Understanding Sovereignty (An Arminian Perspective)

One of the features of modern Calvinism that has caused equal measures of relief and despair is their understanding of sovereignty.  R.C. Sproul once stated it like this: God is in absolute control of every molecule of the universe.  Therefore nothing happens that God does not choose, cause to happen, and render certain.  Anything less, Sproul contends, and God is not sovereign.

(Why relief?  Everything that happens can be faced with a blithe “God is in control!”

Why despair?  Because this view makes God a monster who planned and executed the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, American slavery, Srebrenica, etc., for his own glory.  God becomes the author of evil, a moral monster.  You can’t have one side without the other.)

Calvinists will often bristle at having this view called “determinism”.  I invite you to investigate the definition of determinism and see for yourself whether it is a fair label or not.

Olson has a helpful post exploring how Christians who are not determinists–who do not believe that God ordains, controls, and renders certain every event in the universe–understand sovereignty.  He calls his view “relational sovereignty”.  My summary: God’s nature is unchanging, but that nature is at its center relational.  That means that he interacts with his creatures on a real level.  That means that as we interact with him and he with us, we affect him and he affects us; anything else is not truly relational.

This view is well summed up by Pinnock’s title; God is not the “unmoved mover,” but “the MOST moved mover.”

If the truest revelation of God’s character is in Jesus Christ, if John means what I believe he means when he says “God IS love,” then this view makes the most sense.

Anyway.  Read the piece, it’s interesting and helpful, I think.

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