God can’t force true love but that doesn’t make God less powerful. If the future is open or undetermined, an all-powerful God can’t know the unknowable. But, doesn’t the Bible predict the future? God didn’t violate anyone’s freedom by stating God was coming into the world in the person of Jesus to reveal what God is really like. Prophecies aren’t peering into the future but can serve as warnings. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times but Jesus also prayed Peter’s faith would not fail (Lk. 22: 32-34). Predictions by God can be conditional.
The greatest freedom in knowing God doesn’t know the unknowable future is realizing that God’s guidance is not some mystery. A known future leads to wanting God to advise what decisions to make for best outcomes. Insisting God guarantees outcomes is asking God to be a controller. God doesn’t lead through signs or whispers which lead to guess work and discouragement since we can’t be sure if our thoughts are really God’s. We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God seeks to support us in being free to make decisions in an open future. If the future is open, there isn’t one correct decision to make. Joy and good can be achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths.
We don’t have to live in fear of making “right” decisions. We are free to make decisions based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. God isn’t hiding or leaving you wondering; God is supporting you. We dislike being told what to do or we would readily take advice and not always counter why suggestions can’t work. God wants us to have the self-satisfaction that results from making our own decisions. God supports us in making best decisions at that time. We can be confident in any choice we make if decisions aren’t immoral or violate the rights of others. God can’t guarantee certainty without making a mockery of freedom.
God doesn’t loss control by not controlling. God is everywhere in the universe at the same time so His knowledge is hard to imagine, but God doesn’t use such knowledge to control others’ decisions. Parents know the freedom to choose is what leads to growth and genuine relationships. God’s uncontrolling nature doesn’t mean God isn’t active in making for a better world. God is constantly seeking to inspire people to shun evil and do good. God seeks to encourage us to forgive, go the extra mile, to leave the world a better place than when we came.
I for one can’t wrap my head around the idea that a known future and genuine freedom are logically compatible. We could say God knows what is going to happen but still engages with us; it simply is harder to relate to. If God already knows what is going to happen one has to wonder why we even bother to pray. Saying God is allowing us to participate in an already determined plan doesn’t communicate active involvement. If God already knows what someone is going to do, are we truly free to do anything different? An open future best preserves the integrity of human freedom and responsibility.
If God supposedly knows the future one may question why God doesn’t do more to stop so much evil in the world. An open future clarifies that responsibility lies with the one making current decisions to perpetuate evil. A controlling God leads to asking “why or what is God punishing me for” or “God, do you really love me?” An uncontrolling God makes more rational and relational sense in a free world. God’s love isn’t controlling but supportive. Our suffering, which is inevitable in a free world, can help others handle similar challenges. God invites our participation for a better world.