The Sovereignty of God and Douglas Wilson – Expanded Thoughts

Two plus two equals four. Why does 2+2=4? Because God is God. God created the universe ex nihilo. God did not consult any preexisting laws or rules before creating. God did not consult any preexisting law of mathematics in order to discover what kind of universe He could create. The only thing God consulted and had to conform to when creating was Himself (see John 1:3 and Hebrews 1:2). Therefore, 2+2=4 because the very nature of God demands that it does. Two plus two equals four because “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

Because God created ex nihilo, the universe is a reflection of His nature and character. There is nothing outside of God which influenced creation. Evil then, is either a reflection of God’s nature and character, or a deprivation of it. God’s word tells us that God is good (Psalm 25:8, 27:13, 31:19-20, 33:5, 34:8, 86:5, 100:5, 107:1, 8-9, 135:3, 145:5-9 — and that’s just some of the Psalms. There are many verses throughout the bible declaring God’s goodness.) Nowhere in the bible do we get a sense that God is evil or acts out in evil ways. Even a verse like Isaiah 45:7 is not saying God created evil as the devil would do evil, rather the evil (or calamity) there is a judgment from a good and just God against demonic and human evil.

In Doug Wilson’s video, he tries to reconcile God’s predestining of all humanity’s actions with human freedom. God has the sovereign power to predestine all a man’s choices while at the same time giving that man freedom to make uncoerced decisions. This is not a contradiction according to Wilson and the Westminster Confession because…. well just because. Wilson actually does not say anything to support this claim in the video. He simply declares it as truth. According to Wilson there is an infinite divide between Creator and creature, and as God is not a part of the universe, He is not displacing the freedom of man by imposing His will on man. Wilson does try to use Jeremiah 18:5-6 to support his idea, but as I show in my last article, that does not work.

It is true that the divide between Creator and creature is infinite, but it is not true that truth itself changes from one side of the divide to the other. Two plus two equals four, and that is true on the Creator side of the divide and the creature side. It is true on the creature side because it is first true on the Creator side. Evil is evil, good is good, on both sides of the divide. If a man freely chooses to rape a woman on the creature side of reality, it is evil. If God freely predestined the man to rape a woman from eternity past, it is still evil. To suggest that God is doing something good when He predestines the free and evil acts of men is to suggest that good is not the same thing on both sides of the Creator/creature divide.

Read the bible as a whole. What you see is God calling out to His people, to turn to Him, to repent of their evil, to trust in His salvation. Never do you get the sense that God has already predestined some to reprobation and others to salvation. Again, I am no Arminian. I agree with Wilson that we lost our moral freedom at the fall. No one is free-willing themselves into heaven. But the Calvinist understanding of God’s sovereignty is an equally false idea.

Read the first part of this subject here.

Related reading: Calvinism is Pantheism

Sovereignty

God is sovereign. What does this mean? It means that God can do whatever He wants to do. No one can stand in His way and say, “No!” What it does not mean is that all that happens is what God wants to happen.

What God allows and what God wills are not always the same thing. Some would argue they are: “If God can stop an evil thing from happening, and then doesn’t stop it, it’s the same as wanting it to happen.” No, it is not. Do not turn God into a computer program.

Anyone with kids knows: What you want your kids to do, and what they choose to do are not always the same. You could stop them from doing the things you don’t want, but because you want them to have a certain amount of freedom, you do not stop them. What you will for them and what you allow them to do are not always the same thing.

God is sovereign, but He is not a robot. God is not a binary computer program which must do what it was programmed to do. God is alive. He does what He wants and He allows what He allows. He gives us the truth, and the truth gives us the freedom to follow Him, to know Him, and to live forever under His good and perfect sovereign rule.

When Does Creation Begin?

How free is God? I would say God is free to do anything which does not violate His own character. Therefore, if God wants to create a certain kind of universe, there is nothing to stop Him from doing so as long as it aligns with His own character, or nature. This, of course, creates problems when looking at the fall of man and the will of man.

True or False: If God did not want the fall of man to happen, and it was possible to give humans their own free will which would not necessarily lead to a fall, then there would never have been a fall since God could have, and would have, created that universe.

Does human free will necessarily lead to a fall? If you say no, then I have to ask: Then why did the fall happen? And if you answer: Because of free will, then I have to ask: Does human free will necessarily lead to a fall?

You can only say that human free will does not necessarily lead to a fall if you believe God does not know the future. However, if God knows the future, He knows if a fall will happen or not. If God does not want a fall, and He wants humans to have their own will, and He sees He can indeed create a universe where humans have free will and there is no fall, then He will create that universe. It’s the one He wants. But, we obviously do not live in that universe. Therefore, either (A) God positively wanted the fall to happen, or (B) He was forced negatively to allow the fall to happen as there was no other option since He wanted humans to have free will, and human free will would always lead to a fall.

Option A seriously calls God’s goodness into question. Why would a good God want a fall and all the evil which accompanies it? Option B calls into question God’s power and freedom. Who decided that God couldn’t create a universe in which humans had free will and never fall?

But wait, Christianity teaches that after the resurrection, after sin and death and the effects of the fall have been completely removed from existence, there will never be another fall, and humans will have free will. So, it turns out that God can indeed create a universe in which humans have free will and yet not fall.

When, exactly, does this creation begin?

The Fallacy of Theodicy

Theodicy: a defence of God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil

We ought to reject all attempts at theodicy. God did not need sin, death, and evil to bring about His plan for creation. Sin, death, and evil did happen, but not at God’s command or decree. And, we take comfort in the fact that God hates sin, death, and evil, and He will redeem His creation from it all.

Excerpt from an article written by David B. Hart titled Tsunami and Theodicy….

“Christians often find it hard to adopt the spiritual idiom of the New Testament—to think in terms, that is, of a cosmic struggle between good and evil, of Christ’s triumph over the principalities of this world, of the overthrow of hell. All Christians know, of course, that it is through God’s self-outpouring upon the cross that we are saved, and that we are made able by grace to participate in Christ’s suffering; but this should not obscure that other truth revealed at Easter: that the incarnate God enters ‘this cosmos’ not simply to disclose its immanent rationality, but to break the boundaries of fallen nature asunder, and to refashion creation after its ancient beauty—wherein neither sin nor death had any place. Christian thought has traditionally, of necessity, defined evil as a privation of the good, possessing no essence or nature of its own, a purely parasitic corruption of reality; hence it can have no positive role to play in God’s determination of Himself or purpose for His creatures (even if by economy God can bring good from evil); it can in no way supply any imagined deficiency in God’s or creation’s goodness. Being infinitely sufficient in Himself, God had no need of a passage through sin and death to manifest His glory in His creatures or to join them perfectly to Himself. This is why it is misleading (however soothing it may be) to say that the drama of fall and redemption will make the final state of things more glorious than it might otherwise have been. No less metaphysically incoherent—though immeasurably more vile—is the suggestion that God requires suffering and death to reveal certain of his attributes (capricious cruelty, perhaps? morbid indifference? a twisted sense of humor?). It is precisely sin, suffering, and death that blind us to God’s true nature.”

Read DBH’s full article by clicking here.

And Yet More Thoughts on Free Will, and the Problem of Evil, and Such and Such…..

  • The argument is often made that evil exists in the world because God gave humans free will and He gave humans free will so that they could truly love God, as love can only be genuine if it’s chosen. This argument is faulty on at least two points: it incorrectly defines “free will”, and it wrongly assumes love can only be real if it is chosen.
  • The opposite of free will is not “no will”.
  • The opposite of will is “no will”.
  • Will is defined as desire — I have a desire for such and such to happen. It is my will. To have no desires is to have no will, and thus no ability to choose. Any action by something with no will is automatic and “preprogrammed”. A heart functions, it does what it does, but it does not have a will of its own.
  • The opposite of free will is enslaved will. Both one whose will is free or enslaved is able to make choices. An alcoholic can choose which whiskey he will get drunk off tonight, but he is enslaved to his alcoholism.
  • Free will is not the ability to make choices without being influenced by an outside force, since no one makes a choice without desire, and no one’s desire exists in an arbitrary vacuum. Your choices are determined by your desire (your will) and your desire is determined by your nature.
  • Your nature is either free or enslaved. Free from what? Enslaved to what? Sin, evil, and corruption.
  • Thus, free will is the ability to never sin, and enslaved will is the inability to never sin. Indeed, free will is the inability to sin.
  • God is free and He cannot sin.
  • If God is free and there is no potential to sin within Him, then it is not a requirement to have the potential to sin in order to be free or to have free will.
  • God is love. Jesus loves the Father. Jesus and the Father are both God. One God — three persons. Jesus is a man. Jesus is 100% man and 100% God.
  • Jesus is the perfect man. What is not true for Jesus is not true for all humans, and what is true for Jesus is true for all humans.
  • Jesus loves the Father, and there is no potential in Jesus to hate or reject the Father. God is not divided (Mark 3:24-25). There is no darkness in God (1 John 1:5). God cannot lie or break an oath (Hebrews 6:18). Jesus does not change (Hebrews 13:8). There is no potential in God (for change).
  • Thus, it is not required, in order for one to love another, for there to be the potential to hate the other.
  • In order for humans to love God it was not required for humans to have the potential to hate God.
  • God did not give humans “free will” so that humans could possibly reject God thus making their love for Him “real” — as some teach: love is only real if it’s chosen.
  • God desires humans to never sin — God desires for humans to be free and have free will. We are made free for freedom’s sake (Galatians 5:1).
  • God did not risk evil entering His creation by giving humans the potential to be evil for the sake of genuine love. Humans were clearly given the potential for evil since that’s what happened. But, they were not given that potential for the sake of genuine love. Genuine love is possible without the potential for sin and evil.
  • A man loves his children. He does not have to chose to love them — he just loves them. He knows them and he loves them, and they love him.
  • To know God is to love God.