Addressing Omnibenevolence Part III: God's Love and God's Sovereignty
Having addressed how the Bible speaks of God’s love and the reasons why the doctrine is so difficult, we must being to tackle some of the biblical tensions between God’s love and other realities such as God’s sovereignty, impassibility, and wrath. In the next three posts in this series, I will address these points of tension according to the D.A. Carson and possibly a few other authors. The doctrine of omnibenevolence, when applied to soteriology (as the Caner’s have done in their thesis), encounters serious biblical and theological problems as we shall see. Now, let’s address God’s Sovereignty as prescribed by
God’s Love and God’s Sovereignty
- God is utterly sovereign (49).
- God is transcendent.
- God is omnipotent.
- God is omniscient.
- God’s sovereignty extends to election (50).
Quote: “We often speak of people who “accept Jesus as their personal Savior”—words not found in Scripture, though not necessarily wrong as a synthetic expression. But Acts may sum up some strategic evangelism by reporting that “all who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts )” (51).
Quote: “Moreover, the Lord’s electing love is immutable. All that the Father has given to the Son will come to him, and the Son will lose none of them, we are told, because he came down from heaven to do the Father’s will—and this is the Father’s will, that he should lose none of those the Father has given him (John 6:37-40). In other words, for the Son to lose any of those the Father has given him, he would have to be either unable or unwilling to obey his Father’s explicit command” (51).
- Christians are not fatalists (51).
Quote: “The central line of Christian tradition neither sacrifices the utter sovereignty of God nor reduces the responsibility of his image-bearers. In the realm of philosophical theology, this position is sometimes called compatibilism. It means that God’s unconditional sovereignty and the responsibility of human beings are mutually compatible” (51-52).
- Christians must reflect on God’s immutability (54).
Quote: “The doctrine of God’s immutability is of the highest significance for religion. The contrast between being and becoming marks the difference between the Creator and the creature. Every creature is continually becoming. It is changeable, constantly striving, seeks rest and satisfaction, and finds rest in God, in him alone, for only he is pure being and no becoming” (54-55).
- God’s sovereignty is under increasing attack, not only from process theologians whose primary resource is to philosophical analysis and synthesis, but also from those who seek to ground their work in the Bible (55).
Quote: God’s sovereign transcendence and his personhood are both maintained in the Bible. They are both parts of the givens. Elevate his personhood to the exclusion of his transcendent sovereignty, and sooner or later you have a finite God, progressively reduced, and certainly not the God of the Bible.
Personal remark: Two years ago, I wrote a paper called “The Gutting of God: Open Theism’s Attack on the Transcendental Essential Properties of God” in which I argued the very point
Furthermore, concerning compatibilism, I have marked out some time this summer to make the case for compatibilist middle knowledge. I truly believe if those who trumpet “free will” in salvation had a better understanding of the nature of that will, then they will realize that the Bible holds to compatibilism and not libertarian free will which is the controlling belief and integrated motif in freewill theism/Arminianism and Open Theism. One of the main arguments against unconditional election is the idea that a loving God would not chose some for salvation against (or in violation of) their will. This objection quickly fails in light of the biblical defense for compatibilist free will (which Calvinists hold to).
************************************* Addressing Omnibenevolence Series: Addressing 'Omnibenevolence' 05.24.06 Denying the 'Core and Classical Attribute' of Omnibenevolence? 05.26.06 Addressing Omnibenevolence Series 05.31.06 Part One: Why the Love of God Is a Difficult Doctrine 06.01.06 Part Two: How the Bible Speaks of the Love of God 06.02.06