The Future and God’s Surprise?: A misunderstanding/misrepresentation of my perspective of God and “future”…to Pastor Wade Burelson

Wade, you said:

“Argo believes God did not know it would occur, and as such, is  as surprised by it as you were.”

This was Wade Burleson’s response to a commenter regarding God’s foreknowledge of the “future”, and in particular some abusive actions perpetrated upon the commenter by I believe a church (NOT WADE’S!!) and what Wade incorrectly assumes about my perspective on this issue.  My response is below.

Oh…one more thing.

I want to thank Wade for showing courage and integrity by coming on the little unimpressive blog of an utter, rank nobody and discoursing and debating with this nobody (me) on his own turf.  Regardless of my disdain for reformation theology, and likely most of the doctrines to which Wade subscribes, I affirm his charity and I affirm his human SELF.

I also understand that it is difficult if not impossible to rationally separate ideas from men/women and actions.  But in as much as it is possible for me to do that here without contradicting my own philosophy, I appreciate Wade for NOT acting consistently with what I understand his views to be.  This shows an acknowledgment of the worth of humanity…and that is coming FROM WADE.  Like the things we hate, the things we love come from the same person, and as such, we must and can only concede that the SOURCE of the things we love, the human being, is truly the source of them as much as they may be the source of the ideas we despise.  It is a tricky metaphysical position, but I feel that it points to my idea that all human beings are good human beings at the core of their very existence.  Because of this, Wade deserves thanks and affirmation of his SELF, once again.

Anyway…as I was saying, my response to Wade is below:

In the coming days I plan on doing a longer post on this issue, because the false interpretation of “predestination” and “foreknowledge” are the twin pillars of the destruction of the entire concepts of man and God. They are not only rationally irreconcilable, but they blaspheme God at His root, for the very reasons I mentioned in my latest post. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to, and please rebut it if you can.

Your inference that I am saying God is “surprised” by events is incorrect. The reason this concerns me is that it misrepresents my point entirely, and distorts the situation (and, to me, passive aggressively suggests the OPPOSITE: that God knows abuse is evil, saw it happen before it happened, and did nothing to prevent it, thus making God entirely culpable for the tragedy…and this should concern you; God is NOT pleased with your concessions on this matter, no matter how hard you try to nuance them or contort your beliefs or chalk it up to “mystery”), for several reasons, the most egregious of which is that it speaks to the fact that you are not understanding my premise at all.

I make no claim to know how God or anyone else reacts to events. “Surprise” is an emotion, and as such, people will react with “surprise” (or any other emotion on the huge human spectrum) to different events. You might be surprised if your wife brought you a chicken with peanut butter sandwich; I would not be surprised at all. How God reacts to abuse I cannot say…perhaps surprise, but given the tendency of men to inflict pain and torment and despotism and obliteration and oppression and burning and banishing upon one another with impunity, often in His own name–as I can show you by an elementary logical examination of every single point in the TULIP construct–I would hardly expect God to be surprised at abuse.

But perhaps. Who knows? I don’t. So your statement is false.

But this idea of assuming that my doctrine leads one to assume God is “surprised” at how man acts is indicative of your lack of understanding of the whole concept of what the “future” actually is, in my opinion.

Surprise is a REACTION to events…and as such, by definition, one cannot be surprised, or have any only kind of emotional response, until AFTER an event occurs. What this means is that surprise or any other emotion is not inexorably tied to an occurrence…which is what you seem to suggest:  that if you don’t KNOW what is going to happen then you NECESSARILY will be surprised by it.

This is a false linking of two separate concepts…action and emotion.

This is not my point at all. What is my point is quite simple. By definition, the future is that which has NOT HAPPENED yet. Another way of saying this is the future is what is NOT. Meaning, that for the future to actually be the FUTURE and not the PRESENT (having already come to pass; being inevitable, being IS in categorical essence) then it cannot possibly EXIST. And the logical point I am making is simply that that which does not exist can ONLY be, by definition, NOTHING. It cannot be known because that which is NOTHING cannot have any attributes to KNOW.

Therefore, not even God can know the future UNLESS He UTTERLY determines it (in which case, it isn’t the future, but IS the IS…the NOW, in essence, being inevitable) because there is NOTHING to know. God cannot know how you WILL act because if you WILL act it means that you have CANNOT have YET acted…and as such the actions which you WILL do cannot be known because future actions are what? They are nothing! They don’t exist.

Wade…with respect, you cannot get around this. You cannot make nothing become something without declaring utter fatalistic determinism. And this is the crux of where your doctrine goes seriously wrong. To declare God knows the future is to make Him the author of it…it is the only way to explain how a future can BE before it IS. This MUST make God responsible for every evil act. That is rank blasphemy! Why are people not terrified by this? They just shrug and say “mystery”…God is not amused.

Please explain to me…you, or ANYONE, I am begging you; any physicists, mathematicians…anyone, please explain to me how you can know that which is nothing?

Wade, how does God know what does not exist? And if He sees it then it must exist, right?  It can only be seen if it is THERE…if it isn’t THERE, how can God know it/see it?  How can the future exist BEFORE it exists so that it can be known?

If you have no answer for this, you must concede you lose this debate. God cannot KNOW the future because the future, quite simply, isn’t REAL. It is nothing more than a abstraction.

To further hammer the point:

And if it is real, then how did it get there to be known? You and I didn’t do it, we didn’t put the future there…we aren’t in the future! That’s just axiomatic. So…who put the future in place, then?

According to your definition of God’s sovereignty? Who must have put the future there so it can be known?

Who orchestrates the future so that it is there so that He can know it. Obviously man cannot have put the future there, so…..that leaves. Er…who, Wade?

Who then must have made the FUTURE ABUSE, Wade, if not man?  Who must have put the abuse THERE so that He could know it and see it BEFORE Oasis did?  

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “The Future and God’s Surprise?: A misunderstanding/misrepresentation of my perspective of God and “future”…to Pastor Wade Burelson

  1. Genesis 18:21 “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.”

    We are told by the great “philosopher kings” who base all their theology on Pagan philosophy and Paul rather then the Bible, that this passage and so many others like it is merely “scripture condescending to our stupidity” (Calvin’s phrase). Ah, but how do they know the ones that they think make God out to know the future aren’t the ones condescending to their stupidity? Which is really stupid, to believe that a personal God acts in a personal manner, including having some sense of time which is necessary to relationships, or believe that God’s knowledge is timeless like the knowledge of a rock that doesn’t know anything?

  2. “But in as much as it is possible for me to do that here without contradicting my own philosophy, I appreciate Wade for NOT acting consistently with what I understand his views to be. This shows an acknowledgment of the worth of humanity…and that is coming FROM WADE. Like the things we hate, the things we love come from the same person, and as such, we must and can only concede that the SOURCE of the things we love, the human being, is truly the source of them as much as they may be the source of the ideas we despise.”

    Probably the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. Thanks, Argo.

    My wife and I are headed to Vanderbilt in Nashville. She is finishing her doctoral work and I am “Driving Miss Daisy” (so to speak.). Anyway, I will be gone for a while (my adult kids are caring for the house and dogs), and so I will be unable to dialogue. However, before we go, I will try one response to your question:

    “Wade, how does God know what does not exist? And if He sees it then it must exist, right? It can only be seen if it is THERE…if it isn’t THERE, how can God know it/see it? How can the future exist BEFORE it exists so that it can be known?”

    I assume you are referring to “the future” which does not exist – and therefore is nothing, right? You ask, “How can the future exist BEFORE it exists so that it can be known?”

    I have no problem with your conundrum. Why? Because I do not view God’s essence linearly. I see God’s essence as OUTSIDE OF TIME. He knows the future because the FUTURE EXISTS in God’s mind NOW because He is before time, in time, and after time – or more specifically – outside of time. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, so future free will rebellion and sin EXISTS now in the MIND of GOD – not because He DECREES it or DEMANDS, but because HE DISCERNS it, then orchestrates good from evil.

    It makes perfect sense to me. It may not to you, do thank you for the acknowledgment that I respect you and appreciate you.

    In His Grace and Love,

    Wade

  3. Wade,

    Did you just post this? I have rarely been so gift wrapped a metaphysical victory before. No offense…but you must see that you just conceded me the debate. You admit, in that small comment, to not only being a categorical determinist but a moral relativist.

    I am out of town as well, but I already have my response on paper. There are many ways to examine the logical failures in your argument…I mean no offense. My response will be multi faceted. But there is one thing in particular you said that throws the door open on your relativism and your utter determinist assumptions. There is one thing that makes it impossible to deny. I will explain later, but I wonder if you or any other reader can spot it.

    Good luck to your wife, by the way. I hope she rocks it. Driving Miss Daisy…that’s Doctor Daisy to you, LOL

    I remember when I got my doctorate. It was a lot work and a lot of very little sleep.

    Be safe!

  4. Actually, Wade, you said this thing twice. Not just once.

    One more thing. None of us get to decide what makes sense to us when we are discussing such serious issues. An idea is either logically consistent or it is not.

  5. Hey, Argo…not really wanting to elaborate, but for the sake of transparency, I am forced to clarify that the actions were not by a church…sorry if I accidentally gave that impression…

  6. Argo, I am heading out the door to pick up Cal Thomas, our special speaker for tomorrow at Emmanuel Enid, but I thought I might clarify something I wrote in my previous comment.

    “(God) knows the future because the FUTURE EXISTS in God’s mind NOW because He is before time, in time, and after time – or more specifically – outside of time.”

    The little phrase “in God’s mind” means THE FUTURE EXISTS NOW and is a real, vital “thing” (your words) because time is “relative” (Einstein) and it is possible for God to go “back to the future” because God is outside of time.

    When the Bible says “Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), it means the death of Christ “existed” in the mind of God as a real “thing” and “substance’ before we humans linearly observed it.

    Everything “good” comes from the Father of lights above (James), but everything evil comes from peoples’ and angels’ free will rebellion against our good God. God does not cause evil (abuse), nor does He create evil (murder, rape, etc…), but because He is outside of time, God is neither surprised nor concerned that evil will ultimately prevail. He will ultimately eradicate evil by His goodness and His grace.

    Those who are judged for evil will be judged God for their actions perpetrated with “wicked hand,” but God’s eternal purpose of working all things for good will never be thwarted (Romans 8:28). This is why in the golden chain of redemption, every gift of grace is in the past tense (called, glorified, sanctified and glorified Romans 8:30).

    Whether or not God is the first cause of one’s faith, one’s goodness, one’s kindness, etc… is the ultimate question. I say God is NEVER the cause of evil, and He is ALWAYS the first cause of Good.

    If in your metaphysical logic it is impossible to see how God can be sovereign over creation and not be the author of evil, then I accept we will never have a meeting of the minds. There are two scriptures I will leave you with as I leave town. These two Scriptures form the basis of my theology that everything “Good” comes from God (His very name in English is an abbreviation of the word Good) and everything EVIL comes elsewhere – but God knows the evil that occurs because He is outside of time, leaves free will agents to their free will, and will ultimately orchestrate eternal Good even from their evil.

    “This Man (Jesus), delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23). NAS

    “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13) NAS

    Have a great week!

  7. “Argo, I am heading out the door to pick up Cal Thomas, our special speaker for tomorrow at Emmanuel Enid, but I thought I might clarify something I wrote in my previous comment. ”

    This sort of added information has always bothers me. Why is it necessary? Should we be impressed? The seeker mega world was notorious for this….. Have to go having lunch with Max Lucado!~

    Then you had the pecking order name dropping. Staff pastor: have to go having lunch will Rick!

    The audiences eat it up. You got to ride in the car with him!!! Actually ask him questions!!!! So,our pastors bring in and hang with celebs…minor, major those who are yesterdays news, etc . permeated the church. I am always leery of name dropping or event dropping by pastors. Criswell, Patterson and lots of those guys were real into this. It has seemed to be something ingrained from the CR.

  8. Wade,

    Well..I suspect the difficulty in our meeting of minds is due to the fact that I will not concede that God can know anything that is by definition nothing. And so our difference is what the idea of “sovereignty” means.

    The the existential differences between God and man are not particularly relevant to my point. God is infinite…which means the ABSTRACTION of time means nothing to Him UNLESS he is interacting with man in man’s context as a RELATIVELY finite being (meaning that man acts relative to other relatively finite objects).

    But again, that is not the essential point. WHEN God sees “the future”, even if as you say there is no WHEN at all because He is outside of time…well, this is irrelevant.

    Here is the logical TRUTH of the matter which cannot be disputed unless you concede that God actually IS the future…that is, makes it and utterly controls ALL of it:

    Unless man acts, it is impossible for God to observe the action because it does not exist, by definition. The only way for God to see a real and Bona fide future-that is actions or objects which have not yet come to pass-regardless of his own existential reality-is if man performs the actions himself so that they exist for God to observe them. If there are actions that God observes before man does them then God must have created those actions and as such they are not really man’s actions but God actions.

    The real problem arises not when we look at God’s existence as infinite and man’s as linear but when we concede that the future is an actual thing rather than what it really is: purely a cognitive abstraction. The fact is is that time is no more real for man then it is for God. The difference is that because God is existentially infinite and man is existentially relatively finite, man exists by moving relative to other objects, but God, in himself, does not.

    So really what time is, is merely the abstract qualification and quantification of the relative movement of man and other objects in his environment which man observes.

    And thus we have the contradictions which inevitably arise when we try to make abstract concepts that man uses to organize his existence and environment as actual things which exist beyond him. For example: if the future is real, and the future is by definition that which has not yet happened yet, but ALSO is something that God observes then God must have created that future.

    But if time is relegated to its rightful place as nothing but an abstract concept and not an ACTUAL THING, the equation is simple: man acts; God observes man acting.

    Man remains wholly culpable for his condemnation as well as his good deeds, and so judgment is always just and reward earned; God is not the author of evil but is the JUST teacher, judge, Father and Savior.

  9. But Wade here is where you are going wrong. And where your entire argument falls apart and you must concede utter determinism, and as an extension of that, moral relativism.

    You admit that God is the beginning and is the end…in other words God is infinite. An infinite thing cannot have parts by definition. Every part of an infinite thing is 100% categorically the entire infinite thing. There is no distinction between any “part” of an infinite thing from the absolute infinite thing itself.

    That being the case there is no distinction between God and God’s mind God. God’s mind is the exact same thing as God himself. Because God is infinite; he is I AM; he has no parts God is God is God.

    And that being the case anything existing in God’s mind as a part of God’s mind is also GOD. So if you concede that there is a future which exist in God’s mind, then by YOUR OWN ARGUMENT, whatever that future is must be God. Which is a wholesale concession of the idea that man; the past; the future…everything is nothing more than a functional extension of God himself. There is no creation; there is no morality; there is no good; there is no evil. Everything is God.

    This idea utterly destroys man and God at their root. It makes everything completely un-knowable.

  10. lydiasellerofpurple,

    I was trying to be considerate to Argo to let him know why I would be unable to respond any further. Hard typing with thumbs on a cell phone (I hate it, actually, to which I attest now!). I hear your concerns, though. However, to assume I wish to impress those reading my comment, (above) you must assign motive to me. Friends refrain from assuming motive. Truth be known, unreformingtheology readers are not on my radar in terms of desiring to impress, nor do I imagine any reader of this blog would be impressed with Cal Thomas. I told my loved ones heading out the door where I was going (to pick up Cal Thomas), and I treated Argo in the same manner. I’m sorry for your hurt. I do not wish to contribute to it any further by reminding you of mega-pastors.

  11. Wade,

    I LIKE Cal Thomas. And I LIKE you.

    I would LOVE for you and anyone else to be impressed with my ideas! LOL

    You may not want to impress me but I want to impress and I want to be impressed. Please, IMPRESS ME. That is why I love talking about these issues. Sooner or later an ASTOUNDING idea will arise that will change the face of our understanding. If it comes from you, great! Me? Great! Lydia? Great! Even Cal Thomas? Great!

    John Immel has already had a thousand astounding and impressive ideas, so he needs to leave some for the rest of us, LOL!;-)

  12. “However, to assume I wish to impress those reading my comment, (above) you must assign motive to me. Friends refrain from assuming motive. Truth be known, unreformingtheology readers are not on my radar in terms of desiring to impress, nor do I imagine any reader of this blog would be impressed with Cal Thomas”

    Let us clarify. Your response assumed motives of me, too. :o) I went by your words and considered you would not have mentioned Cal Thomas unless you wanted us to know that.

    I have to go and pick up nobody Jane Doe at the airport. :o)

  13. Lydia,

    I assumed that Wade perhaps wanted us to tune in to hear Cal Thomas speak…he mentioned Cal as being the guest speaker.

    I just thought Wade dropped the name as a way to advertise the Sunday message to us. That’s all. And I didn’t have any problem with that.

    I don’t know…the first thing I thought of was “cool…maybe I’ll give a listen.” So…I didn’t take it as name-dropping.

    And even if it was…hmm, I mean, I mention John Immel as an aquaintence and as a reference constantly as a way to lend credibility to my own arguments. If I knew, say, John Locke or Voltaire or Hobbes or Pelagius or Aristotle personally, I would name drop the shit out of them, LOL. 🙂

    It didn’t really bother me that he mentioned Cal Thomas.

    Did I mention that I AM first cousins with John Locke? It’s true, LOL

  14. Yeah it was petty of me. I have this thing about name dropping who I am hanging around with. It was a mega church staple that I thought very grating at the time. Boorish. Besides, I am not even impressed with the ones I was able to hang with anymore. The foot of the cross is level, thankfully.

    I don’t think dead guys count, btw. You are not hanging with them. You are reading them.

  15. Well…it is just so hard to know why people do the things they do. You can really only assault the ideas they admit to accepting…they are utterly on the hook for those.

    I do find Wade’s capricious adherence to his doctrinal foundations troubling. He is slippery…and I cannot yet tell if it is because he actually thinks you can equivocate on absolutes, or if he is appealing to his authority as pastor to constantly redefine the premises in order to hang on to a monopoly of “truth”. I suspect it is both.

    Determinism is absolute…but he won’t admit this. And his metaphysical moving target gets annoying after a while.

    And while Wade denies it, the whole authority=morality=truth equation then is the ONLY explanation for his perpetual metaphysical game of Twister.

    They are either rational or not in their foundational assumptions…and doctrinal inconsistency is NOT rational. Paradox is not. Mystery is not.

    If that is the ultimate appeal, which it is for Wade at this point, then he is right…there is no real chance our discussion will go anywhere. I remain committed to reason, and he remains fundamentally a mystic with no actual answers.

    Okay…that turned into a comment having nothing to do with the original subject.

  16. Appeal to mystery can’t really work for people who are asserting doctrinal certainty that everyone who disagrees with them is going to hell. If its a mystery, then by definition its not required for salvation. If its a mystery, then its not important: its pure speculation and no importance can be attached to it. Moses even say so:

    “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

    Whatever is a mystery is a mystery because it has no importance to us. Our job is to keep God’s commandments, not bludgeon each other over the head with mysteries and then proclaim those mysteries to be the all-encompassing all-important content of religion.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s