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Author Topic: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?  (Read 28497 times)

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Offline spurly

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Many people in Christendom cling to either the sovereignty of God or the free will of man and they throw the other doctrine out with the trash.  Here is my question: can these two doctrines coexist in contemporary theology like they seemed to have coexisted in scripture?  Why are we so quick to throw one or the other out instead of living in the tension that these two doctrines present?
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; like one from whom men hide their face; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

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Offline Bon Voyage

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2008, 02:35:40 PM »
Many people in Christendom cling to either the sovereignty of God or the free will of man and they throw the other doctrine out with the trash.  Here is my question: can these two doctrines coexist in contemporary theology like they seemed to have coexisted in scripture?  Why are we so quick to throw one or the other out instead of living in the tension that these two doctrines present?

I believe that there are some things we cannot possibly understand because we do not have the mind of God.  It would be easier to realize we cannot understand it and affirm both doctrines.

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2008, 02:35:40 PM »

Offline Wycliffes_Shillelagh

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2008, 02:39:29 PM »
Sovereignty means that God can do whatever He wants. 
Which includes sitting back and letting things run their natural course.

Yes, I believe God very often lets us do our thing....laissez-faire.
Yes, I believe that God can and does sovereignly step in and violate our free will sometimes.

What was the conflict between the two???  I suppose some people hold free will in such a way that it is inviolable, but that just doesn't hold up, IMO.
I cannot do anything for God.  God can do anything through me.

Still waiting for God to show up?  Good news - He's already here.

Offline yogi bear

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2008, 02:44:43 PM »
Many people in Christendom cling to either the sovereignty of God or the free will of man and they throw the other doctrine out with the trash.  Here is my question: can these two doctrines coexist in contemporary theology like they seemed to have coexisted in scripture?  Why are we so quick to throw one or the other out instead of living in the tension that these two doctrines present?


To me they do but I can not explain how and haven't seen anyone else explain it one way or the other clearly without holes in their theory. I am more inclined to say as Gary we just don't know the mind of God and can not explain just how he works.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2008, 03:26:50 PM by bvaug »

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2008, 02:44:43 PM »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2008, 03:11:30 PM »
There is no conflict between the sovereignty of God and God's giving man free will.  The conflict is only in what some say that God cannot do, such as , giving man free will.

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2008, 03:11:30 PM »



Offline Gillian

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2008, 04:08:30 PM »
Many people in Christendom cling to either the sovereignty of God or the free will of man and they throw the other doctrine out with the trash.  Here is my question: can these two doctrines coexist in contemporary theology like they seemed to have coexisted in scripture?  Why are we so quick to throw one or the other out instead of living in the tension that these two doctrines present?
I believe man has free-will according to His nature. As God has a perfect will and a permissive will.

I believe someone dead in there sins cannot choose God on his own, I believe scripture supports this. I also believe a Christian can choose to sin. But God, is the only one who has absolute free will.

Can these two doctrines coexist? Absolutely, and they do. God does not have to make man stay in his sin, he does so by his own choice (free-will). For God's elect? I believe in divine providence, therefore when a man finally (genuinely) chooses Christ, it is entirely of his free will, he is not forced in any way. 

I believe scripture is pretty clear on these doctrines, if we study them without colored glasses. The reason many people "cling to either the sovereignty of God or the free will of man and they throw the other doctrine out with the trash." Is because they do not have a clear understanding of how this works, They believe if God is sovereign, then man, cannot have free will, I ask why? Or if man has free will then, how can God be sovereign? I ask, why not?  Yes God is Sovereign, and man has free will. It would be an error to throw either out into the trash. Many people are quick to throw one or the other out.
Free will is taught throughout scripture, it has not ended yet, You have a choice to either walk to the store or drive to the store, you have a choice to go to work this morning or stay home, the choices are yours, freely.
But for salvation? The scriptures teach differently. But, please, if you see teachings in scripture which shows man has free will, in his dead (fallen) state to choose Christ (all on his own) show me!?!

As of yet, all I have seen is mere words, no scripture. If free will according to salvation is in scripture, please, show me.
“Nobody ever outgrows scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years”---Charles H. Spurgeon
May our hearts be so exorcised by God's word as to give the Holy Spirit opportunity to perfect the new creation.

Offline Terrence

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2008, 05:00:50 PM »
My very simple definitions:

Freewill Before the Fall: Like Adam and Eve "before" the fall. They could choose either good or bad, but because their wills/desires were incline by a prefect nature, they chose God.

Freewill after the Fall: Man's will/desires, nature, mind, heart, etc., is wicked and enslaved to sin. All of his choices are incline to his nature. He hates light and loves darkness. He freely chooses his will over His creator. He hates God and is a rebel against God. 

For man to be saved, he must first be regenerated/born again, before he can make a freewill choice for Christ. Left to his old nature, he will not, indeed he cannot, chose to love what he hates most - namely a Holy God who demands man's obedience.




Offline Gracious

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2008, 05:19:10 PM »
"...I believe that there are some things we cannot possibly understand because we do not have the mind of God.  It would be easier to realize we cannot understand it and affirm both doctrines."

Yes &  ::amen!::Gary,

I agree.  Really liked the way you worded that! 

When it comes to the "ways" of our Deity, to understand Him "only" portionally down here, is a BLESSING!!!  Concerning our "free-will" agency ... As Christians we accept this delegation,  and we are constrained to surrender "our" will to HIM anyway.


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Offline Ek Pyros

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2008, 05:21:20 PM »
Many people in Christendom cling to either the sovereignty of God or the free will of man and they throw the other doctrine out with the trash.  Here is my question: can these two doctrines coexist in contemporary theology like they seemed to have coexisted in scripture?  Why are we so quick to throw one or the other out instead of living in the tension that these two doctrines present?


To me they do but I can not explain how and haven't seen anyone else explain it one way or the other clearly without holes in their theory. I am more inclined to say as Gary we just don't know the mind of God and can not explain just how he works.
Check out R.C. Sproul's Chosen By God.  It's a great work on just that subject.
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Offline Alistair

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2008, 10:37:40 AM »
Its interesting how the phrase "free will" becomes so emotive in a debate like this one.  I think it goes back to the fall, we want to be free from God; that is what we inherited from Adam.  That's why we like to believe in evolution and free will.  But true worship of God is to acknowledge that He is God and He does as He wills and no man can stay His hand or say to Him, "What have you done?"

I think the fall had a huge impact on man's will, binding it in effect so that he cannot make a clear choice free from all interferences, that is beyond man now.

Offline JERRY C

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2008, 11:06:45 AM »
lunchtime at the mill.
time to check in at GCF.

I had a theology professor once, Arminian, Lockian, Aristotelian, tell us that definitions of terms is fundamental.
These two ideas come loaded with centuries of baggage.
We inherit this baggage, whether we recognize or acknowledge it.

examine the last quote --

I think the fall had a huge impact on man's will, binding it in effect so that he cannot make a clear choice free from all interferences, that is beyond man now.

so, in effect, anybody who differs with the "accepted" position is fallen, bound, impotent, ...   Come on now!  That is just too easy.  I think what I think because I am warped?!

God IS sovereign.  Man IS expected to choose (therefore, can he do this?)
so, I will vote "both".

Now, what do the terms mean?
Is "sovereignty" even the primary characterstic of God?!

Jesus made it all.

Jesus said, "...come unto me, ALL ye who ..."

(of course, that means all you, elect who have been regenerated by the Spirit..."?!?)

to agree with some previous comments, yeah, Jesus is God, and I am not.
His ways are above my ways, as the heavens above the earth.


ο θεος ιλασθητι μοι τω αμαρτωλω

Humility and honesty
Hungry and homesick

Holiness and honor

jdc

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Offline Mauviene

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2008, 10:39:57 PM »
God can only give man free will as long as man gives god sovereignty.
Then idle Time ran gadding by and left me with Eternity alone; I hear beyond the range of sound, I see beyond the verge of sight,-- I see, smell, taste, hear, feel, that everlasting something to which we are all allied, at once our maker, our abode, our destiny, our very selves; the one historic truth, the most remarkable fact which can become the distinct and ininvited subject of our thought, the actual glory of the universe; the only fact which a human being cannot avoid recognizing

Offline Gracious

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2008, 10:54:01 PM »
God can only give man free will as long as man gives god sovereignty.

Hello Mauviene & WELCOME!!! ::smile::

Why do you feel this way?

Offline Mauviene

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2008, 11:27:07 PM »
God can only give man free will as long as man gives god sovereignty.

Hello Mauviene & WELCOME!!! ::smile::

Why do you feel this way?

Thank you for the warm welcoming..

I wrote the preceding statement in the form of a proverb for reasons I see fit. I leave you the honor in deciphering it as you please, but to give you a hint; what happens when a king realizes his people do not honor his sovereignty?
Then idle Time ran gadding by and left me with Eternity alone; I hear beyond the range of sound, I see beyond the verge of sight,-- I see, smell, taste, hear, feel, that everlasting something to which we are all allied, at once our maker, our abode, our destiny, our very selves; the one historic truth, the most remarkable fact which can become the distinct and ininvited subject of our thought, the actual glory of the universe; the only fact which a human being cannot avoid recognizing

Offline Gracious

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Re: The Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man - Can they coexist?
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2008, 12:35:26 AM »
Well,

I asked, because I wasn't aware that GOD granted us "free-will" on a contingency.  It appears to be quite the opposite. If it wasn't ... wouldn't we "still" be in Eden?  Or was that your point? ::blushing::

To answer your question ... He chastizes - calls them to HIS judgement. 

But afterwards (after we sin, & get spanked down here) that still will not gaurantee obedience ... just as the knowledge of an eternal  "lake of fire" does not gaurantee "Christ-like" obedience (in this life) ... even to HIS earthen followers.