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What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy over Divine Foreknowledge [Paperback]

By Millard J. Erickson (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   69 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 31, 2006
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0310273382  
EAN  9780310273387  
UPC  025986273385  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
At the heart of the recent ?open theism? controversy lies the issue of divine foreknowledge. The issues raised involve important matters of faith and practice. This intelligent, in-depth analysis will equip readers at every level, from the layperson to the scholar, to draw their own conclusions about divine foreknowledge.

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More About Millard J. Erickson

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Millard J. Erickson (PhD, Northwestern University) is distinguished professor of theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is a leading evangelical spokesman and the author of numerous volumes, including the classic text Christian Theology.

Paul Kjoss Helseth (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of Christian thought at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the author of numerous scholarly articles.

Justin Taylor (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher at Crossway. He has edited and contributed to several books including A God-Entranced Vision of All Things and Reclaiming the Center, and he blogs at Between Two Worlds--hosted by the Gospel Coalition.

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is a cofounder of the Gospel Coalition and has written or edited nearly 120 books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California) is distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University. He is an author of, contributor to, or editor of over ninety books, including The Soul: How We Know It's Real and Why It Matters.

R. Scott Smith is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University in California. He is the author of Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge. Dr. Smith has lectured and presented numerous times on his specialty, postmodernism, and he is also the secretary-treasurer of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Stephen J. Wellum (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. Stephen lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Karen, and their five children.

Millard J. Erickson currently resides in Mounds View, in the state of Minnesota.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Commended to the attention of clergy and lay readers alike  Apr 13, 2004
Millard J. Erickson is an experienced theology instructor who has served several evangelical seminaries and who has more than twenty-five books and numerous published articles to his credit. In What Does God Know And When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy Over Divine Foreknowledge, Professor Erickson grapples with tough questions and issues that transcend academic contemplation and reach into personal life, such as "When we pray, do our prayers make a difference, or is everything that will happen already determined?" and "Does God have a plan for our lives, and is it based on a knowledge of all that will happen?" A powerful, astutely reasoned treatise filled from cover to cover with deep spiritual reverence and a respect for the divine while simultaneously striving to better understand common concerns in the light of profound faith, What Does God Know And When Does He Know It? is strongly commended to the attention of clergy and lay readers alike.
Exposes neo-philosophy of openism  Mar 8, 2004
Dr. Erickson does not disappoint. He once again shows how the best way to handle the Bible is by first examining one's own presuppositions and philosophic bent in the exegesis process before analyzing the texts.

This is the finest strength of the book, whereby he shows the Traditional Evangelical approach and Biblical givens that will be used to interpret passages in question. Most indicting against the open theists is their failure to do just that. They go headlong into interpretation and pronouncement of their opinions without declaring their obvious dependency on neo-philosophic speculation. Erickson exposes their stunning lapse. He shows how their arguments against Historic Evangelical position collapse in the realm of undeclared, unsupported and assumed First Principles that are non-negotiable. Open theism is too heavily reliant on the contrivances of modernist philosophers like Charles Hartshorne.

When I looked up Hartshorne on the web, much disturbing information about 'Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes' and Process Philosophy that challenge the Bible and Historic Christianity became abundantly evident.

Any belief system that relies even remotely on Hartshorne as one of its heroes and mentors must to some degree be Hartshornian in presuppositions and First Principles. While open theists seem to knock Historic Evangelicals for reliance on Greek Philosophy, the question is: whom do they themselves rely on? Which Greeks are hiding under their sanctimonious mattress?

The book is fair, balanced and easily readible. I understand D.A. Carson has been working on a book to add to the discussion. I enjoyed his essay in God Under Fire, which in 30 pages nearly accomplished what Dr. Erickson does here in a full volume.

My only quibble is how the book ends not with a bang, but a whimper. Instead of outright declaring open theism to be non-evangelical, he says the tone and emotion of the debate needs to be moderated. Perhaps so. But a spade should still be called a spade, truthfully in love and lovingly in truth. Any less and it's neither truthful nor loving in Christ's sight. Just reading Rev. 2&3 makes one shudder about how Jesus felt about false doctrine damaging His precious churches! We too must beware!

A helpful defense of the traditional understanding  Nov 29, 2003
The debate over openness theology or free-will theism continues to bubble along nicely. Books both for and against continue to pour from the presses. In the past two decades some thirty volumes have been penned directly on this issue. One of the latest to weigh in, offering the "no" case to openness thought, is What Does God Know? Written by veteran theologian Millard Erickson, it explores one major component of openness thought, the belief that God does not know the future. Erickson has actually written before on openness theology, with parts of The Evangelical Left ( Baker, 1997) and God the Father Almighty (Baker, 1998) offering critiques of the movement.

Erickson begins by assessing the biblical support offered both by open theists and classical theists. This is followed by a look at the hermenuetical issues involved. It seems these sections could have been a bit stronger, and he seems to over-rely on Bruce Ware's God's Lesser Glory (Crossway, 2000) here. But it is a good introduction to the biblical material that is being debated.

He next explores the historical development of God's foreknowledge, arguing that although it was not a major doctrine of the early church councils and creeds, it was in the main supported throughout church history by most of the church. There have always been dissenters on this issue, but they have tended to be in the minority, and often on the edges of orthodoxy.

He then explores the philosophical debate surrounding God's foreknowledge. These are some of the stronger chapters in the book, as Erickson has always had as good a grasp of philosophy as theology. He demonstrates that the claims of the openness camp concerning classical theism's over-reliance on Greek philosophy are overstated and somewhat misleading. He also shows that openness thought is also quite depended on philosophy in its own right.

He concludes by looking at the practical consequences of these two theological systems, and how they impinge on other major doctrines of the faith.

All in all this is a very good restatement of classical theology, and a very incisive and irenic critique of openness thought. Erickson is always a joy to read and he has done a good job here in defending the traditional understanding that God does indeed know all things, even the future.

Open Theoreology's Post-Mortem: A Thorough Autopsy  Nov 7, 2003
Dr. Erickson has delivered everything the Bible student has come to expect in fair, Scripturally accurate and balanced evaluation of differing belief systems. Here, he dissects Open Theory and determines the cause of demise: contra-biblical infection from the Humanism Philosophistication Virus (overexposure to unbridled, tainted human reasoning with insufficient immunization from Holy Spirit wisdom).

The main strength of the book is its faithful adherence to 'All Scripture as written in context interprets each & every Scripture'. Erickson exposes Open Theory as a heterodox philosophy that uses 'Each Scripture as I understand it interprets All Scripture'. This allows Openists to take certain verses, motifs, preferred themes and use them as driving control mechanisms to 'harmonize' troublesome passages/counter-motifs to fit the Open Theory.

Erickson makes the excellent and insurmountable case that Openism fails the Presupposition Test: it is flawed from the getgo by having faulty Control Beliefs built in before the Bible is even opened. Which view handles the most Scripture in its natural, author-intended sense relevant to a doctrinal issue (God's Attributes) with the least interpretive legerdemain? Historic Evangelical.Which view extracts selective favorable Scriptures in unnatural, reader-imagined senses fitting the system's philosophic givens with speculative, imaginative, peculiar interpretive circumlocution? Open Theory.

With this book,Openism is clearly exposed as DEVANGELICAL.

Here is just one example of how Open Theory fails to let the Bible speak for itself without forced Eisegesis (reading into the passage foreign matter the interpreter holds to as non-negotiable givens): Peter's certainly predicted denials.

All 4 Gospels have Jesus predicting with 100% certainty Peter's future free denials before the rooster crows the following dawn. Sure enough, Peter denies the Lord 3 times precisely as and when Jesus definitively foretold.

The Historic Evangelical accepts the Scriptures as written and allows Jesus to be 100% Certain in His Omniscient Foreknowledge of Free Futures as Actuality (Definitely This, Definitely Not That).

The Open Theory Devangelical rejoinders have all sorts of creative, contorted, convoluted mental gymnastics to escape the plain implications of Jesus' unerring prediction and precise fulfillment without exception. They are forced to argue that the only way Jesus could do this was to arrange it, stage it, orchestrate it to the point of 'squeezing' Peter not just once, or twice, but three times to get him to fulfill the prophecy.
All sorts of psycho-dymanic speculation is posited as to Peter's character being 'solidified' to some irrevocable point as to be manipulatible or predictible. But of course, this goes way beyond the text's simple description of events and violates the Bible's own dictum: Do not go beyond what's written!

Here are some penetrating questions for Openists:

1)Under equally extreme pressure, Job and Abraham did not deny the Lord, yet Peter did. How could Jesus know this for certain in advance when historic precedent was against it, i.e. improbable?

2)Openism holds as a non-negotiable given that God CANNOT KNOW AS CERTAIN future free choices, or else they are not by their definition truly 'free'. Yet Jesus prophesied with CERTAINTY ALL 3 of Peter's future free choices to the most minute detail! Is Openism saying Jesus was not 100% CERTAIN Peter would deny?

3)They seem to say Jesus was CERTAIN, but the only way to make it certain was to override Peter's genuine freedom via divine squeezing?!? But isn't this self-contradictory to BOTH allow Jesus to be CERTAIN about someone else's free future AND to deprive that person of genuine free-exercise by arbitrary appeal to 'Override'? Two non-negotiable givens of Openism are thus violated here: NO CERTAIN PRESCIENCE; LIBERTARIAN FREEDOM.

4)Peter was actually warned of the outcome in advance. Yet forewarned and forearmed, he still freely denied. How does Openism account for this given their presuppositions?

5)Jesus predicted the precise timing of free actions of roosters as well, coinciding with Peter's free actions. How does Openism account for that? Notice the absolute precision of the text: 'Immediately the rooster crowed.''And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.''Peter remembered what the Lord had said.'
Jesus didn't just call it close. He got it exact to the second.

6)Openists also overlook the rest of Jesus' prophecy. 'Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.But I have prayed for you that your faith not fail. And when you have returned, strengthen your brothers.' There is all sorts of stuff going on here Openism has zero explanation for under their system: Satan being granted divine permission to sift/test Peter in the denial incidents; Jesus praying and being granted in advance the Father's protection of Peter's faith; Peter's return; Peter strengthening his comrades. Why is Open Theory silent here??

7)What about other texts equally as insurmountable for Openism re Precise Predictive Prescience: Abraham & Abimelech (Gen.20:3-7); Gideon & Midianite Dream (Judges 7:10-15); Elisha's Barley Futures (2Kings 7:1-20). Why not a peep in the Openism literature about these passages equally devastating to their theory?

Erickson has done genuine Evangelicals a great service by letting the Bible speak for itself and exposing Open Theory as Devangelical heterodoxy for any person willing to fairly evaluate all the evidence. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Buy 2 books, one for yourself, one for your pastor. Read it twice, compare it with Scripture and share your copy with a friend when your're done.


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