A Call for Clarity when Talking About God: Sovereignty-Omnipotence-Providence

October 22, 2008 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

As Christian’s we affirm that God is sovereign. “Divine sovereignty can be defined as God’s power of absolute self determination” , which means that God makes His own deliberate choices in accord with His will , and is not subject to the dictates of others. God’s sovereignty is specifically referent to His exercise of power over creation. Often times, it is important to clarify this when speaking of God being ‘sovereign over creation’; some make no distinction when referencing God’s sovereignty and omnipotence. Though God is not divided, it is impossible for man to grasp the complex unity of God’s being; therefore it is sometimes helpful to clarify when “different attributes of God are emphasized at different times”.

We also affirm that God is omnipotent. For further clarification; it is logical to affirm that all things consistent with his perfections are possible with God, but God’s omnipotence does not logically bind him to do all that is possible in each and every situation. This is evident in times when God seems to be silent, and does not act to stop or defer instances of evil and suffering. Therefore, when speaking of God’s omnipotence, it is in reference to the “extent and kind of God’s power” . In other words, “he will not do everything whatsoever, nor is he required to do everything he can do.”

We also affirm that God acts within this world, we call this providence. Closely related to God’s sovereignty, is how His specific attributes inform His providential acts within the created order. God’s providence has, according to Berkoff, “come to signify the provision which God makes for the ends of his” governance, “and the preservation and government of all His creatures”.  God’s providence mediates his will within created order through his power, through the actions and prayers of his creatures, and through the circumstances of this world. When considering created order it is obvious that “God creates none of us in isolation from our environment and from other people” . There are many factors to be considered in exactly ‘how’ God providentially governs creation and the events that happen within the created order.

Sources Quoted
John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001)
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000)
Lewis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1968)
Bruce A. Little, A Creation Order Theodicy, (Lanham: University Press of America, 2005)

Entry filed under: Christianity, Philosophy, Religion, Thoughts.

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