God’s Foreknowledge and Scripture
In my last three blogs, I have been working to show that God and humanity together can bring about the Scriptures. I have wanted Christians to see that affirming that humans have written the Bible is nothing against classical apostolic Christianity. Moreover, acknowledging that God has “written” the Bible is to be understood in several different ways such as dictation, authorization, and appropriation. There is one more way of thinking through the question. It has to do with God’s foreknowledge.
A while back, Tim Bergman and I debated about God’s Foreknowledge (Debate LINK HERE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNEKW-EqjrI ). In that debate I spent time showing that God has complete foreknowledge. Foreknowledge just means, “Knows in advance.” God knows in advance what is going to happen in the world. In fact, there is a bit of a thought tradition that thinks about all the possible worlds that God could have created. This helps to imagine what God had before him, and then think conversely to develop conclusions about our present world as well.
When thinking about possible worlds, one could imagine millions and billions of possibilities. In each of those possibilities, God can know who writes what and when. Then, when he decides to create a given world, he has already seen (in the case of our world) what Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Mark, and Paul were going to write down in their times.
He can think, “It is those writings which I want my people to reflect on and think on as they try to live faithfully for me in the world.” God’s reasons for this might be many. Perhaps he wants common content worked through by a community. Perhaps, he sees the growth of Scripture over time in a community as necessary to showing himself more fully when he is going to add flesh to his divinity and come in Jesus. Therefore, people will have already been processing God for quite some time before they meet God more fully. We could also add that he wants his community to be mature and think morally as they interact in the world around them.
Whatever the reason/s, God can choose a possible world to come about, and in that choice, he can already have seen that certain writers will freely write down things about him, and he can intend for those things to speak for him. Moreover, in the long run he can also see that it is these writings which will be gathered by church leaders (more on that next week).
Once again, the benefit of this is that God can decide what he wants the world to know about him and morality and make sure that in some possible world they will write about those things, and he can do this without ever affecting someone’s free-will. They can freely write these things and he can freely choose them to speak for him. Thus, God’s authorization of individuals to speak and write for him, as well as God’s appropriation of certain texts to speak for him, can all happen in advance.
Now, how do we humans come to the knowledge of what he has foreknown, authorized, and appropriated to speak for him? The question about human awareness of what God uses as Scripture will be thought through in the coming weeks.