Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Must We Protect God's Sovereignty?

Spurred on by events in Boston, but also through interaction with others throughout the years, often at the death of loved ones, I have been pondering the people who feel the need to lift up God's sovereignty. These are the "It was God's will" voices. Everything that happens they refuse to question, going to great lengths in some circumstances to protect God's sovereignty… and sound ludicrous in the process. They reduce all causes in the world down to one and only one, God's will, as if there were no other agents at work in the world. But there are. The rebellious principalities and powers just to name two.

I turned to David Bentley Hart's The Doors of the Sea today and read it in its entirety. It is a short work from 2005 in response the tsunamis of Christmas day 2004. While inspired by that disaster, his work is not applicable to that event alone. Hart seeks to deal with tragedy in the world, set alongside God's omnipotence and goodness.

Throughout Hart seeks to answer both atheistic objections as well as refute Christian voices who seem to give life to a false image of God, particularly those who say God will evil. Hart absolutely refuses to allow this image. In the latter half of the book, he speaks of divine providence. He writes,
What then, one might well ask, is divine providence? Certainly all Christians must affirm God's transcendent governance of everything, even fallen history and fallen nature, and must believe that by that governance he will defeat evil and bring the final good of all things out of the darkness of "this age." It makes a considerable difference, however --nothing less than our understanding of the natureof God is at stake -- whether one says that God has eternally willed the history of sin ad death, and all that comes to pass therein, as the proper or necessary means of achieving his ends, or whether one says instead that God has willed his good in creation from eternity and will bring it to pass, despite their rebelion, by so ordering all things toward his goodness that even evil (which he does not cause) becomes an occasion of the operations of grace. And it is only the latter view that can accurately be called a doctrine of "providence" in the properly theological sense; the former view is mere determinism. (Hart, p. 82)

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