Posts tagged Egypt
I am interested to know how Open Theists explain this scripture’s meaning. If God knows the end from the beginning, does that simply mean he can differentiate between them. Related to this is the clear theme of scripture about God bringing about his plan ultimately in the last days, of course. Do Open Theists relate all these to simply God planning what He will do, and not every detail that all others will do? Thank you for your help. I am a pastor, and feel it of the highest importance that I express accurately the Bible’s message to man.
Reply to John:
Dear John: Thank you for your query. While I can not assume the role of “spokesman” for all open theists, the short answer is that, your understanding of openness is on the right track when you ask, “Do Open Theists relate all these to simply God planning what He will do, and not every detail that all others will do?”
A longer answer–again, not representative of all open theists–follows, and, I hope, will help.
The passage to which you refer I believe is Isaiah 46:9b-10a: “I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning.” Some traditional and neoclassical interpreters, most strongly in the Calvinist and Reformed heritage, understand this verse and other like it to support a universal divine determinism. However, I believe the language and the context of Isaiah must be stretched inappropriately to arrive at this conclusion. Let me explain.
Contextually, Isaiah 46 is dominated by the theme of God’s reassurance of deliverance. (1) The pseudo-gods could not rescue Israel & have themselves been exiled (Foil against which to contrast God, 46:1-2); (2) But Israel should be assured that God will continue to give them support and that he will deliver them (Claim, 46:3-4; 12-13), (3) because he is not like powerless idols (Warrant, 46:5-7), and (4), because, as they should remember, he has repeatedly delivered them in the past as he had promised (Warrant, 46:8-11).
Since the conceptual boundaries in this immediate context are limited to the deliverance of God’s people, I would suggest that an extrapolation from “I (repeatedly) declare the end (deliverance) from the beginning,” (i.e., Noah & family; Lot & family; Israel from Egypt) to a dogmatic universal principle (like “God absolutely determine’s all things”) is exegetically suspect.
Furthermore, it is literarily unnecessary. Reconsider the text: “I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning.” Note that he does not indicate that he declares all ends from the beginning. To infer from the text that God means that he determines absolutely everything is grammatically/syntactically unnecessary. He declares what will be as it relates to this specific occasion, not universally; neither does he declare the specific means to that end. Tangentially, I would make a seemingly simple but crucial distinction regarding our conception of foreknowledge which is undergirded by this text: God does not declare the end because he knows it (as if it had already occurred), but he knows what the end will be because he declares it, i.e., he has determined to do it. God’s foreknowledge derives from his determinism, not vice versa, and his determinism is not absolute or meticulous in all cases.
Though I’m not sure of the exact meaning of your first question, I would say, “No,” it does not simply mean that he can differentiate between them. That would seem to imply God was an impotent spectator of sorts, as I believe the various doctrines of Simple Foreknowledge do when carried to their logical ends, and not the passionate relational person that he has revealed himself to be. It means he has, in Isaiah 46, declared a specific end that he plans to bring about, though the means to that end are open, and extrapolation to absolute determinism is unwarranted.
Regarding your second question, I believe you are on the right track (although I prefer to avoid the term “simply”). God has declared some clear eschatological specifics: Jesus will return; he will resurrect the just and the unjust; all will be judged, etc. But, to use a Southern Baptist confession, he will accomplish these things “In his own time and in his own way.”
Since “his own way” includes his sovereign free choice to give real freedom of choice to humans, some things God can not “declare,” for the jury is still out. For example, God has declared that there will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust; that has been divinely determined and is therefore certain. However, which category a person will occupy (just or unjust) depends largely on her free response to the grace of God and therefore has not yet been/ can not be yet “declared.” That part of the future is open.
Consider two texts which demonstrate how our choices significantly influence the course of history. If king Saul had exercised his freedom differently, the Judeo-Christian heritage might today speak of a “Saulite” kingdom rather than a Davidic kingdom (1 Sam 13:13). Furthermore, God explicitly states that some of the future is conditioned by the free choices of humans, and therefore open until those choices are made (cf. Luke 13.3). But God also makes some promises which are conditional, though he does not explicitly state them to be so (i.e., 1 Sam 2:27-30).
This brings us back to Isaiah 46. While the immediate context seems to contain an unconditional determination by God, other passages in the broader context of scripture suggest that the actual fruition of this particular instance of deliverance may be conditional. Deut 30:1-10 and Jeremiah 29:11-14 portray God’s planned deliverance/restoration as conditioned upon repentance/return to the Lord (see also Neh 1:9; Deut 4:29-31; and others). Therefore, even here, as with Eli in 1 Sam 2:27-30, the plan may be conditional without God explicitly saying so.
Again, thank you for your inquiry. I hope I have been of some assistance. May the Lord bless you in your pilgrimage, and bless your flock through you.
Kevin James Gilbert
Adjunct Faculty, David Lipscomb University
by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd
1. All Bible Believers Hold that God IS Omniscient.
- God sees everything in creation simultaneously (Job 28:24; Ps. 33:13-15).
- God knows the number of the stars and angels (Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26) and hairs on your head (Mt. 10:29-30).
- God knows everything about the deeds, the thoughts, even the innermost intentions of all people (e.g., I Chr. 28:9; Job 24:23; 31:4; 34:21; Psl. 119:168; 139:23-24; Jere. 16:17; 17:9-10; Lk. 16:15; Acts 1:24; Rom. 8:27; 1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Jn. 3:19-20).
2. What The Issue About the “Open Future” Is and Is Not About
It is Not Over Whether or Not God Perfectly Knows All of Reality: But WHAT IS THE REALITY, which God Perfectly Knows.
- The “Open” View holds that the future now is partly composed of indefinite possibilities as opposed to the view that it is exclusively composed of definite realities. It is in part constituted as a ” maybe this or maybe that,” not exclusively as a ” certainly this and certainly not that.”
- The view does not qualify God’s omniscience. The “Chairs in a Room” analogy
3. The Exegetical Methodology
- Many passages teach or imply that the future is determined and/or foreknown.
- Many passages teach or imply that the future is undetermined and not foreknown.
The Traditional Approach : Affirm the obvious meaning of the first set of passages but denies the obvious meaning of the second (they are figurative/anthropomorphic. etc.).
The Alternative Approach : Affirm the obvious meaning of both sets of passages. Some of the future is determined and foreknown, some is not.
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