Very well done! You have identified an apparent hole in my argument which seems to show that I have either:
A) misspoken/overstepped when I previously expressed something as if I was aware of it “from God’s standpoint;” or
B) inconsistently claimed that I DO ***and*** DO NOT have access to God’s perspective.
You are pressing me to cross more T’s and dot some additional I’s! I appreciate the force of your argument, especially as it points out some critical distinctions that need to be made.
Allow me to restate the fact that I have not claimed to be completely agnostic on the question of “God’s perspective,” but have left room for this only as expressed in His Word.
I believe (and I think you agree) that God’s Word teaches exhaustive divine foreknowledge. So I can make a statement such as, “from God’s standpoint, it is all pre-determined” simply on the basis of His revealed attribute of foreknowledge. What I don’t and can’t know–because it is not expressed in the Bible, as far as I can see–is how God’s decree limits the human possibilities involved in the freedom He has decreed (from His perspective). This would seem to be the point of your three questions, and it is a point at which I must honestly claim a rather gaping ignorance. If God has decreed a merely illusory freedom for His creatures, then I will have to concede your argument. But I can’t know, from His perspective, whether my freedom is merely illusory. I only know that from my perspective it is real. On the other hand, I do believe that He decrees the experience of volitional freedom that I engage in everyday, unavoidably, which argues that there is something very “real” about it!
To summarize, God’s foreknowledge offers Him the perspective that all is pre-determined. But that would seem to hold true on both of our views, if you are a classical Arminian of the “exhaustive divine foreknowledge” variety. I am somewhat assuming this in our discussion, for lack of knowing better. And if I am correct, then you would have to agree, I think, with my statement that from God’s perspective all is foreknown/pre-determined (this goes back to my argument about God choosing to actualize a world for which He infallibly foresees all of the facts and circumstances that will ever occur, including sin and evil and eternal torment).
Perhaps I should have more carefully stated, “From God’s perspective, the outcome is entirely foreknown.” Although I don’t see any major difference between “foreknown” and “pre-determined” as it relates to our discussion here.
The bottom line is that even if God’s perspective is one in which all is foreknown AND pre-determined, on my view He also decreed our undeniable experience of freedom, and I can only assume (based on certain Biblical texts) that the freedom I experience is both genuine and compatible with the immutable decree.
I hope this makes a little bit of sense out of the ***apparent contradiction*** I expressed. As you know, for a contradiction to actually exist, one must claim that A and non-A are both true in the same way and at the same time. In this case, I do claim that two apparent opposites are true at the same time, but definitely not in the same way.
Admittedly, you have backed me a bit further into the corner and thereby forced a few more critical distinctions in my position. I am genuinely (and not in a merely illusory way) curious about your thoughts regarding some of my questions. I look forward to hearing further from you on any points you would like to tackle.