Many attempt to explain how God carries out His will among mankind as Sovereign God, but they all fall short of the same understanding that God Himself has. However, as limited and imperfect as our understanding may be, Scripture does provide insight about God and His character that prevents us from having a false understanding about it. Accordingly, I believe the Arminian view is in complete harmony with how God carries out His plan for this world.
Among the attempts at explaining how God carries out His will among mankind as Sovereign God, I regard the Calvinist deterministic view to be by far the worst. I reject it in the strongest possible terms, because it logically makes God the cause of and responsible for all sin and evil in the world.
The Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty is in conflict with the character of God. On the one hand, they teach that God is holy and righteous and just and merciful, a God of love, etc. And that of course is biblical. However, their view of God’s sovereignty has Him governing this world and mankind in such minute detail that it has Him directly involved in all sin and evil. Many Calvinists may not be forthright in attributing the sin and evil of this world to God, but their view of His sovereignty requires it.
Calvinists believe that since God is good and holy and righteous, everything He does is good and holy and righteous, even if it is God Himself who has decreed and orchestrates all the sin and evil in the world. That’s their view of the sovereignty of God. But all reasonable thinking minds will recognize that view for what it is: a total violation of God’s holy character. They have God’s attributes working against each other. Thus they have God working against Himself.
Calvinists view their deterministic position on the sovereignty of God as truth, as biblical. I view it as a shocking mis-characterization of God. I further view it as borderline blasphemy, because any theology that directly or logically attributes sin and evil to God, is blasphemy. Blasphemy by definition is false representation or mis-characterization of God. Evil speaking. Slanderous speech directed at God. To speak with contempt toward God. To speak about God with malicious intent.
However, since malicious intent is always involved with blasphemy, I’m not actually bringing that charge against Calvinists, because I know that they do not purposely try to malign the holy character of God. Nonetheless, the falsehood of which they both speak is the same.
Many Calvinists are so extreme that they view God as a micro-manager – that everything we think, say and do, is due to God’s “predetermined will” or “Divine decree.” Whether a Calvinist defines God’s sovereignty in those terms or not, the logical conclusions of their position requires it to be so….because they don’t believe that man has a free will. They don’t believe that we do anything independent of God’s “meticulous providence” – which means that we don’t have the freedom to choose contrary to God’s “eternal decree” of all things.
Furthermore, they believe that our very desires and circumstances that lead to our choices are all determined by God. They surmise that if have a free will that is independent of God’s “sovereign decree,” then God somehow loses control as a sovereign God.
But consider this:
Any scientist can accomplish what he wants in a controlled environment. But when you throw in factors outside of his control, things automatically break down.
However, God is not as man is, He is Sovereign God of the universe. Thus nothing is out of His Sovereign control. Yet, I believe that He accomplishes all things within the framework of man’s free will. This would be the equivalent of throwing in factors outside of a scientist’s controlled environment. Yet, God is always in total control, even when He fulfills His will within the framework of man’s free will. Thus God is able to carry out His full plan for this world, while remaining absolutely separate and blameless of the sin and evil of this world. How He does that is something He has not revealed to us. As I said indicated in the beginning, our understanding is very imperfect and limited.
When you consider the two viewpoints of God’s sovereignty, which is the superior? Quite obviously the Arminian view is far superior. Calvinists think that if God gives man a free will, He somehow loses control, and thus unable to carry out His plan. That’s a very limited view of God.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s futile to try and figure out how God carries out His grand plan for this world, when the Bible is absolutely silent about it. God simply hasn’t revealed how He does that. We’re talking about a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present – infinite in wisdom, knowledge and understanding and intelligence. We cannot relate to God on that level. Thus I don’t normally get involved in all the discussions and debates about it, other than what you see here. Again, we all fall short in our understanding of it all.
I would rather focus on and teach the things that God has revealed to us:
That God is good, holy, sinless, that He hates sin and evil, that He is just, light, merciful, compassionate, kind, gentle, compassionate, that He is a God of love and grace, and that He requires these same things of us. Those are the things He has revealed about Himself, and it’s on those things that I rest. I leave all the questions to God, trusting that all that He does is in harmony with His holy character and with His many names that He has revealed Himself through.
That’s where the Calvinist deterministic view of God’s sovereignty and character really breaks down:
As Christians, as children of God with a new nature, we’re to grow to become like our Father, because like begets like. If God’s attributes and the way He carries out His will is different than our own as His children, then it removes any real meaning to the “fruit of the Spirit” and “Christ-likeness.” If what we understand and experience (regarding the fruit of the Spirit and of Christ-likeness) is different than who God is Himself, then clearly, God is working against Himself…..and that’s just what Calvinism does, it has God working against Himself. However, God is consistent with Himself. All His attributes always work in harmony with one another.
Thus our understanding of right and wrong, light and darkness, goodness, righteousness, holiness, love, mercy, grace, justice, compassion, etc. must come from God, and must also be a reflection of who He Himself is. Our understanding of God and His character comes not only through His Word, but also through the fruit that He Himself produces in us.
Therefore, it’s simply not possible that God’s sovereignty involves Him doing anything contrary to the holy character that He has revealed to us in His Word and in our own lives as those who walk in the Spirit of God and in the character of Christ.
In other words, we can be sure that God’s sovereignty is completely in harmony with our own understanding of goodness and holiness and justice and righteousness and light and mercy and grace, etc. We can be sure that the One who commands us to hate sin and love righteousness and to live lives separate from sin, does nothing apart from what He Himself requires of us.
Calvinism’s view of God’s sovereignty as it relates to God’s character is deeply flawed. The inconsistent picture of God that Calvinists project is the main reason I reject their theology. Correct theology begins with a correct and consistent view of God and His attributes. That’s the foundation for all truth.
Calvinists seem far more concerned about God’s sovereignty than they are about God’s character. What they apparently don’t realize, is that if you get God’s character right, you’ll get His sovereignty right. I believe they allow their view of God’s sovereignty to define His character for them. They have it backwards.