Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Word or Two to Consider

Ge 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

What is in a word? Many things are implicit in a word, some things are explicitly stated and other thoughts are, of course, excluded. God is sovereign. That word, sovereign, packs a lot of meaning into nine characters. It explicitly states God is in charge and is supreme. It implicitly states He is the ultimate authority over all things. What does it exclude? God said something above in that passage from Genesis. The King James translators used an English word, dominion, to express a given sovereignty. In fact, dominion and sovereignty mean very much the same thing, a supreme authority. However, from whence does man's authority over all things on this earth come and in what manner is it limited? The granted dominion man received was a provision by our sovereign LORD. In His sovereign exercise, He provided a measure of authority to man that in no way diminished His sovereignty or lessened His position as such. In other words, the granting of sovereignty, dominion, does not diminish or exclude His authority. The following offers a confirmation of this.

Job 38:33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

While the LORD delegates and provides for a sovereign autonomy, such a delegation in no way detracts from His supremacy. It is He who still sets the rules, makes the course upon which we follow and determines the extent of our limited sovereignty or dominion. There are those among the brethren, particularly our Calvinist friends, who extol such a high and rigid presentation of sovereignty that the LORD's very sovereignty itself is threatened by the dogma. It is accused by such fellows that the non-Calvinist who recognizes the moral compass instilled in God's highest creation threatens the pedestal of sovereign rights when it is rightfully understood that man, by the grace of God, willfully chooses to serve the LORD. In accepting a free gift of salvation, men are accused of heinous actions, of denigrating the authority of God. In embracing what is explicitly and implicitly stated by the terms sovereignty and dominion, the Calvinist leaves the path of proper understanding and steps into error. As the opening passage indicates, our sovereign LORD is fully within His rights and privileges to grant any right and dominion He sees fit. Having created men in His image and knowing this imbues the recognition of an autonomous creation, it is no more threatening to the LORDs sovereignty to have men willingly turn to Him as it was for the LORD to grant men sovereignty over creation in Genesis. What mistakenly challenges God's sovereignty is the dogma teaching that it is a cheapening of God's position for Him to grant men a degree of dominion, accountability and, yes, capability, to do what He has commanded us to do and to do so by the grace of God.

There is richness in what constitutes a proper understanding of sovereignty or dominion and there is a greater richness found in comprehending how the LORD has shared some of Himself in making a creation in His likeness. That richness becomes poverty quickly when the LORD's sovereign right in such sharing is challenged. There should be no hesitation in stating clearly for the benefit of souls that the LORD desires a willful love on the part of all of us rather than an orchestrated gathering of automatons whose every move is calculated. When it is stated that we cheapen His sovereignty through a proper understanding of a freed will, let us simply state we love Him willingly out of our own desires for which there is no retort.


Jc_Freak: said...

Wonderful post Trav. This would be great for the SEA site too.

Understanding the concept of Sovereignty is keying for dealing with Calvinism. The idea that God is only sovereign if He controls things in a deterministic fashion is non-nonsensical to me. God can run His creation however He wishes, and if we think that He should be doing it differently, well the foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of man.