Post Author: Darrell
I recently had a conversation with Seth over on Markcares’s blog regarding God’s foreknowledge. Seth believes that man’s freedom is incompatible with God’s foreknowledge. As a result, he believes that God cannot know the future. Here are a couple of his comments.
A being is not “free” unless capable of acting otherwise than he ultimately does act. By definition, you cannot predict such a being’s choices.
An all-powerful God is no more capable of pre-determining a free choice than he is capable of creating a rock so large he cannot lift it.
First, allow me to say that I agree with Seth’s point that a being is not “free” unless he is capable of acting otherwise than he ultimately does act. However, this begs the question whether God’s perfect foreknowledge means that man cannot act otherwise.
If two positions are logically incompatible, then there is absolutely no way that both can be true at one and the same time. Therefore, if God’s foreknowledge and man’s freedom are logically contradictory, there is no way to explain how the two can both be true at one and the same time. If there is even one way in which these two positions can coexist, then the charge that they are logically contradictory fails.
The classic Christian position is that God exists outside of time, i.e., He is eternal. As a result, He does not view time in a linear fashion of yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. Rather He sees time in one eternal now, being eternally present to all moments of time. This position allows God to see and know the future free acts of humans while not in any way violating their free choice.
As a helpful analogy, consider how well parents know their children. As a father, on many occasions I have been able to predict precisely what one of my children will do when faced with a certain situation. Did my foreknowledge of their future actions take away their freedom of choice? Of course not!! I had knowledge of what their future free actions would be; however, they made the choices themselves. If I as a finite time bound being have been able to do this a few times, imagine what a perfect, omnipotent, and infinite being existing outside of time is able to do.
Another problem with Seth’s position is that it contradicts the fact that God has prophesied the future free acts of humans beings repeatedly in the Bible. Consider the following prophesies given hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years before they occured.
1. That Jesus would be born of a virgin (Is. 7:14) – How did God know that Mary would remain a virgin after she was told she was pregnant?
2. Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) – How did God know exactly where Mary and Joseph would go and when they would go there?
3. Jesus would be rejected by the Jewish people (Ps. 22 and Is. 53) – How did God know that an entire race of people would reject Him?
4. Jesus would have His hands and feet pierced (Ps. 22:16) – How did God know that this is how His captors would kill him?
5. Jesus would be crucified with thieves (Is. 53:12) – How did God know that thieves would be in prison at the same time as Him and that the Romans would choose to crucify them along side Him?
6. Jesus’ side would be pierced (Zech. 12:10) – How did God know that they were going to do this?
7. Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Is. 53:9) – How did God know that a rich man would be willing to do this and that the Romans would allow it?
8. The Roman soldiers would cast lots for His garments (Ps 22:18) – How did God know that the soldiers would even want to do this much less do it?
The Bible promises us that God is all powerful and tells us that we, as Christians, are in His tender care. What a wonderful promise!! He has perfect knowledge of all, and in Him we can find rest, knowing that our future is in His all loving and all powerful hands. All praise be to our Savior!