Does God Know the Future (or Make It)?Posted: August 13, 2011
A Follow-Up to
“Infectious Errors of Calvinism”
I have often had debates with people who insist that God knows the future, such as what you will eat for lunch, on this day, ten years from now. Those of Calvinistic propensities (vast majority) seem to consider it vitally important to insist that God knows the future, absolutely, by which they somehow protect their notion of God’s sovereignty (as if He needed their help).
Speculations regarding, “What did God know and when did He know it?” are quite unfruitful, and gravitate back toward doctrinal preconceptions.
Logically, pursuing the Calvinistic argument: either (1) the future already exists in some reality and God consults it like a “roadmap”; or (2) the roadmap exists because God has predetermined it. This is a false dichotomy. The first supposition makes God subject to the roadmap, and therefore not sovereign; the second imposes upon God the requirement to predetermine all future events, thereby denying God’s free will.
The popular conception that God knows individuals so well, as He does circumstances, that He can absolutely predict what we will do, into Eternity, cannot but fall within one or the other of these suppositions. In the case of the former supposition, the “roadmap” is constituted of our predisposed actions in any given set of circumstances. This further begs the question whether God predicts the circumstances or predetermines them. If God predetermines our circumstances, then predicts our actions accordingly (or vice versa), then God is either predicting (i.e., via roadmap) or predetermining (by fiat) those circumstances, and consequently our actions. Either way, as Calvinists have concluded, denies our free will.
There exists, however, a third option external to Calvinistic logic. If God has free will, which is to say is sovereign, then obviously He can choose to predetermine events, and thereby our actions (working his eternal Plan); or choose NOT to predetermine events, thus allowing for our freedom of choice. As I intimated in the previous article, God’s genius is that He can do both, not just either/or.
Ultimately, our guide should be Scripture, not our conceptions, however expert. The Bible definitely conveys that God has a Plan, according to his sovereign will. But it also conveys, from cover to cover, that man has a choice: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”
© 2011 Paul A. Hughes