outside of God's control if we are indeed saying that evil is outside of God.
How about if God knows of evil and knows that it will happen and does nothing to prevent it, then God is responsible for the evil action. So if God is aware of evil but does nothing does that make God evil or simply ambivalent.
Is it possible for God to limit himself in some ways so that His creation works as intended and sometimes breaks his rules to fix things or make specific things happen as intended for the future?
Are miracles God's response to mistakes? If God knew it was going to happen, and God didn't want it to happen why didn't God change something to make sure it didn't happen in the first place?
Does God operate within our concept of time? Does God know that which has not happened yet? If you say no, does that mean that God doesn't know everything there is to know?
Is it possible that God knows every possible scenario that can happen based on every single movement or decision made by every living and physical object in the universe but not the choice that is being made?
If God knows every possible scenario and knows our heart and our thoughts how can God not really know what our choice will be? So is that the same as already knowing the future which would mean there is no choice or is it different because God hasn't seen the future but simply knows what we will do and has planned for it?
How does God have emotional response to us if He already knows everything we are going to do? Does that mean we can surprise God? Why would God be angry if He knew a thousand years ago that we were going to do that? Has God been angry at that action ever since he created us because he knew when he created us that we would do that and if he knew that we would do something that would make him angry why would he create us?
I just kind of went with it, so just pick one that jumps out to you.
Ok, one rule. In your response don't act like I own these. I'm not claiming all of them or any of them for that matter. I simply want to see how some of you would respond. I want to know where you are coming from and how you work out your ideas.
My inclination is that although we know the nature of God, there are still many things about God that puzzle us. It would seem that so called open theism may be an attempt to give God latitude to operate outside of our understanding and outside of rules that we may have created for God in an attempt to understand God.
It has been 20 years since I jumped in deep in some of these discussions so I am a little rusty and some of the concepts remain in the foggy recesses of my mind. I plan on reading some of the links you have included here. If you have more, be sure to share.
If some of the thoughts expressed here freak you out. That's ok. Just tell us why and how you come to your conclusions and remember our purpose here is to not dismiss God or limit God in any way. If anything it is an attempt to somehow describe just how wonderful and powerful God is. Sometimes when we start of with a certain thought it takes us to a very bad and un-scriptural conclusion. The important thing is to recognize that and learn from it. Some people continue to hold to such thoughts because they never take the time to question it or compare it to scripture or have other people help them figure out if Jesus would ever support it.
For everyone who likes to discuss this further, IRL, there's a conference coming! : The Future Of Openness , April 4-6, 2013 http://theopenview.org/
Quoting Tom Oord:
Open Theology for the Church — The Future of Openness
To date, most organized events exploring Open theology have been designed for scholars in the academy. This conference is different. As its subtitle indicates, the Open Theology Conference is aimed at the wider church. It’s the very first event of its kind!
With this wider church perspective, the open theology conversation will be freed to take new forms. At this conference, new voices—you!—are invited to discuss issues that matter most. Together, we can all express the hope and insight that comes from affirming a God of love in relationship with creation whose future is open.
The 2013 Open Theology Conference is meant for Christian leaders of all types. Lectures, table discussions, and “dreaming of the future” sessions will explore theological issues and practical concerns with an eye toward relevance for contemporary Christians.
I'd love to be there! Not likely to happen but it sounds very good.
I am still thinking about your entire post, but chose to address this question, because I have thought about this before.Originally Posted by Kyle Borger
I, personally, think that He can know all possible choices every creature faces, know the most likely choice that will be made, yet not know definitely. I further think that God may know the most likely choice and hope that another will be made. In this scenario God has foreknowledge, yet not of the type that requires the future to be solidified, therefore allowing full freedom of choice for creatures. This way of knowing also accounts for God regretting decisions He made, allows for the emotion you speak of in another question. The future remains open.
You can be right or you can be in relationship
God by His very nature, as testified to in the biblical witness, is one of Love and Truth. It is antiLove and antiTruth to break the covenant. God cannot act against His nature. If He can then we really need to reconsider what we think about His nature. To break the covenant of Genesis 9 God would have to act opposite to His nature. The Bible tells us that God's nature is unchanging.
Further IF God can break His promises and covenants what's to say He won't? How are we to have faith in His promises? (I've avoided these because they feel as though they contain some informal fallacies). How do we know anything God says is true
You can be right or you can be in relationship
Oh what you mean is you either do not accept my premises, conclusion or both, the logic is fine. And you do not have to accept either my premises or my conclusion. Didn't really think you would. In the same vein I do not accept your premises concerning promises and therefore cannot accept the conclusion.
You can be right or you can be in relationshipPost Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 0 LaughingSteven Burton - "thanks" for this post
Kind of a slide: God's covenant with Israel was conditional. "IF you do this I will make you...." Israel breached their side. God would be in His rights to walk away from the deal. Yet He doesn't.
You can be right or you can be in relationship
You can be right or you can be in relationshipPost Thanks / Like - 0 Thanks, 1 LaughingSusan Unger - thanks for this funny post
Thank you Paul and Dan for your debate. Although it appears neither quite got where the other was coming from, it was civil and interesting to see how you approached the questions.
Ok, I may have scared a few off with the shot gun approach. Let's take one main topic.
Does God know the future?
Please provide some scripture to support your position.
Here are some thoughts.
A Calvinist has no problem with the question. God knows the future because God pre-determines the future.
An Armenian would suggest that God does not predetermine the future, but gives us a choice. But God knows what that choice will be and knows the future.
(This is a "Am I right statement"?)
The open theist would suggest that God doesn't know the future because it hasn't happened. It isn't a matter of knowledge it is a matter of time. God can't know that which doesn't exist. (Is that right?)
I have looked for scripture to suggest that God knows the future. Scripture does support God knowing everything, but is the future a part of that? If so, please provide.
Can a choice be a choice if that choice is known. An argument I read suggested that it can be. If I provide my son a piece of ham or a chunk of hairy rat, my son will choose ham and I know that. (I'm not sure if that is a fair argument, but it is the one given.) I might argue that the choice was made by me not him because no reasonable person where we live would eat a piece of raw rat with hair on it over a piece of ham. It kind of seems like an unfair argument. I could equally argue that if I offer my son a ham sandwich with all of the fixings or a hamburger with all of the fixings, I'm not sure what he will choose. The counter argument would be that God knows our thoughts, so God would know what we are choosing. Could one also argue that God can't know that which hasn't been thought? In other words does God know our thoughts before we have the thoughts?
Is it possible that in real time as the event unfolds and God is hearing or understanding our thoughts that God knows what we are choosing to do? Is it necessary to claim that God knows what I am going to do 10 years from now? If so how does that allow God to interact and live in relationship with 7 billion people? Do we allow that in relationship we impact God? That in prayer we at times encourage God to intercede on our behalf? If so did we not just change the future for 7 billion people in some way?
What about the prophesies? God worked through the history of the Israelites to prepare the time for Jesus so that Jesus would answer the prophesies. Jesus knew where the donkey was going to be tied. Jesus knew that he would be crucified.
Is it possible for God to have a plan for the future and adapt with us to make it happen. Is it possible that at times God performs miracles to step in and force things to happen that He needs to have happen.
It does seem to suggest that if we remove God's power over the future that the resurrection of Jesus Christ would be impossible. Is it possible that we simply don't understand how God interacts with time and that while God knows the exact thoughts of 7 billion people and knows all the possible choices that those 7 billion people are likely to make that God restricts himself from knowing the exact future so that He can live in relationship with all 7 billion of us and respond and react to us as we interact with God. Is it possible that God knows his plan for the future but that it changes or is adjusted each time someone says no to God?
I could keep going on. I think you get the point. I have been reading scripture to find a determination for this and it kind of leaves me scratching my head. Quite often what someone uses to support their argument means nothing to me. So when supplying your scripture please explain why.
I think in terms of capability over power. Certainly God has full capability over the future - and God has determined what the end result is: the full establishment of God's Kingdom, a joining of heaven and earth so that in all places that are, God reigns.
Between creation and fulfillment, God has chosen to unite with human beings in a relational way that allows for our free will and participation. Basically, God has made things more difficult for God (having to adjust and adapt the specifics to reach the ultimate goal) because of the value of truly free relationships with humanity.
For me, an open view of God helps explain God more fully as a complex being.
If we're going to go back to the child analogy - it could be like a hike from the car to the lake through the woods. I can let a kid out of the car and point him in the general direction, but he might just traipse off into the woods rather than following the path. From there, I can either pick him up and put him back on the path (a predestined direction) or perhaps not even allow him to leave the path. The other option would be to continue to change and adapt my instructions to encourage him back on the path. Those directions and instructions would be constantly changing because of the kid's choices. I would still have the whole picture in my mind and be entirely capable of making the kid go to the lake if I were so inclined.
God doesn't force us onto a specific path and God doesn't even have to know which specific steps we'll take. God knows what the end result is and God's sight is always on the end.
Second, I find plenty of evidence in the Bible that God doesn't pre-know human decisions (like Adam naming the animals or Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son). On these matters, he didn't know before hand.
Third, I find plenty of evidence in the Bible that God pre-knows human decisions (like Peter's coming denial or Daniel's roadmap to the future). On these matters, he knows before hand.
So....my conclusion is that this issue can't be proven one way or another Biblically.
Even Daniel operates in the same manner. Daniel is not a foretelling of kingdoms to be, but more likely, a later work that puts words in the mouth of these past characters to reflect present day realities, and tell a theological story in doing so. It just makes it hard to say, "The Bible proves that God knows the future."
I see God predicting outcomes well in advance by His own sight and by His own plans that He puts in motion such as our salvation. God also knows how the one He cast to earth rages against Him and how that one also operates. I don't see such a thing as seeing through time. Like you I agree if such a gift exists then God has it.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
After reading all of the previous posts, I am almost afraid to post anything. The discussion so far has been both illuminating and thought provoking, and I don't have anything new to offer in this discussion, which is hardly surprising, as it has gone on for at least 2000 years so far, and probably longer than that!). So far, I have tried to explore three different models that try to explore this area, none of which are adequate:
The first which is based on a theory proposed to me by a physicist, is that time is just a human perspective, and that everything is actually happening at once. That solves the theological problem quite nicely: there is no longer any paradox. The problem with it is two fold: his scientific defense for this view was waaaaaay too complicated for my simple mind to comprehend, so I can't really judge is scientific validity, and secondly because I am pretty sure he took the idea from the book Slaughter House 5, which has a somewhat limited theological credibility factor.
The second model was presented to me by a military officer. He said that Gods foreknowledge is like our knowledge from a map : it is complete, in that we know every route a person could possibly take, but that the person in question still has the freedom to choose that route. I can relate to this perspective, because once on a trip from near Pittsburg to Kansas City, I somehow ended up going through Toledo. I am quite certain that even God, in all His glory, was confused by my navigational choices. The problem with this is that it does seem to overly limit Gods foreknowledge of events a bit too much. It does not really adequately resolve the question at hand.
The third model was shared by a historian. His explanation was that he could look backwards at historical events, but he certainly did not have any influence over them. In other words, knowledge of events does not necessarily entail control over those events. He asked why the same would not be true if one could see into the future. Curiously enough, this appears to coincide closely with the traditional Wesleyan explanation, which evidently doesn't please anyone!
Please don't flame me! At least not too much. I KNOW that all three models are inadequate, and Ibam certainly not trying to push any of them.
But I have three conclusions, which you may feel free to fire at as you wish:
1. I have an eclectic collection of friends who are a whole lot more knowledgable than I am about a lot of things.
2. I really need to learn how to use a GPS.
3. That while the question may be theological in nature, I am not convinced that the answer necessarily is.