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By Mike Edwards

I understand many may not think about or find all that relevant whether God knows the future or not. It may sound sacrilegious or odd to suggest an all-powerful God doesn’t know the future. But, even an all-powerful God may not being able to do the impossible such as change the past, force true love, or know an undetermined future until it happens.

It matters if God can know possible future suffering.  

A woman asks God for wisdom in marrying their partner. All think it is a match made in heaven, but the husband becomes abusive and the children suffer. It is hard to imagine God wouldn’t warn if God knew this was going to happen. Much of suffering is the result of current and future human free decisions. God and parents risk creating knowing this can lead to great joy or great pain. Not even an all-powerful God can create free will necessary for genuine relationships and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle.

Decisions and our relationship with God are less complicated if the future is open.  

The greatest freedom perhaps in believing God doesn’t know the future is realizing God isn’t failing to communicate or we may disappoint God with decisions. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making decisions that make our lives and the lives of others better. There isn’t one correct decision to make in a free world. Joy and good can be achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths. God wants us to feel free without strings attached, unlike what we may feel from human parents when making decisions.

It matters relationally if freedom is real.

Most agree love must be freely chosen, or we are simply robots than humans. How am I truly free to make decisions if the future has already supposedly happened? A determined future contradicts that God created us with the freedom to make our own choices. We don’t have to rationalize God created freedom but somehow future decisions are predetermined.

A God who doesn’t knows the future is more relatable. When the Bible says God grieves with us in our suffering, we can know God agonizes with us each step of the way and deters any suffering possible without violating freedoms. God is not aloof as if simply gazing into a future crystal ball. God’s uncontrolling nature doesn’t mean God isn’t active in making for a better world. God constantly seeks to inspire us to shun evil and strive for a better world.

What about the Bible or prophecy? 

Hundreds of biblical passages could be cited to defend either God does or doesn’t know the future. The Bible speaks about God sometimes regretting certain decisions (i.e. Gen. 6:6). If God knew the outcome of certain decisions by knowing the future, why would God make such regrettable decisions? Does God really know what decisions are made ahead of time but pretending otherwise? The Bible often speaks as if God thought the future was open, thus undetermined and unknown.

Prophecies aren’t peering into the future but can serve as warnings. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times but Jesus also prayed Peter’s faith would not fail (Lk. 22: 32-34). Predictions by God can be conditional. A professor may observe a student and warn they will fail their class but hoping the student avoids such failure. Keep in mind the future is not totally unpredictable for humans much less God. A skilled physician can predict the death of a seemingly healthy individual because of symptoms that escaped the untrained eye. Remember, God’s Spirit is present everywhere, thus God’s knowledge is unimaginably extensive.

God is loving not controlling.

God can’t control the future if God is to act uncontrolling and respect freedom. God can’t make someone truly love others and not harm others. If God can create, God can fulfill a promise to provide eternal life after life here on earth for those who desire to be with their Creator. Meanwhile, God seeks to partner with us to make for a better world.

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By Mike Edwards

Most, whether believing in God or not, would agree One claiming to be God would always do the moral or right thing. A less than morally perfect God is not worth believing in. Being morally perfect doesn’t always mean doing the easiest thing. It may be best to show a wayward teen tough love for their future’s sake. Do you wonder what God would do in the situation you face? What do we advise others who seek spiritual guidance?

We all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong on major moral matters.   

Please don’t read this and think I am suggesting you can do whatever the hell you want. Just because I am convinced God doesn’t try to control our decisions doesn’t mean I think it isn’t obvious what to do in many situations. Laws are not really needed for murder, stealing, physical abuse, etc. I am not into running peoples lives but you can’t murder or assault anyone.

Please don’t tell people what to do because the Bible says so.  

All literature requires interpretation; interpretations aren’t infallible. Scholars who respect the Bible as authoritative disagree what God thinks about homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, etc., to name only a few critical issues. We can’t declare something immoral because the Bible says so. The overall message of the Bible is clear to most – love others unselfishly. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because circumstances vary – the issue is our heart in solving problems.

What job or partner would God suggest choosing?  

You pray and ask God to guide which job to accept or who will you remain happily married forever. The underlying assumption is that future outcomes are knowable so one job or partner is a better decision in the long-run. A predetermined future suggests freedom is an illusion. Even an all-powerful God can’t know an unknowable future. A loving, uncontrolling parent or God in an open future would surely advise to access your gifts and passions and make the wisest choice you know at that time.

What about decisions somewhat moral in nature such as whether to divorce your partner?

A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue. God is supportive of the wisest decisions we know under current circumstances which may include the counsel of others. God can’t promise you a certain outcome and still be a respecter of freedom. It is complicated but consider all the lives impacted by your decision and act as unselfishly as possible. If you regret past decisions – who doesn’t – make what amends you can and strive to make different decisions in your future.

What would God do when your mother favors one sibling over others.

I grew up with 4 siblings. We got involved in business together but one sibling made decisions for all of us without our knowledge. My elderly Mom chose to favor that decision though the other four siblings independently told Mom one sibling is acting selfishly. She chose to not remain impartial but sided with one brother. Should the other children simply ignore Mom’s decision and act as if a relationship is possible? Or should favoritism not be ignored thus possible enabling such behaviors to continue? Each child must decide the kind of relationship to have with Mom if at all. 

Even the Bible claims God’s Spirit guides us not a Book.

Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Uncertainty because of an inaudibly Spirit doesn’t have to lead to chaos. Certainty or the morality of our opinions often leads to imposing such beliefs on others. That is not God’s nature. Avoid declaring the Spirit only speaks truth to you and not others. It is not God’s nature to impose beliefs on others. 

What would God do or advise you?

We know what God would do in many moral issues. We know God’s mentality when making decisions impacting the lives of others. How would we want to be treated? What is best not only for you but all involved! We can recognize God’s voice when we confess wrongdoing and make amends. What one may do in relational situations describe above may be different from another. Seek God’s help in making the wisest decision you know to make.

What do we advise others what God is telling them? It isn’t always comfortable claiming uncertainty what God would do. It is easier giving advice due to supposed certainty rather than listening and helping one make their own decisions. People often don’t need our advice but our love as they make their own decisions with the help of God if inclined to seek God’s influence.

 

 

 

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