This is always a big old nut to crack. Does God know the future? If so how and if not how can that be?
Calvinism answers it simply – all knowledge comes from what has been pre-determined. So there is no issue when we talk the ‘sovereignty of God’. Foreknowledge is absolute.
Arminianism kind of reverses the above approach. God predestines what he foreknows. The foreknowledge is many times likened to what we might term ‘future memory’. My memory gives me knowledge of what took place, but the memory does not determine the past event. So God has knowledge that acts like our memory does – he sees it all but that does not determine what will happen. Such texts as ‘elect according to the foreknowledge of God’ then kick in strongly. He knows what I will do / if I respond to Jesus and so if I do I am elected / predestined according to that foreknowledge.
The above two views of course are helped along if we add the ‘God is outside of time’ element.
With almost all views (except mine) there are Scriptures that seem to fit in the box we have created, and a few that we can ignore that do not fit in.
The last sentence is my rider to what do I know about this… However…
I lean very strongly toward the future is not determined (with predestination / election having nothing to do with who is chosen and who is not); I also think there are so many Scriptures where God changes his mind, or says he will get back to us when he has worked it out (a very loose paraphrase of a conversation he has with Moses), that it pushes us away from God having absolute foreknowledge of what will take place, that there is a very real element where people are free to make choices.
Wow… you’ve just limited God (see I can hear what you think even at a distance!).
I don’t think so. For me the God as described by the Calvinists and the Arminians is actually limited. The future will take place because of God’s omnipotence is the fallback with that. But I think the future will take place because of God’s love; a glorious future for people and planet (and whole kosmos) because of love that knows no limits (Openness Theology).
I am no great chess player. I remember playing for my school and within (I think) four moves lost the match. My excuse was I did not play chess, but fancied representing the school. A great chess player is anticipating the move(s) of the opponent, thinking 3,5,6 and a whole lot more ahead. Imagine being able to consider every possible choice by every possible human, every permutation and knock on effect, multiple billions of billions of possibilities… That’s not possible (see I can hear you again!).
Maybe rather than a limitation on God, it shows the infinite knowledge of God, not simply knowing what will happen, but every possible trillions of permutations. A BIG GOD.
I think it fits the biblical material better that other views. It again underlines a relational God who is never taken by surprise but will come to every situation afresh with eyes of love to be involved without overriding human choices to bring out of it something beautiful and ask for our co-operation in the process.
The invitations in Scripture are genuine – they are genuine invites. The warnings to get off the broad way that leads to destruction (as spoken by Jews in his context) was a genuine warning. Some got off that path, and came out the other side of the huge calamities that came a generation later. God changing his mind does not have to be read as some kind of ‘anthropomorphism’.
Of course I might be forcing some Scriptures but it is summertime. Whatever way you come to it. Our God is a relational God; not ‘one of us’ but totally ‘with’ us.