BOOK – How Much Does God Foreknow? by Steve Roy

BOOK – How Much Does God Foreknow? by Steve Roy April 3, 2007
There is little doubt as we continue a short look at the attributes of God, inspired by the Together for the Gospel Statement, that possibly the attribute which currently has the most controversy surrounding it is that of God’s foreknowledge.For some neoliberals, it is preferable to think of a God who is every bit as surprised by the actions of people as we are (often termed “Open Theism”). God can — according to some of them — sympathize with people’s hurt because He, too, is shocked by how events unfold. He is either powerless to stop certain events or has chosen to limit His power. It is my belief that this view of God strips Him of His dignity and sovereignty and creates a “god” in our own image who no longer deserves the name of the God of the Bible.

Steve Roy’s book, published in 2006, aims to be a comprehensive biblical study on the subject of the foreknowledge of God. I believe he achieves his goal in every way. Roy is not afraid to address the concerns of the “open theists,” and lists their arguments, addressing the Scriptures that they commonly use to support their view of God.

Roy doesn’t merely counter the arguments of the detractors, he restates, explains, and supports from the Bible the traditional Christian view of a God for whom the whole of time is as a twinkle in His eye — who knows the end from the beginning.

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. It was such a help for me when I was preparing for my talk on

the attributes of God.Here are just a few quotes from the book:

“God knows the future! His foreknowledge has rightly been prized hy Christians of all generations. Much of the confidence, hope, and joy of the Christian life traditionally has heen based on the conviction that God knows the future . . . Thus throughout the various traditions of the church, Christians have taken great comfort in God’s response to their prayers, precisely because He knows all things perfectly, including all of the future. Indeed, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages his disciples to a robust life of prayer precisely because “your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask” (Matthew 6:8).

“In what ways could God’s repentance be different from human repentance? John Calvin is helpful here. He seeks to understand how humans might come to change their minds and then asks whether any or all of those factors might be present in God. Calvin proposes that a change of mind can come in a human being when one is “ignorant of what is going to happen, or cannot escape it, or hastily and rashly rushes into a decision of which he immediately needs to repent.” In other words, human beings might repent if they learn something new that they had been previously ignorant of, or if they realize they do not have the power to do what was originally planned, or if they develop a new perspective in which what was originally thought to be a good plan is now understood to be not so good. Calvin, then, argues that none of these conditions (lack of power, lack of knowledge, lack of a proper perspective) apply to God. “Concerning repentance, we ought so to hold that it is no more chargeable to God than is ignorance, or error, or powerlessness …”

“So how should we understand the repentance of God if we affirm his foreknowledge of free human decisions? I suggest that divine repentance denotes Gods awareness of a change in the human situation and his resulting change of emotions or actions in light of this changed situation . . . this does not necessarily imply that the changed human circumstances were unforeseen by God and that God has learned something new as a result of these free human decisions.”

The book ends with the following words from Isaiah 46, which seem to me to be pretty conclusive:“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’
…I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.”


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