Living Joyfully with Antinomies

From J. I. Packer’s “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God,” p. 16-17.

There is a long-standing controversy in the church as to whether God is really Lord in relation to human conduct and saving faith or not.  What has been said shows us how we should regard this controversy.  The situation is not what it seems to be.  For it is not true that some Christians believe in divine sovereignty while others (do).  What is true is that all Christians believe in divine sovereignty, but some are not aware that they do, and mistakenly imagine and insist that they reject it.  

What causes this odd state of affairs?  The root cause is the same as in most cases of error in the church – the intruding of rationalistic speculations, the passion for systematic consistency, a reluctance to recognize the existence of mystery and to let God be wiser than men, and a consequent subjecting to Scripture to the supposed demands of human logic.  People see that the Bible teaches man’s responsibility for his actions; they do not see (man, indeed, cannot see) how this is consistent with the sovereign Lordship of God over those actions.  They are not content to let the two truths live side by side, as they do in the Scriptures, but jump to the conclusion that, in order to uphold the biblical truth of human responsibility, they are bound to reject the equally biblical and equally true doctrine of divine sovereignty, and to explain away the great number of texts that teach it.  The desire to over-simply the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising that even good men should fall victim to it.  Hence the persistent and troublesome dispute (between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility).  

The irony of the situation, however, is that when we ask how the two sides pray, it becomes apparent that those who profess to deny God’s sovereignty really believe in it just as strongly as those who affirm it.

One thought on “Living Joyfully with Antinomies

  1. Seen this over and over: “The irony of the situation, however, is that when we ask how the two sides pray, it becomes apparent that those who profess to deny God’s sovereignty really believe in it just as strongly as those who affirm it.”

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