I was going to write a formal post about divine foreknowledge by using scripture, tradition, and subjective experience to try and bolster and formulate some kind of discernible argument. Instead, I think I’ll go a slightly different route.
Most of my beliefs are generally centered around whether I think they cohere with my own subjective experiences. While I know most Christians tend to reject this kind of approach to belief and faith vocally, I am of the opinion that this is how we all operate on a day-to-day basis. I believe x or y about Jesus or God because I have experienced life in such a way that ‘makes sense’ with that particular belief. Conversely, I am also of the opinion that we can discover a person’s true beliefs when we look at their material practices.
Peter Rollins says it like this:
Beliefs are operating all the time, enabling us to function on a day-to-day basis. I am rather interested in showing how what we really believe often has nothing whatsoever to do with what we say we believe (i.e. the story we tell ourselves about ourselves).
Take the example of buying chocolate from a corner shop. If I know, or suspect, that the chocolate is made from coco beans picked by children under the conditions of slavery then, regardless of what I say, I believe in child slavery. For the belief operates at a material level (the level of what I do) rather than at the level of the mind (what I tell myself I believe). (http://peterrollins.net/?p=2864)
With this in mind, I have spent a good deal of time reading books and listening to lectures regarding divine foreknowledge. I am aware that the debate is always raging in present-day American evangelicalism – whether God’s omniscience includes the events of the future or not, or whether the future is settled (determinism) or not and God only knows the future in terms of possibilities (open theism). The rise of neo-Reformed theology and hyper-Calvinism has brought God’s foreknowledge to the center stage of theological debate from time to time in recent years.
Here’s the thing – I think the arguments are irrelevant, and, to be frank, a waste of time.
None of us - none of us! – has the slightest idea about whether or not God actually can know the future or the limits of God’s knowledge (if there are any at all). On top of this, because of my opinion about how ‘beliefs’ actually operate, I also think that none of us actually believes in divine foreknowledge. Sure, we all have opinions based on scripture and tradition and the culture we surround ourselves with. But nearly every one of us, whether we believe that God knows the future as settled or not, operates as if the future is open. We literally have no choice but to act as if our actions are a result of our own free will and the decisions we make affect the possibilities of the future.
Personally, this means that I choose to acknowledge how I am bound to act regarding God’s foreknowledge (that it is entirely unknowable), and allow that to inform how I understand what I believe and what I think everyone else believes about God’s foreknowledge (that the future is open and God – assuming ‘God’ in the classical sense exists – doesn’t know it).