Saturday, December 17, 2016

Reconciling Human Experience and God's Sovereignty

How does one reconcile God's sovereignty with human responsibility? I don't know.  Sometimes I think about it, and then stop because it is too big for me--kinda like when you think about eternity past and push backwards in your mind, until your brain forces you to a beginning, and then the conceptual back drops out like a Hitchcock-dolly-zoom, and you stop thinking about it because it is too big for you.

What we know is that God holds each person responsible for his or her sin and rebellion. We also know that God ordains all things for his glory.

My inability to fathom this or explain this does not mean that I cannot and should not affirm all that God teaches in Scripture concerning both.  It also does not mean that I cannot travel the path of explanation as far as my finitude allows. What it does mean is that, when I get to the end of my explanatory path and can go no further, I must trust God and his glimpses of the infinite.

Within my experience, what I feel is real. It is so real that it causes me to lash out against threats against its reality, like suggestions that God is sovereign over all things within my experience. How else to explain the frantic desperation of disbelievers in the divine decree. If they did not fundamentally accept the reality of their own experience, they would not react so vehemently to preserve their conceptions against philosophical suggestions to the contrary. Like everyone else, I feel the real emotions of joy and sadness. When I sin, I feel well-earned guilt and shame. Within my experience, I make my choices and live with the consequences, both temporal and eternal.  Nothing ever feels robotic or puppeteered, which for some reason is the loudest objection against the idea that God controls all things.

However, nothing about my experience alters or conflicts with the fact of God's absolute sovereignty. And nothing about God's sovereignty conflicts with the experiences of my reality.  In fact, since both are true, and my experience is finite, I must affirm that my experience rests within God's sovereignty (or else God is not sovereign or my experience is God).  This means that my experience is only possible within the reality of God's sovereignty.  I cannot deny God's sovereignty without undermining the reality of my own experience.

The realness of my experience and the fullness of my own responsibility within my experience is only possible in a world in which God is absolutely sovereign over all things.  My full responsibility for my own sin is necessarily situated within God's full power and authority.  I cannot explain that.

I cannot explain how God in his space crosses the event horizon of my own space, even as my own space is cocooned necessarily within his. But I know that he does.  I in my finite space lack the ability to fully grasp what lies beyond my own event horizon, the line of separation between the finite and the infinite. God only gives glimpses of the infinite in his Word.  Even then, those glimpses cause our brains to bang and knock and shudder like an imbalanced clothes dryer.

But he wants us to trust him based upon those glimpses. What has he revealed that we are to trust?

God has revealed that his rights are absolute, his power is infinite, his character is good, and his ways are inscrutable.

If we can understand and believe those revelations, then our finite selves have all we need to live in the reality of our own experience without existential quandaries, fully accepting our own responsibility for our sin while accepting that God works all things according to the counsel of his will.

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