A detailed response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 3

Martyn McGeown offers, perhaps, the best evidence for God knowing the future exhaustively. If God can predict, accurately, future events that involve too many random variables for even a present knowledge to accomidate, then this is evidence for divine foreknowledge. McGeown quotes Bruce Ware to this effect:

Consider the vast array of attending circumstances God must know about in advance for this prediction to be given. At the time Isaiah prophesies this, God must already know about the fall of Assyria, the rise and fall of Babylon, the rise of Medo-Persia, the fall of Israel, the fall of Judah, the birth and naming of Cyrus, the life and growth of this particular king, his ongoing life into adulthood, his selection as king, his willingness to consider helping the Israelites, his decision to assist in rebuilding Jerusalem, and on and on. This list hits a very few of the most significant items. Within each of these items is hidden a multitude of free will choices that would affect everything about the outcome for that particular piece of human history. It simply is incredible that God can say through Isaiah such a long time prior to Cyrus’s reign, “It is I who says of Cyrus, He is my shepherd! And he will perform all my desire.”

McGeown adds:

It simply will not do for the open theists to claim that God “tweaks” man’s free will occasionally to accomplish specific purposes. The example of Cyrus (Isa. 44:28) alone shows that open theism’s entire thesis collapses like a house of cards.

McGeown believes this is the best example in the Bible of God predicting something so minutely that it suggests future foreknowledge. This is an event in which Isaiah predicts the name (and character) of a king (possibly 140 years in advance). While McGeown is finally offering rational arguments, his evidence is fairly shoddy.

Assuming the prophecy of Isaiah is not Deutero-Isaiac (a critical assumption that must be held to make this point), then one would still have to figure out how likely it is to accurately predict names (and characters). It cannot be ruled out that God was involved with the naming (and breading), as power acts are traditionally how God predicts future events (as evident in Isaiah 40-48).

Two examples of people being named are found in the New Testament: Jesus and John the Baptist. In the case of Jesus, God asks Mary (Jesus’ mother) to name her baby and she does. In the case of John, God makes Zacharias (John’s father) mute until he names the baby what God wishes. Presumably, God would have killed Zacharias if he named his son anything except John. One naming was a request and one was coerced. Both of these examples suggest the naming is not fated, but must be brought about by free agents.

Another point should be added: it is a stretch to jump from “God knows the name and character of a baby, 140 years in advanced” to “God knows all events, no matter how small, infinitely into the future”. That is not a rational conclusion. If I was able to predict a name and character of a baby 140 years into the future (like a modern day Nostradamus) no one would jump to the conclusion I know the future in its entirety.

If a baby is the key evidence of future exhaustive foreknowledge, Open Theists should be assured that there is not any strong evidence against Open Theism in the Bible.

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 1 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 2 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 3 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 4 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 5 [link]

7 comments

  1. If I was going to help guys (hopefully Brothers) like McGeown and Ware out, though I dislike their combative polemic style, I would point them to use instead Daniel chapter 11.

    Predicting/Planning for a future king to be raised up as God’s servant in behalf of God’s people, and telling God’s people the king’s name ahead of time so that they will recognize God’s sovereign superintendence in their nation when it happens, is fairly easy for God to do, as Chris has pointed out in the John the Baptist example. It doesn’t guarantee that the plan would have to be meticulously detailed to include all human and divine decisions between that one prophecy and its fulfillment.

    But Daniel 11 does show a much more detailed plan, covering centuries… whose details God would have to still manipulate into existence to remain true to His Word… but He can still leave the overall plan for all those centuries open for almost innumerable freewill opportunities for Himself and mankind to interact.

    1. Exactly. The prophecy should be specific and fulfilled.

      On a side note. It is interesting to see people who argue the prophecy of Tyre was “fulfilled” also not give the same leeway in fulfillment of other prophecies.

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