Pinnock leaves Calvin in dust (5 of 6)


Continuing to highlight some shortcomings of Calvinism, I’m drawing on the late Dr. Clark Pinnock’s essay “From Augustine to Arminius:  A Pilgrimage in Theology.”  The entire essay may be accessed here:

Below, Pinnock admits struggle with deterministic sovereignty, and I’m not sure he acknowledges all the possibilities.  In other words, when he says he could not reconcile (“shake off”) total omniscience with human free will, that doesn’t mean that God can’t somehow reconcile the two, beyond our comprehension.

Finally I had to rethink the divine omniscience and reluctantly ask whether we ought to think of it as an exhaustive foreknowledge of everything that will ever happen, as even most Arminians do.  I found I could not shake off the intuition that such a total omniscience would necessarily mean that everything we will ever choose in the future will have been already spelled out in the divine knowledge register, and consequently the belief that we have truly significant choices to make would seem to be mistaken.  I knew the Calvinist argument that exhaustive foreknowledge was tantamount to predestination because it implies the fixity of all things from “eternity past,” and I could not shake off its logical force.  I feared that, if we view God as timeless and omniscient, we will land back in the camp of theological determinism where these notions naturally belong.  It makes no sense to espouse conditionality and then threaten it by other assumptions that we make.

Therefore, I had to ask myself if it was biblically possible to hold that God knows everything that can be known, but that free choices would not be something that can be known even by God because they are not yet settled in reality.  Decisions not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known even by God.  They are potential—yet to be realized but not yet actual.  God can predict a great deal of what we will choose to do, but not all of it, because some of it remains hidden in the mystery of human freedom.  Can this conjecture be scriptural?

. . .

Pinnock continues, dealing with God’s openness. . . .

Evidently the logic of Calvinism had worked effectively to silence some of the biblical data even for me. . . .  God too moves into a future not wholly known because [they are] not yet fixed.  At times God even asks himself questions like “What shall I do with you?” (Hosea 6:4).

Most Bible readers simply pass over this evidence and do not take it seriously.  They assume the traditional notion of exhaustive omniscience supported more by the old logic than by the biblical text. . . .  The God of the Bible displays an openness to the future that the traditional view of omniscience simply cannot accommodate.


Please share your thoughts. I read every comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.