S. M. Baugh And The Meaning Of Foreknowledge: Another Look -- By: Tom McCall

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 26:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: S. M. Baugh And The Meaning Of Foreknowledge: Another Look
Author: Tom McCall


S. M. Baugh And The Meaning
Of Foreknowledge: Another Look

Tom McCall

Tom McCall is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Keith D. Stanglin

Keith D. Stanglin is a Ph.D. candidate in Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary and Adjunct Professor of Reformation History at Reformed Bible College, both in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I. Introduction

When faced with questions about predestination, Arminians often respond by pointing out to their Calvinist interlocutors that in the NT it seems clear that predestination is preceded by foreknowledge. They believe that a straightforward reading of Rom 8:29 fits well with the Arminian view that predestination to salvation is based upon God’s will to save and human response to the possibility of salvation, for here we read that the predestined are “those God foreknew.” Arminians sometimes argue that their view is supported even more clearly in 1 Pet 1:2, for here we see that the elect are “those who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.” Drawing from passages such as these, Arminians maintain that predestination is based upon God’s foreknowledge of which human persons will and which human persons will not (or would not) accept the offer of salvation.

In an influential essay, S. M. Baugh has attempted to rescue Rom 8:29 and similar texts for Reformed theology by arguing that the meaning of foreknowledge in the NT renders “impossible” the “Arminian notion of ‘foreseen faith’ … as an interpretation of God’s knowledge” when foreknowledge concerns predestination.1 He vigorously objects to the common Arminian interpretation—to Baugh such readings of Scripture import theology into the meaning of the sacred texts in a way that does unconscionable violence to them.2

Aware that his basic position appears to enjoy widespread support among recent and contemporary Calvinist theologians,3 we challenge Baugh’s conclusions. In this essay, we look first at Baugh’s word studies and the conclusions he draws from them. We then focus attention on the work that these conclusions are called to do for his theology, and we argue that he has not made a convincing case that the Arminian interpretation is “impossible.” Noting that Baugh tends to...

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