(Jn. 13:18) Doesn’t this passage imply fatalism for Judas?

CLAIM: Critics of the Bible state that God’s foreknowledge of future events implies fatalism. In this case, God predicted Judas’ betrayal of Christ. Doesn’t this imply that Judas had no choice? If he chose to not betray Jesus, this would make God’s prediction in Psalm 41:9 false. How do we harmonize God’s foreknowledge with human freedom?

RESPONSE: As with our earlier comments on this passage (Jn. 13:18), this prediction isn’t a one-to-one correspondence to be fulfilled in Judas. We should point out that Psalm 41 is written in the plural—not the singular. That is, David was speaking of all of those people that persecute God’s anointed one. So we shouldn’t think of this prediction as specifically referring to Judas. It refers to all those who go against God’s anointed, and it explains how God vindicates his anointed from them. Therefore, while this passage fits with Judas’ betrayal, it would also fit with anyone who decides to persecute God’s messiah.

In addition, as we have argued earlier (see our articles “A Critique of Open Theism” and “Calvinism versus Arminianism”), God’s foreknowledge doesn’t preclude human freedom. For instance, in the movie Minority Report, three humans called “precogs” can see the future and stop crimes from occurring. While they know what will happen, they are not causing these crimes to occur. In the same way, God’s knowledge of the future identifies what humans freely choose to do; he doesn’t cause them to do anything.