|Ramblings and Random Thoughts the Sovereignty of God?|
|The Sovereignty of God
I was just thinking and having rambling thoughts lately about the sovereignty of God. I guess about everybody believes God is sovereign. However, that sometimes means completely different things to different people. Theologians have argued about, discussed, studied and written about Godís sovereignty and just what that means for thousands of years. I surely donít think I have the answer. I do think I am smart enough to see some conflicts and holes in some folks take on the sovereignty of God. That is what got me to thinking. On one end of the sovereignty theology camp are those usually call hyper-Calvinists. They often believe God is so sovereign that your life is determined from birth, or conception, to the grave and eternity. That your life is like a train on a track. No turns or forks in the path God has you on. No choices. A friend once was told by a person who held this position, if you want to know Godís will for you for Monday, just wait until Tuesday and look back. That is one end of the theology. The other end of sovereignty theology is usually called Arminian or Wesleyan, after Joseph Arminus and John Wesley. They believe God is sovereign but man has a great deal of free will.
So what caused me to have rambling thoughts about the sovereignty of God for a week or so. One thing was a statement a speaker made a few weeks ago. They said that no matter what the circumstances of your birth were, you were no accident. You were planned by God. That brought back a memory from a few years ago of a pastor who made a similar statement several times from the pulpit. Later in a casual setting I presented to him this parable to highlight the problem I saw with this line of theology. Here is my parable, valid or not: There were two couples Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. They are friends. Well Bob and Alice get together on the sly and have an affair. Alice get pregnant. She has a son she names Adam. If we say the son, Adam, was planned by God, then what about Bob and Alice. They were bringing about Godís plan and Godís will. If you are doing Godís will you are doing no wrong and committing no sin. So according to this line of thinking, Bob and Alice were not really committing adultery even though they were married to other people because they were bringing about Godís perfect will. That is, if we say Adam was planned by God. The pastor said he would have to think about that and get back to me. Several years later Iím still waiting for him to get back.
Even if nobody else sees a problem with this line of theology, I do. I believe the Bible is clear God didnít plan Ishmael. Sarah did. There are other similar examples. I know for sure the Bible says of some people that they were planned from their motherís womb and ordained for purposes by God before they were born. I am not sure it says that of everyone. There are so many questions that beg to be answered. If you are ordained before birth to do or be something and you donít do it, what then? Or do you have a choice? Will God somehow make you do it? Deep questions I realize. I thought about the fact that we could say some things are determined by the foreknowledge of God. I also know that those who adhere to Reformed Theology, or Calvinism, say that things including our salvation, are according to the foreordination, a.k.a. predestination, of God and not his foreknowledge.
Is God sovereign? God can do anything and everything he desires. Does man have a say in what God does? That is the big question. If everything is predetermined by the sovereignty of God, does prayer matter. John Wesley the founder of Methodism certainly thought so. He said, "It seems that God is limited to our prayer life. That God can do nothing for mankind unless someone asks." Wesley believed that any limits on God were placed there by God himself. God is not limited by his inability.
Does God know everything? I believe he knows everything he wants to know. I realize that my statement offends some. We often take literal what the writers of Godís word meant figurative. The Bible often speaks of being under Godís wings and even feathers. Does God have wings and feathers? Does God really have all my tears in a bottle? Are the hairs of my head really numbered? God can certainly know how many hairs I have, but does he really need or want to know? I am just saying, some things I believe are meant to be figures of speech and they are often taken literal as evidence of the sovereignty of God. I am not making any dogmatic statements. Just thinking.
Twenty years ago I read something that often comes to mind. How big is your God? Can he look 20 years into the future of your life and that not determine what you do during that 20 years? I believe it was C. S. Lewis who wrote that God looking at our lives was something like us looking at a line of ants. We can see where it starts, where it goes and where it ends. And that does not necessarily affect the line of ants. We could however, interact with the ants and change things. He wrote God could see our lives from birth to death because God does not live in time.
The real difficulty is Godís sovereignty verses my free will. The real question theologians grapple with is how much free will do humans have. Some really believe none. Most believe some. A few believe total free will. While I do not accept reformed theology, I am familiar with it. I have read John Calvinís "The Institutes of the Christian Religion" and "Concerning the Eternal Predestination of Man." Something in my logic says, if all is predestined, then eat, drink and be merry. If I really could believe everyoneís salvation was not their choice, but predestined, then I would think sharing Jesus would really be a waste of time. But that is just my logic. If a sovereign God has predetermined everything, then we are just along for the ride. Then on the other end, if I had total free will in everything, I donít think I would ever "enter into Godís rest." I would be striving continually and never secure in my salvation. God is active in my world. He is protecting, blessing, loving and keeping me. He has a plan for my life and wants me to live in it. I know God is a sovereign God but I believe I have choices to make.
I am not making any dogmatic statements here. These are just things I thought about. What do you think? Exactly what does the Bible say?
Serving the King,