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Thread: Does Open Theism Question/dispute the Omniscience of God

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    LIFETIME MEMBER Bright Raven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derf View Post
    These are all good verses, BR. Can we discuss them in some detail? Some, maybe all, are merely subsets of omniscience, like knowing the number of hairs on our heads. Or knowing that a sparrow has fallen to the ground (Matt 10:29, one you didn't include). Knowing numbers of hairs or fallen sparrows does not extrapolate to knowing everything, but it is evidence of God knowing something hard to know, or God being omniscient in a particular area.

    The type of subset I will focus most on is the type that can be counted as present knowledge (like the hairs and sparrows). I'll mark the ones I think are present knowledge with a red {PK} at the end. While verses talking about present knowledge are glorifying to God, they aren't necessarily relevant to the discussion about God knowing everything about the future, which is where traditional theists and open theists part ways.

    Another subset that might be represented is those that talk about future knowledge, where God knows something that's going to happen. Nobody denies that this is possible for at least some things, and the question then is whether it includes everything that's future. I'll mark those that I think are this type with a red {FK}. There are a couple I'm not sure about. I'll mark those with a red {NS}.



    You will likely disagree with some of my assessments. If so, please tell me which ones and why.

    My point here is to eliminate the present knowledge verses, so that we have fewer we need to deal with. Then it will be easier to discuss the future knowledge or "not sure" verses. I figure "not sure" allows those to be future knowledge for the discussion, anyway.
    We can discuss that which you consider to be future knowledge. That is fine with me. Because God cannot contradict Himself.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

    Jim Elliot

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    Over 1500 post club Derf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bright Raven View Post
    We can discuss that which you consider to be future knowledge. That is fine with me. Because God cannot contradict Himself.
    @Bright Raven: Thank you for your response. I've copied your verse list post again, with the "present knowledge" verses removed. I retained the verses that had any "future knowledge" parts or "not sure" parts. And I will insert my comments in between the verses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bright Raven View Post
    Psalm 147:5
    Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. {FK}
    I listed this as FK, but in reality it isn't talking about "knowledge". It's talking about "understanding". Most definitions of "understanding" deal with a capability to comprehend or discern about something that exists or has already happened. I don't think we need to limit it to that in God's case, because I think He will comprehend anything that happens, and likely has already considered it as a possibility. But the one thing it doesn't say is that God knows something that will happen in the future. I do't think this verse is particularly helpful for traditional theists.

    Psalm 139:1-3
    O LORD, You have searched me and known me. {PK}
    You know when I sit down and when I rise up; {PK}
    You understand my thought from afar. {NS}
    You scrutinize my path {FK}
    and my lying down, {PK}
    And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. {NS}
    This is one of the primary verses used against open theism. I commented on it already, as "Gotquestions.org" used it in the article you copied from their site.

    I'll go a little further here and say that "my thought from afar" and "all my ways" COULD have a future knowledge meaning. But they could also have a present knowledge meaning. In such cases, the more conservative one should apply, unless we know better from a different source. "More conservative" means "less all-encompassing", meaning we don't want to extrapolate beyond what is intended by the author.

    The "You scrutinize my path" portion I marked as "future knowledge", because I think God is looking out for where we are going, not just where we are. But this portion explains that God doesn't just "know" about our future path, but He is "scrutinizing" it, or "studying" it. Some translations say "observing" my path. It is a decent verse to say that God is obtaining knowledge about something in the future.
    Psalm 44:21
    Would not God find this out? {FK}
    For He knows the secrets of the heart. {PK}
    This verse is talking about FK in the first half and PK in the second half. But the way it talks about future knowledge is to say God will "find out" something. Thus, this verse actually has God learning or discovering something in the future that He didn't know in the past. It's a great open theism verse!

    Isaiah 46:9-10
    "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; {FK}
    Is 46 is definitely a verse that talks about future knowledge. And it talks about God already possessing future knowledge, not just obtaining it. Of all your references, this one is the one that carries the most weight, in my opinion. But it also does something else. It tells us the basis of God's future knowledge. When it says "Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'", it is saying that the things God knows will happen in the future, He knows because they are His purpose and His good pleasure.

    Think about that for a minute. If God knows what's in the future because it is part of His purpose and His good pleasure, then if God knows a sin will be committed (think of the worst possible sin, like torturing and raping a child, perhaps), then the reason He knows it will happen is because it is His purpose that it happen, His "good pleasure" that it happen.

    If you don't think such is the case, then I think you have to allow that God doesn't know "everything" that is going to happen, or if He does, Is 46:9-10 is only talking about things that really ARE God's purpose and good pleasure. Thus, though it is a "future knowledge" passage, it isn't a "everything" passage.

    Now we have a decent synopsis of the open theist view, and it comes from the subset of future knowledge passages you provided (thanks again for those).

    Open theism says:
    1. God doesn't always know what free agents are going to do in the future, but He watches and observes them, both their actions and their thoughts.
    2. God knows what His own purposes are, and He will accomplish them, in spite of anything anyone else can do.
    3. Because of this, God can declare things that will happen in the future, but not necessarily EVERYTHING that will happen in the future.

    Now, if you agree with my synopsis, and you agree with my assessments above, then you can see that the Bible doesn't seem to define God's omniscience in terms of anything in the future, except what He plans to do. This is comforting, since we know that He plans to resurrect us, and we can take comfort in knowing that He will be able to accomplish it.

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