This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.
Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on Chapter 5! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on this subject matter.
My main takeaways were:
- God is sovereign
- Humans are responsible for their actions
- God’s character is at stake in the way that we attempt to resolve this tension. If God fixed peoples’ eternal destinies before time, that makes Him neither loving nor good by any acceptable standard of morality.
Questions for Discussion
- How has Greco-Roman philosophy influenced Christian thinking through the ages to move it towards determinism?
- How does the way we seek to resolve God’s sovereignty and human responsibility impact the way that we perceive God?
- Can we focus so much on sovereignty that we let that focus distort God’s other attributes?
- Is it necessary that we resolve this Biblical tension between sovereignty and free will or perhaps God has put it there for a purpose?
the biblical narrative is the story of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.
Unique in all of literature, Scripture is full of prediction and fulfilment, a fact that must be factored in to any attempt to understand the nature of God’s relationship to history and humanity.
The crucifixion was therefore foreknown by God and occurred according to his set purpose; and yet the men who put him to death were wicked and therefore morally responsible.
Thus we can see that two things hold: 1. God takes the initiative. 2. People are responsible to come to Jesus and capable of doing it or refusing to do so.
Or again, when Paul addressed the Athenian philosophers he said that God had determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. He then remarked that this had been done in order that they should seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him (Acts 17:26–27). God has clearly determined certain limits, but that does not relieve men and women of the responsibility of seeking, feeling after, and finding him.
no one has any real idea what human thought is, not to mention how it can trigger human action, so we are not likely to comprehend God’s interaction with his creation any better. The best we can do is to try to understand what God has revealed about these things – what he wants us to know.
if Christ knocks at the door of someone’s heart, is opening the door always “inevitable”?
Many of the influential theologians of past centuries were educated in the classical ways of thinking before they studied theology, and Stoicism has left its mark on the more extreme forms of Christian determinism, where it is arguable that the concept of God appears more Greek than Christian.
Scripture teaches both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, in which case all interpretations that press one side to the exclusion of the other must be incorrect, for the simple reason that Scripture itself does not allow one side to override the other. This elementary but vital principle is often overlooked by those who try to resolve the tension
The issues at stake are not simply questions of abstract theology. They have to do with our concept of God’s person and character, and of ourselves as human beings, and they go to the very heart of the gospel itself.
They will say: how can you believe in a God who fixed your eternal destination before you were born, quite independently of what you do?
Surely this conflicts with any acceptable concept of morality and fairness and makes God out to be neither loving nor good, and therefore unworthy of our respect let alone our worship?
Nothing less than the character of God and his reputation in the world is at stake.
I shall avoid using the terms Calvinism, Arminianism, and so on,