Foreknowledge and God's Omnipresence

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by webdog, May 7, 2006.

  1. webdog

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    Calvinsts have often accused non calvinists of open theism, and relating God's foreknowledge to "looking down the road to see who will and who will not accept Him".

    This implies that calvinists do not believe in God's TRUE omnipresence, meaning God is in all times... all of the time. God exists in ALL TIMES, meaning He does not have to "look into the future" to see who has faith in Him, He already knows because He exists in the past, present and future. God being omnitemoral is a natural conclusion to being omnipresent.
     
  2. whatever

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    1. Omnipresence deals with space, not time, but that's a minor quibble.

    2. The idea that God looks "down the road to see who will and who will not accept Him" comes from Arminians. This is not what Calvinists say of Arminians, it is what Arminians say of themselves. Therefore if your premise is correct it is Arminians who deny God's omnipresence.
     
  3. webdog

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    1. Omnipresence
    OMNIPRES'ENCE, n. s as z. [L. omnis, and presens, present.]

    Presence in every place at the same time; unbounded or universal presence; ubiquity (Existence in all places or every where at the same time) . Omnipresence is an attribute peculiar to God.

    2. I have never heard an arminian state this, but rather calvinists accuse non calvinists of believing this (open theism).
     
  4. whatever

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    1. OK, you win this one.

    2. Not this one, though.

    Article 1

    That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

    Quoted from http://www.apuritansmind.com/Creeds/ArminianArticles.htm
     
  5. webdog

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    I don't see what you are getting at there. I don't see open theism from what you highlighted.

    At any rate, God did not look into the future to detemine who would be saved, nor are the "elect" predestined to be so unconditionally. God, existing in past, the present, and the future, everywhere, and in all places, has determined who the "elect" are, and who will or will not have faith in Christ from this perfect omnipresence, something we cannot fathom. Knowing that God exists in the future (and in the past)...right this moment, is an incredible thing to wrap our minds around. This does not mean God's foreknowledge is based on His predestination, nor does it negate the fact that God has given man very real choices to make, while still remaining 100% sovereign. If the "proof texts" for unconditional election were read in this light, they would not be so clear to reformers.
     
  6. whatever

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    I was addressing the assertion in your OP that "Calvinsts have often accused non calvinists of ... relating God's foreknowledge to 'looking down the road to see who will and who will not accept Him'". Open theism by definition does not allow for God to look down the road and see anything, for open theism says that the road isn't even there yet, so you are confusing two different problems. If you think that Calvinists think that all non-Calvinists are open theists then you are mistaken.

    So, are we talking about conditional election or about open theism?
     
  7. StefanM

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    Whatever is correct about open theism. According to open theism, the most God could know is the wide range of possible future conversions. There would be no way in this system for God definitively to "know his own."
     
  8. webdog

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    The concept of both as how they relate to God's omnipresence and foreknowledge.
     
  9. Humblesmith

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    I agree, and I think this is one of the most overlooked areas of the debate....by all sides.

    God is eternal. Eternal is not "endless time" but is one large present. Hence, God is able to be in eternity and create time.

    Therefore from God's perspective, He doesn't pre- or fore- anything, for to God, everything happens in the present (in eternity). From our perspective, we're locked in time, so we have a "before and after." To us, God can pre- and fore- things.

    What are the implications? God can determine (predetermine, if you must), elect, foreknow, predict, etc., all with complete certainty and sovereignty, while being the cause, and do it all at once, while to us it happens before, during, and after. God doesn't look down through the tunnel of time to foreknow, nor look down through the tunnel of time to elect. He just knowingly elects in one single act.

    Think of it this way: God is eternal, and doesn't get older, and is not stuck in time. He is equally in the past, present, and future, all at once. Therefore, from God's perspective, His electing of us cannot strictly be thought of as having been done beforehand. From our perspective it can; from His, it cannnot.

    The only other alternative would be to have a God who is bound by time, and that would not be an all powerful, sovereign God.

    If we'd realize this instead of shoe-horning prooftexts into our theological cookie-cutters, we'd have a better view of God's election and man's responsibility.
     
  10. doulous

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  11. doulous

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    The natural consequence of full Ariminian theology is Open Theism. You cannot escape it. But all Arminian's are not Open Theist's. Why is that? Because they do not act in a manner consistent with their theology. Any why is that? Because most modern-day Arminian's won't even admitt that they are Arminian. You see it on the BB all they time. "I believe in free will but I am not an Arminian or a Calvinist." I have seen posts start off this way, "I am not an Arminian or a Calvinist, I'm a Christian." There are two reasons for that statement: 1. A denial of the obvious in order to avoid categorization. -or- 2. They honestly don't know the issues involved.

    I am an elder in a church plant. We were planted by a larger Baptist church about 10 miles to the south of us. Our sending church would argue against Arminianism. "We are not Arminian!" They would be twice as loud in denouncing Calvinism. "We are NOT Calvinists!!" With a little modification they are right on the first part. They are not historical Arminian's. They would not stand in lock-step with the Remonstrants at Dort. They are what is commonly referred to as semi-Arminians. They hold firmly to the free will of man in salvation. In that area they would be inarugably Arminian. But they would deny it. They have placed boundaries around their Arminianism. This is why they do not embrace the natural consequence of Armianism, which is Open Theism.

    Now, as to your claim that Calvinist's deny the omnipresence of God, I fail to see the connection. God is omnipresent, but He is also omniscient. Linear time was created for man, not God. God exists outside of space and time. Before linear time began, God chose the elect. Why? Because God is not only omnipresent, He is also omniscient. He not only knows all there is to know at a specific place in linear time, He also knows all there is not to know at all future times. He also retains all knowledge from time past. You're going to have to refine your argument.
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    FROM WEBDOG'S POST TO WHATEVER
    <snip>

    At any rate, God did not look into the future to detemine who would be saved,


    FROM WHATEVER'S POST:

    duh ?

    I think the real question is 'is the faith that Arminians claim an inherent, natural thing for them, or is it something that must come from God in regeneration'.
     
  13. whatever

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    Nobody here claims that God is not eternal, or that He gets older, or that He is stuck in time. Nobody. We all already think of it that way.

    What we all do, Arminians and Calvinists and everyone else, is take what God has revealed of Himself and explain Him the way He explains Himself. Some of us get closer than others, but IMO none of us gets it all correct. But if God says through Paul that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world then we really better just believe it.
     
  14. Brandon C. Jones

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    I'll interject that I am one member here who believes that God is sempiternal. The concept of God's "timeless existence" (existence implies a temporal concept) or however one wants to phrase it is incoherent. If God exists "outside of time," then every "event" (another pesky temporal concept in that word), in God's reality, is fixed and always "happening" (temporal)...let's rephrase that every event is just there in eternity. Every "event" is like a still frame snapshot that is eternal and immutable. The libertarian free-will theist is still left with every event being fixed since the future, in God's reality, exists eternally and permanently. If the past is fixed and unchangable, then how can one change eternity? Whatever I do tomorrow is forever a snapshot in God's eternity...always has been and always will be. I'll rephrase that in better terms. Once God decided (temporal notion) to create the world, then every event is eternally fixed and hanging there in eternity with God. Boy is it hard to escape time when discussing this stuff when you're an atemporalist.

    This discussion has come up before and instead of beating my head against the wall I would recommend John Feinberg's discussion on the subject in his "No One Like Him." BTW I have found no Scripture that metaphysically discusses God's relationship to time. Classical theism proposed this attribute as kind of a piggy back of God being a "perfect being." In Greek philosophy such a perfect being would be timeless. Scripture does not demand this though.

    toodleloo...i don't wish to say much more. If you're interested check out Feinberg's work he discusses a lot of other works on both sides of the issue in it.

    blessings,
    BJ
     
  15. Humblesmith

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    The natural consequence of full Calvinism is universalism or arbitrary-goddism. You cannot escape it. But all Calvinists are not universalists or hold to an arbitrary god. Why is that? Because they do not act in a manner consistent with their theology. And why is that? Because most modern day Calvinists won't even admit that they're extreme Calvinists. You see it on the BB all the time. "I'm a Calvinist but I'm not hyper-Calvinist or extreme Calvinist." There are two reasons for that statement: 1. A denial of the obvious to avoid categorization, or 2. they honestly don't know the issues involved.

    Now, why are we not talking about God and temporality, like in the OP?
     
  16. Humblesmith

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    Brandon:

    You are correct that to us, as finite beings, its hard, if not impossible, to talk about God in terms of not having a before and after. However, the alternative is to have a God that:
    --was not in time before creation
    --became limited by time after creation

    And anything limited by time is, by definition, not infinite. Now we'd have a finite god, who is in time, and subject to the limitations of the physical universe. This is a finite god.

    Further, while God has a will, he does not "decide" like us....(you pointed out that 'decide' is temporal.) But God does not observe, then think, then make a decision, like we do. That would be a God who learns, and is finite again.

    The only way to have a sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient God, is to have one that already knows everything and is not bound by time.

    I'll look for Feinberg's book. Not many speak of these things, so I'll look for it. Thanks for the tip.
     
  17. Brandon C. Jones

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    Hub:

    Time limits God as much as personhood or incorporealness does, which, in my opinion, doesn't limit Him at all. God has emotions and desires and can't scratch his ear, but we don't say that He is bound by personhood and those pesky emotions and desires that come with it or that He is bound by being a spirit and can't scratch His ear. No, instead we view these as fitting for God and okay. But for some reason we're prejudiced against a sempiternal God for all the wrong reasons and say that He shouldn't be "bound" by time. This prejudice is a carryover from greek philosophy and its influence on classical theism--Scripture has little if anything to do with it.

    On the contrary, I believe atemporality limits Him greatly especially in light of triune relationships and the incarnation (which both seem to thrive more with a sempiternal God). Remember Christ speaking of the glory He shared with the Father before the world began? Atemporality requires staticness, not to mention every event existing all at once forever...The Son (or second person of the Trinity if you like) is eternally unincarnated, incarnated, resurrected, and returning forever in eternity. I see no upside to atemporality and a lot of needless headaches. Whereas, there's no downside to sempiternity as long as one doesn't believe that time limits God.

    I have found it wise to avoid the word infinite when describing God because it's a rather useless term once we throw all of our qualifiers on it when discussing every divine attribute.

    hub...thanks for your thoughtful reply (sometimes a rarity on this board). I hope things are going well at Southeastern [​IMG]

    BJ
     
  18. Benjamin

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    I’ve also noticed that piggy back qualifier (in my new Geisler ST book, [​IMG] ) of "timelessness alone" preset for us in “classical theism”, as a limiting statement from in man’s finite wisdom we attempt to force define infinite, rather oxymoronic to begin with.

    True that certainly an omnipotent God cannot be bound by anything including time, and although we struggle to comprehend how He is not within any binds of time, we seem to want to limit Him from also abiding within the truth of how He created our time. Also even with agreeing that He “cannot” learn we then must avoid placing any qualifying limit on perfect knowledge that in His omniscient nature He is not able to allow man to learn and choose, saying He can’t possibly do so is denying the truth of His very nature within a finite definition of omnipotence.

    As webdog said, God “can” exist in ALL times, and who wants to say God “can’t” do anything? By an abundance of the scripture He just does as we understand it, for someone to say scripture demands otherwise is in no way clearly apparent and immediately takes away from His sure sovereign ability to create a world as He pleases. He created the truth as we know it, we are told that He is the Truth, so I don’t feel we have to figure it out, just believe it. Without a childlike humble belief that He is Truth in His Own self derived nature our theology becomes fatalistic from the beginning.

    I agree,it is definitely hard to talk about because as soon as we start questioning what He can and can’t do we begin to place limits one way or the other placing Him within our finite knowledge, and stomping on someone’s theology…and now I’m feeling one of those headaches coming on.
     
  19. Calvibaptist

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    I have sometimes accused non-Calvinists on this board of espousing open theism. It was not directed at all non-Calvinists, but at certain ones on this board who specifically said that God changes based on what man decides because, in order for their will to be free, their choices cannot have been pre-determined. Therefore, their choices could not have been completely known, just the possibility of their choices. This is classical open theism. It is in no way indicative of how all non-Calvinists believe.
     
  20. Marcia

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    CalviBaptist, why can't God know someone's choice without determinng it? He could know that you would choose to eat soup at 6, then change your mind and plan to order pizza at 7, then reject that decide to microwave a burrito at 8.

    God knows all choices that will be made - but people are still making them.
     

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