The Attributes of God – Freedom

“Our God is in the heavens; he does what he pleases” (Psalm 115:3, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).

Yesterday my family and I read about God’s freedom in Chapter 13, “The Character of God: ‘Communicable’ Attributes (Part 2),” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), which we’re reading in our after breakfast Bible reading time. After noting that this attribute of God is related to His will, which we’d considered the previous three mornings, and to His power, which we’ll consider tomorrow, he observes that it focuses on God’s not being restrained by anything external to Him.

Grudem then cites Psalm 115:3 (see above) and two other Bible passages that affirm God’s freedom.
– “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). Grudem explains the verse as indicating that human rulers cannot effectively oppose God’s will.
– “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?'” (Daniel 4:35). King Nebuchadnezzar is speaking.

Grudem closes his consideration of God’s freedom by suggesting that since He is free we shouldn’t look for reasons why He had to do certain actions, such as to create and to save us, othee than that He willed to do them and that His will has complete freedom. I agree with his advice.

However I do have a problem with Grudem’s being a Calvinist and yet holding that God is completely free. Calvinists hold that God preordained everything, which means that the future is fixed and so God isn’t free to do anything differently from what He preordained would happen. I’d have the same problem if Grudem were an Arminian. They hold that God foreknows everything, which means that the future is fixed and so God isn’t free to do anything differently from what He foreknows will happen. (For a comparison of Calvinism and Arminanism, see my November 17, 2012 post, “Calvinism and Arminianism.”)

On the other hand, open theists believe that God preordained only some things and that all that He knows of the future are those things and what He can predict with His perfect wisdom from His complete knowledge of the past, of the present, and of what He has preordained. Thus according to them the future isn’t fixed and God can act freely. For an overview of open theism, see my October 27, 2012, post, “An Introduction to Open Theism.”

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