Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Does God Know The Future?

This discussion is very good as it shows the importance  of knowing philosophy as well as good theology!  This was a friendly dialog that happened on Facebook and is unedited.  If you are enjoying the dialogs please let me know.  I post these because I want people to see how apologetics and sound theology relate to everyday discussions and how to respond.  I am not a theologian or anything special but I do enjoy the dialogs and hope you do as well!

The discussions move rapidly so there are going to be spelling and grammatical errors so I apologize!

Tressa Washington-Adabo
I have a question to pose for many of you on here especially Darrell Zamora who states that God already knows who's saved and his omnipotence and omnipresence means that He's some mythical, magical creature that is just sitting on the throne playing with folks on earth for His enjoyment because hey he already knows what's going to happen to us all anyway.
Explain Genesis 3:20-22:20) And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21) I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know. 22) Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.
If God knows all and see all why did He come down to earth to confirm what He had HEARD? If he had to hear and confirm it then is it not right to suspect that God doesn't really know everything like some people say?

Devin Pellew

Great question! I would say that there are a few things we need to look at.

The Bible is clear that God knows all things:

1- (Isaiah 46:9-10 ESV)
"remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,"

The text says He declares the end from the beginning.He tells us for example how we can know a the true God vs a false god

2- (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 ESV)
"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him."

For God to know the future means He has to be omniscient. He is not just guessing but telling us we know He is the true God because He is telling us the future

3-The numerous prophecies foretold hundreds of years before the events actually happen. Only a being that is omniscient can do that. Look at Pslam 22 which is written around 800 years before Christ took on a human nature and the dead sea scrolls were carbon dated showing that this was written that far before the events happened

(Psalm 22:16-18 ESV)
"For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots."

Now as for the scripture you raised we need to look at the study of hermenudicts which is the art and science of Biblical interpretation. The scripture you posted is "anthropamorphic" language which is where we ascribe human characteristics to God. For example we know God is immaterial and does not have a physical body (Luke 24:39) yet we see other texts that say the "Eyes of the Lord" and the strong "arm" of the Lord. But we know God does not have eyes, legs, etc. The language is anthropamorphic and is easily explained in light of scripture as a whole>

Thirdly scripture says God has chosen His elect BEFORE the foundation of the world

(Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."

Jesus who Is God did know exactly the hearts of men

Matthew 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?

John 6:64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

John 13:11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

I hope this helps answer your objection and I think it is a very thoughtful question

Tressa Washington-AdaboDevin Pellew, I do believe that the scripture uses Anthropomorphic expressions and God visited Sodom & Gomorrah to really find out what happened but to prove to man that the judgement that was to come upon them was coming from God himself. God always tries to turn others from sin before sending judgement. However, I differ with you on the God's physical make up. The Bible also said that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the father so does that mean we must also conclude that Jesus is sitting down beside an "essence" called God? Genesis also states that God walked in the garden of Eden. He sat down eat and drank with Abraham prior to the visit. Must I imagine this is just imagined? I'm sorry but when the Bible says we were made in God's image, I take that to mean while God has not a natural physical body he has a spiritual body that has all the characteristics we do. Therefore he has eyes, arms, legs,etc. I applaud you Brother Pellew for giving scripture references to prove your point unlike some folk on here who expect others to be gullible enough to believe them based solely on the fact it came from their mouth.

Devin Pellew

Again, very excellent questions! Hopefully my response will at least make you think about the issues.

You said

"However, I differ with you on the God's physical make up. The Bible also said that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the father so does that mean we must also conclude that Jesus is sitting down beside an "essence" called God? "

1-God does not have a physical make=up

John 4:24 says God is Spirit. Luke 24:39 A Spirit does not have flesh and bone.

So to put it in argument form

1-God is Spirit

2-A Spirit does not have flesh and bone

3-Therfore God does not have flesh and bone

Based on simple deductive arguments and scriptures it is very clear that God is not made up of physical parts but He is rather an immaterial being.

You also said

"Genesis also states that God walked in the garden of Eden. He sat down eat and drank with Abraham prior to the visit. Must I imagine this is just imagined?"

I think it is clear that just as the "Angel of the Lord" in the OT was God and had taken on a form, the same thing is going on in the passages you mention. God taking on a form though is not saying that form is essential to His nature. Again, scripture is clear that God is not made up of parts. The argument I gave above would clear that up.

Next you said

" I'm sorry but when the Bible says we were made in God's image, I take that to mean while God has not a natural physical body he has a spiritual body that has all the characteristics we do. Therefore he has eyes, arms, legs,etc"

To take that we are made in God's image as being physical would be in error. Scripture is clear we have some of the communicable attributes such as love, justice, goodness, etc. However the incommunicable like Holiness, pure actualty, aseity, etc only a being that is non-temporal, non-physical and timeless can fit the description of the God of the Bible.

We have both scriptural and philosophical reasons to reject that God is a physical being


Numbers 23:19
"God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?"

1 Samuel 15:29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."

1 Tim. 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation

Philosophical arguments

1-The fact that the universe is not eternal and that space, time and matter came into existence means necessarily that God can not be spatial, material, and in time because before creation there was no space time and matter. Thus the cause could not be material and in time because matter and time did not exist

2-A God who is infinite and made of parts, would mean God has an infinite amount of parts. There are numerous ways to show that an ACTUAL infinite can not exist in reality.

3-Immutability (Unchangeability). In his epic Summa Theoligica (1a.9.1), Aquinas offers three basic arguments in favor of God's unchangeability. The first argument is passed on the fact that a God of Pure Actuality ("I-Am-ness") has no potentiality. It follows, therefore, that God cannot change (Exodus 3:14). Whatever changes has to have the potential to change. But as pure Actuality, God has no potential, so He cannot change.

The second argument for God's immutability follows from His simplicity. Everything that changes is composed of what changes and what does not change. God cannot change because an absolutely simple being has no composition. If everything about a being changed, then it would be an entirely new being. In fact, it would not be change but annihilation of one thing and a creation of something entirely new. Now if, in every change in a being something remains the same and something does not, then it must be composed of these two elements. So an absolutely simple being with no composition cannot change.

The third argument for God's unchangeability argues from His absolute perfection. Whatever changes acquires something new. But God cannot acquire anything new, since He could not be better or more complete. Therefore, God cannot change. If He did, He would not be God for He would have lacked some perfection.

Aquinas also argues that God alone is immutable (Summa Theologica, 1a.9.2). All creatures exist only because of the will of the Creator. His power brought them into existence, and it is His power that keeps them in existence. Therefore, if He withdrew His power they would cease to exist. Whatever can cease to exist is not immutable. Therefore, God alone is immutable; everything else could cease to exist.

4-God is pure actuality in that he has no potential to change because a being that has infinite knowledge can not grow in knowledge or learn anything new. Yet a god who is made up of physical parts is limited and changing, thus denying an essential attribute of

5-Simplicty (Indivisibility). Since God is not composed in His Being, but is Pure Existence, Pure Actuality with no potentiality; it follows that He is simple and indivisible. A Being that by nature is not composed cannot be decomposed. One that has no parts cannot be torn apart. Hence, God has absolute simplicity with no possibility of being divided. He is literally indivisble.

Likewise, a God of Pure Actuality with no potentiality cannot be divided. For if it were divisible, then it would have the potential to be divided. But Pure Actuality has no potentiality in its Being whatsoever. Hence, it must be absolutely simple or indivisible.

God's indivisibility follows also from His immutability. For if God could be divided, He could change. But God is unchangeable by nature. Thus He cannot be divided. He must be absolutely simple in His nature.

That is just a few of God's attributes that demonstrate God can NOT be a physical being or composed of parts.

Hope this helps you see that it would be against the plain teachings of scripture as well as his attributes.

Great questions, God Bless!

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