Friday, September 18, 2015

Musings About God: Foreknowledge or Foreordination

I have been listening to a podcast on Systematic Theology from the Reformed Theological Seminary for the past few weeks.  I have enjoyed having something to focus on while out on long walks and find it to be thought provoking.  This evening started a section on "God's Divine Plan", and I found myself struggling with what this very calvinistic professor was teaching.

I do not have any issue with the sovereignty of God. I do believe he is in control and does what he will.  I even accept that God chooses and rejects who he will, although I will vary from the calvinist position in believing that he chooses based on our faith.  I do not see that God freely choosing to accept all who come to him in faith is limiting his ability to freely choose who he will.

I also fully accept that God has a purpose for his creation and that he is accomplishing that purpose without any interference from me or anyone else.  I am not capable of frustrating God's plan, regardless how hard I try.  God is sovereign.

God exists outside of time, at least as we know it, and is not bound by time.  My yesterday, today and tomorrow are all now for him.  God knew me before creation and everything I would say, do or think.  Nothing is hidden from him.

Where I have a problem though is with the thought that if God can forecast, or predict, the future, that future must be operating according to his specific plan.  Everything that happens in our world happens because God has made it to happen in just that way.  This 'foreordination' makes it easy to understand being able to see into the future.  And I believe it is entirely within God's sovereign ability.  But what room does it leave for free choice on my part.  Am I just a robot following a script that God laid out for me?

While it is conceptually harder to grasp, I do not see why God's ability to see my future requires that he force me into that particular future.  Why cannot God look into my future, seeing all of the choices I have made, as well as the impact on me of other's choices, without causing them to happen.  God, after all, is not bound by time, and so should be able to see it without it unrolling according to a script he has written.  God having 'foreknowledge' rather than 'foreordination', makes me really responsible for my actions, which seems to be the clear teaching of scripture.

This is not to say that God just sits back and watches the cosmic drama unfold without any involvement.  It seems clear to me that a sovereign God can, and will, interact with his creation as he pleases.  This was most clearly done when he took on human flesh and lived among us 2000 years ago.  And I have no doubt that today God responds to my prayer, changing the course of my life, and others, into something different than it would have without my prayer.

Quite honestly, I do not believe that God generally cares much one way or another if I get a good parking spot when I run to the local home improvement store to pick up a 2x4.  And as dearly as I love my wife, I do not believe that God prepared her just for me; although I am thankful to him for her.  And while I believe that God knew I would be writing this before he created the universe, and hopefully finds the effort pleasing, I do not believe he is forcing me to do so.

God has a purpose for his creation, the creation of a people to come alongside him for the remainder of eternity.  And God has a plan for how that will occur.  But I do believe that, in his sovereignty, and with his foreknowledge, he allows us to be independent agents operating in a world that functions according to the natural laws he put into place at creation.

I would be most interesting in your thoughts or corrections.