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MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss914.s.htm
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part II: Examining Scripture On The Will-Related Doctrines
Chapter III: Examining God's Foreknowledge Throughout Scripture
A. Pertinent (And Hence) Greek New Testament Words
- If God's foreknowledge is eternally coextensive with His predestination or if it is subject to it as in Moderate or regular Calvinism respectively, God would foreknow what He decreed to exist. That would mean God predestined who would trust in Christ, an errant view (as we before established).
- However, if the Bible shows God's foreknowledge is simply prescience, or "knowledge-beforehand," then God's election could result in goals other than justification (as we found is so in our induction).
- Thus, we examine the significant Scripture words (and in a later segment, passages) affecting the meaning of God's foreknowledge to discern what that foreknowledge is in relation to predestination:
- This Greek verb is rendered in the English by New Testament lexicons as either "to know beforehand" or "to know from time past," cf. Arndt & Ging., A Grk.-Eng. Lex. Of the N.T. , p. 710.
- When used of God, the Arminian prefers the former meaning where God merely knows what man will do with the Gospel, and the Calvinist or Moderate Calvinist likes the latter which supports the view God is eternally familiar with those who will be saved since it is held He has predestined them to faith.
- Yet, where God is the Author of this verb in Romans 8:29, 11:2 and 1 Peter 1:20, these verses in themselves are inconclusive as to which theological position or its respective meaning is to be used:
- For example, one might claim Romans 8:29 show God's foreknowledge is mere prescience to keep Paul from appearing to be redundant in his listing predestination in the same list of God's works.
- Then, Romans 11:2 refers to God's true believers in Israel who will yet come to faith as being those whom He foreknew (proginosko). However, Paul makes no actual comment on predestination here.
- Finally, in 1 Peter 1:20, the KJV renders proginosko as "foreordained" to speak of Christ's being predestined to be the Lamb of God in eternity past; however, one can reputably claim the verse's context shows Peter is merely contrasting God's eternal "prescience" of Christ's office as God's Lamb in proginosko with Christ's latter day manifestation as that Lamb to Peter's human readers!
- Thus, we must study the use of the noun form of this verb in the N. T. for more insight.
- The N.T. Koine Greek lexicon (Arndt & Gingrich) cites Arndt's article in the Theological Monthly, 9, 1929, p. 41-43 to claim prognosis in the N.T. means "predestination," Ibid., Arndt & Ging. This definition is then applied to this word by the authors to describe its meaning in the New Testament.
- Yet, such a definition arguably arises from a theological presupposition contrary to its real N. T. usage:
- For example, Bultmann in T.D.N.T., v. I, p. 715-716 argues for the "predestination" meaning of the word in the N.T. by claiming the Apocryphal Judith 9:6 and 11:19 uses of prognosis mean "the predeterminate knowledge of God" and "prophetic knowledge" respectively; yet, C. Gordon Olson's paper at the Dec. 29, 1981 Annual Meeting in Toronto of the Evangelical Theological Society claimed both of these Apocryphal uses do not support any meaning beyond "to know beforehand," cf. Olson's paper, "Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward An Amyraldian Soteriology," p. 8.
- Besides, C. Gordon Olson's paper presents a poignant testimonial that both the verb, proginosko and the noun, prognosis might mean mere prescience in contrast to what he himself taught as a professor for years. He wrote: "After parroting Berkhof's discussion of yada', ginosko and the extrabiblical usage of proginosko for years, I began to realize that the mind is a slippery thing, and that if one comes to those same passages without Calvinist presuppositions, the arguments from the usage of these words does not seem so impressive. What was most distressing was to find that nowhere in classical Greek, the Koine, or LXX [Septuagint] usage does proginosko mean more than to know beforehand.' Neither were the touted usages in the book of Judith supported by context. It would seem that centuries of lexigraphic tradition have read into the seven NT usages of the noun and verb a meaning inconsistent with NT usage." (brackets ours) (Ibid.)
- Summary: There is no lexical proof outside of the New Testament that proginosko or prognosis mean more than "to know beforehand." For them to refer to what God predestined would be known or to be coextensive with what He predestined, evidence must come from their use in the New Testament itself.