If God Knows The Future, Why Pray?

If God Knows The Future, Why Pray? September 3, 2012

*** This blog post comes to us from my friend Derek Ouellette. He just launched his brand-new blog and I highly recommend that you check it out, follow him, and read his stuff! (Kurt)

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you would have asked yourself at some point, “does my prayer matter?”

And if you’re like me and countless other people I’ve spoken to, you would have sat down across the desk of a spiritual leader such as a pastor probing for an answer to that question. Or you would have brought it up in a home Bible study or a Sunday School class, seeking wisdom from those you trust.

You know it’s a deep philosophical question. If God knows everything, do my prayers really make a difference? It doesn’t get more deep and philosophical than that. But you ask anyways. Why? Despite the fact that you don’t like to think about the deep philosophical mysteries of the universe or that you’re a regular ol’ guy or gal, you ask the question anyways. Why?

Because that deep philosophical question has real-life very practical, hard core, worldview shaping implications.

Deep down inside you know that question really does matter. You know that it’s not just philosophical pie-in-the-sky for the philosophers or theologians to work out.

It matters.

But that was then. You know. Back when you were young and fresh and new and curious and questioning and exploring and teachable and open.

But somehow you settled. Somewhere along the way you gave in. We’ve all heard the same answers. “God wants you to talk to him,” one will say. “God predestined your prayers,” says another.

It wasn’t enough of an answer at the time. But who were you to question further? So you let it go. You let that answer simmer over the years to the point where you’ve become mediocre about the whole thing. It doesn’t really matter, you’ve convinced yourself. Because “God wants us to talk to him” and “God has predestined our prayers.” You repeat the answer you’ve been given like a parrot.

And when a young, new, curious, questioning, teachable and open guy or gal asks you that question, the answer is just the same.

And the cycle continues.


Back up.


I want to talk to your younger self for a moment. I know you’re in there, buried underneath years of pat-answers disguised as “maturity.” The you that was full of questions. The bright-eyed and bushy tailed you who sat across from a leader you respected, with scrunched eyebrows and thinking-cap on, ready and willing to go deep into the philosophical question: why pray?

Open. Teachable. Curious. Adventurous.

That’s the you I want to talk to.

So, what’s the question?

If God knows the future, why bother praying for something? Isn’t it already settled?

It’s a good question, but it’s one that makes a philosophical assumption. The question assumes that God knows the future. I mean, don’t Christians believe that God is all knowing? And doesn’t that mean that he knows every future?

Well, okay. But if God knows every future, doesn’t that imply that he also must know the future? He is, after all, all-knowing.

Well, maybe. But by drawing that conclusion you’ve made another philosophical assumption. You’ve assumed that God knows the future in the same way that he knows the present and the past. If we’re to answer your question, “why pray?” then we need to build our view of God on a different set of assumptions.

[These assumptions will seem counterintuitive at first glance because we are so used to our assumptions. So work with me here, and don’t worry, we’ll get to the Bible before we’re done.]

Let’s assume that the future doesn’t exist and that it will never exist. When tomorrow finally becomes today, it is no longer tomorrow but today. The word “tomorrow” is only a word, an idea, an abstract concept, a way of speaking about what’s to come. The word “today” conveys reality. This day. The day that we are experiencing at this very moment. Today exists. Tomorrow does not. It never will because by the time it “exists” it will no longer be tomorrow, but today.

Let’s assume that God is all-competent and all-wise. He’s not a buffoon or an imbecile. He’s able – not just by sheer strength, but by wisdom and competence. We always talk about how God is all-power and all-knowing. We never talk about how God is all-competent. God is able to work through the most complex situation without having to flex his bulging omnipotent bicep. He’s able to work through it by his know-how. He is, after all, omnicompetent.

Let’s assume that God comes about his knowledge of the future the same way a master chess player does, only infinitely more so. God doesn’t just “see” ten, twenty, of fifty moves ahead, but he sees an infinite number of moves ahead. A master chess player “knows” – we might call it foresight – all of the possible moves that his free-will opponent might make and has planned a response to each one so as to guarantee a certain outcome. Likewise, although the future does not exist, God knows every possible move that a free-will creature might make – though he does not know which move the free-will creature will make. He knows in terms of probability which moves the free-will creature is most likely to make. And he has a response for each.

But hold on,” you say. “You just said that God does not know which move the free-will creature will make. Doesn’t that mean that God is not all knowing?

Not really. To be “omniscient” (all-knowing) is to “know all there is to know.” If something is not knowable, than that does not qualify as detracting from “omniscience.” A classical Church leader and one of histories foremost philosophers has said “God cannot do that which is logically impossible to do.” If the future does not exist (which was our first new assumption) then God cannot logically know it. But since God knows all there is to know (everything that exists and has existed), he is omniscient (all-knowing).

So our new set of assumptions are:

A. The futures does not exist
B. God is omnicompetent.
C. God’s knowledge of all future events is based on his infinite understanding of all possible outcomes and probabilities.

So then, back to your question. “If God knows the future exhaustively, why bother praying?” Because God knows what the future will hold if you do not pray and God knows what the future will hold if you do pray. It may be the same either way, or it may be different.

It may be that God has set his mind to do something and no amount of prayer will change that (like in Jeremiah 4:28 and Ezekiel 24:14 for example). We might say, in this situation, that God’s answer to your prayer was ‘no.’

It is certainly true that God is not “like in man” in that he cannot be manipulated or bribed into changing his mind like wicked Balaam and King Saul attempted to do. (Numbers 23:13 and 1 Samuel 15:29.)

But for a child of God who cries out in ernest sincerity, it may be that God was planning to do one thing but being moved by your prayer, he changes his mind and does something else such as in the case of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20) or the prophet Moses (Exodus 32:9-14).

Still other times God plans to do one thing but hopes that someone will pray and change that direction, like in the case of Ezekiel 22:30

So you see you’re prayers do matter and they can change things. Think about that the next time you drop to your knees before the King of the Universe, who also happens to be your Abba.

Oh, and by the way, welcome to Open Theism.

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  • Jason Glaze

    I really enjoyed this interesting post. Thanks!

    Here is my question. Isn’t it futile to think it terms of time when it comes to God? If he is eternal then he transcends time. So there is no past present and future with him.

    I’ll be honest, even though I disagree with some of the main points you made there is a big part of me that hopes you are right.

    • Good question David! It reminds me something Chesterton said: “The poet merely attempts to get his head into the heavens. It is the philosopher that tries to get the heavens into his head, and it is his head that hurts.”

      At the risk of developing a headache, here’s the answer I suggest. There’s a book called God and Time: Four Views. You’ll see quickly in that book that the idea that God transcends time so that there is no past, present and future with him is merely one philosophical concept of time and it strikes against God’s revelation in the scriptures where God is revealed as timely – not timeless. It boils down to assumptions about time.

      I make a distinction between “measured time” which is created time and time as “sequential moments.” God created “measured time” but he has always (from eternal past) experienced sequential moments. I believe that to make sense of scripture we have to believe that God experiences sequential moments. My assumption about time is that God’s next moment doesn’t exist until he experiences it. I see no biblical reason to not accept this view of time and plenty of biblical reasons to reject the “static theory” of time (that God is outside of time, does not experience sequential moments and so on). Most pointedly, the scriptures reveal our God as timely. Amen to that!

      • That’s pretty close to my own view in different words, Derek. I find myself regularly challenging the notion that God is outside of time…an assumption for which there is no valid foundation IMO. Time as we measure it, or more correctly, the metrics by which we reckon time, are actually human creations for the most part, though we could take Genesis 1 to say that astronomical measurement of time is God’s idea. But what you describe as God experiencing “sequential moments” is, I believe, not only accurate, but actually a description of an element of God’s character. One might even say that “in him we all consist” is at least partly embodied in our very existence in time.

      • As you point out Derek, there is more than one idea of time, and certainly more than one idea about God’s eternality. Asserting God’s transcendence with respect to time does not necessarily entail that this is a “static” timelessness view of time. In fact, neither Boethius, nor Augustine would ever describe God’s eternity as static but rather, for them it is dynamic. Instead with those like Barth it can be thought of as a sort of “supra” temporality where God’s time is unlike our time in that he is in full possession of it. Created time where we spend our lives is an analogy of God’s own with the distinction unlike our time, God’s time does not pass away. He doesn’t lose it. Rather, God possesses the overflowing fulness of his own life in a way that humans don’t.

  • Sheena

    What a freeing, challenging message. At the risk of opening a can of worms related to biblical interpretation, how do you reconcile your beliefs about God and the future with Psalm 139:16 where David says: “…in your book were written, every one of them, the days there were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

    • Thanks for the comment Sheena. There are a few things to keep in mind with this passage. The first is its genre. As a piece of poetic literature hyperbole is very common. David’s comment may be hyperbole expressing the deep riches of God’s care for us, in keeping with the context. It’s not necessary to take Davids comment literally. Another point to keep in mind is that the Hebrew in this passage is very ambiguous. As one example, it’s unclear in this verse if it is David’s “days” that are written in God’s book, or his “members,” (i.e. every inch of his body) – read that verse in the New King James to see what I mean. This is also in keeping with the context which is about God’s great care in “forming” Davids body.

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  • Stephen

    Soooooo, open theism.


    Question: Does do the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures actually teach that God is all-powerful (omnipotent) or is that also an assumption we bring to the texts?

    • As far as I know, God’s “Almightiness” is widely undisputed.

  • Or worse: the “answered prayer” thing: If what we pray for happens now, we assume God said yes. If it doesn’t, we assume he said “No” or “Later.” God doesn’t even need to exist for us to come to those conclusions.

    And that really bugs me.

  • Nice post.

    I’ve definitely always struggled with this question. The conclusion I’ve come up (strictly from an ignorant POV) is much simpler. God DOES know the future and there’s nothing we can do to change that.

    Now, let me defend that simplistic statement:

    By definition there is only one future just as there is only one history. If the “future” were to change, then the original scenario never was.

    Believing in free-will, I’ve come to the conclusion that God simply knows what all of his children will freely choose to do.

    Therefore prayer is very important. It’s not that we could ever change the future. But through earnest prayer God has and I assume will again alter the present if it is in accordance to His ultimate plan.

    Of course this opinion still leaves me questioning how effective my personal prayer life is, but allows me the faith to continue to so.

    One comment about the “God cannot do that which is logically impossible to do.” thought process, God’s a little bigger than that. I don’t see much logic in the empty tomb.

    • Thanks for the comment. I would point out that by definition there is only one future only if you assume there is only one future. I’d also ask you to keep in mind that when the present happens it is what it is. The future can be changed (because it hasn’t happened yet, and is open), but the present and past are fixed. If God foreknows the future than it is settled whether you pray or not. Nothing changes. That view (called Simple Foreknowledge) suggests that God “watched” history unfold before time and now it is just playing out like a rerun (a rerun before it actually happens doesn’t accommodate itself well to free-will). The empty-tomb may be a paradox, but there is a logic to it. Conversely, God can’t hear silence because silence doesn’t exist and God can’t do that which is logically impossible to do.

  • Guest

    I believe it’s relationship for the most part, he like to here from us.

  • I believe it’s relationship, he like’s to here from us. that why he made us for his pleasure.

  • Charles Riley

    From what I can tell is that God always answers prayer. He says yes, no, maybe, let me think about it. God knoiws the past, present and the future but from scripture and my experience I am not always sure God chooses to know the future. I know that God will change his mind. I have a serious disability and God has not healed this disability. I know that I came home from the hospital about 7 years ago and went from 147 lbs. to about 90 lbs.and I was not able to eat anything for 41 days. The Doctors could not tell me what was wrong. I could drink a little water every couple days. We had just adopted my son. I begged God to let me live because I want to stay with my wife and new born son. I wanted to watch him grow up and be there for him. I remember just begging God God for his mercy this one last time. God must have changed his mind and I was able to start eating ice cream. I never liked ice cream but I could eat only ice cream. God has said no, yes, maybe and I will think about it. It does not matter he knows the future.Corky Riley

  • Nathanael Taylor

    Do each of the members of the Trinity infallibly know each others future libertarian free actions?

    • Jumin Rhee

      Was the burning bush a member of the trinity? It was the word, just in flaming leaves, not flesh. Curious what trinnies think (I’m a onesie).

  • blake

    This entire idea is built on assumptions. That God is all-knowing is NOT a philosophical assumption as stated in the post, but in fact biblical truth: “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and HE KNOWS EVERYTHING.” (1 John 3:20).
    God is sovereign over all things “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). Will God answer your prayers for peace, endurance, patience, strength, etc? YES because these are for our good and His glory. Will He answer the prayers to heal my sick grandmother? If it is for my good and His glory, YES. But if it is better for me and more glory for Him to heal her on the other side of this life, then we can pray for the peace, endurance, patience, strength, etc to get through this time because “we love God” and “are called according to His purpose.”

    It’s discrediting and irreverent to compare God’s will with a master chess player’s next moves. We can’t ‘assume’ things past, present, or future of a God who stands outside the confines of a ticking clock. In fact, He existed before time and space, and even better, He created it!
    When these titanic questions are pondered (and we should ponder them), it’s not always a wash if we don’t have the concrete answers. Instead of assuming, these should lead us to worship the God who tells us that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

  • Pat

    Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing!

  • quadelirus

    A presentist would say that God can be all-knowing and still not know the future. All-knowing means that you know all things that are possible to know, but you can’t know the future, since the future doesn’t exist. This is contrary to the four-dimensional view of time, where to God (and any four dimensional created beings), time is one long space-time worm that He can see at a glance. Under the presentist view, there is ONLY the present. The past does not exist as a physical entity, and neither does the future. The future WILL BE, the past WAS, but only now IS. God, therefore, cannot know the future, since there is no future to know. He can, of course, know you so well (and better than you know yourself) that He can with high certainty predict what you are going to do with your free will. He can also know what He will do. But the future is unknowable.

    Prayer might be God giving us an opportunity to align our free wills with His. He may withhold some of His own possible actions until free agents come to desire Him to perform them.

  • Sam Ochstein

    Great, challening, and thought-provoking post! As a pastor I’ve been asked this very question numerous times. As a theologian I’ve thought about it a lot, but not nearly as much as I should. My gut instinct is that what Derek shares here and some other posts I’ve read in the past from Greg Boyd on this same issue make a lot of sense to me. However, Open Theism is essentially thought of as heresy in my own denominational tradition, so I must tread cautiously. It does, however, seem pretty clearly to be the case from scripture that God changed his mind and/or responded many times to the prayers (and repentance, or non-repentance) of people. I wonder if we need to make a distinction between an exhaustive foreknowledge of the future (if we accept the premise the future doesn’t yet exist) and the idea that God knows certain things will happen in the future simply because he has decided or declared they will happen (e.g. Christ will return)?

    • Hey Sam, it is really sad that your denomination views Open Theism as a heresy. I can understand respectfully disagreeing with it. But Open Theism is an honest, biblical attempt to wrestle with some tough issues without undermining Christian essentials. Heresy is a word that put sincere (and often correct) Christians to the stake out of fear and ignorance.

  • Thanks for this excellent piece, Derek. I would push back on the chess player analogy a bit. I do not think God’s omniscient necessitates even knowing all the moves…tho important part is knowing that no move can defeat him. Here’s more of my take on that: http://nailtothedoor.com/life-is-not-a-game-of-chess/

  • A_T_T

    I have respect for Open Theism although I do not subscribe to it. I have less regard for Calvinist determinism.

  • Just a few questions about this quote: “It doesn’t really matter, you’ve convinced yourself. Because “God wants us to talk to him” and “God has predestined our prayers.” You repeat the answer you’ve been given like a parrot.”
    What if there were other options? What if you heard thoughtful versions of those two replies that weren’t just straw-men set up to sound idiotic and calloused only to be knocked down your oh-so-much-less-parroted responses? What if they actually were satisfying? What if there were other options like the classic answers given by theologians (and lay theologians like C.S. Lewis) working with a full concept of eternality, that certainly can’t be rattled off like a “parrot”? What if those were described fairly? What if we considered Molinism? What if we targeted different assumptions, like the one that assumes that divine foreknowledge and human freedom were incompatible? What if we read the many arguments that show that they are in fact quite reconcilable? Or what if we didn’t assume that God’s way of knowing is like ours in that he has to “see” something already “there”? What if we acknowledged that God’s way of knowing can be far different from ours? Or how about this, what if the relevant analogy is not that of a chess-player? What if we’re not playing chess with God? What if it’s a completely different kind of game? What if we were actors in a drama and God was the author?

  • Tom
    • Tom

      Derek Ouellette I meant.

    • Tom, thanks for posting your thesis…as you know I’ve used another of your papers in my own exploration of Open Theism, but I hadn’t seen this one. Don’t believe I knew you worked with Greg Boyd either…color me jealous! Anyway I’ve downloaded your thesis and look forward to reading it.

      • Tom

        Good to bump into you again, Dan!

  • Thomas Jay Oord

    Great stuff, Derek!

    I’ve been talking about this very issue with my senior theology students. Tomorrow, I give them my theology of petitionary prayer, which is very similar to what you offer here. I’m going to print your fine piece for class tomorrow…

  • Ernest

    Although there is a logic to this musing, it doesn’t hold for me since I believe that God is omnipresent and not limited by the past and present. Since God exists already in the future, He would then know what decisions people have made. We see this clearly in the Scriptures. The Book of Revelation, especially, when John was transported into the future. There are so many numerous examples. God foretold that Jesus Christ would be born in Bethlehem to a virgin. He would have to have known all the decisions leading up to the Mary being with child and and the census that caused her and Joseph to go through Bethlehem. That are dozens of examples. In the Old Testament, God told Israel to go against different people and He would deliver them into their hand – so He must have known that Israel would actually engage in the battle.

  • StOoPiD_MoNkEy

    Derek, how can you blast someone for starting with an assumption when you go and do the same thing.

    Plus, although we know that there is an “arrow of time” that flows in a certain direction, we understand that past, present future is abstracts constructs to understand time.

    Time is just time. So to a being outside of our universe, time is irrelevant. That being would and could see “future” time because he would be looking in from the outside. Unless of course you don’t assert that. Then you ‘d have to show how he can exist in our realm and not leave evidence.

    Also, first you’d have to prove your assertion of omnicompentence and that god is not all seeing.

    • “to a being outside of our universe, time is irrelevant.”

      For having just blasted Derek for his assumptions, there’s one of your own. You presume that time is part of this universe, and not something in which this universe exists. God is not necessarily extratemporal just because God created the universe. I’ve posited, in fact, that time may be one of God’s own characteristics/traits/elements of being, so that when we say that all things consist in Him, time is perhaps part of that in which we consist.

      Plus, Derek just described God’s omnicompetence as one of his *assumptions.* Ergo he acknowledges it’s not provable.

      • StOoPiD_MoNkEy


        Unfortunately Derek is flying in the face of all Christian apologetics. So although I’d hate to give an argument from authority, I feel it’s right here. This you may call me on.

        Also, you are partially correct yet still have an error of equivocation here. A god deity is something that we have NO knowledge of. To even begin to assume anything about is is nonsensical. But…we do have mass amounts of data, although incomplete, that time as we know it began with the inflation of our known universe. To even speak of extratemporal existence is nonsensical. But once again, this is the stance of your leaders and this is what is taught.

        Even the idea of “outside our universe” is something for abstract thinking and no true assumptions can be made. No we do have theories and hypothesis about this, but since we don’t have the technology at this current state, it’s nonsense to say with any certainty what is out there.

        As I mentioned before, if god is not extratemporal, then finding evidence of his existence shouldn’t be that difficult.

        • Not “all Christian apologetics” by any means. He’s definitely out of the mainstream, as am I. I do call you on your argument from authority, as I am a committed Christian who believes that many of those authorities have overstepped bigtime. I agree that extratemporality is nonsensical, and I take umbrage at your implication that I ought to get behind “my” leaders who you obviously respect even less than I do. ;{)

          But you’re talking in circles, if you say we can’t assume anything about an entity of which we have no knowledge. If we have no knowledge, what the heck is left BUT assumptions?

          If you’re looking for all people who have the faith you clearly consider foolish, to be foolish in all the ways you are mocking, I’m afraid you’ve just found a couple of us who don’t fit your mold. I think if you’ll engage you’d find that I don’t believe in a lot of those same teachings you find so ridiculous, but still find room for belief in God. Not proof, though. Belief.

          • StOoPiD_MoNkEy

            Well written and very eloquently said. Thank you. And yes, if I’ve come across those that are outside the mold then indeed I am very lucky. No insult at all.

            I had hoped and expected you calling me out. Quite frankly I drew a blank and that’s all I had. smh.

            If you have no knowledge of something, well sure. You can make assumptions all you want. And not to be disrespectful, but it’s still laughable.

            Something unknowable by definition is just that. Unknowable. All the assumptions or beliefs are irrelevant. That extends to science as well. Let me back up a bit. Because it’s not irrelevant. If that was the thinking, were would we be. It’s nonsensical.

            This is the essence of what hypothesis vs theory is. Your assumptions are pure hypothesis. Yes they sound good. Yes they do answer a question, in a sense. But with nothing hard to back this up, it’s nonsensical to claim this as truth of any sort. Faith is not a vehicle to truth Dan.

            Now I haven’t once said that you have said those things. To quote Madonna. We are living in a material world and we are all material girls. Lol.

            At the end of the day, the core of your beliefs are that a deity created all we see. That’s great. You have a hypothesis. We only ask that you prove it in a way that is verifiable. Across the board no matter what.

            Now if you are not asserting a truism, then fine. I’m am on board. You have an idea that you believe. Once you bring it into the realm of “truth”, then you have the burden of proof to show why it’s true.

            Is your god an intravienist? If yes, then prove it. If it is not. Then we can discuss this in a purely philosophical manner.

          • Interesting questions, and of a superior quality hardly worthy of the “stoopid” screen name lol. There’s no way I can give sufficient details on a comment, so I’d encourage you to engage on my blog series on apologetics if you’re interested… http://nailtothedoor.com/category/apologetics/. Please note, my intent with the series is to explain why I’m where I’m at, not to “win” anybody else. Particular articles to check out are the Belief Matrix and Cosmology ones.

            But in short, I would respond that we all live, to some degree, by faith in a variety of things or people whose rightness or truth we at the very least have not proven, and maybe cannot prove. The only true differentiators are what/who those things are, and whether we admit it.

            I believe, as the Cosmology post referenced above explains, that the evidence available to us in this universe is best explained by a creator designing and guiding evolutionary processes, and very occasionally stepping things up with truly revolutionary jumps that we cannot comprehend, let alone explain. But I also make crystal clear that even if my contention is true, there’s a vast chasm between establishing that point, and any specific diety or beliefs system.

            To your last question of an interventionist god, I would have to answer “rarely.” This is, quite honestly, the place where my theoretical faith and my experience collide most violently. I haven’t gotten to that part of my series, but I will soon.

            My most crucial response to your comment at this time, though, is to invite you to further dialog if you’re interested, and to encourage you to consider in your own life and philosophy, whether in fact you’re as rigorous in demanding proof of yourself, and of those you trust, as you are in demanding it of us theists.

          • StOoPiD_MoNkEy

            Actually I changed the s/n, just not on Google yet. lol. It’s now Stewpid Monkey. Denoting primordial stew ( yes I know this is scientifically incorrect but..) as our evolutionary path as part of the Homindae family (great apes.)

            I will check the link out and you are probably correct. This discussion is on an Apologetic level probably too indepth from this particular blog.

            I absolutely agree. As a skeptic and I absolutely demand the evidence, either in a defined concrete manner or in a philosophical logically manner. At the moment, I have not found an argument for a creator that has satisfied either of those criteria. So far.

            I come from a very fundamentalist Christian background and am still very much into apologetics, so I look forward to reviewing your link.

            I find it very interesting an refreshing to hear a theist state, “question of an interventionist god, I would have to answer “rarely.” This is, quite honestly, the place where my theoretical faith and my experience collide most violently” and, ” But I also make crystal clear that even if my contention is true, there’s a vast chasm between establishing that point, and any specific diety or beliefs system.”

            I hope I don’t use your words out of context here, but to me shows a good deal of intellectual honesty. And yes, that is the route that this conversation will eventually go. Proving your point.

            I’ll wait until further conversation to touch on the subject of our non knowledge of the evolutionary process. I think first we would have to get a clearer picture of what you mean by that exactly I suspect there is more to it than the face of your comment which is bordering on an argument from ignorance. I’ll wait. lol.

            Please feel free to email me at nelsonahern@gmail.com

            I agree, this is not about “conversion”. I think it should be more about two people exchanging ideas and hey, may a point of view will change. Maybe it won’t. But hopefully both can develop a mutual respect for each other. I wish you well Dan.


          • Love it,Nelson. You and I, sir, have things to discuss! ;{)

            Just emailed you…post back if you don’t get it.

    • Jeffrey Holmes

      If God is omnipotent then the future DOES exist. It is KNOWN.

      >>>”Well, okay. But if God knows every future, doesn’t that imply that he also must know the future? He is, after all, all-knowing.”

      A silly statement, but human, so expected. The greatest flaw in your belief system – the belief system of the vast majority of Christianity (the blind false church of God) – is that we have free will. This is arguably the greatest deception of Satan.

      Free will implies that our will (and we do possess a will) can override Gods will. This is church-nonsense. Those of us who have grown up in the church have been subjected to false-hoods and in some cases outright deception. Nothing can supersede Gods will. Humans are given a predetermined set of choices in every circumstance they face, but we do not have free will. It may sound like semantics but there is a profound Truth in this.

      “Where is the wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the disputer [debater] [Satan] of this world? Has not God made foolish [Gk: ‘stupid’] the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor. 1:20).

      To the readers: Don’t lead people to believe in what the church teaches – God is in control:

      “…it is God [not man] which works in you BOTH TO WILL [God causes us ‘to will’] and TO DO [God causes us ‘to do’] of His good pleasure” to bring about His intentions (Phil. 2:13).

      God is Soverign –
      “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heave” (Matt. 6:9-10).

      Gods will is ALWAYS, ALWAYS done. Man is given a set of choices. All of our choices have consequences. Choices do not constitute free will. Our choices are “caused” by God. They have a cause.

      Miriam-Webster: free will n. freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.”

      We do not have that. We have consequences.

      “I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NOTHING” (John 15:5).

      Apart from Christ we are nothing – we can DO NOTHING,

      If Jesus himself has no free will how can man boast of it?! Jesus is entirely reliant on the power of the Father – just as we are.

      “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, [truly, truly—what Jesus is about to say is the Gospel Truth!] I say unto you, THE SON CAN DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF…” (John 5:19).

      We humans can’t even know Christ unless God wills it. We are drawn to Him by His power and it is no credit to us. God “drags” us to Himself according to His good and perfect purpose.

      No man CAN come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw [Gk: ‘drag’] him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). This verse is plain: “No man CAN…” come to Christ of his own will. It is the Father “dragging” him that is the cause of one coming to Christ, not his own supposed free will.

      Those who don’t know God, don’t know Him according to His purpose, which makes the idea of “Winning Souls to Christ” pretty silly. The call to preach the Word to all nations was the job of the apostles – not us.

      Be in awe of the God of creation. Revere Him. Glorify Him. Obedience is worship.

      Everyone who reads this has heard the Truth.

      Comments, questions – jeff.holmes@rocketmail.com

      Better yet – read the Scriptures, get a Hebrew and Greek lexicon, and find the truth for yourselves. If it’s Gods will – you won’t be disappointed!!!

      Believe the Scriptures, but don’t rely on translations alone. Translations – the transliteration from one language to another – is imperfect – but the Truth is in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures inspired by God – our Creator. Seek Him out.

      Peace and God bless.

  • Barry

    Let’s just settle it. God does not know everything. Time. If God always existed, (infinity) and God has memory, ask God to remember everything in the past! He couldn’t because God would spend forever trying to get back to an endless point. Any being could get very lost in the time/space continuum. Just believing anything the Bible says is a sure way to a tortuous existence. Hmmmm?

    • Jayden

      Except God created time in Genesis. So he does have memory of everything he did. There was no time before Genesis.

  • BananaBird

    God is testing our faith by giving us brains able to come up with questions that make us question if there is a God or not. I’m not falling for it. I believe in God, end of story. God created time and for all we know there is more than a trillion different versions of time that we don’t know about. I find it pathetic how humans try to figure God out… we know nothing about God except that he does exist. And for those that say he doesn’t, well just look around you… somebody obviously (duhhh) created all this. The big bang theory is the biggest fairy tale ever.

  • VeganBuddhist

    http://blackswordsman.byethost3.com/ if you guys are open, I am a buddhist who loves theology, I also love to make friends so help me make friends

    • I’ll bite, @veganbuddhist. I enjoy discussions from genuinely different points of view, and appreciate the truth I see in other faiths even as I remain unapologetically Christian. I am doing a series on apologetics on my own blog…but it is, I hope, more humble than most, looking at why I am where I am, not trying to convince anyone else to join me. http://nailtothedoor.com

  • Don

    So god didn’t create time then? I guess we must arrive at the conclusion that there are god(s) above this one. Here I was thinking he created all things, didn’t see the caveat regarding the things he didn’t get to. So the Hindus are right all along, and the buddhists oh well.

    • Don, your objection only makes sense if time is a created thing that we, God, or anybody else can be inside (or outside) of. If rather, as I see it, time is merely the way we measure and describe the duration and sequence of events, the problem disappears. God himself experiences sequence … this present creation didn’t exist, and then when he made it, it did … even the Genesis 1-2 creation accounts have things before and after other things in God’s perspective, not just ours.

      I think the reasonable way to frame this is to understand that God’s perspective on the passage of time is different from ours in a similar way (though with much greater magnitude) to how different a year feels to me at age 50-plus, compared to how it feels to a five-year-old. The same sequence of things has taken place over the same duration, but it’s 2% of my life and 20% of the kid’s.

      In this view, rather than time as a thing or space created by God, the experience of sequence and duration are integral to God’s own being. From this we can extrapolate that as we “live in time” (a shaky construction, but I’ll accept it as the result of unfortunate limits of our language), we live, move, and have our being in God … wait … I think I’ve heard something like that before …

      • Jumin Rhee

        But what was god before creation? If he had not created anything at that point, was he a creator? If there were nothing to worship him at that point, was he yet god?

        • Essentially God was still the same being. Although we say we are different as experiences change us, that is not true at an essential level, merely an experiential one. That’s the philosophical guess. Of course really, we don’t know because we haven’t a frame of reference to know … simply we haven’t been told.

    • Jumin Rhee

      If you believe that god wasn’t talking to himself but angels (let us make…), then god didn’t directly make all things, but rather indirectly. I can probably say that Apple didn’t make the iPhone, god did, though very indirectly.

  • Jumin Rhee

    Perhaps god sees the future, but in a branching “choose your own adventure” style. In other words, if this happens then path A will be the future, if that happens then path B will be the future. Interesting notion…

  • Jumin Rhee

    Wonder if he was alone before time. I would have been bored out of my mind.

  • Monnie Holt

    I think that assuming God didn’t create time doesn’t make any logical sense. Time HAS to have been created. I think this article is saying that God lives inside of time, which I think can be disproved. Please let me know where I’m wrong.

    Here’s my attempt at a proof:
    First, let’s assume Open Theism.
    Imagine a timeline where we are “in the middle” at the present. It extends off into the future forever, and it extends off into the past forever. This would be the case if time isn’t a created thing – time must have always existed because the Bible says that God created all things that were created in John 1.

    Now God must have been at the beginning of the timeline, since he isn’t a created being. So, let’s go to the beginning of the timeline… you can’t! Because there ISN’T a beginning. Each time you think you’re at the beginning you have to be wrong because there must have been time before that. On the other side of the same token, try to IMAGINE you were at the beginning (where God would have to have been at one point, assuming you believe in Open Theism, since God isn’t a created being but always existed). God would have to travel through time for an eternity to simply reach the present, where Open Theism says he is currently.
    Since, beginning at the present we can never travel backwards in time far enough to reach the beginning, when starting at the beginning we can never travel forward in time enough to reach the present.

    I think the only explanation is that TIME has to have been created by a God who lives, or perhaps simply CAN live, outside of time.

    • Where your “proof” fails, Monnie, is in your statement “Now God must have been at the beginning of the timeline, since he isn’t a created being.” This is an assumption, not a conclusion, and certainly not a proof.

      What many of us Open Theists believe is that time as a thing, doesn’t “exist” at all … it is not a created thing. Rather, time is the metric by which we describe sequence and duration of things. We do not say that either we, or God himself, “lives inside of time.” Rather, we say that God experiences sequence in his own being, just as we do. That is, it is true now, and always has been (even for an everlasting God), that he knows “before” and “after” and that there are durations to things that happen.

      We have invented a variety of units to describe the duration and sequence of things … seconds, hours, days, years … most of which we’ve defined by referring to other things that have what appear to be regularity to their happenings/behaviors. But those don’t exist any more than an inch exists … as an abstract concept used to describe concrete realities.

      Which is why you may have noticed I described God as “everlasting,” not “eternal.” “Eternal” literally means “outside of time.” We Open Theists don’t deny that God has always existed, and will always exist. We merely deny that God is unaware of a difference between (for example) before he created us, and after. Obviously, as everlasting, God’s perception of time is on a scale many orders of magnitude different than ours … which is why “a day is as a thousand years” to him, not as nothing.

      • Monnie Holt

        Then how do you describe God existing eternally in the past? I think my proof is still valid, just replace what I call time with “the sequence and duration of things”. You say that Open Theists don’t deny that God ALWAYS existed. That asserts you believe that there is no beginning for God. Please re-read my comment where I explain that just as you cannot go from the present to the beginning of time (or the beginning of the sequence and duration of things as you like to call it), a being cannot go from the beginning of time to the present, because it would take all of eternity, assuming that God is stuck waiting for things to happen. The only way for God to exist since the beginning of the sequence and duration of things is for him to exist outside of time, while we must exist in time.

        Another way to look at it is you cannot go from the present to the end of time by merely waiting. So long as you were waiting time would still be ticking. You could always say “well, this isn’t the end of time, yet” because it can never end. If God always existed, and has to wait a duration for things to happen, he could never have waited long enough to reach the present from the beginning.

        • Your whole argument depends on there being a beginning and an end to time. That’s an assumption based upon zero evidence.

          Further nobody can “go” anywhere in time, because time is not a thing one can be “in” or travel “along.” Precisely what I said before … time is merely how we measure the passage and sequence of things. So if God always existed–a point upon which we agree–God didn’t have to “go from the beginning of time to the present.” God has been experiencing this thing, then that thing, then another thing since forever past (so far as we know … in reality he hasn’t told us about what happened before he created this universe). But there really IS–or rather, was–a “before he created this universe,” and God was there/then.

          So nobody, not even God, can travel in time. The past is past for him, as surely as it is for us, with the exception that God remembers that past perfectly and we don’t, plus God remembers all of it and we don’t.

          Your statement “it would take all of eternity” for God to get to now is nonsense. It took as long as it was. Just like it’s taken your whole lifetime to get to now yourself. God’s lifetime is just infinitely longer.

          • Monnie Holt

            With respect, I’m not sure you’re actually trying to understand my argument. You are reading my whole post, of which I’m grateful, but I think you’re just trying to disregard it instead of understand it. My argument depends on their NOT being a beginning to time that was an infinite time ago. That’s the point. I believe there was a beginning to time, but I believe time is a created thing. I believe God created time when he created everything else. You believe there was no beginning of time. That’s why my argument is valid, I am using your assumption that there was no beginning. If there was no beginning then no amount of time could pass for God to reach the present from an infinite amount of time ago. I think your disagreement with me is based on your misunderstanding of what Infinity really is.

            I beg you to please take time to understand what infinity really is. Infinity isn’t just a really big number. It’s bigger than the biggest number you could imagine – no, it’s even bigger than that. Your statement that it took God “infinitely longer” is what is really nonsense. An infinite amount of time can NEVER pass – by definition.

            Also, I’m not asserting that we can travel backwards in time (humans can’t, and God doesn’t need to because he already did everything perfectly) – it’s just a thought experiment to help show my point that an infinite amount of time cannot pass. Also, your statement that nobody can travel in time isn’t true. We are all traveling through time at the rate of 1 second per second, using the units that humans created to measure one of the dimensions that God created when he created everything else – time.

            The whole point is that there cannot be a beginning that was an infinite time ago. Otherwise the present can never be.

            I’ll try again using the future instead of the past because I think that’s easier to understand: there cannot be an end of time that is an infinite time from now. How long would it take to get to the end of time? It cannot be done. God himself, the unlimited God that he is, couldn’t possibly wait long enough to see the end of time if it is infinitely far away from now. That is, unless he is not bound by time.

            Lastly, I don’t understand why you are asserting that there is a difference between “Time” and “the duration and sequence of things”. To me that is similar to “slight of hand”, or “smoke and mirrors” that a magician uses for his tricks. They are synonymous. Furthermore, God did create measurements of time. God created the Day and Week. He blessed the 7th day and made it Holy, and instructed us to remember the 7th day and keep it Holy.

          • I’m trying to understand it all right, I just think it’s founded on assumptions that you then try to show are conclusions. You “believe” time is a created thing, so you aren’t entertaining the possibility that it isn’t a *thing* at all. As I said in my last post … an inch isn’t a thing; it’s a way we quantify length of things … and length itself isn’t a thing, it’s merely a means by which we describe the size of created things.

            You say ” I believe God created time when he created everything else.” OK, but since you believe that there was a beginning to “everything else” there has got to be a point in existence before that “everything else” was created, and that, too, is a point in time. Even for God, there was existence (of himself) before, and after, the creation of the universe. Otherwise, God is so completely external that he cannot interact with the temporal world he created.

            I’ll grant nobody really comprehends infinity … we’re finite after all … but I’ve got a pretty good idea of the mathematical and physical concepts, having grown up in the home of an astronomy professor. If God is infinite, as we both agree, then there’s no problem at all in the infinite God existing throughout infinite time past and future. It’s just not an issue. You’re right that “there cannot be a beginning that was an infinite time ago.” Nobody says there is/was; at least I don’t. God’s without beginning. Time, not being a “thing” at all,” has no beginning, but measures the elapsing of experience both for the infinite God and finite us, who DO have a beginning.

            Another way to conceive of this is that time is actually a trait of God’s own nature … not that God is in time but rather time is in (as in native to the being of) God. Which gives an interesting twist to “in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Maybe that makes more sense of what I’m trying to say.

          • Monnie Holt

            It sounds like we agree conceptually on quite a bit, we just differ on semantics, I think. I believe Time is a thing created by, and to be manipulated by, the almighty at his will. Something he created in the beginning on Day 1 (just like gravity), and he existed eternally before time began. I can reconcile this with my worldview, and with science. We know that time can be sped up and slowed down due to the effects of gravity and relativity, which I’m sure you’re aware of growing up in the home you did. If WE can manipulate how fast time passes, surely God can. I could understand your point of view that God cannot go backwards in time, and I respect it, however I disagree with it. No proof for that on my side just yet, it’s just a belief at this point.

            You believe that Time isn’t a thing at all, but that God existed eternally before he created anything. I have objections to your viewpoint (something had to have either changed with Time, like it was created, or God went from being infinite to Finite as soon as he created the world, and lost his ability to exist outside of time), but perhaps we’ll see each other one day in Heaven – I’m just not sure if we’ll call it a day at that point or not 🙂

          • I think the only nuance I would add would be to point out that relativity allows us to speed up or slow down *our perception* of time’s passage, but time as an absolute is not changed.

  • Lucy A. Espinoza

    OK well God can see the future because a few years back I asked him two questions. One was regarding my sons autism. He said he would be normal. And he is even thou I thought normal could be a little normal. The other question was, would I have another child, and the answer was, not in a long time. Nine years have past and I still haven’t had another child. At the time I thought two years was a long time. Let’s say he doesn’t know the tomorrow and made an educated quests based on my lifestyle, ect. How would he know I wouldn’t have died by now? Another point is angels who appear at exactly the last second. Or try explaining how a creator doesn’t know what he is creating. Or try creating something with your eyes closed, and not knowing anything about it, but you can’t because there wouldn’t be a purpose. He knows what happens because he created us so he must of seen us and molded us from start to finish. I would make something if I didn’t know how id turn out I’d have tobknow and see it.

  • Luke McCormick

    “God cannot do that which is logically impossible to do.”
    What kind of bs is this. Where do you get this information. This is God we are talking about. He created a universe yet you say “God cannot do that which is logically impossible to do.” Ridiculous.

    • Shiloh Maier

      Especially given the fact that God says quite plainly that “NOTHING” is impossible for Him. That means logical and illogical. He made a donkey speak like a man… do we really need to go with what man considers “logic” at all in this?

  • MTC

    And, why do we bother with prayer if indeed God is in control and we’re supposed to trust and have faith in his will?… I’ve never been able to grasp that, among countless other things in Christianity. LOL

  • Blake Whitney

    This post

  • Soft Clay

    I found this article in the midst of my own inner wrestling with the question ‘what affect does my prayer life have on my future and the objects of my prayers’. I see God do miracles every week as I pray for the sick so I know that pray has impact. Whether it was predetermined that I would pray and God decided to heal the person is debatable but the reality is clear as day to me that my prayers heal people – more often than not though granted I’m still praying for relatively ‘small’ sicknesses and diseases.

    That being said I still don’t really get what I’m doing when I intercede for others who don’t know I am, or who don’t want me to, or actively reject Jesus. Am I asking God to supernaturally influence their hearts to turn to him when I pray for them to come to Jesus? If he influences but doesn’t force but the influence is strong enough they come to him, is that not the same thing? Could Saul have rejected Jesus and not become Paul or was he predestined to be the ‘worst of sinners’ and then later the great apostle the Gentiles? Does God sometimes interject his will through his sovereign grace like my friend who met Jesus in a field and gave his life to Him despite being a witch doctor prior to that? Many saw miracles in Jesus’ day, signs and wonders and still rejected him so it would seem plausible Saul and my friend both still had the free choice to deny Him despite this amazing experience and sight.

    I find it hard to pray because I don’t know what I’m doing. I still have that small church tradition voice in my head saying God is sovereign and in control which makes me wonder what’s the point. And then if I believe in free will I wonder am I asking God to thwart someone’s free will and give them eyes to see and ears to hear (yet others never get this grace)?

    Just reading the comments here I see all belief systems including those who believe everything is determined and those who believe the whole thing is wide open. I see potential inconsistencies in virtually every line of thinking including my own.

    Perhaps it’s pride trying to understand this topic, or perhaps it’s my commitment to own my faith and not just follow the masses, but I’d say my current prayer request to my King and Abba is “show why I should pray and how I should pray, so that I can pray as you intended me to.”