Omniscience versus Free Will

(Note: This post originally appeared on the now defunct centurybound.com blog on January 15, 2006. It appears here with some slight editing by the author.)

Have you ever felt like you were in no control of your life? Working nights and attending school during the day has sort of made me feel this way. My days are set into motion and I have no ability to make them slow down. If you would, picture being on a roller coaster without a seat belt; this should explain why my blog entries have become sparse as of late. This is my last quarter in school though so I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I told a friend earlier this week – I can do anything for three months! (Edit: Of course now I’m back in school, so the tunnel is dark again!)

In the meantime, I will try to write an entry at least every Sunday. It seems Sunday is the only day of the week that I get a little bit of time to just chill out. So here is the first of my regular Sunday morning posts … enjoy!

Omniscience versus Predestination

I had an interesting conversation with some coworkers earlier this week. One friend made the comment that God knows who is going to Heaven or hell. Another friend took issue with that statement and argued that if God had such knowledge, it would equate to predestination and that any choices we made in life would be pointless. This is an interesting topic that has been discussed and examined by far greater minds than mine, but I will give it a shot anyway.

Let me start by summarizing the two arguments:

Argument 1: God is omniscient. He knows everything; including which of us will go to Heaven and which will go to hell.

Argument 2: God couldn’t possibly know who was going to Heaven and hell because this would violate our free will and force us to live a predestined life.

Compelling arguments could be made for both views. However, if we look to the Bible for an answer to this debate, we will find that scripture definitely supports the notion of an omniscient God.

Please consider the following Scriptures:

Psalm 145:4-5 “He (God) determines the numbers of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.” (NIV – emphasis mine)

Acts 15:18 “That [His work] have been known for ages [by the Lord]” – (NIV – emphasis mine)

Now, if we believe the Bible is correct and that God’s knowledge has no limit (omniscience), we must agree that He knows which of us will go to Heaven and which will go to Hell. What we must decide is if God’s knowledge of our ultimate destination violates our own free will. Before we consider this; however, we must define what we mean by free will. I submit that “free” will equates to the “freedom” to make our own decisions. Dictionary.com defines the word freedom as the condition of being free from restraints and liberty of a person from slavery and oppression.

With that definition of freedom in mind, I would suggest that since the fall of man (in the Garden of Eden) all of mankind has been a slave to sin. Please consider the following scripture:

Galatians 4:3 “So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.” (NIV)

Galatians 4:8 “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” (NIV)

2 Timothy 22-2622Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (NIV – emphasis mine)

Here’s my point. God has created us all to have free will (one that is free from the bondage of sin); however, since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we are all slaves to sin. Before we know and accept Christ we are living a life of bondage.  Any appearance of free will outside of Christ is simply an illusion. Therefore, an omniscient God will know whether we will eventually accept Christ as our Savior, but this doesn’t violate our free will because we don’t actually have free will outside of Christ. God can’t violate free will that we don’t actually have!

I realize this is a little deep and may even offend those who have rejected Christ, but it should offer some hope to those who are considering Christ for the first time.

Let me repeat, it isn’t God’s omniscience that robs us of free will. It is the enemy. We can only escape bondage and exercise free will in our life once we have escaped the power of Satan and stepped into the light.

Chew on that for awhile.

Book Review: Why We're Not Emergent by DeYoung and Kluck

Title: Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Should Be
Authors: Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
Publisher: Moody Publishers, 2008

Review: Those that are not familiar with the Emergent movement within the church have not been paying much attention to the book shelves lately. Authors like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Dan Kimball have made the movement a topic of much conversation, and controversy, in the last few years. In a nutshell, the emergent movement argues that the modern church needs remodeled in order to be relevant in the postmodern world we live in. Those within the movement favor a more missional approach to “doing” church. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the books of those authors within the movement and have a genuine affinity for some of them; however, my criticism has always been that, far too often, advocates of the movement seem to throw the baby out with the bath water. In the movement’s zeal to make the church ng relevant, it often goes overboard and abandons the very things that have made the church great. In favoring “right living,” emergents often forget the importance of “right thinking.” I’ve often asked why we can’t have both and have criticized the emergent movement for trying to “escape” the church as we know it.

I realize I have done a poor job of explaining the movement and all the things it has come to stand for, but I will save that for another post. For now, I will simply review the book.

Based on their age and demographics, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck are two guys that would seem to be ripe for picking by the emergent movement. DeYoung is the pastor if a church across the street from Michigan State University that Kluck happens to attend. This is perhaps the biggest strength of the book. It provides a reaction to the Emergent Movement from both the pulpit and the pew. DeYoung provides an intense scriptural rebuttal while Kluck’s response to the movement seems to come more from the gut. The combination of arguments works splendidly. The authors manage to put words to many of the critiques I have had of the movement and manage to do so in a loving and humble way. Kluck’s chapter on why he doesn’t want a cool pastor and DeYoung’s examination of the seven churches in the Book of Revelations are must reads.

I recommend this book to anyone who considers themselves a fan, or member, of the movement. I sincerely hope it serves as an inspiration for those within the Emergent Movement to reign it in a little and return to traditional orthodoxy. I also recommend this book to anyone who may be looking for ways to refute some of the more outlandish claims of the movement.

Highly Recommended