Foreknowledge, Freedom, And The Future -- By: Robert E. Picirilli

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 43:2 (Jun 2000)
Article: Foreknowledge, Freedom, And The Future
Author: Robert E. Picirilli

Foreknowledge, Freedom, And The Future

Robert e. Picirillia

I. Introduction

My purpose in this paper is to respond, from within the Arminian camp, to the denial of the unlimited omniscience of God by Clark Pinnock and others associated with him. A number of Calvinists have criticized his approach; it is time for an Arminian to affirm that God knows all future events and that the openness of the future is not compromised thereby.

Some background is in order. I approach this subject as an Arminian, holding a nuanced form of Arminianism that is different from what is generally understood as the meaning of that term. This is the Arminianism of Arminius himself and of those originally influenced by him—the first generation (and only that generation) of Remonstrants.

Space does not permit elucidation of this, except to say that this is not the Arminianism of Grotius or the Remonstrant Church, nor of many ways of thinking commonly called Arminian in subsequent church history. It is certainly not the position taken by Clark Pinnock in his revisionist theism. Indeed, the “original” Arminianism I hold needs a name: “classic” Arminianism will not do, nor will “Wesleyan” Arminianism—although in many respects Wesley followed this kind of Arminianism. For lack of something better, I will call it Reformation Arminianism.

By this I do not mean to imply that Arminius was one of the magisterial Reformers, only that this proto-Arminianism was directly rooted in the Reformation and is truly “Reformed” in the broadest sense of that word. This kind of Arminianism affirms, among other things: that guilt, condemnation, and depravity passed to the whole human race by means of Adam’s sin; total depravity; the absolute sovereignty of God; salvation by grace through faith, not of works; that Christ’s atoning death was penal satisfaction for sin; that both his penal death and active obedience are imputed to believers; and that apostasy can occur by retraction of faith only, without remedy.

For the more narrow purposes of this paper, I begin by citing Francis Beckwith:

Philosophers and theologians in the Christian tradition as well as those in other traditions have wrestled with the problem of omniscience and free will for as long as people have believed that their Scriptures teach both that God knows everything in the past, present and future and that human beings are

free moral agents with the ability to make libertarian choices. Such belief, however, poses a well-known problem. If God has perfect knowledge of future events including human actions, and if ...

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