Does God Know Your Next Move?


Introduction | John Sanders 1 | Chris Hall 1 | Sanders 2 | Hall 2

Part 2:
John Sanders 3 | Chris Hall 3 | Sanders 4 | Hall 4 | Sanders 5 | Postscript

Dear John,


Since for both of us the Bible remains the ultimate authority, it's probably best to compare notes concerning key exegetical issues. The key question for me is this: does the exegesis being produced by openness scholars possess the exegetical strength to overturn the heart of the church's interpretive teaching regarding God's knowledge of the future and God's relationship to time? What if we focus on two key texts, God's testing of Abraham in Genesis 22, and Judas's betrayal and Peter's denial of Jesus?

In our correspondence, you've asked me, "What do you do with all the Old Testament references to God's grieving, changing, delighting, and repenting? Does not God say to Abraham, 'Now I know you fear God' in response to Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac? Does this not indicate that God's knowledge of Abraham has grown in response to Abraham's act of great faith?" Good question. You're right in seeing that we both will need to make sense of God's words in Gen. 22:12. "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me" (Gen. 22:12).

Walter Brueggemann, whom you have quoted, writes that "God genuinely does not know. … The flow of the narrative accomplishes something in the awareness of God. He did not know. Now he knows." What did God need to know that he did not yet understand? Why the test to elicit the needed information?

You have written, "The answer is to be found in God's desire to bless all the nations of the earth (Gen. 12:3). God needs to ...

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