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Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views Paperback – November 19, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The recent evangelical debate about divine foreknowledge has been compared to the inerrancy debate of the 1970s because of its heatedness; this collection attempts to offer several viewpoints on the basic controversies (i.e., what did God know, when did he know it and do human beings really have free will?). But in bringing together these four authors Gregory Boyd with the open view, David Hunt with the simple-foreknowledge view, William Lane Craig with the middle-foreknowledge view and Paul Helm defending the Augustinian-Calvinist view the collection illustrates another similarity with the inerrancy debate: a mind-numbing complexity of argument. The editors have sought "to make this book accessible to educated laypeople and college students who have had a first course in theology or philosophy." While Boyd's essay is very accessible, the others are filled with technical terms ("while it seems clear that intramundane causation is transitive") and a puzzling tendency to speak in algebraic variables ("If it is accidentally necessary before X is even born that X will do A, then X never has it in his power to do other than A..."). Needing over seven pages of glossary, this book is unlikely to find a wide audience, but it will still prove useful for those seminarians and clergy who wish to get several different perspectives on the debate.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

James K. Beilby (Ph.D., Marquette University) is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His books include Why Bother With Truth? (with David Clark), Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views and The Meaning of the Atonement: Four Views (both with Paul Eddy), Naturalism Defeated?, For Faith and Clarity and Epistemology as Theology. His articles and essays have appeared in such publications as Faith and Philosophy, Philosophia Christi, Religious Studies, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Sophia and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Paul R. Eddy (Ph.D., Marquette University) is Professor of Theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His books include John Hick's Pluralist Philosophy of World Religions (Ashgate), Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology (with G. A. Boyd, Baker) and Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (with James Beilby IVP).

Gregory A. Boyd (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Previously, he was a professor of theology at Bethel University, also in St. Paul. His books include Recovering the Real Jesus in an Age of Revisionist Replies, Letters from a Skeptic, God of the Possible, Repenting of Religion, Seeing is Believing, Escaping the Matrix, The Jesus Legend, Myth of a Christian Nation, Is God to Blame, God at War and Satan and the Problem of Evil.

Hunt teaches at Whittier College.

William Lane Craig (PhD, philosophy, University of Birmingham; ThD, systematic theology, University of Munich) is Research Professor of Philosophy at T albot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. He is also president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Craig has published articles in philosophical and theological journals such as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Modern Theology and Religious Studies. He has written or cowritten more than twenty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology and God, Time and Eternity.

Paul Helm is a teaching fellow in theology and philosophy at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. From 1993 to 2000 he taught as professor of the history and philosophy of religion at King's College, University of London. He has published numerous books and articles, including Eternal God: A Study of God Without Time (Oxford University Press, 1988), Belief Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1994) and Faith and Understanding (Eerdmans, 1997).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 221 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (November 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830826521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830826520
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Bob on June 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
First off, I think we owe a good deal of gratitude to Inter Varsity for their "Four Views" series of books. (Or maybe we owe it to Zondervan. I'm not sure whose came first.) The format of reasoned debate in print between representatives of current major views on a controversial topic is the best way I can think of for the interested layman to begin constructing his own views.
As for the book at hand, it presents a wide-ranging, though not exhaustive, spectrum of thought on how divine foreknowledge can be reconciled with human freedom. Gregory Boyd -- you've got to love him or hate him, it seems -- presents an "Open Theology" view, while Paul Helm takes the other extreme of pretty much traditional Calvinism. In the middle, David Hunt presents a simple foreknowledge view and William Lane Craig gives us the Molinist or "middle knowledge" perspective.
Boyd's explication of Open Theology is a clear and well-reasoned argument, starting from scripture. He answers most objections quite well, though I think he is on some shaky ground when he talks about specific prophecies such a how Jesus knew that Peter would deny him exactly three times. In any event, after reading his essay, I would think that most readers could conclude that Open Theology, thought perhaps incorrect, is not the evil heresy that it is often said to be. But, if you read many of the reviews on this page, you will see that quite a few people disagree with me here.
David Hunt gives a well-reasoned justification of the simple foreknowledge view that God simply knows what the future is going to be: He simply knows what it is that we will freely choose. After reading Hunt's essay, it seems to me that this view is the only real challenger to Boyd's open theism (or maybe vice versa).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. Omelianchuk on July 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is not a book for the faint in heart (or should I say mind?) in that it took me a good three years just to get familiar with all the terms and issues that each of the authors understand and try (valiantly) to communicate. If you are looking for an introductory book to the various views of foreknowledge in Christian thought, this is probably the best option available, but newcomers to the debate will struggle. Seminary students or general students of the foreknowledge debate will enjoy it, though it is light on biblical exegesis (minus Boyd's chapter).

Like it or not, philosophical theology weighs heavily in the foreknowledge debate, and it cannot be ignored. Yet there is nothing wrong with editing a book that explores those philosophical presuppositions which involve some very interesting and profound questions such as:

1) Is everything in the future knowable?
2) How are human beings free if God knows what they will do?
3) Does God's omniscience include knowledge of what we would or would not do in certain circumstances?
4) If God controls everything how could we be free agents?
5) Is world history fated to happen a certain way?

Each author brings their own strengths to the debate. Paul Helm ably defends the Augustinian view from a Calvinist perspective. Craig carries the day with perhaps the best written and best argued essay on middle-knowledge. Hunt offers some helpful critiques of Augustinianism and Open theology that should not go unnoticed. And Boyd offers a biblically rooted case for Open Theism that must be dealt with seriously if it is to be rejected.

If you are a looking for a fantastic educational experience on an important attribute of the divine character, this volume should be on your shelf.
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37 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Colling on May 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Most of the reviews on this page miss the boat entirely. Rather than actually reviewing or recommending DF the reviewers are merely venting their anger because their particular view is challenged.

Pay them no mind. DF is an excellent book. Buy it and read all the views with as much of an open humble mind as you can. It's better than the alternative spoon feeding that is rampant in many circles of Evangelicalism today.
The glossary is a great idea more publishers should follow.
Keep em coming Eddy, Beilby, Gannsle ....etc.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Jensen on December 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book providing an excellent introduction to a very important topic--one especially important because it relates to and affects possible answers to the problem of evil. But the most frustrating problem with this book is that it does not tell us who the contributors are! Many will know of William Lane Craig for his powerful debates with prominent atheists, but many others will not. The book itself does not tell us that David Hunt is not the (in my view somewhat extreme) cult hunter and anti-Catholic of the same name. Reading Hunt's very knowledgeable essay and responses in Divine Foreknowledge, I knew it couldn't be the same person. The official Amazon review does give us a little more information about the four contributors but sadly the book itself does not. It was just an oversight of Beilby and Eddy's part but it left me feeling like a traveler exploring a beautiful and intricate landscape without a map to fully understand where I am. I like to know who my authors are and what they have done. I want some idea of who it is who is talking with me before I evaluate their claims. With this one deficiency I must remove one star from an otherwise 5 star work.

As for the book itself, I'm tending more toward some of Boyd's basic views. His theodicy is inadequate but his open theism better fits the most important biblical theodicy, that found in the first two chapters of Job. Hunt's simple foreknowledge also fit this theodicy but it suffers from the problems Criag points out. Craig's critique of Hunt and Hunt's critique of Craig show that both positions are inadequate. An unprejudiced evaluation of scripture at least allows for a divine foreknowledge that does not include knowledge of future free choices (Gen 22:12).
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