Is there really a conflict between Freedom and Sovereignty, if rightly defined?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Jun 28, 2013.

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  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    I believe AW Tozer masterfully describes the biblical view of divine sovereignty:

    "God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, 'What doest thou?' Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so." - A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God​

    Too many here think man's contra-causal freewill somehow violates divine sovereignty, which begs the question by presuming that God could not have chosen in His sovereignty to make mankind contra-causally free. Dare one argue that God's not powerful enough to create contra-causally free individuals? For if He could and did then by the very nature of HIS DOING IT does it not become an act of His Sovereign Will thus making human freedom fully inline with divine sovereignty? Must God control the choices/acts of every creature to be sovereign? Must he play both sides of the chess board to ensure victory? I think not. I believe God is much greater than that view of divine sovereignty. God is not scared of contra-causal freedom, He is more than capable of accomplishing His ultimate purposes in, through and DESPITE the free choices and actions of creation. He doesn't need to be the one determining the acts of Satan and Himself to make sure it all goes as he planned...that is a very small view of God, IMO.

    What say you?
     
  2. Luke2427

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    If you can say that God sovereignly decreed that man should make decisions without cause then you might as well say that God decreed that he should both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense.

    It is nonsense.

    It violates the law of noncontradiction.

    It is untenable.
     
  3. DrJamesAch

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    An excellent concise explanation! We had this debate on a thread "Wouldn't God Have To Be 'Open' To Allow Chance" and that very point was raised:

     
  4. DrJamesAch

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    You are arguing for double-causation. The original "cause" was the creation of free will. It is likely arguing that God caused the law of gravity, and then caused the rock to fall from point A off the cliff to point B on the ground. There is no double causation, the initial cause was the creation of gravity.
     
  5. DrJamesAch

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    Things That God Does Not Cause

    *God does not cause temptation-James 1:13-14
    "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."

    *God does not the author of confusion-1 Cor 14:33

    *Sometimes what God "decrees" DOES NOT come to pass-1 Samuel 23:1-14. David asked if Saul would "Come down". God said that Saul WOULD. David then changed his course of action which changed the outcome of Saul's decision and Saul then "forbare to go forth" in verse 14, even though God said he would in verse 11.

    *God does not cause sin-Jeremiah 32:35

    " And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin."

    *God does not CAUSE the "elect" to be saved.-Matthew 23:37-39

    "Furthermore, Isaiah 45:4 says the Israel was God's elect. If God ALWAYS determines that the elect will be saved, then you have a problem with Jesus' statement in Matthew 23:39 where Jesus WOULD HAVE gathered all of the children of Israel, but they WOULD NOT. Calvinists attempt to explain this verse away by claiming Jesus was speaking to 2 different audiences (the children and the Pharisees) but that will not work, because that would make the election of the children dependent upon the action of the Pharisees resulting in the Pharisees altering the course of election for the children which is hardly consistent with Calvinist theology." (My quote from another thread on Matthew 23)

    At the time that Jesus was preaching to the Pharisees, Israel was corporately referred to as THE ELECT of God, and yet they rejected him and resisted the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51). Jesus even made it clear that upon His arrival "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of Israel" (Matt 15:24), and even gives an example in practice of this with the Syro-Phoenician woman (v26).

    The Bible is clear that God does not always cause a matter just because He foreknows it. Any view to the contrary is based on philosophical speculation and eisegetical presupposition.
     
  6. Van

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    Just wanted to chime in and say God allowing His creation to make choices does not say we make choices without cause. As DrJamesAch said the first cause is God, partially fulfilling His purpose in creating man, that we should choose from our fallen state to seek God and trust in God. This action brings glory to God.

    We make our choices based on nature and nurture. Our nature, as children of wrath, would be to choose what Satan has deceived us into doing, i.e. Eve eating the apple; what the world teaches as appropriate, i.e. two wrongs make a right, the end justifies the means; and to appease the desires of the flesh, i.e. comfort and security. But by nurture, we can learn to love others more than ourselves, we can pick up our cross and strive to follow Christ where ever He leads.

    The premise that we will always choose the wrong path, and never seek God or the righteousness of God is unbiblical and untenable.
     
    #6 Van, Jun 28, 2013
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  7. Luke2427

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    Why did the rock fall?

    Because gravity pulled it to the ground.

    Why did gravity pull it to the ground?

    Because God made gravity to do so.

    It is the same thing.
     
  8. DrJamesAch

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    No it's not the same thing. God created the ability for the rock to fall. That doesn't mean He CAUSED it to fall. You are arguing for a second additional cause that demands that God determines by a separate caused action events to occur under circumstances that He has already created to operate within an already created boundary and ability.

    The continued emphasis on additional causes deprives God of His sovereignty and allows for no demonstration of His glory over His creation because such a determinist view does not permit God to choose when He wants to intervene (which refutes the Deist world view), and when He chooses to refrain and allow events to follow the natural order that they were permitted to follow, within the boundaries that He has created (which refutes determinism). The argument for the demonstration of miracles couldn't be more clearer on this issue.
     
  9. Robert Snow

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    Good point, thank you.
     
  10. convicted1

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    God gave man a choice to make in the Garden, and what happened? And then the downward spiral started.........
     
  11. jonathanD

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    Can exhaustive foreknowledge and libertarian free will coexist? I think not. We must remember that God doesn't create haphazardly. He knows perfectly what each action will actually bring about...

    When a perfectly efficient creator with exhaustive foreknowledge creates, he doesn't create potentiality but actuality.

    I think Dr. James is right that there is a difference between primary causation and secondary causation, but it is not a difference that allows for libertarian free will.
     
  12. Benjamin

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    I think exhaustive foreknowledge and libertarian free will can coexist. I think it has to for His Words to ring true. I think the alternative view, “Deterministic Sovereignty”, does a very poor job of trying to align the truths in the Bible and if true would logically end in disastrous conclusions concerning God’s true righteous judgment and Omnibenevolent nature, and more.

    I think God has a type of knowledge that goes beyond our full earthly understanding which often tends to try to put limits on God’ abilities that would not allow for the true ways of God according to His Divine designs in creating the world, the creatures in it, and the plan He put forth from the beginning which would offer a means of grace through faith for all in love of His truths.
     
  13. agedman

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    Perhaps there are a few areas that need a bit of clarification.

    First:
    IF I have read correctly (which is always doubtful) you seem to be aligning the "contra-casual-free will" with that which is neutral and unaffected by the sin nature.

    If that is the reading then such is not according to what the Scriptures indicate by those verses in which we have all run in BB debates as to both the depravity of the human condition and the completeness of that depravity. Such a condition does not allow for any neutral free will.

    That human invention in which some type of work around is desired so someone can "accept or reject" God of their own volition is just that - hence a recent thread on prevenient (preceding) grace which is also a human invention.

    Second:
    What is more troubling to me in your presentation is to assume that if one rejects such a scheme that it is lessening God's sovereignty.

    That God remains in ultimate control of everything that is both seen and unseen, is not a case for presenting Him as something less. God is not threatened or less sovereign by not giving man free will, rather such exalts God as both just, and the justifier.


    Lastly:

    Do the Scriptures state or teach that God is not aware and in control of all things?

    If God knows how many hair and the condition of sparrows and flowers in which humankind pays so little attention (unless you are going bald or a woman), does it not seem reasonable that such awareness is also extended to His control?

    But then most of these conversations seem to focus upon only the God of Heaven and not the evil god of this world.

    One of the remarkable considerations in the temptation of Christ was displaying all the world political systems and the offer by the evil one of them to Christ.

    I will shorten the post by referring to a principle - What God does not control, the evil god does have influence over.
     
  14. Herald

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    The biblical position posits a very high view of God.

    There is a mystery that is difficult to get our minds around. How can the Creator of all there is allow the highest form of his creation (mankind) a self-autonomous free will yet still remain completely sovereign and bring all His decrees to pass? Having a high view of God, we must start with the assumption that we cannot detract from God's attributes in order to make sense of this supposed conundrum. The Bible states that God is actively, "declaring the end from the beginning". However we know that man makes choices, and makes them freely. It is that freedom in making choices that needs to be scrutinized. Does mankind truly possess a self-autonomous free will? No. Mankind's choices are made freely, but they are made within the overall plan of God. It is this view of divine sovereignty and human responsibility that produces the conflict the OP is questioning.
     
  15. Benjamin

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    Man! It must be nice to be a part of that elitist philosophically derived theological system camp of the Deterministic persuasion that wasn't a human invention. Darn that advantage they have! :tear:

    :D
     
  16. Van

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    1) God has exhaustive foreknowledge, meaning He knows the future exhaustively.

    2) Knowing the future fixes the future, thus the description of the doctrine as exhaustive determinism, God predestines whatsoever comes to pass.

    3) God predestines and thus causes, using primary, secondary or whatever causes our each and every sin.

    4) God is the author of sin, and therefore to punish us for what He caused demonstrates His glory.

    Calvinism 101
     
  17. BaptistJG

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    I probably dont have the vocabulary to best explain my position - however from what i read in the Bible there is an obvious tension between choice and a calling of some sort ; therefore I can only accept this tension and best try to explain it with what little human knowledge i have.
     
  18. Van

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    Spot on, BaptistJG, if you think the bible teaches you have a choice, rather than a non-choice (death only for non-elect, life only for elect) you are spot on. And because you made the choice, God did not predestine your choices to sin either, thus you are the author of your sin.
     
  19. BaptistJG

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    Don't worry van. I'm not a Calvinist :p :thumbs:
     
  20. agedman

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    Ben,

    "It must be nice" to ignore the truth and be so consumed cynical attributes.

    That pattern allows for the lack of any valuable constructive posts in which Scriptures are used to edify and enhance the understanding of those who read the threads.

    But lets play along with your "deterministic" thinking and see how it plays out.

    Here are some rhetorical questions in which you could answer in the negative if you are determined:

    Did God determine for His son to die on the Cross from the beginning of the creation?

    Did God not speak specifically of this in terms such as "crushing" and "bruising?"

    Did God determine to save Noah and his family when he also determined to destroy the world in a flood?

    Did God determine that Abraham would be the father of two nations?

    Did God determine that David would survive the encounter with the giant, be kept safe from all evil attempts to kill him and that God's only begotten Son would also be known as the Son of David?

    Did God determine that Mary would be the mother of Jesus?

    Did God determine that He was well pleased with Christ?

    Did God determine just who would come to Him in the statement "all the Father gives me will come to me...."

    Did God determine that Stephen would be stoned and Saul would become Paul who wrote a great number of letters to the churches?

    Did God determine who would go to blind Paul while he waited in Damascus?

    Did God determine that the Apostle John would out live all the other apostles and die of natural causes in Ephesus?

    Did God determine that one day Christ will return at a time that only the Father knows?

    Did God determine to save you?

    Now, showing that the use of "determinism" (or any derivative) refutes the use of the word in the above questions, then there is perhaps more to be discussed.

    If not - well perhaps the above quoted post is using a term that is under some definition that is uncommon, archaic, or merely a figment of the imagination.
     
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