Thursday, 19 May 2011

Biblical perspectives in tension

The relationship between God's sovereignty and human responsibility is one that I have struggled to get my head around.  I imagine it is a theological tension that I will simply have to live with.  I have read some of Don Carson's Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: biblical perspectives in tension.  Here are a few snippets.

'Perhaps no area of doctrine has been more consistently debated throughout the twenty centuries of Christianity's life than that of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.'

'The pre-exilic prophets unite in presenting Yahweh as the one who finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked, who pleads with men to return to him and avoid the otherwise inevitable and horrible consequences of their own rebellion ... Even when all due allowance is made for anthropomorphisms, the necessary conclusion is that men are viewed as responsible creatures whose rebellion Yahweh is enduring with merciful forbearance, and punishing with reluctant wrath.'

'It is clear in both Mark and John that those condemned are in any case condemned justly condemned, i.e. they are rightly accountable for their unbelief ... they are not forced into an unbelief they do not themselves want.'

'Both in the Old Testament and in the forth Gospel, not to say elsewhere, God is sometimes presented as the one who seeks lost men out, loves a lost world, declares his yearning for their repentance, and the like.  This "will" of God is his disposition; it is not necessarily his decree.  But precisely how both operate in one sovereign God is extremely difficult to understand.'

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