Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
In some instances we are mistaken in relying on biblical understandings and traditions formed hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago without the benefit of the knowledge we currently have of creation, prophecy, and history. All things were not made known from the beginning nor are all things revealed all at the same time.
Luke 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
This study examines the question of the foreknowledge of God and how it is to be understood and the misunderstandings of those before us. It will look at three aspects, three theologies, and their different interpretations of certain passages of Scripture. It is basically a study in different views of history. There may be more but at the very least there are the three different viewpoints considered here.
The three points we have to ponder in the matter of God’s foreknowledge, three views of history, are represented by Reformed Theology, Closed Theology, and Open Theology.
It can be a little confusing at first and I admonish readers to read thoughtfully. It is not the purpose of this study to cover all aspects, beliefs, and teachings of any of the three theologies as they can be somewhat fluid.
The name Reformed Theology represents predestination, popularly known as Calvinism, and also known as Sovereign Grace Theology. The name is maintained as its system is quite stable in being that all things are predetermined they can hardly be changeable, that is history is closed. If you are predestinated to be saved, you are saved. You cannot not be saved. God’s foreknowledge is due to him having predestinated all things.
Closed Theology is derived from Armininism. Our main consideration will be its view on history as complete and unchanging, but not predestinated. This view is a little more open than Reformed to minor difference being taught within its purview certain things, some of which are covered in other studies. In the main, salvation is open to all, but you can lose it, or not. History, However, is closed and unchanging. God’s foreknowledge is due to him seeing all history at once.
Open Theology takes an opposing view of history. History is not complete but ongoing. God has predetermined certain aspects such as his plan of salvation and certain historical events in order to reveal himself, otherwise, history is open under God’s control.
The main aspect of the three theologies this study will consider is the way they look at history. Their view of history being open or closed is how they explain and define God’s foreknowledge. Reformed and Closed both define their view of history as being completed, finished, unchanging. Open Theology asserts that history is ongoing or open to changes as God directs or allows.
It must be remembered that God could have elected to do anything. It is not about what God could or had to do, it is about what he has revealed through his word that he has done and will do. This is a point some neglect to the detriment of the discussion.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
The question is whether history is open, flowing and ongoing, or closed, finished, completed, and unchanging. Depending on which theology is accepted will determine what effect is applied to other biblical doctrines.
The question of which view of God’s foreknowledge is correct is an important question to ponder as the effects upon other biblical doctrines could be vastly different depending upon which theology is determined to be true and accepted. Is everything predetermined, or just complete and unchanging, or is history flowing under God’s guidance and control?
This study's intention is to understand the Bible and how God did what he did, not to disparage those holding other opinions. The light God gives at any time might possibly require minor adjustments in one's comprehension and understanding of certain passages of Scripture, or whole changes in the knowledge one supposes he has. The most significant reason for engaging in this debate is the hope that the brethren might, just might, come together and be of one mind and understanding, as we are admonished to be. Diversity of understanding does not strengthen our cause.
2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
In considering foreknowledge at this time this study applies, hopefully, some logical and/or reasonable objective assumptions. There are several possibilities to how the doctrine of foreknowledge can be laid out. The question can be described as cause and effect. How God cause things determines many of the effects.
It is time now to fill in some detail and establish what our three theologies assert and the effects each have.
Make the word of God as much as possible its own interpreter. You will best understand the word of God by comparing it with itself. “Comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
Sir Isaac Newton 1642–1727
English Physicist & Mathematician