Passages Supporting God’s Foreordaining Everything

This is the last of four posts expanding on what I said about traditional theism in “An Introduction to Open Theism.” In it I expand on this statement:

Other passages indicating that God knows the future are . . . those supporting the Calvinist view that God preordains all that is going to come to pass, such as Lamentations 3:37-38 and Romans 11:33-36.

John M. Frame’s No Other God contains an excellent chapter presenting Biblical evidence for the Calvinist view, “Is God’s Will the Ultimate Explanation of Everything?” I’m going to look at the four passages in it that Frame claims explicitly teach that God foreordains everything–Lamentations 3:37-38, Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:11, and Romans 11:33-36. He considers them on pages 84-87.

Lamentations 3:37-38

“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (ESV. Biblical quotations in the rest of this post are also from the ESV.)

Read by itself, the passage seems to say that nobody can make anything good or bad happen unless God has commanded that it happen. However John Sanders observes that the verses immediately before the passage assert that the bad that has come upon Israel was a consequence of sin as had been forecast in Deuteronomy 28-30 and concludes that the passage just asserts that a specific historical calamity, not all calamity, was brought about by God (The God Who Risks, pages 83-84). Bruce A. Ware concedes that the passage refers to a specific historical situation but argues that the truth asserted transcends the situation (God’s Lesser Glory, page 205).

Romans 8:28

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Although the passage just seems to say that whatever happens to God’s people He will bring good out of it, Frame interprets it as teaching that everything that happens is a part of God’s plan to bless His people.

Ephesians 1:11

“In him we have obtained an inheritance [OR we were chosen], having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Although the passage just seems to recapitulate the teaching of the preceding verses, which tell of God’s having chosen and predestined us and describe the blessings that we consequently have in Christ, Frame argues that in repetitively saying “the purpose of him who works all things” Paul is saying that our salvation is part of God’s overall control of the world.

Romans 11:33-36

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how unscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” In Romans 9-11 Paul sets forth the mystery of how the Jews’ rejection of the gospel opened the door for the Gentiles to be saved but that in the future God would save “all Israel” (11:26). He concludes with this doxology of praise to God. Frame claims that the “all things” in the final verse includes events, such as God’s judgment of the Jews and His blessing of the Gentiles, as well as material things.

Next weekend I’ll begin a series of posts expanding on the outline of the distinctive theology of open theism that I gave in “An Introduction to Open Theism.”


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