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THE BIBLE TELLS US GOD LEARNS

by Jacques More

What!?
I hear you say(?).
       Yes, the bible - the Scripture - the God breathed text also known as, the Word of God, is clear that God learns things. Not all things, of course, and indeed less than everyone else put together, but yes, the bible is clear that God learns stuff.

Perhaps the most solid of these definite things involves God telling us that He had not decided something at a certain time or season, but He had now. So, if God, as He tells us, had not decided that something, then it follows that the knowledge of that new decision did not exist until it was made. God thereby informs us that He learnt of that, as His decision, at a later time than the season in which He had not yet made that decision: If God had known already, then it would have been decided already, but this is God speaking, and He does not lie or seek to deceive us.

If I am about to go to the ice cream van, or the shop with ice cream, on a hot day and have yet to decide whether to have chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or another, then I do not yet know what ice cream I will have. Once I've decided, then only do I know. I have learned what ice cream I am having. So, it would be true for me to say, when I left home that then I did not know what ice cream flavour I would have. I learnt of that decision AFTER I chose, when at the van or in the shop, but not when I left home.

This is exactly what God is telling us in regards to where the temple was to be built. He tells us that at the time of the exodus from Egypt He had not (yet) decided where this would be built.

Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel.

2 Chronicles 6:5

God had not decided where to build the temple, "His house", by the time the people of Israel were brought out of Egypt. God had chosen no city where to have it built. This is fully made plain by the persistent and repeated times God said that He would choose (at a later time) a place for a temple.

But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

Deuteronomy 12:5-7

"the place where the LORD your God chooses" in the NKJV is clear, but not as explicit to view as the older English rendition of the KJV "the place which the LORD your God shall choose": "shall choose" is plainer in reading. God had yet to make that decision is clear: He shall make that decision, but it is not yet chosen. It is not yet decided. And this is repeated numerous other times:

. . . in the place which the LORD shall choose . . .

Deuteronomy 12:14 KJV

. . . in the place which he shall choose to place his name there . . .

Deuteronomy 14:23 KJV

. . . shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name there . . .

Deuteronomy 26:2 KJV

Also in:
Deuteronomy 12:14; 12:18; 12:26; 14:23; 14:25; 15:20; 16:2; 16:6; 16:7; 16:15; 16:16; 17:8; 18:6; 31:11
       Now Paul made something clear too:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine . . .

2 Timothy 3:16

Since we have above seen that the Scripture is clear that God learns about His new decisions, we know that in some things He is thereby free to make new decisions. This means that the future is not completely known by God in its entirety. In all the things He has already decided to happen, yes, of course, but not in regards to the things which He has yet to decide. This is known as an open future. And this is also known as the teaching of open theism. Though these terms are new in the world of theology, the concepts and the truths here are not new and have been taught for centuries (in the 19th century at least) by other names like the nescience of God.

And, since this truth of Scripture taught as a doctrine, fully counters other known theologies like Calvinism, it is popular in the midst of Calvinists, to tarnish the holders of this truth as heretics rather than engage with this truth and deny their own edifice of belief. Calvin was very clear that nothing happened by chance and everything has been decided already by God.

What we must prove is that single events are ordered by God and that every event comes from his intended will. Nothing happens by chance.

John Calvin
The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book I, Ch. 16, Sect. 4)

So, though lots of word gymnastics occur, in all branches of this theology that God is not responsible for evil directly, Calvin is saying that.
       It is anathema to that mindset that God learns anything: the future is closed: God is not free to make new (yet to know) decisions. This last facet is also true in Arminianism. Though an opponent in many things to Calvinism, an Arminian still believes that God knows all things future and thereby all whom He foresees to be saved is complete in God's knowledge.
Plato wrote:

When the father and creator . . . resolved to have a moving image of eternity . . . there were no days and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he constructed the heaven he created them also. They are all parts of time, and the past and future are created species of time, which we unconsciously but wrongly transfer to eternal being, for we say that it 'was,' or 'is,' or 'will be,' but the truth is that 'is' alone is properly attributed to it, and that 'was' and 'will be' are only to be spoken of becoming in time, for they are motions, but that which is immovably the same forever cannot become older or younger by time, nor can it be said that it came into being in the past, or has come into being now, or will come into being in the future, nor is it subject at all to any of those states which affect moving and sensible things and of which generation is the cause. These are the forms of time . . .

Timaeus 37c-38b

In other words, God is said here to have created time from another "place" known as eternity. Now it follows, if God made time, then everything that happens in time, God already knows, and thereby there is nothing future (which is "in time") which God cannot know. But folks, this is Greek philosophy, not Scripture. This is not God revealing Himself to us, as He does in the bible. And one of my favourite authors C.S. Lewis explained it as the words on a page, all written already, but we have only got to where we are reading now. A great illustration, yes, but based not on truth of Scripture, but Greek philosophy.
       Why (?) should we doubt God's honesty when He says,

. . . God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

2 Chronicles 32:31

Or even, after such testing,

. . . now I know . . .

Genesis 22:12


For another strong argument simply given in video format:

1 Samuel 13:13
Proof Positive of Open Theism

For a discussion of how prophecy operates in open theism:

HOW DOES PROPHECY OPERATE
FOR AN OPEN THEIST?

For a full chapter discussing evil and God's knowledge:

EVIL AND GOD'S KNOWLEDGE

For a full discussion of the theology of Calvinism:




Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from
The New King James Version

© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.


© copyright Jacques More 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 
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