Chapter VI is entitled The Foreknowledge of God. Boettner begins by saying:
“The Arminian objection against foreordination bears with equal force against the foreknowledge of God. What God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained; and if one is inconsistent with the free agency of man, the other is also. Foreordination renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain” (p. 42).
Take the origin of sin (evil) in created beings (e.g., Adam, Eve, Satan) as an object of God’s foreknowledge. The Arminian would say that God knew from eternity, that sin would enter His universe — then the question to the Arminian is what is this aforementioned foreknowledge based upon? Clearly the Arminian “potter” is accounted as the clay since it is the clay that ultimately determines and forms what the potter will do, rather than the other way around:
“Oh your perversity! Shall the former be counted as the clay? For shall the work of its maker say, He did not make me? Or shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, He does not understand?” (Isaiah 29:16)
Calvinists like Boettner would say that God’s foreknowledge of sin’s entrance in the universe is based upon His sovereign eternal decree. That is, God foreknows that this event will occur because He has decreed that it shall occur. But what kind of “divine decree” are we talking about here? Are we speaking of the incoherent Calvinist “decree” that “efficaciously permits” the axe, saw, and rod to lift themselves up in their initial act of defiance? Or, are we talking about the Biblical active decree whereby God efficiently and powerfully causes the fall of created beings because He desires to be glorified in demonstrating His wrath and in saving a particular people through the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone?
“The Socinians and Unitarians, while not so evangelical as the Arminians, are at this point more consistent; for after rejecting the foreordination of God, they also deny that He can foreknow the acts of free agents. They hold that in the very nature of the case it cannot be known how the person will act until the time comes and the choice is made. This view of course reduces the prophecies of Scripture to shrewd guesses at best, and destroys the historic Christian view of the Inspiration of the Scriptures. It is a view which has never been held by any recognized Christian church. Some of the Socinians and Unitarians have been bold enough and honest enough to acknowledge that the reason which led them to deny God’s certain foreknowledge of the future acts of men, was, that if this be admitted it would be impossible to disprove the Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination” (p. 42).
According to Boettner the Socinians and Unitarians say that God from eternity, made, at best, the shrewd guess that the Egyptians would turn their own hearts to hate His people:
“He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants” (Psalm 105:25).
Unlike the Socinians and Unitarians Boettner would like to believe that this heart-turning event being decreed from eternity was thus made certain. But since Boettner and the Calvinistic creeds make the common anti-God distinction between an efficient and a “permissive decree,” they have the insurmountable difficulty of explaining how God can make sin certain by a “permissive decree.”
The Calvinist position is that God “permitted” the Egyptian heart to hate His people, rather than the truth that God actually TURNED their heart to hate His people. Some common objections to this truth are that God does not tempt, force, coerce, or compel people into the sin of hating His people.
Obviously God’s powerfully efficient TURNING of the Egyptian heart to hate His people is NOT tempting, forcing, or coercing (cf. James 1:13-14). But what of the word “compel,” as in to compel by an irresistible power (cf. Romans 9:18-19)? What if God, by virtue of an efficient decree, irresistibly TURNED the Egyptian heart to hate His people? What would Calvinists like Boettner say to that? At least some (W.G.T. Shedd) would say that God cannot find fault with them for hating His people since their hating of His people was not made a certainty by a “permissive decree” but made a certainty AND a necessity by an efficient decree that made their hatred of His people irresistibly compulsory (cf. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure & Mixed, p.90).
“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not” (Psalm 115:3-5).
Presumably most Calvinists would say that the idol of the Socinians, Unitarians, and Open Theists “have eyes, but they see not” since they deny God’s foreknowledge of future events. The Calvinist would claim that his “god” DOES have eyes and DOES actually see. But what does it mean, biblically, for God to TRULY SEE that an event will happen in the future? Is not God’s foresight, His foreknowledge, based upon His eternal decree? Of course it is. But what KIND of decree? Certainly NOT a “passive” one. For God to TRULY SEE must He not TRULY DECREE?
The Calvinist “god” is only a “little bit more powerful” than the pipsqueak Arminian god who foresees events through the telescope of time and then claims the risible idiocy that he’s actually just made a predestinating decree (see: http://www.outsidethecamp.org/romans58.htm).
The Calvinist god (though considering the Arminian god to be quite the humorous character) finds himself abruptly stifling a hasty chortle when asked to explain wherein he differs from the Arminian god in making a specific event involving specific sins certain, apart from an efficient or active decree. The Calvinist god does not want to look the hypocritical fool by giving a forthright answer, so he just shrugs his shoulders and calls the whole thing an “inscrutable mystery.” Next Page (7)