Omniscience and Determinism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Jan 13, 2013.

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  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Some seem to think that God's omniscience logically necessitates a deterministic worldview. I find this to be a very small and limiting view of an infinite, omnipotent, mysteriously complex God.

    I don't have a problem affirming God's omniscience, but I do have a problem with the limitations people place on God based on finite conclusions drawn from this affirmation.

    Some seem to presume that God's knowledge rests on his ability to read the future like a Psychic might do it. They seem to presume that God, while existing at some point in the past, looks through the corridors of time to foresee what will come to pass and they think that is the basis of His knowledge and subsequent decisions. This seems to be a very shortsighted view of God to me. Of course, we are all just speculating when we go beyond the revelation of scripture, which we can all admit often portrays God with more human like responses and not as some omni-everything to the max eternal being.

    He is the great "I AM," and thus if I were to speculate about his knowledge of all things as an infinite Being, I'd suspect that it is more like our knowledge of present reality rather than our knowledge of past fixed events or our foresight of future fixed events (as if we had a crystal ball, or something).

    In other words, I don't think His knowledge is based on foresight of what he is waiting to experience, but on actually experience. He is all present and infinite. He isn't on some linear timeline limited to the cause/effect realities of a finite existence, which is the very heart of such finite logically conclusions as: "If God knew it prior to creating it, then he must have determined it do be exactly as he knew it." This is what blurs, if not completely erases, the distinction in God's determinations and His knowledge.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Winman

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    Sorry Skan, I disagree here. I believe the foreknowledge view is clearly shown in scripture.

    John 14:29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

    Jesus clearly knew and told his disciples things BEFORE they happened. If you want to mock and call this the "crystal ball" view, that is your choice, but that is exactly what the scriptures show.
     
  3. Skandelon

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    Winman, I'm not denying God's ability to foresee things (or foretell of what is to come), I'm denying the logical conclusions that some draw based on such a limited view of God's infinite nature. In other words, I don't believe His knowledge is based on mere foresight, as God is revealed to be omnipresent, not merely a fortune teller.

    Think of it this way. Does God know what will happen at the end of age because he merely foresees something that He is waiting to experience along with the rest of us, or because he is there, present, as the great I AM?

    We can choose to limit the transcendent infinite God to a linear time based cause/effect construct, but why not appeal to mystery and simply affirm what we know of him from revelation? He makes choices, but he is omniscient. How do those truths work in harmony? I don't know. How can we? But I refuse to draw finite conclusions which deny one of those revealed truths. Make sense?
     
  4. Winman

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    double post
     
  5. Winman

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    I understand your point, but I am not so concerned about God being present in the future, which he well may be.

    To me the issue is whether God is the author of sin. Foreknowledge is the answer to this question.

    Did God predict Judas would betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver because God caused Judas to betray Jesus, or because he simply knew exactly what Judas would do in a given situation?

    If you say God can can only foreknow what he caused, then God is the author of sin.

    If you say God can foreknow what he certainly foresees, then God is not the author of sin.

    This is my concern, and I believe God knows for a certainty what will absolutely take place in the future, whether he caused it or not.

    We see examples of foreknowledge in scripture, Jesus saw Nathanael before he was called. When Nathanael came, Jesus called him an Israelite indeed, that is, a believer, although Nathanael had not YET believed on Jesus. It was only after that Jesus told Nathanael that he saw him under the fig tree that Nathanael believed on Jesus. But Jesus foresaw that he would believe beforehand, thus called him an Israelite indeed.

    Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
    7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
    8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

    Only believers are the true Israelites, Jesus knew Nathanael was a believer BEFORE he actually believed in time.

    Another example is shown in the story of the prodigal son.

    Luk 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

    While the prodigal was YET a great way off (still a lost sinner), the father (God) saw him repenting and coming home in faith. This is a figure of God's foreknowledge,

    It is because folks reject foreknowledge that they cannot solve the problem of God knowing Judas and all those involved would crucify Jesus, and yet God not being the author of this evil. Once you understand that God could foresee what these men would do in this situation, the problem disappears.

    The Jews had tried to kill Jesus several times, but Jesus escaped and thwarted their plains. Only when it was the proper time did Jesus allow the Jews to take him and crucify him, but he did not cause it. He knew however exactly what Judas and the Jews would do.

    Jhn 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

    Does it say Jesus caused Judas to betray him? NO, it says he KNEW. This is foreknowledge.
     
  6. saturneptune

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    In other words, you just took a small baby step towards Calvinism.

    Obviously the second conclusion, for as much in depth of an answer as you provided. First of all, God does not wait, since He is not bound by time, so no, He does not wait along with the rest of us. God does not experience. God created all there is, therefore He does not experience, He IS.

    Yes and most do think of God in our time/space limitations. What do you mean appeal to mystery? We know Him from Scripture, and the Spirit living in us, but it almost seems you think our finite minds can conceive of an existence outside time and space (eternity). We cannot. God does not make choices like man. God acts according to His perfect nature and character. He does not sit and think about what is right or wrong. Where did you ever get an idea like that? For all "these truths" to work in harmony, they have to be truths in the first place. You say you refuse to draw finite conclusions about the Lord which deny time/space limitations. No doubt He is relieved to hear that.

    But, do not anti-sovereignty folks draw one when basically, they wake up one morning and say, "Gee, the sky is blue, and birds are chirping, what a great day to get saved?"
     
  7. zrs6v4

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    Im going to read this more thoroughly but i think this might bring you and I closer to agreement.

    I think the dilemma is how we see our eternally omni-everything God acting in events.

    Is it active or passive?

    Do either fully do justice to how He interacts with all events in space and time?

    We tend to argue ourselves into narrow minded views siding on one side or the other.

    Am I suggesting a molinist type of view? No

    Our views should not not come from philosophical reason, but reasoning honestly with scripture. Now i know we all "do that" but scripture teaching says God is in control of all things. How? When we ask how thats where confusion comes in an philosophy predominates Biblical teaching. I think a deterministic narrowminded view (which i have been pinned :)) is probably closer to a biblical view but it also has philosophical problems we cant grasp. Therefore in my view at a certain point i trust God is perfectly in control of all things but i dont understand how in certain cases.

    Example: evil

    How can God control evil perfectly rather than passively allowing it to happen as if appealing to luck/chance in a sense before creation to bring about his purposes?

    He does, but how? You got me. He cant just let it happen and hope people make choices allowing him to do what he wants. He cant directly guide evil opposing his nature. He didnt foresee all evil events to see what we gave him to work with, but somehow all things are purposed by Him mysteriously.
     
    #7 zrs6v4, Jan 13, 2013
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  8. Skandelon

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    I started in Calvinism and have stepped away from it. Calvinists don't hold a monopoly on the infinite attributes of God. In fact, I'd dare say, my view of God's attributes has heightened dramatically since I've stepped out from under the very limited deterministic model (i.e. 'God has to play both sides of the chess board to ensure victory.')

    I can live with that way of explaining it, the point remains the same in that his knowledge of all things is not merely resting in the foresight of future events, IMO.

    The deterministic argument goes something like this: "If God foreknew the world as it is prior to creating it, then He must have determined it to be exactly as it is." That is a finite logical construct which presumes God exists in a linear cause/effect timeline.

    You just said we must know him through scripture's revelation, which reveals him making choices in a similar way that men do. Observe:

    5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. -Gen 6


    There are many similar text which clearly reveal God reacting and responding within time and space, thus we must conclude that God is fine with us understanding his nature by these terms. These are relational attributes, just as choice is relational. To redefine choice as something other that 'selecting between possibilities' only serves to undermine the revelation. If God wanted to qualify or explain his revelation he certainly could have tapped into the intelligent people of the world like Jonathan Edwards and had them reveal Himself by explaining what God REALLY does, but He didn't. He used fishermen and common language.

    Did I say that? I don't remember saying that. I only said what is revealed: God makes choices. You are the one who added the commentary as to what they looks like for an infinite being, not me. I appealed to mystery, remember?

    I don't know. You will have to find one of that 'anti-sovereignty' types and ask him. :rolleyes:
     
    #8 Skandelon, Jan 13, 2013
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  9. Luke2427

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    So then you DO believe that God knew BEFORE he built the universe exactly what would happen and everything that would happen including the acts of Jeffry Dalmer which you so often like to reference?

    God knew exactly what would happen in the universe that is and he went right ahead and built it any way- right?

    God may not be LIMITED to a linear perspective of time like we are but he is not handicapped so that he can NOT see that way either- right?

    He can AT LEAST look into the past and see it behind and look into the future and see it before. We can do that. So he can do MORE but he certainly cannot do LESS than us there, right?
     
  10. Skandelon

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    I agree. I believe he does BOTH. I think He is passive in permitting evil to exist and continue etc, and He is active in ensuring certain redemptive purposes. For example, He actively worked to ensure the inspiration of scriptures. He passively allowed men to sin.

    I totally agree.
     
  11. Winman

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    Exactly, Jesus did not have to be taken, he ALLOWED himself to be taken.

    Mat 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
    54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

    God allowed Pilate to crucify Jesus.

    Jhn 19:10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
    11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

    God knew the Jews would hate Jesus and plot to kill him, he knew Judas would betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, God knew Pilate would turn Jesus over to be crucified, but he caused none of these things, he simply allowed all these persons to do what they freely chose to do.

    God was passive in allowing all these things. But he was active in allowing himself to be taken. Jesus could have called on God and escaped, but chose not to do so. So in this sense he was active.

    Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

    What does this verse say was performed by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God? BEING DELIVERED.

    But then notice Peter directly charges the Jews with taking Jesus by wicked hands and crucifying him. God did not cause this, he allowed it.
     
  12. Skandelon

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    Yes and No. Yes, he knows everything. No, he isn't limited to our linear timeline where he would know it "before" simply because he foresees it as some future uncaused event. His knowledge doesn't rest on foreseeing it, but on his omnipresent infinite nature which is mysterious indeed and doubtfully bound by a cause/effect linear construct (i.e. I saw in my crystal ball that my wife and I would have another child {cause}, so I chose delay 'the surgery' which would have prevented future pregnancy {effect of what was foreseen, which now becomes the active cause of the future I foresaw.}) This is circular and a very finite way of reasoning, IMO.

    But which of our views really does the 'handicapping' here, Luke?

    Your view: God can't possibly foreknow something prior to creating it without Him being the one who actively determined it to come to pass. I know it must be true because it makes sense to me logically. (You just limited God abilities to only be able to create a deterministic worldview)

    My view: God is holy/sinless and hates evil. God is omniscient. God is omnipotent. God is creator. God makes choices. God holds us responsible (response-able) for our choices. It's mysterious as to how it all works together in His infinite nature, as His ways are higher than ours, but I refuse to deny any of these clearly revealed truths. (I place no limits on God's abilities to create a free and morally accountable world (or even a deterministic one) based on my finite logical constructs)
     
  13. Luke2427

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    I stopped at the first sentence because it did not take you five words to twist my question.

    I never used the word limited. I never said "Do you believe God is limited to linear time perspectives?"

    So the answer: "No I do not believe God is limited to yadayadayada...." does not address my ACTUAL question.

    Answer the ACTUAL questions put to you please.

    Thats how people have a real meaningful conversation.

    Otherwise they just talk past each other.
     
  14. Skandelon

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    Then so did I...
     
  15. Winman

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    Skan, there is a third view, that God can foresee the future. You may reject this, but there is scripture to support it.

    Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

    Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    We can speculate all day long on how God relates to time, but the scriptures tell us things that have not yet come to pass, they are future. God can accurately foresee and tell us what will take place. According to scripture, these things have not happened yet.

    This is how God speaks to us, and this is how scripture should be understood.
     
  16. Luke2427

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    Yea, it figures.

    I have never in my life conversed with anyone so evasive.

    All you have to do is answer the ACTUAL questions people ask you.

    It is curious that you are not able to do that.
     
  17. Skandelon

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    Yes it does...hey I like only having to read the first line. It goes much quicker. Let me know when you want to start interacting with entire posts again, otherwise I'll stick to this method.

    :wavey:
     
  18. Skandelon

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    My view would encompass the ability of foresight, it just doesn't limit Him to that ability as scripture reveals him to be infinite, omnipresent and the eternal I AM, not the "I WILL BE." It's a different perspective, not a lessor one...
     
  19. Winman

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    But the future doesn't exist yet, that is what is so miraculous about foreknowledge.
     
  20. Skandelon

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    Indeed, and its what His infinite, omnipresent nature is all about...supernatural and mysterious indeed.
     
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