The Nature of God’s Sovereignty

I have decided to publish my book A Rational Faith section by section on this site.  The following section is my attempt to make sense of the Sovereignty of God.

A Rational Faith Section 3.12 The Nature of God’s Sovereignty

At the heart of many of the problems that people have with the Bible is God’s claim to be
in sovereign control of everything that happens. When God claims to be sovereign, he
essentially takes responsibility for all of the evil things that have ever been done. How
can a God that is good and loving and beyond reproach make such claims? How can a
good God take responsibility for the evil we see around us? The answer is easy once we
accept God’s claim to being uniquely good.

If I had a black piece of paper and a white crayon and artistic talent, I could draw any
black and white image that you can imagine. The crayon provides the white color and
the paper provides the black color and together you can form any shade of gray that you
want and any picture that you please. This principle is the manner in which modern
computer printers work. A matrix of black dots on a white piece of paper can create any
image that you like. (I am, of course, using black and white images as an example
because I want to make the analogy to good and evil. The same principle, of course, can
be used to create color imagery as well.)

In just this same way, God is in control of everything good (white). “Every good and
perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does
not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV James 1:17) Since human beings and angelic
beings are not good like God, but have selfish and self-centered natures, they provide all
the evil (black) that is necessary. Combinations of God’s selfless goodness and the
selfish and self-centered evil natures of those he has created can combine to form any
series of actions that you wish. Let us consider a real life example.

There was a man who had sexual appetites but could not find women willing to satisfy
them. In anger at their continual rejection, this man turned to pornography. At first, of
course, mildly pornographic material was satisfying to him. As he continued his habit
over the long years, his appetites grew and that which originally satisfied him was no
longer interesting. He moved on to harder pornography showing more more degrading acts. As the long years passed, his tastes grew more and more depraved until legal acts
could not satisfy his desires. After a long period of resistance, he eventually turned to that
which was illegal . . .

Now God was not passive during this time. God constantly struggled with the spirit of
the man and urged him to repent and turn from his ways. Every time this man chose to
watch something more vile, God showed him the consequences. He also cleaned up the
mess and restrained the man from going further. The man, however, would have none of
God’s restraint. He hardened his heart and continued to watch, all the while justifying his
actions saying, “I haven’t done anything wrong. All I am doing is watching movies,
reading magazines and looking at pictures.”

There was a woman who had sexual appetites and found plenty of men to satisfy her.
When she was young and beautiful, she had sex whenever it pleased her. When she
decided to settle down and have children, she could not bear the thought of giving up her
lifestyle and married a man who thought likewise. Together they did drugs and partied
with other open-minded swingers. They had a daughter and settled down in a nice
suburban neighborhood.

Now God was not passive during this time. God constantly struggled with the spirit of
the woman and urged her to repent and turn from her ways. Every time this woman chose
to have sex with another man, God showed her the consequences. He also cleaned up the
mess by soothing the broken hearts and restraining the woman from going further. The
woman, however, would have none of God’s restraint. She hardened her heart and
continued to enjoy her lifestyle and to have sex and drink and party as much as she
pleased. All the while, she justified her behavior saying, “I haven’t done anything wrong.
All I am doing is enjoying free love with other consenting adults.”

And the man and the woman were not alone. They lived in a society full of men who
watched pornography and hardened their hearts. They lived in a society full of women
who had as much sex as they pleased. All the people in this society were disobedient to
God while at the same time they railed against him for creating such a horrible world.
One day God said, “I have had enough. I am tired of restraining these people from doing
evil and cleaning up the mess when they have rebelled against me. I am tired of having
them rail against me for creating a horrible world. I am going to loosen my restraints on
one man. I am not going to clean up the mess and I am going to allow the results to
horrify the world.”

Now the rest of the details of the Van Dam rape and murder case you already know.
David Westerfield met Brenda Van Dam at a bar and bought her a drink. When he was
rejected, he kidnapped, raped and murdered Brenda’s daughter Danielle. The case
shocked the world.

The most shocking thing, however, is that God takes responsibility for that heinous
crime. Why? Especially when he restrained David Westerfield for so many years?  Because God is the father of lights and every good thing originates with him. God is he
without whom nothing is strong and without whom evil is not restrained. If God doesn’t
do a good deed, the good deed doesn’t get done and if he doesn’t restrain an evil deed,
that evil deed is not restrained. When God released his restraint on David Westerfield,
tragedy was as sure to result as water is to run downhill.

As we have seen, therefore, God does not do evil when He sovereignly ordains evil.
Instead God allows evil, selfish and self-centered people to act according to their natures.
If God gave human appetite and selfishness free reign, we would clearly see that God restrains most human evil. When he doesn’t restrain human evil, he does it in the hope that others will see and be drawn to the love and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

About Robert V

Former atheist currently living in Toronto.
This entry was posted in Rational Faith Extracts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Nature of God’s Sovereignty

  1. Pingback: The Trial of Atherton the Atheist Day 3: The Sovereignty of God | A Thoughtful Christian

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