Does God's Foreknowledge Destroy Free Will?

Recently, I was listening to The Bible Answer Man and a caller had asked a question about whether or not we could have free will in light of God's foreknowledge of what we would do. The caller spent a few minutes on the air with Hank going back and forth about whether this was an issue and whether God's knowing a future event without the ability to be wrong about it means that the event is pre-determined and could not be any other way.

For Hank's response, I would invite you to listen to the show from 5/26/2016. For my part, I would like to spend a few minutes taking a slightly different approach to this question. As is usually the case, this response is not solely made up of my own brilliant ideas, but is derived from responses I have heard from others in the past on this subject.

Does God condone slavery?

Chained (a)A common indictment against God (or the Bible) is that He condones slavery. There have been a number of responses to this sort of accusation. Most of the responses that I have heard or read about are typically quite similar. For most who level this challenge against God, the rebuttal is found lacking.

Most commonly, the rebuttal is that the slavery indicated in the Bible is not the sort of slavery that we currently think of in a post-19th Century Colonial America. While this line of argumentation seems to be true, as far as it goes, I don't believe it gets us very far in the conversation.

Has the Bible Been Translated Accurately?

When it comes to the Word of God, one of the most common questions that comes up is about whether or not the Bible we have today is an accurate representation of what was originally written 2,000 years ago. This challenge tends to be less about whether or not the Bible is the inspired Word of God (we'll get to that in another post) but whether or not it was handed down through the centuries without major alterations and corruptions along the way.

One common analogy people make is to compare the transmission of the events of Jesus' life to the Telephone Game. You remember that game. You sit in a big circle with a couple dozen people. The first person whispers something to the second. The second person whispers the message to the third. This continues until the last person gets the message. Of course, when the last person says the message out loud, it is hilariously different from what the first person said.

Do atheists lack a belief in God?

A common rebuttal from atheists regarding their responsibility to defend their own view is to say that they simply do not have a belief. This, according to their view, absolves them from any obligation to shoulder a burden of proof. They claim that not believing God exists is substantially different from saying God does not exist.

One such atheist once explained this by using the illustration of a jar of jellybeans. He said if someone told him there were 500 jellybeans in the jar, he might not believe them. But that does not mean that he believes there are not 500 jellybeans in the jar. Therefore, this is an example of a lack of belief and is parallel to the atheist's lack of belief in God.

The problem with this illustration is, it is not parallel. The number of jellybeans in the jar does not have any implications in how a person lives his or her life. How I treat other people is not impacted by whether or not I believe there are 500 jellybeans. Even taking and eating a handful of the jellybeans is not affected by whether or not I believe there are 500 of them in the jar.

Do Christians decide if God is real?

A while back, I wrote about whether it is appropriate for Christians put reason above God's Word when it
comes to belief in Christ. You might think I'm repeating myself, here. I assure you, this is a different thing. The other post had to do with prioritizing reason above God's revelation. This one has to do with our role in belief.

In other words, while the previous post discussed whether or not reason should be prioritized over God's Word when it comes to understanding what is true and what is not, today I want to look at whether God's existence is dependent on our own personal beliefs about Him. It is an important distinction to make and hopefully it is one which can be understood properly. It essentially comes down to the question, "Do we create God by believing in Him?"

Can God be both Just and Merciful?

justiceIs God a God of justice? Or is He a God of mercy? Are those two things mutually exclusive? It seems that whichever direction we go with this, God is accused of doing wrong.

Many have claimed that the God of the Old Testament was mean, capricious, vindictive, petty, unjust and much, much more. This usually stems from passages having to do with the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cleansing of the Promised Land of other nations and tribes, etc.

People will refer to these parts of the Bible and claim that God is a horrible, mean, violent deity. So much so that some people will claim that, even if they were convinced that this God exists, they would not follow such a being. They simply don't like Him. They don't believe such a God exists, but hate Him anyway.

Do beliefs have moral qualities?

With all the political hot topics being bandied about regarding things like abortion, religious freedom, same-sex marriage and health care, as well as recent SCOTUS decisions, I thought this would be a good time to write a new post. Although I have not prepared a lot of material to keep things going, this seemed like something which needed to be addressed.

I have heard a lot of talk on both sides of the issues listed above and have noticed how these conversations have a tendency to degenerate and lead to quarrels, threats and even physical violence! This has gotten me thinking about not only the topics, but the way they are engaged.