Regarding such texts as 1st Samuel 23:9-13, Jeremiah 38:17-24, Matthew 11:21-24 and Luke 22:31-34, how does Jesus know what He claims to know? Are we in any position to even ask that question, while the question of just how God is eternal, also remains a mystery? If we cannot explain how God is eternal, how can we be in any position to explain how He knows what He knows?
This reminds me of the fact that Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him three times on the night of His arrest. Even after Jesus mentioned to this Peter, he knew that Peter would still do it. This also reminds me of the scenarios given to Jeremiah, to relate to King Zedekiah, at Jeremiah 38:17-23. Another example of Matthew 11:21-24. God knows things that we cannot explain, and we trust that God is correct in what He claims to know, because we trust in God’s character.
Dave Hunt explains: “God knows every thought, word, and deed beforehand because He is omniscient. That God foreknows all that will happen doesn’t cause it to happen, because He exists outside of time.” (Debating Calvinism, pp.165-166, emphasis mine)
James White writes: “Is he saying that man’s actions determine the future and that God merely knows what will happen?” (Debating Calvinism, p.57, emphasis mine)
James White writes: “If God’s foreknowledge is perfect, does it not follow that the future is, in fact, fixed? And if it is fixed, upon what basis did it take the shape it did?” (Debating Calvinism, p.360, emphasis mine)
From the perspective of an eternal Being, it is fixed, because it already has happened. Just who fixed it, are the people in the future who determined their own actions. God determines what He does, and man determines what he does, and God interacts with man, in a participatory relationship.
If God is timeless, then He can know our future, self-determined, free choices.
Calvinist, James White, writes: “How God can know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point….” (Debating Calvinism, p.163, emphasis mine)
I take this statement to mean that God couldn’t know something, if He otherwise did not determine it, and that’s troublesome.
White writes: “How can God know what these free creatures will do in the future, if they are truly free (the argument open theists are aggressively promoting today)?” (Debating Calvinism, p.168, emphasis mine)
Because God is eternal. All time and space stands before Him. The theme is clear, though, from the Calvinist standpint: God must determine something, in order to infallibly know it.
Dave Hunt responds: “White denies omniscience in his repudiation of any ‘grounds upon which to base exhaustive divine foreknowledge of future events outside of God’s decree.’ If God must decree the future to know it, He’s not omniscient.” (Debating Calvinism, p.389, emphasis mine)
I think that Hunt makes a good point. Plus, there are many “counter factuals” in Scripture that never actually occurred in our world, but God claims to omnisciently know them, as if they had occurred. One example is Matthew 11:21-24, and another example is Jeremiah 38:17-23.
Laurence Vance writes: “To further add insult to injury, the Calvinists claim that God could not have absolute knowledge of the future events unless he actually decreed them to happen. This is a direct attack on the omniscience of God. What kind of power does it take to know something one has already decreed to take place?” (The Other Side of Calvinism, p.259, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “He knows all things will happen because he ordains everything that does happen. This is crucial to our understanding of God’s omniscience. He does not know what will happen by virtue of exceedingly good guesswork about future events. He knows it with certainty because he has decreed it.” (What Is Reformed Theology, p.172, emphasis mine)
This is the Calvinist’s “knows it because He’s decreed it” version of omniscience.
Sproul adds: “The Westminster Confession avers: ‘God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass….’ This statement refers to God’s eternal and immutable decretive will. It applies to everything that happens. Does this mean that everything that happens is the will of God? Yes.” (What Is Reformed Theology, p.172, emphasis mine)
Next comes the crystal ball accusation:
Calvinist, James White, writes: “So often is the ‘God looked into the future and saw who would choose Him’ statement made, that most accept it without any inquiry into its truthfulness. But the fact is that the text knows nothing of this ‘crystal ball’ approach to God’s decree of salvation.” (Debating Calvinism, p.145, emphasis mine)
But no one is saying that God needs a crystal ball. Remember that God is timeless.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians responds: “God is both omnipresent and omnitemporal. He doesn’t need to ‘look down the corridors of time’ because He exists in all times. Right now, He is just as present with David and Moses as He is with you and me right now. I see time as a dimension of space, so how God interacts with time is the same as He interacts with space. He doesn’t have to determine it, in order to know it; He can see it right now.” (SEA, emphasis mine) The other problem is that if God decreed all things, including all thoughts, then whereas that would be fine if all thoughts were good, what happens when many thoughts are discovered to be bad? For if God decreed those bad thoughts, then what does that say of God? How could God claim to be pure light, as per James 1:17? Consider the angels that fell away into rebellion with Satan and became demons. If God determined all of their thoughts, both before and after the Fall, then the demons are the precise creation of God, based upon the thoughts that He decreed for them, without which, if He did not decree them, then He could not otherwise know those thoughts, or what they would think next. So a significant problem arises if God determines all things, including thoughts, when considered from the perspective of the demonic realm. However, Scripture does indicate that there are some things that God takes no part in, and one example in Scripture is Jeremiah 32:35. I think that this reinforces the concept of James 1:17, in which there is no darkness in God, but only light. Without Free Will, then God must necessarily own every sin, as His own creation, decreed from no outside example, other than His own imagination, to decree and execute such dark things as a Satan Bible, imagined by God, and decreed for secondary demonic agents to write. The whole idea of secondary causes might make sense if God does not decree their thoughts, but if God really does decree their thoughts (all of them), then the secondary agents become an extension of God, and that takes us back to square one, regarding the problem that decreed-thoughts creats. Now if there is a Permissive Will & Free Will entered into the equation, then God can be said to have no part in the demonic Satanic Bible, but if there is a Permissive Will without Free Will, then this again takes us back to square one, in which God is permitting others to think only the thoughts that He has decreed for them. So there is no apparent remedy in sight for the “High Calvinist” who makes God the decreer of all thoughts. Of course, by me citing the most twisted sins of the Occult, I could be charged with inciting Emotionalism, but my question is how can such decreed thoughts of the demonic realm still enable God to claim total light as per James 1:17? That’s what I can’t understand.