|Posted by thethousandmarch on May 25, 2014 at 5:50 PM|
Many scientists and philosophers believe that the laws of nature preclude even the slightest amount of self-determinism. And many Christians agree; they may think that choice – as I’ve described it in my previous post – would violate the sovereignty of God. I agree with these Christians that God is Sovereign, which means he is the supreme authority and has ultimate control over all creation. However this does not mean God is incapable of creating a world in which he allows for randomness and choice. I believe God has created a system in which he enables and upholds a small, yet extremely significant, human self-determinism.
As the sovereign ruler of all things, God can choose to shape all things according to his will. And this allows for the possibility that God can create a system in which randomness and choice occur. Being the ultimate authority, and having the ability to control and determine every minute detail, does not require that God does exercise such control. If God so desires he can create a world in which sub-creation occurs – a universe in which his authority allows for and upholds the sub-creative work of others. This does not mean there are powers independent of God, but that he allows them to operate under his authority. Randomness and choice can exist only if God allows and upholds their existence in his system.
But why would God create such a system? Before I answer that question let’s consider another. Are God’s actions determined, or is God free to make choices? If we consider free will merely to be the ability to choose actions which are consistent with one’s character, then our actions are all determined by our character. If this was the extent of our freedom it would mean we are not free to determine our character. This would be fine for you if your nature is good, but unfortunate if your nature is corrupted, leading you to do things you despise, and you don’t have any ability to change yourself. Of course this also means that if you are not responsible for the goodness of your nature, then you don’t really deserve the credit for the merit of your actions. So we must wonder if God is self-determined; is he ruled by something else which determines his nature; is there a measure of goodness independent of God which he is judged by?
God created the universe to glorify himself – to demonstrate his nature. God created humans to experience his being and to relate to him, in a special way. In order to relate to humans God must take upon himself limitations, we cannot experience his infinite being; not in its infiniteness. We must experience God through our finite senses and finite mind. We see again and again in Scripture that in taking upon himself these limitations God takes upon himself human characteristics. It is not that God is simply anthropomorphized, human characteristics are not merely attributed to him; he takes them on. Ultimately God incarnates himself, becoming a human, taking upon himself all of our limitations and frailties. Is it going too far to say that God created humans so that he could become a human? Why would he do this? It appears to me that God desired to create a system in which he could experience time and space, uncertainty, temptation, choice – God wanted to be able to change his mind.
In creating the universe and taking upon himself humanness God created a system in which he is able to make choices, and is able to respond to the choices of others. God is able to demonstrate his sovereignty. God is able to determine his nature. Doing this God is able to demonstrate his goodness, showing us that he is worthy of our praise. But wait a moment, doesn’t this mean that our choices give us reason to boast, do we earn our righteousness? Certainly not. Our choice to put our faith in God, to respond positively to his love and the working of his Spirit in us, will affect our nature. But it is not our choice to do good works which then causes God to account us as righteous, which would mean we earned our righteousness.
Our positive response to his work allows his goodness to flow through us, ultimately changing our nature, which results in good works being performed by us (the fruit of the Spirit’s work in us). The work, the goodness, and therefore the credit is all Gods. Even our ability to choose faith is made possible and upheld by God. What would we have to boast about? What fool would think that acknowledging the reality that God is good and worthy of our trust and therefore we should accept his love, allow his Son to heal our relationship, and allow his Spirit to redeem our corrupted beings and save us from death, was somehow meritorious. Allowing for a self-determined choice for which we are held responsible, does not mean God is not ultimately in control, or that humans earn their salvation.
God has created a universe which reveals his being. This creation is beyond incredible. The little we have discovered through experience, and which has been revealed to us sometimes seems contradictory. Yet from what we know from experience should teach us that apparent contradictions must often be held in tension, because we know both are true in a way even if we can’t reconcile them. The operations of this universe and even more so the operations of God are beyond the understanding of our minds. So to us the operation of our universe and the work of our God are nothing short of miraculous.