Foreknowledge Doesn’t Require Predestination

CERTAINTY VERSUS NECESSITY 

An event can be certainly known without necessarily being determined by the one who certainly knows. To suggest otherwise is a modal fallacy which conflates certainty with necessity. (William Lane Craig explains more here.) 

You and I may know for a certainty that I posted this very article at Soteriology101.com on September 17, 2017, but only one of us determined to do that. Knowledge of the event does not necessarily have a causal link to the determination of that event. 

But what about events known in the future by an omnipotent Creator? Are all events that God foreknows only foreknown because He Himself has determined them to come to pass, as many Calvinistic scholars imply in their argumentation? I do not believe so. Allow me to explain why. 

Consider this passage as just one of many examples:

“David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.” -‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭23:9-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The passage above proves that God foreknew of an expedition that did NOT come to pass, therefore demonstrating that exhaustive divine foreknowledge of all things does not equal exhaustive divine predetermination of all things. 

A Calvinist may rebut by saying, “But God also foreknew David would ask these questions and leave the city after being told Saul was coming.” 

I would respond by saying, “so what?” The fact is that God foreknew an event that did not come to pass. That is all that is needed to establish that foreknowledge doesn’t necessitate determinism. Plus, the point of our contention is not over whether or not God foreknew of David’s questions and his response, the real contention is over whether the knowledge itself necessitated or determined David’s choices. There is nothing logically or biblically to suggest that it did. After all, God foreknew of Saul’s expedition and that never came to pass. 

Biblical translator for Logos Bible Software and Phd in ancient near east languages, Dr. Michael S Heiser, teaches more on this point for those who are interested: CLICK HERE.

39 thoughts on “Foreknowledge Doesn’t Require Predestination

  1. Thank you for bringing up this subject Leighton… though I think you have opened up an opportunity for many to face a question that will expose, imo, their lack of logic in their understanding of omniscience and foreknowledge! 😉 How was certainty created in God’s mind of a future event before creation? And a related question, If God’s knowledge of a future event is certain, doesn’t His certainty guarantee the necessity of that event taking place, even if God didn’t create that certainty of it in His own mind before creation? Thanks.

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    1. Leighton brings up a helpful distinction between necessity versus certainty. Brian Wagner then introduces his false open theism beliefs thereby undermining what Leighton presents. We could invent a fallacy and refer to it as the Brian Wagner ignorance fallacy. The fallacy goes like this: you ask a question that the other person cannot answer, then since they cannot answer the question you wrongfully and illogically conclude that their position is wrong. It does not logically follow that since I cannot answer a question that that must mean my position is wrong. Note Wagner’s question: How was certainty created in God’s mind of a future event before creation?

      The ordinary and majority position among christians whether they are calvinists or non-calvinists is that the nature of God’s omniscience includes the reality that He knows all events including future events before thy occur (i.e. God has foreknowledge of future events). Note Wagner asks a HOW question: and that is just it, we affirm that God is omniscienct and has foreknowledge based upon scriptures that properly interpreted present this fact. But we do not know HOW God knows what He knows. We really do not know how it works. We affirm that He has this kind of knowledge but we do not know how it works in God’s mind. This is not troubling because no human person fully knows and understands the mind of God. Wagner is asking us how precisely does this work in God’s mind. And we cannot answer this question. Wagner then assumes that since we cannot answer this question, therefore we must be wrong that God is omniscient and foreknows all future events. I have said before that we do not even know how God knows present events let alone future events. God has no sense organs, so He does not see events as we do God has no brain or central nervous system. He does not need to rely on the testimony of others. And yet He knows all things. HOW? We do not know and I would submit that we cannot know as it is completely beyond us just as God is beyond us in many ways.

      If Wagner wants to speculate about how God knows he is free to do so, as is anyone else as long as they realize they are in the realm of speculation and opinion not fact. The facts we are given are those in scripture when properly interpreted. Those things we can know as facts. To quote Clint Eastwood’s “dirty Harry” character: ” a man’s got to know his limitations.”

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      1. I appreciate the principle taught by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury – experts on resolving problems and conflicts.
        Attack the problem – rather than the person.

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      2. Thank you Robert for showing me I should have been more precise in my questions. I was not looking for and explanation of how God’s mind works… though He adequately describes in Scriptures that He has made and continues to make determinations… which means His thoughts about the future are not settled on one competed future already.

        I was more interested in observing how determinists and compatibilists think that before creation God could logically have a certainty about a completed future created in His mind if He was not the creator of that certainty. Was humanity’s history an eternal part of His nature? Did it exist uncreated by God somehow but observed by Him? Did something else created that certain future in God’s mind?

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    2. brianwagner writes, “How was certainty created in God’s mind of a future event before creation?”

      God creates certainty in those things that He brings about. For example, God created the universe, the components of the universe, man and woman, etc. Under your system, God knew these not just as possibilities – we agree that God knows all possibilities – but as certainties because He was able to decide to do those things ahead of time. So, the extent to which God actively determines events is the source of certainty in those events. The disagreement you voice is with the timing of God’s decisions related to each event.

      Then, “And a related question, If God’s knowledge of a future event is certain, doesn’t His certainty guarantee the necessity of that event taking place, even if God didn’t create that certainty of it in His own mind before creation?”

      Yes. The distinction Dr. Flowers makes is that God’s knowledge of future events does not make them necessary. – God’s knowledge is not the cause of an event. Of course, God’s knowledge of what He will do is a knowledge of the causes and the determiners of events. In a deterministic world, prior events are the causes of events and God, being sovereign, is the final arbiter of all events.

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    3. Hi Brian,

      I wanted to point out a couple things. Historically, Calvinists have never affirmed that God’s foreknowledge consists only of that which is contingently actual. That would be silly. First, it suggests that God would have no prior knowledge of possibilities. However, the Reformers located God’s exhaustive knowledge of possibilities (e.g. counterfactuals, worlds, etc.) in His natural knowledge. In fact, this isn’t even distinguishable along Reformed lines alone. The Medievals, like Aquinas, made the same type of careful distinctions. Second, to think of God’s natural knowledge (containing His foreknowledge) as something that is posterior to actual, or free, knowledge is absolutely absurd. No one has done that insofar as I’m aware.

      I would have to conclude, on that basis, that your article either addresses some strange minority contemporary position within Calvinistic Christianity, or it misunderstands an orthodox and Reformed view of the knowledge of God and thus would be addressing a straw man.

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      1. Welcome Joshua, You are correct that Calvinists would never affirm God’s foreknowledge as being contingently actual. I’m sorry if you think I gave the impression that they did. Maybe you could point to the sentence I gave that led to that opinion so that I can fix it. I think I was just asking questions for greater understanding. The Calvinist arrives at foreknowledge from God making an eternal determination of all things that will happen. How any determination (within His supposed Natural Knowledge) can be made so that Foreknowledge results in His free knowledge and both His natural knowledge and foreknowledge still be called eternal and immutable is illogical to me?

        The Arminian arrives at settled foreknowledge by God somehow being shown (presumably in His natural knowledge) a scenario He likes and chooses, again producing foreknowledge that is also declared to be eternal and immutable by them. Who creates the scenario for God to see and choose is illogical to me, for no one else is around before creation except God.

        The Molinist, plays in the middle of these two… but all three end up with a settled foreknowledge in God’s mind before creation. Right?

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      2. Brian,

        Here is what led me to believe you were implying such:

        “Are all events that God foreknows only foreknown because He Himself has determined them to come to pass, as many Calvinistic scholars imply in their argumentation?”

        God’s foreknowledge does not rest upon His free knowledge, nor do the majority of Calvinists I know suggest such things (if they even know the categories in the first place).

        You also say:

        “The Calvinist arrives at foreknowledge from God making an eternal determination of all things that will happen.”

        Well, not exactly.

        “How any determination (within His supposed Natural Knowledge) can be made so that Foreknowledge results in His free knowledge and both His natural knowledge and foreknowledge still be called eternal and immutable is illogical to me?”

        Foreknowledge does not *result* in that which becomes actual. God’s eternal decree is made notwithstanding foreknown events and all possible contingencies. I think you’re failing to make a distinction between God’s decree and God’s knowledge. Here is some help:

        I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
        II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions (WCF, 3.1, 2)

        And from another Reformed Confession:

        1._____ God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
        ( Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5 )
        2._____ Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
        ( Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18 ) (LBCF, 1689, 3.1, 2)

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      3. Thank you, Joshua, for your response. I was assuming you held to foreknowledge as a result of God’s determination(s) based on His natural knowledge, and that foreknowledge becomes what is known as a part of His free knowledge. If not, please explain. Either way, I was asking how both His natural knowledge and foreknowledge could be eternal and immutable when a definite sequence is not only implied and but dogmatically defended as one before the other with a decree in-between?

        I have always understood the reformed position, especially from Charnock that foreknowledge is indeed the result of God’s decree, and that foreknowledge is not a part of His natural knowledge.

        The WCF is no help or authority to me. Like doctrinal statements throughout human history, they say things that are often contradictory to themselves and especially to Scripture. For example in these two statements that you shared, “ordain” doesn’t mean “author”, though every detail was written out in God’s mind as to how it would certainly happen before any other will of any other creature would be created to exercise itself in a so-called “free” way. That is too much contradiction with itself and the meaning of words for me to swallow.
        I did do a review of this exact section of the WCF on my academia.edu page if you’re interested.

        https://www.academia.edu/30599019/Individual_Election_Before_Creation_-_A_Doubtful_Thing It always surprises me how doctrinal statements, even in my own circles, throw in Scripture references that hardly support what the doctrinal statement purports is truth, or do not support at all with any references the most important premises in the statement. So much for Sola Scriptura.

        The Calvinist should have the decency to admit that even the idea of “ordain” should be identified as an anthropomorphic expression, for everything to them was eternally immutably set in God’s mind. So then there was never a moment when something was known to Him as “unordained” and then became known to Him as “ordained” because of a so-called free-will choice that never was made.

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      4. brianwagner writing to Joshua, “The Calvinist should have the decency to admit that even the idea of “ordain” should be identified as an anthropomorphic expression,…”

        Is there any reference to God that is not anthropomorphic? As the finite mind cannot comprehend the infinite, it can only refer to the infinite using finite concepts that it understands, thus anthropomorphic, not necessarily, “…for everything to them was eternally immutably set in God’s mind.” (Whatever that means in describing God.)

        Then, “So then there was never a moment when something was known to Him as “unordained” and then became known to Him as “ordained” because of a so-called free-will choice that never was made.”

        This may mean that we cannot separate that which is known by God from that which is decreed – that which God decrees, He knows and that which He knows, He decrees (Oh no! I’m sounding like Geisler).

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      5. If every man is a liar… I wouldn’t want to say every word in Scripture about God is anthropomorphic! Is every word about God in determinist literature anthropomorphic? So if the one contradicts the other… hmmm. And why should one even care to discuss the nature of God if nothing true can be said or known about it?

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      6. brianwagner writes, “I wouldn’t want to say every word in Scripture about God is anthropomorphic!”

        …about God…. Why not? Saying man is a liar describes man, not God.

        Then, ‘Is every word about God in determinist literature anthropomorphic?”

        I tend to think so. How else can humans describe God other than in human terms? Do you have specific examples – I can always allow exceptions to the rule.

        Then, “So if the one contradicts the other… hmmm.”

        Key word being, “if.” Regardless, the focus is on that which we read about God in the Scriptures.

        Then, “why should one even care to discuss the nature of God if nothing true can be said or known about it?”

        We discuss the nature of God because we are to meditate on and learn from everything in the Scriptures and the Scriptures are truth, but “…we see through a glass, darkly;…”

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      7. “I was assuming you held to foreknowledge as a result of God’s determination(s) based on His natural knowledge, and that foreknowledge becomes what is known as a part of His free knowledge.”

        What must be understood, so that we do not talk past one another, is that God’s knowledge occurs in a single act such that there is no progression or sequential steps therein (that is the orthodox position). Thus, no ectypal aspect of God’s knowledge *becomes* anything.

        “I was asking how both His natural knowledge and foreknowledge could be eternal and immutable when a definite sequence is not only implied and but dogmatically defended as one before the other with a decree in-between?”

        (1) Because we are talking about logical, not chronological, processions. (2) Because the distinctions and processions we speak of in God’s knowledge are not real. This is apophatically said, “God is not composed of parts.”

        “I have always understood the reformed position, especially from Charnock that foreknowledge is indeed the result of God’s decree, and that foreknowledge is not a part of His natural knowledge.”

        I think you have us confused. We say that the certainty of God’s free knowledge is based upon His decree. Perhaps that’s what you were thinking of? I mean, if we take foreknowledge in the strict etymological sense (knowledge before, or prior knowledge), then it can be said to be located in God’s natural knowledge since His natural knowledge is said to logically precede free knowledge. If we take it to mean God’s exhaustive knowledge of all future actuals, then it would be located in His free knowledge. However, these distinctions are not real since His knowledge occurs in a single act, ala. Geerhardus Vos.

        “The WCF is no help or authority to me.”

        Well, that’s beside the point since I was using it didactically. And you’re using Medieval categories, like the Reformers so often did, so I didn’t think you’d mind the quotation.

        “It always surprises me how doctrinal statements, even in my own circles, throw in Scripture references that hardly support what the doctrinal statement purports is truth, or do not support at all with any references the most important premises in the statement. So much for Sola Scriptura.”

        You do realize the Westminster divines were literally forced to input proof texts don’t you? I mean, the king wouldn’t have it any other way. That said, I’ve not found them to be especially inaccurate unless you overcommit to a historical-grammatical hermeneutic, which is rationalist behavior, not Christian.

        “The Calvinist should have the decency to admit that even the idea of “ordain” should be identified as an anthropomorphic expression, for everything to them was eternally immutably set in God’s mind. So then there was never a moment when something was known to Him as “unordained” and then became known to Him as “ordained” because of a so-called free-will choice that never was made.”

        I couldn’t agree more with this! 🙂 Best thing you’ve written so far. Properly speaking, God’s knowledge never sequentially moved from A to B. That would be preposterous to imagine from a Biblical, theological, and philosophical standpoint. Rather, His revelation is covenantal, that is, God “lisps” to His creatures in a way we can understand.

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      8. Thank you Joshua responding in a way that shows clearly where we differ.

        I reject that God’s reality is not sequential. I reject that His knowledge does not change in respect to decisions He has made before creation, and continues to make since. I reject that the biblical truth is not rationally based and that everything about God’s nature is analogical or anthropomorphic. I reject these things because of Sola Scriptura… and that the inspiration if it is not God “lisping”.

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      9. //I reject that God’s reality is not sequential. I reject that His knowledge does not change in respect to decisions He has made before creation, and continues to make since. I reject that the biblical truth is not rationally based and that everything about God’s nature is analogical or anthropomorphic. I reject these things because of Sola Scriptura… and that the inspiration if it is not God “lisping”.//

        So, God is moveable, or changeable. His knowledge changes (contrary to what the Bible says (Num. 23:19). We can know things quantitatively and qualitatively like God (this is the rationalism I’m talking about), humans are basically God at this point. You’d find more fellowship with Mormonism than you would with Christianity on this point. You reject these things because… sola scriptura (even though you think God’s knowledge is mutable and that God’s revelation is preceded by creaturely rationale). I think you *say* you’re sola scriptura (because that’s an attractive position for your audience), but you’re really not… I think you need a higher view of God, and a lower view of His creatures (I’m reminding myself as I remind you).

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      10. Joshua… One person of the Godhead “became flesh”, made in the likeness of men”, forever, and the other members didn’t. If that does not fit the defintion of “change”, then we are at an impasse to discuss things logically. Blessings.

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      11. //Joshua… One person of the Godhead “became flesh”, made in the likeness of men”, forever, and the other members didn’t. If that does not fit the defintion of “change”, then we are at an impasse to discuss things logically. Blessings.//

        Again, you’re missing important distinctions made by the historical church as a result of the biblical data. The Son never changed with respect to His divine nature….

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      12. Joshua, the historic RC denomination with its false sacramental gospel is no authority to run to for definitions. The Son took on, “became”, flesh, while also retaining ownership of His divine attributes, though lasting aside the use of some of them while in earth. The rest of the members of the Godhead did not do that!

        That is therefore a significant change in the nature and experience of the Godhead. One member has and does things the others don’t. To deny this change is to demonstrate a illogical loyalty to the word immutability.

        We say God is omnipotent… but we know that word cannot be defined to include that God has the power or ability to lie. We say He is omnipresent… but we know He does not exist in illogical “places” that do not exist like the past or the future. He is immutable in His character, in His truth, justice, and love… but we see that He is free and able to respond in unique ways in relationship to man.

        The Scripture defines these ideas for us… not man’s philosophy that then dogmatically attributes to itself the clarity of definition and says the Scriptures are only analogical or anthropomorphic.

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      13. “Joshua, the historic RC denomination with its false sacramental gospel is no authority to run to for definitions. The Son took on, “became”, flesh, while also retaining ownership of His divine attributes, though lasting aside the use of some of them while in earth. The rest of the members of the Godhead did not do that!”

        You’re committing the genetic fallacy. It does not follow that all Roman Catholic theologians are wrong about everything because they’re Roman Catholics.

        Again, you’re missing the distinction of ontological/economic Trinitarian language (Scripture itself gives us this) and you’ve departed from orthodoxy. Moreover, you’re not understanding the taxis of the Godhead either. Circumincession (perichoresis) matters.

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      14. Sorry, Joshua… Not a genetic fallacy… just pointing out your fallacy of appealing to an untrustworthy authority. If I pointed to the JW’s because they believe in a literal day creation or future earthly kingdom, would that hold water with you? The 300 bishops at Nicea professed a sacramental gospel, supposedly, according to Augustine. If they could not get the gospel right, they should not be looked to for authority on defining orthodoxy.

        And your opinion, without evidence, that I’m – “missing the distinction of ontological/economic Trinitarian language …departed from orthodoxy…. not understanding the taxis of the Godhead either… [nor understanding that] Circumincession (perichoresis) matters” just seems to be a false appeal to scholarly jargon to make your opinion sound correct to others reading our conversation.

        The Scripture evidence and reasoning I presented about the Godhead experiencing real change is sound. Others can read our conversation and make their own determinations. Thank you for the conversation. Take the last word in this thread, unless you have a question for me to clarify something I said from Scripture. Blessings.

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      15. //Sorry, Joshua… Not a genetic fallacy… just pointing out your fallacy of appealing to an untrustworthy authority. If I pointed to the JW’s because they believe in a literal day creation or future earthly kingdom, would that hold water with you? The 300 bishops at Nicea professed a sacramental gospel, supposedly, according to Augustine. If they could not get the gospel right, they should not be looked to for authority on defining orthodoxy.//

        Yes, it’s a genetic fallacy. Why do you keep looking like you have no idea what you’re talking about? Appealing to a historical source and an appeal to authority are two different things. Are you always this good at being sloppy?

        If JWs laid a doctrinal foundation that all contemporary Christians believe then yes. That would certainly “hold water,” and would demand attention from any intellectually honest person.

        You keep saying “sacramental” gospel. If you believe the Lord’s Supper and Baptism have been instituted by Jesus Christ, YOU believe in a sacramental gospel as well, in some sense. If you don’t believe that, you’re not a Christian. Do you also think the Nicene fathers were Roman Catholics? If so, you have no business writing anything about them… because you’re ignorant.

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      16. I probably should not respond but should assume that your questions were rhetorical, not seeking an answer because you are already convinced of one for each. 🙂

        But the fact that you said clearly that the early RC councils “laid a doctrinal foundation that all contemporary Christians believe” proves that you indeed were making an appeal to those sources as an authority. This contemporary Christian sees no such doctrinal foundation laid by them, but only by the apostles of Jesus in their Scriptures.

        And I will say that the Nicene “Fathers” all did believe, it appears, in the doctrine of sacramental baptismal regeneration. That is a false gospel. And since they saw their authority for their denominational doctrinal decisions as coming from the pontificus maximus – Roman emperor – to define the catholic church… then indeed their denomination was RC in 325AD.

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  2. Very excellent Dr. Flowers!!!

    Dr. Heiser also has a Youtube video on predestination

    Heiser’s conclusion is that of A.W. Tozer – namely that God is big enough and wonderful enough to provide GENUINE alternative possibilities to his creatures – and his love is powerful enough to endow his creatures with the power to freely determine those alternatives – without determining what the creature will determine.
    And thus god does not have to create creatures in the image of a robot.

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  3. What you’ve missed is that God told David part of the truth, Saul’s intent, which caused David to respond as God had foreknown, and predetermined. God did not lie to David. David asked for the truth, and Davud got the truth.

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    1. I don’t see this as being consistent with the text.
      The text indicates god revealed a future contingent event: namely what Saul and his men would do – and not just Saul’s intent.
      Additionally, it makes little sense to interpret the text as David asking god for Saul’s intent – since Saul’s intent is fully known to David.
      What David is asking for are specific details concerning the future – else he would not have resorted to the priest and the ephod.

      The business of god withholding truth from people is a dangerous road to go down.
      What is entailed in that appeal is that it has god deceiving people with illusions.

      For example, god deceiving Adam into believing his obedience was a logical possibility when god knew that it wasn’t.
      Only what god decrees at the foundation of the world – can come to pass – and god obviously did not decree Adam’s obedience come to pass – else it would do so as Adam’s fate.

      One can argue that god decree Adam free to obey or disobey.
      But that argument, in fact, is a good example of deceiving people with half-truths.

      For in the determinism scheme god **MUST** have decreed Adam’s disobedience come to pass – else it could not come to pass.
      And god could not have decreed Adam’s obedience come to pass – else it would have.

      God **HAD** to make a decree concerning one of those two events – else neither could come to pass.
      It logically follows then that god **MUST** have decreed Adam’s disobedience come to pass.

      Then to say god decreed Adam free to obey is to say god decreed for Adam to be deceived by the illusion that his obedience could come to pass. Calvin would call this the -quote “secret predestination of god”.
      But that again displays its character as a system reliant upon half-truths.

      When one is sworn in to testify as a witness – one promises to tell the “Truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
      That is apparently not something that exists within Calvinism.

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    2. Welcome Mark! How do you know that the knowledge of Saul’s intent “caused” David to pray to God to confirm that knowledge? Couldn’t that knowledge of Saul’s intent have just presented to David the free choice either to pray for confirmation as he did or to make his own decision as to what to do without praying?

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  4. Admin writes, “The fact is that God foreknew an event that did not come to pass. That is all that is needed to establish that foreknowledge doesn’t necessitate determinism. ”

    God foreknows all events that do come to pass and God foreknows all events that could come to pass but do not. God has an omniscient knowledge of that which comes to pass and that which does not come to pass. In the cited example, God knew that the men of Keilah would surrender David to Saul given the opportunity to do so. Even Dr. Flowers could have predicted that had he been there. The example proves than that God knows the hearts of men and that David was not a dummy.

    Then, “Plus, the point of our contention is not over whether or not God foreknew of David’s questions and his response, the real contention is over whether the knowledge itself necessitated or determined David’s choices. There is nothing logically or biblically to suggest that it did.”

    Once God told David what would happen if he stayed in Keilah, David then leaves. It seems to me that the information God gave to David actually did determine – people do make decisions based on the information available to them.

    Then, “God foreknew of Saul’s expedition and that never came to pass.”

    Should we think that God was ignorant of the final outcome in this situation?

    Here is the Calvinist position. God is omniscient and knows every event that will occur in the future. God’s omniscient knowledge makes all events certain but not necessary as Craig argues. Once God creates the universes, events cannot occur in any other way than as God knows them – Beginning at Genesis 1, history plays out according to God’s omniscient knowledge. However, God is omnipotent. Thus, God has the final say as to what occurs. Therefore, all events are determined by God because they must go through the filter of God’s omnipotence. Some events are caused directly by God (e.g., Noah’s flood) and some indirectly through secondary means (e.g., the stoning of Stephen). Isaiah 10 describes how God can use secondary means.

    So, a sovereign God who is omniscient and omnipotent necessarily determines all things. Even under Brian’s future whatever scheme, God still determines all things (because everything filters through Him) even if He does not decide all things in eternity past.

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    1. rhutchin writes:
      Even Dr. Flowers could have predicted that had he been there.
      The example proves than that God knows the hearts of men and that David was not a dummy.

      This is childish logic!!
      If Dr. Flowers, having been there, could have predicted the future of what would happen in Keilah, then David (who knew Saul personally) could have predicted it.

      In such case David wouldn’t have bothered to ask god – and scripture wouldn’t have reported it as the example it is.

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    2. rhutchin writes
      “Here is the Calvinist position. God is omniscient and knows every event that will occur in the future.
      God’s omniscient knowledge makes all events certain but not necessary as Craig argues.”

      Here we go again playing the “omniscience” red herring AS-IF “omniscience” were causally relevant – which it isn’t.

      Dr. Flowers already anticipates the Calvinists move in this example.
      1) God caused (via predestination) David to ask about the future
      2) God knew he was going to cause (via predestination) David to leave Keilah
      3) God spoke faleshoods to David – misleading him to believe an illusion – that it was logically possible for him to stay – when god knew it was not – because he had secretly predestined the opposite.
      4) Thus god deceived David into believing he was making an indeterministic decision – when in fact he was just operating robotically.

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  5. Admin writes, “Are all events that God foreknows only foreknown because He Himself has determined them to come to pass, as many Calvinistic scholars imply in their argumentation?”

    Ernest Strauss had an interesting take on this on another issue. It is that we cannot logically separate that which God knows from that which God decrees – for God to know X is for God to decree X; they are the same. If God knows X, then necessarily God has also decreed X. This seems like Geisler’s argument about God knowingly determining and determitively knowing all things (in Chosen But Free)

    Your issue seems to be whether God causes X to come to pass if He decrees/knows X could come to pass – Can God know conditionally. In the cited passage, David says, “…Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account.” Whether Saul would have destroyed the city to get David is unknown, but David thought it and the people of Keilah thought it. God knew that the people of Keilah would have given up David to save the city. Apparently, the people were telling David a different story – and why wouldn’t they; David was in their city and could easily have destroyed the city if he thought the people were against him. Had David remained in the city, Saul would have come and the people would have turned on David and given him to Saul. David then freely and wisely made the decision to leave.

    However, you err in your argument: “The fact is that God foreknew an event that did not come to pass. That is all that is needed to establish that foreknowledge doesn’t necessitate determinism.” God did not foreknow an event as coming to pass but as one that could come to pass under certain circumstances – Had David stayed in the city, Saul would have responded by coming to the city and would have threatened to destroy the city unless the people gave up David whereupon the people would have given up David. David’s decision to leave undercut all the conditions that would have prevailed had he remained in the city.

    You are asking this passage of Scripture to prove more than it is able. That God foreknew an event that event did not come to pass only proves that God had not determined that event to occur. God’s foreknowledge of these events was accurate, and that which transpired was exactly as known to God.

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  6. Br.D, you brought up Fischer and Ury very good authors on negotiating. You seemed to be suggesting that I was engaging in the ad hominem fallacy (i.e. atttack the person instead of their argument). I think you misunderstood my post. I was attacking an argument (the argument Wagner has repeatedly made, i.e. if we don’t know how God knows if we do not explain that, explain how his foreknowledge works that must mean that God is not capable of foreknowledge of all future events).

    Perhaps an analogy may make it clearer for you Br.D. Say that I have a Porshe a very fast car, but I don’t understand how the engine of my porshe works. So I assert that my Porshe is fast. Someone else comes along and asks HOW does your porshe supposedly go so fast? Since I don’t know how the porse engine works, I cannot answer that HOW question. This other person then suggests since you don’t know how it works, the porshe may not really be fast. This person is engaging in a logical fallacy, I may not know or understand or be capable of explaining HOW the porshe goes fast: but I may be perfectly rational in affirming that the car ***is*** fast. Similarly, I may not know or understand or be capable of explaining HOW is capable of foreknowledge of all future events. My “attacking” the other person’s argument that since I do not know how the porshe is fast it then follows that the porshe is not fast, is not at all an ad hominem argument.

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  7. One of the things this topic should highlight to the SOT101 reader – is that Calvinists historically reach for any possible word or term with which they can use in an equivocation.

    In the English language, a “Double entendre” is a way of framing select words within a sentence – in such a way that the sentence can be understood in two different ways – because the selected word can have two meanings. But this is usually done for humor, where there is not intent to deceive.

    An Equivocation on the other hand, follows the same sentence model, also using a select word/term that can have two meanings. However this is most often a strategic use of ambiguous language designed to trick the recipient via camouflaged language.

    The word “certain” can refer to “epistemic” certainty. As in god knows for certain that 2 x 2 = 4.

    It can also mean: “inevitable”, “inescapable”, “irresistible”, “unavoidable”. “doomed”, “compulsory”,”unalterable”, and “unpreventable”.

    The reader will recognize, all of these words carry a strong reference FATE.

    A trick that would allow one to avoid using the word FATE – would be to simply replace it with the word CERTAIN.
    In this way one evades the recognition of FATALISM within one’s argument – by camouflaging it behind a different word.

    Now the serpent was most subtle beast in the field. And the serpent says…………..
    Genesis 3:1

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  8. Let [FCDD] = “first-conceived/decreed/determined”
    Let [ACNC] = “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”

    1) God foreknows events certain to come to pass, caused by his operation of [FCDD] action, which functions as the direct/indirect [ACNC] of those events coming to pass.
    2) God foreknows events certain to come to pass, with NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation on his part.

    The Calvinist, remaining true to Theological Determinism, must affirm statement 1, and reject statement 2.

    However, the Calvinist faces logical entailments from his stance, which make Calvinism contain unbiblical or unethical components – and present the God of Calvinism as equally good/evil (i.e., undifferentiated good/evil).

    And compounding that problem, the preponderance of strategies which Calvinism evolves to deal with these logical/ethical conundrums, consistently resolve to some form of dishonesty, in which attempts are made to masquerade or obfuscate its entailments. And this dishonesty, is always manifest, in some form of beguiling double-talk.

    The issue revolves around Calvinism’s logical entailments, of God as evil/good.

    The discerning Christian is advised to look for Calvinism’s beguiling double-talk having the following patterns.
    1) Explicitly affirming statement 1, and then later Implicitly denying statement 1 for evil events.
    2) Explicitly rejecting statement 2, and then later Implicitly affirming statement 2 for evil events.
    3) The use of euphemistic language to camouflage/obfuscate the system’s evil conceptions.
    4) The use of euphemistic language to camouflage/obfuscate God’s necessary causal and concurrent role in evil events – painting a picture in which God is totally absent (Implicit denial of statement 1).
    5) An appeal to secondary causes – to camouflage/obfuscate God’s necessary causal and concurrent role within a causal-chain – necessary to bring about an evil event. (Implicit denial of statement 1).
    6) A highly evolved arsenal, of equivocal words and terms, specifically designed to mislead unsuspecting people into false conclusions, by manufactured facades, so that denials of statement 1 can masquerade as assertions, and affirmations of statement 2 can masquerade as denials – or the reverse.
    7) The strategical use of loaded-language, in which biblical/philosophical words and terms, which do not explicitly imply determinism, are loaded with deterministic meanings. These words and terms, with their loaded meanings are then strategically deployed in ad-hoc fashion – facilitating the affirmation of determinism in one argument and the denial of it in the next. The Calvinist can strategically switch back and forth between these two strategies while the unsuspecting recipient is totally unaware of being tricked within a web of double-talk.
    8) Masquerading predestined-human-choice as un-predestined, in order to blame the human for a choice, which can only come to pass as one single unique inevitable/unavoidable predestined choice.
    9) Masquerading “Particular” divine benevolence as “Universal”. (see What love is this?)
    10) Masquerading a deity within scripture, AS-IF he speaks (the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), when it logically follows, he does not.

    It is an old joke: “God decided to make man in his image, and John Calvin decided to return the favor”

    When we understand that a man’s image of god will inherently reflect the characteristics of the man. And when we understand beguiling double-talk as an inherent characteristic of Calvinism. Then we can fully expect to find the image of the deity having that same characteristic. And in fact we do.

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    1. br.d writes, “2) God foreknows events certain to come to pass, with NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation on his part.
      The Calvinist, remaining true to Theological Determinism, must…reject statement 2.”

      As God is the creator of all things, sustains all things, and works all things after the counsel of His will, nothing can occur that has NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation on his part. To affirm (2) – NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation – is to deny God.

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      1. br.d writes:
        Let [FCDD] = “first-conceived/decreed/determined”
        Let [ACNC] = “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”

        1) God foreknows events certain to come to pass, caused by his operation of [FCDD] action, which functions as the direct/indirect [ACNC] of those events coming to pass.
        2) God foreknows events certain to come to pass, with NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation on his part.
        The Calvinist, remaining true to Theological Determinism, must…reject statement 2.”

        rhutchin responds:
        Nothing can occur that has NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation on God’s part.
        To affirm statement (2) …….is to deny God.

        Lets see how rhutchin’s assertion plays out through logical entailment:

        Adam’s disobedience occurred [FCDD] – “first-conceived/decreed/determined” by God.
        Adam’s disobedience occurred with God as the direct/indirect [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”
        Adam’s disobedience could not have occurred without these.
        Because nothing can occur without them, Adam’s choice is not the “necessary condition” for Adam’s disobedience – God’s [FCDD] and [ACNC] are.

        All evil occurs [FCDD] – “first-conceived/decreed/determined” by God.
        All evil occurs with God as the [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”
        No evil can occur without [FCDD] – “first-conceived/decreed/determined” by God.
        No evil can occur without God as the direct/indirect [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”

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      2. br.d writes, “Adam’s disobedience occurred with God as the direct/indirect [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”
        Adam’s disobedience could not have occurred without these.”

        Sure. If God had not created Adam…

        Then, “Because nothing can occur without them, Adam’s choice is not the “necessary condition” for Adam’s disobedience – God’s [FCDD] and [ACNC] are.”

        Adam’s choice was a necessary condition. Had Adam not chosen to eat the fruit,…

        Then, “All evil occurs [FCDD] – “first-conceived/decreed/determined” by God.”

        The term, “evil,” is an adjective describing disobedience to God. Without God saying, “Thou shalt not…” nothing could be called evil.

        Then, “All evil occurs with God as the [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition””

        A proof of this statement is necessary – if more is meant than that God creates man and gives man commands to obey..

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  9. br.d writes, “Adam’s disobedience occurred with God as the direct/indirect [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition”
    Adam’s disobedience could not have occurred without these.”

    rutching responds:
    Sure. If God had not created Adam…

    Here we have double-talk strategy #5 as listed above

    Then, “Because nothing can occur without them, Adam’s choice is not the “necessary condition” for Adam’s disobedience – God’s [FCDD] and [ACNC] are.”

    rutchin writes:
    Adam’s choice was a necessary condition. Had Adam not chosen to eat the fruit,…

    Here we have double-talk strategy #1 and #8 as listed above.
    Additionally this statement is false.
    Adam’s choice is the “sufficient condition” and not the “necessary condition”.
    Hence double-talk strategy #1

    Then, “All evil occurs [FCDD] – “first-conceived/decreed/determined” by God.”

    The term, “evil,” is an adjective describing disobedience to God. Without God saying, “Thou shalt not…” nothing could be called evil.

    irrelevant red herring

    Then, “All evil occurs with God as the [ACNC] – “antecedent-cause and necessary-condition””

    rhutchin writes:
    A proof of this statement is necessary – if more is meant than that God creates man and gives man commands to obey..

    However, rhutchin prior to this writes:
    **NOTHING** can occur that has NO [FCDD] [ACNC] operation on God’s part.
    So here we have another good example of double-talk strategy #1 as listed above.

    Great examples thanks rhutchin! 🙂

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