He is a functional deist

While listening to a Christian talk radio host, a pastor and political pundit, on  the way home from work last week, I heard something quite disturbing.  Among the many eyebrow lifting statements made was that God surrenders some of His sovereignty so that we may be free moral agents. While I agree that we are responsible for our actions, to say that God can surrender even a bit of His sovereignty is akin to saying that God can surrender a bit of His holiness, a bit of His omnipotence, that God is changeable. If true, God ceases to be immutable God and becomes an object not worthy of worship. We may as well be deists or open theists, and perhaps that is the unconscious and default attitude of much of the church in America.

The effect of this errant theology, if embraced, is this: I cannot trust completely a God who is not absolutely sovereign over the created order, over His created moral agents. I cannot trust that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose if He allows created beings to thwart His plans. I lose any comfort and solace from God if I find myself suffering trial and tribulation if God is not sovereign, who is, as the saccharine sentiment goes, ‘too much a gentleman to intrude on our ‘free’ will’. I could entertain such a god when life goes well, when all I need is a god who acts to enhance an already nice life with motivational platitudes, but such a god who is even able to surrender even the smallest quantum of his sovereignty could not possibly be a mighty fortress in times of trouble. I need to know that God is in control even when immediate circumstances seem otherwise.

What amazes me is that so many cling to some notion of a ‘free will’ that God respects so much that He will not act against it when the Biblical witness is diametrically opposed to such a sentiment. Biblically, the unregenerate are not free, but are slaves to their fallen nature. Apart from the grace of God,  humanity is as free to choose the triune God as a zebra is free to change it’s stripes. Follows is but a small handful of Biblical proclamations on the nature of God’s sovereign rule over His creation that the aforementioned pastor/pundit would do well to dwell upon:

Ps. 103:19 His Sovereignty rules over all.

Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

Prov. 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

Ps. 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in seas and in all deeps.

Pr. 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Pr. 20:24 Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord; how then can man understand his way?

Pr. 21:1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes

Jn. 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.

Acts 13:48 And as many as had been appointed [ordained] to eternal life believed.

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About Ron

Somewhat quirky and prone to bouts of melancholia. Well-read, tastelessly opinionated and pasta fueled, a saddle tramp. I have not yet discovered my superpowers, but when I do, I will use them for good, not evil.

Posted on October 22, 2011, in Calvinism/Arminianism, Sovereign Grace, Theology. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Seeing and understanding even just a smidge of the concept of God’s complete sovereignty – even sovereignty over sin, yet without authoring it – was instrumental in giving me a setttled peace. To know that I am in the hands of such a mighty God who has even brought me into His family and who promises to love me – to know that He is in control and able and faithful to keep that promise means everything to me. Having come out of a world where I spent 40 years depending on the undependable, the greatest gift is having this Rock who does not depend on the whims of man; where man is unfaithful, He is faithful. Even when I am sinned against or otherwise am reaping the temporal consequences for my sin in this life, it is all for the purpose of further molding me into the image of His Son and effecting my final salvation. Because of that, there is cause for rejoicing even in the midst of sorrow. What a beautiful Creator and Redeemer we have.

  2. Regarding “Even when I am sinned against or otherwise am reaping the temporal consequences for my sin in this life, it is all for the purpose of further molding me into the image of His Son and effecting my final salvation. Because of that, there is cause for rejoicing even in the midst of sorrow. What a beautiful Creator and Redeemer we have”…..without such absolute sovereignty, we, His redeemed, have no hope in this world. Knowing, even if not fully apprehended, that He is sovereign and good and sinless, even sovereign over sin, is foundational in being able to trust God.

    Parenthetically, I think of God in Genesis 20:2-6, restraining Abilimech…… ”I also kept you from sinning against me; therefore I did not let you touch her.” He restrained Abilimech’s will.

    Thank you, Barbara, for reading my blog and offering up thoughtful, encouraging comments.

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