Monday, August 30

Quiz Answers, Question 3

Yet another installment of the answers for this quiz. We're now at question 3:
3. Concerning the foreknowledge of God: Calvinists believe
  • a. it has intentional will behind it.
  • b. it is exactly the same thing as foresight.
  • c. it is inconsistent with real human choice.
  • d. it means God can't really interact with us in time.
  • e. a and c.
  • f. none of the above.
The correct anwer is "a. it has intentional will behind it." Looking more carefully at this question, I think it might have been better if I had said something like this: Concerning God's foreknowledge as it is defined in scripture: Calvinist's believe..., because most of us use the word "foreknowledge" in common usage to mean simply "foresight", even though we understand that scripturally it means much more than that. Calvinists believe that the word "foreknowledge" as used in scripture refers to something more than simply looking down through time and seeing what would happen, but carries with the idea of intentional choice. So, when Paul writes in Romans 11 that "God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew", he is not saying simply that God knew ahead of time that the Israelites would be his people, but that he chose them to be his people.

For variety, I'm using the London Baptist Confession 1689 for evidence of the Calvinistic postion. If you are a stickler for WCF, I'll let you in on a secret: the LBC and the WCF say exactly the same thing in this section. From Chapter 3 of the London Baptist Confession of 1689, Articles 1 and 2:
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.

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.
That last paragraph speaks to the correct answer to this question. The reason God decrees (or wills) something is not because he sees that it's going to happen, but rather it's the other way around: God's decrees (or his will) stands behind his foreknowledge.

The last two wrong answers are things that open thiests in particular--and also some others who argue against Calvinism--maintain is the logical result of the Calvinist's view on God's foreknowledge, but Calvinists hold that real human choice and God's real interaction with his creation are compatible with their view of God's foreknowledge. Notice in the above quote from the LBC it says that God's decreeing everything that comes to pass does not do violence "to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established..." Human will and the liberty of second causes (or real human choice) remain within the Calvinistic system.

God also continues to interact within time by working to
uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence.... (LBC, Chapter 5, Article 1)
God is constantly active within his creation to bring about what he has already planned for it.