She who is as in a field a silken tent brought me home a copy of Blake Ostler on The Attributes of God. Ostler believes strongly that our having free agency means God cannot know the future with certainty. Brother Ostler acknowledges some scriptures that apparently indicate God’s foreknowlege. But, he says, we shouldn’t read too much into them. The scriptures are “pre-critical.”
That is to say, a scripture talking about God knowing the future should not be understood to be making a refined and careful metaphysical point. Any view in which God has some knowledge of some kind of the future would be compatible with the scripture.
If Brother Ostler is right, then calls for a closer reading of the scriptures are just not appropriate, if by ‘closer reading’ we mean a reading that assigns precise meaning to words, uses grammar and syntax and punctuation to elucidate finer points, etc. I believe that Ostler is right. He himself, unwittingly, illustrates the point, or at least a first, rough reading of his book suggests that he does.
He commits the scripural parallel to Condorcet’s Paradox. Condorcet’s Paradox says, briefly, that sometimes the order in which you vote on things will determine the winner, not simply the Majority Will. Likewise, the example of Blake Ostler seems to suggest that reading the scriptures closely will not always give the same answer. Rather, answers will vary depending on which part of the scriptures you choose to read closely first. Ostler, for example, appears to read very closely the Mormon scriptures on free agency. He treats them, I dare say, as if they were not pre-critical. That close reading later requires that he not read the scriptures on God’s foreknowledge closely, or else they would conflict. I would imagine that one could go the other way as well.
I would suggest then that we read the scriptures closely as an avenue to revelation, fine, but let’s not kid ourselves that there is a whole world of theological and doctrinal revelation out there only awaiting our sifting through the text.
I notice that Clark Goble seems to have the ression of Brother Ostler’s book.