I hate choosing sides in arguments. Especially when I so want to be wrong about the side I am on. It is one of those things my professors used to like to do – make us take sides and defend it, whatever our personal views were.
I have never considered myself a Calvinist. I have pretty much shunned the term since I first learned the TULIP acronym. But, like a number of good Baptists, I like to take my pick between the Calvin and Arminius debate, taking the portions of each that I like and creating my own “2.5 point” Calvinism (or however many points – as Jon hinted on in the previous post, it varies through time).
But I guess the bedrock of my faith, like that of Calvin and his “-ists” is God’s sovereignty. I cannot get past it. I do not want to. I am not sure where my faith would stand – or if it would – if I started giving ground on that front.
It is scary when you come face to face with the one little wooden peg that your whole existence and thinking is grounded upon and you wish somebody would push it aside, because you don’t like the top shelf. Because as any serious student of God’s sovereignty knows, if God is really sovereign – really, completely sovereign – then God is behind 9/11 and the Holocaust in exactly the way that Jon pointed out.
But I have to disagree with Jon that any of those lives lost were meaningless. Not one of the people we know about. And not one of the people we will never hear about. Not a sparrow has fallen without God knowing it. Not a hair has grown (or fallen out) without God counting it (or subtracting it, as the case may be). How much more any and every individual – whatever anyone else may or may not know of them? How many lives did the Roman emperors extinguish for Christian faith? How many are in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs? And what of the rest? Were their lives meaningless? Or is our faith today what it is today precisely because of them – all of the ones we don’t know and the witness that they were before the end came for them?
I believe that God is loving, perfect, and sovereign. My theology stands on those principles. And, yes, I believe that the sovereign God did indeed grant free will, and there are no strings attached to that gift. We are not puppets or robots. We act completely of our own agency. The God we know of through orthodox reflections of two thousand years – the omniscient, omnipotent God knew exactly where free will would take the world he had created.
I guess I just think it diminishes God a little bit to think and act like we have to protect him from evil. Like it is our job to guard his character somehow. And I just think that we are too finite to be able to do that. And I think that God is big enough and omniscient enough and loving enough to even use evil in a perfect, loving way. Even if we don’t understand it or like it.