[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Herschel Hobbs on the Foreknowledge of God (Is this Old School Non-Calvinism?)

by Herschel H. Hobbs

There are three principal positions in theology with regard to this doctrine. Calvinists hold that since God has willed what will happen in the future, he knows that it will happen. Arminians insist that while man is free, God knows his choices in advance. Socinians contend that God knows all that is knowable, but that events determined by man's free choice are unknowable.

Two questions arise out of the first and third positions. First, does God's foreknowledge of an event predetermine its occurence? The answer is 'no.' To foreknow an automobile accident does not cause it. God's foreknowledge of man's sin does not necessitate it. Or else it is not a matter of free choice, and it makes God the author of evil. God does not cause evil in any sense, nor does he will it. He permits it in that he does not stop it, therefore it must be, is to ignore the holy nature of God.

Second, does man's free choice rule out the foreknowledge of God? Those holding this view insist that foreknowledge is based upon a chain of antecedent events which determine the final result. That free choice is not determined by antecedent events, else it is not free choice. Therefore, God cannot foreknow the choice.

But God's omniscience is not serially obtained. "God knows immediately and directly without the need of inference from antecedent motives" (Mullins). Otherwise, God could not control and guide his universe to his purposeful ends. "Other wills, not his own would fix the corse of events and the destiny of his creatures" (Mullins). The Bible teaches that God does foreknow man's choices( cf. Job 1:8 ff.).

The New Testament uses of foreknowledge relate it to both sin and salvation. Foreknowing man's sin God had foreknowledge of the cross (Acts 2:23). But his foreknowledge did not itself cause them. Because he foreknew sin, he also foreknew the cross, his remedy for sin. Foreknowledge is also related to election (1 Peter 1:2). This refers to the election of individuals only in the sense that God foreknew who would receive or reject his provision for sin(cf. Rom. 8:29a). But even God's foreknowledge leaves man free and responsible in his choice.

Taken from What Baptists Believe, p.24-26

Herschel Hobbs was a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

(This is not a sign that I am in any way turning into a Baptist)


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