Calvinists often focus attention on God’s “Irresistible grace,” which effectually or irresistibly draws all the elect to follow Christ, but is God’s grace in salvation all that is “irresistible” on the Calvinistic worldview?
Is any choice ever made by any creature that is “less controlled” under God’s “meticulous sovereign will” than that of the elect coming to faith?
- If so, what is the choice that is “less controlled” by God and why wouldn’t God be deemed “less sovereign” given that He is less controlling in those instances?
- If not, then why focus attention only upon God’s work to effectually bring about the choice to follow Christ when in reality He is working to effectually bring about every choice — including the choice to reject Christ and do moral evil? <<< (this is called “equal ultimacy” and is denounced as heretical by most Calvinistic scholars)
The point of this question is to reveal that God doesn’t become “less sovereign” simply because He is “less controlling” of a creature’s choice in any given situation. This fact is as true in our worldview as it is in any Calvinistic worldview that denies equal ultimacy.
If a Calvinist admits Jeffery Dahmer’s choice to torture a child was in any manner less controlled by God than the choice of an elect individual to follow Christ then he has conceded that “sovereignty” is not merely about “control.” Why? Because God can’t be “less sovereign” in some instances than He is in others.
This reveals the fallacy of attempting to define Sovereignty as “control.” Traditionalists believe sovereignty is better understood as “providence” – the freedom of God to do as He wills.
He is free to move a man’s will (like Jonah) when it serves His redemptive good, and He is free to permit free creatures to act freely and suffer the full weight of their actions (like the Fall & all moral evil). In short, God is free to control or refrain from controlling as it suits His good purpose, therefore the point of contention should be over what things has God chosen to control. God is not “less sovereign” when He is in less control over His creatures choices. Why? Because it’s His choice to not control moral choices. He is free to do that.
Calvinist’s misinterpretation of what it means to be “sovereign” has lead them to believe that Traditionalists would not affirm God’s sovereignty over human will. Calvinists are fallaciously presuming that it was not God’s sovereign will to grant mankind this freedom in the first place. We can affirm that “God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him,” (Ps. 115:3) while still holding on to the equally valid truth that, “the highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16). This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.” This is a biblical view of divine sovereignty and human freedom. As A.W. Tozer so aptly expressed,
“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God