Thursday, July 21, 2005

God the Clever?

A charge that Calvinists often level at Arminians is that their system robs God of His sovereignty because of the role man is allowed to play in salvation. Arminians will sometimes retort, "hey, which God is more sovereign, the one who simply decrees everything or the one who works with the free actions of men and achieves His will anyway?" It seems to me that this is playing fast and loose with the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is the exercise of supreme authority. It makes no sense to say that anyone is more sovereign because they allow other beings to exercise authority and achieve their ends anyway.

Sometimes the response is altered thusly: "Which God is more powerful, the one who decrees everything or the one who works with the free actions of me and achieves His will anyway?" This does avoid any sort of strange redefinition of sovereignty, but neither does it help the Arminian's cause. The reason being that it does not reveal anything about the amount of power a being might have. If God chose to do one thing, does that mean the other was outside of His power? No, obviously enough. This doesn't conclusively tell much about God's power other than the fact that He can do what He chose to do.

I think the best one could say is that a God who works with free willed beings has found a more clever way to achieve His ends, but that hardly inspires worship. I don't recall any Psalms praising God for such cleverness. No, the focus is on His sovereignty and power. I think that we can now see that, since the Arminian rejoinder to the accusation of diminishing the sovereignty of God fails, the accusation itself stands. The Calvinist view best preserves the sovereignty of God as it is revealed in the Bible.

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