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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: How Does Open Theism Deal with Predictive Prophecy?

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How Does Open Theism Deal with Predictive Prophecy?

Does God Know Everything? – Question 32

The Bible clearly teaches that God knows the future in each and every detail. Everything in Scripture testifies to this fact. Of this, there is not the slightest doubt. However, this is denied by those who hold the position of “Open Theism.”

If God does not know the future, as open theists claim, then how can he make predictions about what will occur in the future? If the Lord does not know the future, then how can there be such a thing as Bible prophecy?

We can make the following observations about predictions which we find in Scripture from the perspective of open theism.

1. Certain Prophecies Depend upon God’s Alone: They Will Come to Pass

There is one set of predictions which are dependent upon God alone. They are not dependent upon anything that humans may or may not do. Open theists agree that these will come to pass. Consequently, the future is set to some degree because of certain declarations which the Lord has made about things which will come to pass.

2. Certain Prophecies Are Conditional: They Are Likely to Occur

Open theists believe that certain prophecies are likely to occur but will not certainly occur. There is some doubt about them. There are a number of passages which fit into this category.

3. Certain Prophecies May Come to Pass

There are other predictions which may or may not come to pass. These depend upon the behavior or faithfulness of humans.

This is a brief summation of how open theism can claim to believe the Bible and what it teaches about predictive prophecy but deny that God exhaustively knows the future

Response to Open Theism’s View of Bible Prophecy

While there are certain predictions in Scripture that may fit one of these three categories there are also numerous predictions which will not. These are specific predictions by the Lord which involve innumerable decisions by humans before they come to pass. Open theists do not mention these. Indeed, their whole system comes tumbling down when these predictions are carefully looked at.

Furthermore, open theism attempts to redefine predictive prophecy in such a way as to hold on to the doctrine that God is all-knowing yet explain away why certain prophecies did not come to pass. This is a fruitless exercise. In what sense can God be considered to be all-knowing if He makes predictions which do not come true? The simple answer is that He cannot.

It is important that we listen to what the God of Scripture says about His knowledge of the future. For one thing, He challenges the so-called gods to predict the future. In doing this, it reveals the difference between Himself and them. We read the following in the writings of Isaiah.

“Submit your case,” says the LORD. “Present your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. “Let them come and tell us what will happen. Tell us the past events, so that we may reflect on it and know the outcome, or tell us the future. Tell us the coming events, then we will know that you are gods. Indeed, do something good or bad, then we will be in awe and perceive. Look, you are nothing and your work is worthless. Anyone who chooses you is detestable.” (Isaiah 41:21-24 HCSB)

These gods cannot predict the future because they do not exist. The God of the Bible can do this because He does exist.

The prophet Isaiah also recorded God saying,

“Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” (Isaiah 46:9, 10 HCSB)

God said there is nobody like Him because He can declare things which have not yet come to pass. This makes Him distinct from all other creatures in the universe.

We need to take seriously what the Lord, the God of Israel, has said about Himself. He says that he declares the beginning from the end because He knows all things. This includes everything which has happened in the past, is happening in the present, and will happen in the future. He is the God of knowledge. This is the God of the Bible, not the god of open theism.

Summary – Question 32
How Does Open Theism Deal with Predictive Prophecy?

The God of the Bible knows all things past, present and future. He has all-knowledge. There is nothing that He can learn. This is the consistent teaching of Scripture.

This basic truth of the Christian faith is denied by certain Bible-believing Christians who hold to the position of Open Theism. If God does not know the future, as those holding to Open Theism believe, then how do they explain predictive prophecy? How is God able to know the future?

Open theism attempts to answer this question by dividing prophecies into three different categories. Some prophecies in Scripture will come to pass, others are likely to occur, while there are others which may or may not occur.

However, their desire to deny that God exhaustively knows the future does not match the evidence. There are too many examples of the God of the Bible specifically predicting certain events to occur. These events involve literally millions of contingencies. All of these must fall into place for the predictions to come true. The fact that they do come true shows that God knows the future exhaustively.

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