I suspect that some of you reading will have your mind made up before I even have a sentence written out. While others will be begging for the answer as they have wondered this exact question. The question of fate and freedom or God being 'sovereign' over our wills or humanity having a free will has been an age old debate. One that was highlighted in a conversation I had online not to long ago.
It revolved around a quote by R.C. Sproul which read, "Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.”
I personally like this quote and I think it asks us the very hard question of who we are allowing to be on the throne. But I am getting ahead of myself. See, some would see this as a debate about the question of God's 'control'--I would have a very different understanding. It really boils down to your understanding of the word 'sovereign'.
Paul Douglas Walker (Not that Paul Walker), an avid blogger and native to Canada (now living in England) had this to say on the topic:
It's a 500 year old debate between Calvinists and Arminians.
My comments that will follow will not focus on the conversation and debate that circles the idea of man's will and it's degree of freedom or lack thereof. But I wish to simply bring a different thought to the conversation that I will hope can be helpful in our interaction with God and the word 'sovereign' on both sides of the argument.
Truthfully, my title is a bit of a bate-and-switch as I won't be answering the question if God is truly in control and I doubt my one blog post could ever settle the argument--truthfully it is not even settled in my own mind.
So, let me start with a question: What if sovereignty has nothing to do with control but rulership or better... Kingship? When I look at the original quote above, I don't see the debate: if God controls every action or not, but about His Kingship of Christ and His Kingdom (though, knowing RC Sproul's theological stand point of predestination, I suspect the modern idea of control is probably laced in there).
That being said, a king in ancient time would be Sovereign and at any moment could make any decision, place any decree and in some cases sway the will of his people. But this didn't negate the reality that his kingdom and the people in it were 'free agents' and could make autonomous decisions inside of that sovereignty or even contrary to that sovereignty. The difference between an earthly king and our Heavenly King is most earthly kings would rule out of fear while we are persuaded by the supernatural divine motivator of Grace. This grace has an effect on us that empowers us for change and transforms us and I think both sides of the argument would agree we are unable to do so without this grace (2 Cor 4:1-6).
I think when you get to the root of the word and the cultural and grammatical context of it, this understanding makes much more sense. When we speak of God's sovereignty, should we be thinking of the age old debate of fate and choice or who is ultimately ruling. I think the big issue is we have gotten caught up on the modern understanding of the word 'control' and see it as a cause and effect of reality when I think there is a better option: God's is sovereign because He is King and what a good King we have.
Furthermore, when we experience this divine grace, it seems impossible, to me, that we would not wish to make Him ruler over our lives and set Him on the throne (which brings in the supernatural effects of grace which we can do nothing to gain on our own merits). But this does not mean absolute 'control' over our wills. There is a great mystery in this. But it still becomes the question: What do we mean by 'sovereign'?
Of course much rebuttal and counter points can be made as it is a complex topic with many differing facets and sides. So I don't presume this short post will prove anything indefinitely. Just a thought.
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