Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Juggling with Sovereignty: A word picture.

How do you view the sovereignty of God? How does your God exercise that sovereignty?

The Calvinist view requires that God controls every detail, even to the point that mankind’s every action and thought is the result of God’s determination. To ensure His sovereignty, God had to deny man the privilege of free will.

The non-Calvinist view agrees that God’s sovereignty cannot be undermined by man’s choices, but it also recognises that man is ABLE to express freedom of will. In other words, God’s sovereignty is not so fragile that a man made decision would undermine it.

Calvinism effectively denies God the right to endow His creation (man) with the freedom of choice. Thereby Calvinism itself is denying God a sovereign right to act as HE may desire. Calvinism, through its inability to trust God’s abilities, restricts God’s actions to the narrowness of its own theological imagination. It can not imagine a God who can maintain His sovereignty over a creation to which He has given the privilege of free will so they deny Him the right to equip His creation in that way.

Depicting these views of sovereignty metaphorically, I would you like to offer the following comparisons of two very different jugglers demonstrating the two very different views of God’s sovereignty

Taking the scriptural revelation of God I would see his ability to juggle an infinite quantity of balls, tossing them into the air and never losing track of any. He can let them out of his hand but he remains in control even though each ball follows a unique path through the air.

Contrast this to the Calvinist picture of God. To maintain control he “juggles” with one ball which he never lets out of his hand otherwise he would not be able to keep control of the situation and his “sovereignty” over that ball would be compromised.


Apelles said...

In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." So there is a condition: When you seek me with all your heart, then you will find me. So we must seek the Lord. That is the condition of finding him.


But does that mean that we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord? Does it mean that our action of seeking him is first and decisive? Does it mean that God only acts after our seeking?


Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: "I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart."

So the people will meet the condition of returning to God with their whole heart. God will respond by being their God in the fullest blessing. But the reason they returned with their whole heart is that God gave them a heart to know him. His action was first and decisive.

So now connect that with Jeremiah 29:13. The condition there was that they seek the Lord with their whole heart. Then God will be found by them. But now we see that the promise in Jeremiah 24:7 is that God himself will give them such a heart so that they will return to him with their whole heart.

This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God's blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God's prior grace.

Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God's is. "I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Onesimus said...

No one has said we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord.
The main point of difference on this issue is the understanding of God's grace. The Calvinist says that it is given to a select minority and that when given it is irresistible.
Calvinist ideas of grace leaves the majority of mankind with absolutely no access to it. God DENIES them His grace

That view is totally false and presents a totally false view of God and His ways.

The grace of God has been extended to all but its benefits are accessible only through faith. And what is faith? It is trusting God and His word instead of trusting anything within ourselves. It is trusting in His provision and His enabling instead of our own resources. Unfortunately many choose to trust themselves rather than the provision that God (according to His grace) has extended towards them.

Again the main point of disagreement relates to WHOM that equipping and enablement is extended. The Calvinist say it is to a select few. Others say it has been extended to (but not received by) all.

Ultimately it comes down to our understanding of God's nature and ability. And also to what HE wants to obtain from His creation.

As I've said many times before, He is looking for a WILLING people. A a people who have WILLINGLY stopped trusting in themselves and have WILLINGLY placed their trust in Him.

Apelles said...

"Most of us have never really understood that Christianity is not a self-help religion meant to enable moral people to become more moral. We don’t need a self-help book; we need a Savior. We don’t need to get our collective act together; we need death and resurrection and the life-transforming truths of the gospel. And we don’t need them just once, at the beginning of our Christian life; we need them every moment of every day.”

- Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson

Onesimus said...

Yes we need a saviour - and we have Him.

He gave Himself as a ransom for all so that whoever believes and continues to believe in Him will have everlasting life.

No one here has said Christianity is a "self-help religion". It is a relationship with a Holy God that HE has graciously made possible to ALL who stop trusting in themselves and place their faith in His Son.