Determined to Believe: Chapter 5 - God's Character is at Stake

(Jennifer Wilkinson) #21

I’ve never sensed a tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. A king can be sovereign with the right and power to control everything in his subjects’ lives, but he could choose to let them pick their own careers. The king doesn’t become less sovereign by letting them have choices.

Am I defining sovereignty the wrong way? Does there have to be a tension between sovereignty and free will?

(SeanO) #22

@Jennifer_Wilkinson I really like the simplicity of using a king and his subjects as an analogy :slight_smile: No, I do not think that there must be tension between free will and sovereignty. Your definition is legitimate, since it is actually the definition of sovereignty that is being debated.

Think of the definition for sovereignty being on a scale from 1-4. In all cases, God has absolute authority and rule, but as you move towards 4 God determines more and more of what individuals do. The tension between free will and sovereignty starts to become much more pronounced once you are including 3/4 in your definition of sovereignty.

  1. God rules over the nations and has the right / power to judge each individual
  2. God is intervening in history to move towards a predetermined end (including salvation history)
  3. God determines who is saved
  4. God determines literally everything that happens

I think if your definition of sovereignty only includes 1/2, then there is not as much tension with free will.

(Kevin Hurst) #23

@Jimmy_Sellers I like your point that perhaps there has been an even earlier influence that impacted the thinking of man. Probably, if kept going back and back, we would eventually end up in the Garden of Eden where this wrestling of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man began:grinning:

This idea of who influences what in our lives is always a fascinating study to me. What really has influenced all my thinking in life? Why do I accept some people’s influence and not others? I am not always sure.

John Lennox pointed out the influence that the Stoics had on Christianity. I was just curious if any one has studied up on the influence that the Epicureans may have had on early Christianity as well? I think they were the other group of philosophers that Paul talked with on Mars Hill.

I like @SeanO question #3. I can sometimes become weary of the debate on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, especially in the Christian camp. Even though I do enjoy debate:grinning:. One thing I like to ask when I get into a debate on this sort is do you believe in holy living? Hopefully we can all agree to that. Then what does that look like and how is it fleshed out? That seems to me to be a more important question to answer than trying to understand the sovereignty of God and man’s free will. As important as that question is. This question looks at a question of God’s character that involves His sovereignty and man’s free will, as I see it. God said “be ye holy as I am holy”.
Just some food for thought here as well


(Jimmy Sellers) #24

If you want a thorough study on the epicurean influence on the current state of religion in the world you will like the NT Wright 2018 Gifford lectures, Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology and New Creation. (This will be available in book form this year) Here is the link to the first lecture, there are eight. But this lectures broaches the epicurean influence(s) on modern day worldviews. Warning these lectures are addicting, be careful. :grinning:

(SeanO) #25

@Kevin_Hurst I think that it can be helpful to remember, at the end of the day, our goal is not to possess knowledge but to know and be known. Knowledge is a part of that process, but it is not the goal. By being holy and set apart in Christ and living in obedience, we can experience intimacy with our Creator which, after all, is the point :slight_smile:

I enjoy discussion on deep theological topics immensely when everyone is enjoying it and willing to challenge / be challenged. But I think when people, for whatever reason, are emotionally attached to a certain idea, there is little benefit in causing discord over secondary issues.

(Kevin Hurst) #26

@Jimmy_Sellers Excellent! Thank you for posting this. I will be checking it out:grinning:

1 Like
(Kevin Hurst) #27

@SeanO Yes I fully agree. Well spoken.
Knowledge is a part of that process, but it is not the goal. By being holy and set apart in Christ and living in obedience, we can experience intimacy with our Creator which, after all, is the point

1 Like
(Jimmy Sellers) #28

I am no expert but from what I have read and am reading these two positions are bookends for the period between the Maccabean revolt (167 BC) and ending with the over throw of the Bar-Kochba revolt (135 AD).
The progression of viewing history as task with an over arching narrative to a destination (eschton) slowly moved to the position of history as events with no narrative. In short from hope (Messiah) to resignation ( lets make the best of our situation).

You are right this would make for a deep dive,

1 Like