- Religion and Philosophy
My Take on the Sovereignty of God with the Free Will of Man
Sovereignty of God with the Free Will of Man
How do we reconcile the Sovereignty of God with the Free Will of Man? Well, I have been reading the handout and blogs that have been provided for us, and that combined with in-class discussion has led me to a conclusion to this question. No, it is not a simple question, nor is it a simple answer. People have been studying this topic for centuries, and no one can agree on one single answer. With all of our own personal answers and the answers of everyone else, there are thousands of different opinions surrounding the Sovereignty of God with the Free Will of Man.
God tells us his position as ruler of everything and creator of all countless times in the Bible. To me, it has always been obvious to me that God is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, and that is because I have basically grown up to be who I am today through Pantego Christian Academy - I have been here since Pre-K. When all I knew for my whole life is one belief and one outlook of Jesus, God, Christmas, Easter and the world in general, then it is extremely confusing when I got older to hear different beliefs. I honestly though some people just flat-out morons for believing some of the things that people actually held as credence, but then I really started to question if what I had learned for that past ten-plus years was just bogus. Until I started taking this class, I was really confused with all of the questions about Jesus that I had, but then I realized that these were the same exact questions that have been (and still do) stumping Christians and non-Christians for centuries and centuries. Not only that, but there were even more questions that I had not even thought of before!
One major question asked when discussing free will is "Do humans have consequences for our actions?" If one was to say that humans have no consequences because our lives have been carefully mapped out by God and we cannot change it, then that person may or may not have a solid argument. Yes, I believe that our lives have been planned for us word by word, second by second, breath by breath, but that does NOT mean that we can just do whatever we feel like at the moment and think "Oh it's okay. I was supposed to do that." Well, sadly, too many people believe this a run amuck - doing things like stealing cars, shooting people, and even saying unkind things to a person that they might regret doing later. I do, in fact, see how people have come to this conclusion. I can see how if a person was not very close to God and did not know him well, then they might misread what they hear about God's plan and how we can do nothing to change it. Although, common sense is also a big factor in free will too. I mean seriously, there are some people that have no judgment whatsoever. Period. There are basic principles that some people just flat out disregard and end up messing up their whole lives and other people's lives as well.
When God says that he will accomplish his will, he means that he will stick to what he has written; NOT what he has "read" as some people say. Here's how I see it: God had everything planned exactly the way he wanted it before he created the Earth. Now, Satan, not being of the Earth, but of Heaven, came in and screwed everything up for mankind. What I am not sure about is if God had planned for that to happen, or if He worked around it. What I am trying to say is, God wrote eternity - He did not read it. The thought of God "reading" the Bible not writing it is just ridiculous. God's work is evident all throughout the Bible and those who don't believe need help to understand that. In reality, everyone could use help in understanding God's amazing love.
Now it's time for Arminianism versus Calvinism. Well, I almost instantly went toward Arminianism when we started this topic in class. I have one major issue with both of these however. My only beef with Calvinism is the whole thing with "the elect." To me, that is just a little too much. Yes, I know that it says "to the elect" in the Bible, but it just seems weird. To say there are is a group of people that no matter what they do basically, they will go to Heaven and everyone else is just meaningless and has no hope at all. I think we elect ourselves to go to Heaven the minute we make the decision to let God take control of our lives and he moves into our hearts for good. I believe everyone is a "candidate", if you will, and we just have to step up to it and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. I like the analogy about how humans are floating in the water, close to drowning, but then God throws us the life raft - all we have to do is grab on! The thing I do not like about Arminianism is the fact that people can lose their faith. A bunch of churches today are mixing Arminian and Calvinist beliefs to form their own so that it sounds good to non-believers. For example, one church may take the point you have eternal faith once you accept Jesus from Calvinism, and that anyone can be a Christian from the Arminian camp. Honestly, I find myself doing that occasionally when I just cannot decide which one I am.
Continuing with the whole confusion about losing salvation at the very last second possible and not going to Heaven, but going to Hell. I personally think the idea of salvation being lost later in life is not even possible. If a person loves God enough just once to accept Him for the rest of their life and put Him in control for some time, then screwing up (as it is human nature to do!) will not completely remove their salvation and make it completely irreversible. God is generous enough to let us make mistakes, so why could we lose our salvation after we have it already? Also, in the Calvinistic belief, which is straight out of the Bible mind you, it says that faith is eternal. Arminianism, which came from man's take on Calvinism, says that you can lose faith at any time and that it can stop you from going to Heaven.
This leads us to the problem of people all over the globe in poverty-stricken countries where they never even know what a Bible is before they die! I have heard a couple different outlooks on where these people go when they die. Do they go to Heaven because they did not have a choice? Do they go to Hell because they did not accept Christ as their Lord and Savior? Or do they go anywhere? Before we get too far into just these people, this same issue comes up with babies and toddlers who pass away too - Everything has to be considered. I have not yet been able to come up with a conclusion for this that I am comfortable believing in because it is such a sad topic. Thousands of people die every day one hundred different ways and not a single one of them know Jesus. Is that our fault? Are we responsible for these people's fates? Will we be punished for not taking action and delivering the God's Word to them? Right now I leaning towards the direction of it's not our fault if those people go to Hell or wherever they go. Reason: Well, some places are just too dad gum dangerous for missionaries to go! Missionaries get killed or imprisoned for teaching the Word of God where it is illegal. Not only that, but the native people can get into major trouble for going to church or Bible studies by their government or other citizens ratting them out. In some cases, missionary work is just not feasible.
I just don't think we will get all of our answers to reconciling the Sovereignty of God to the Free Will of Man or multitude of other questions until we actually meet God face to face. People have theories out the wazoo about God and what Heaven life is like. I have trouble believe them because they don't know for sure. However, I'm not going to stop people from dreaming though. Imagining what Heaven will be like just makes going that much more exciting! Another thing that has entered my mind (something that I believe could be true too) is that Heaven will be exactly what people think it will be. Tell me that wouldn't be cool. Everyone's Heaven experience would be just a little different because they have been designing their personal Heaven design their whole lives. Again, just an idea, but it's fun to think about every once in a while.
Arminian, Calvinist, does it matter when we get to Heaven? Baptist, Lutheran, Church of Christ, Methodist, etc. does it matter when we get to Heaven? No. These are merely ideas about how to get there. In the end, we are all Christians, right?