God’s Sovereignty and Christian Deism

God’s sovereignty may be one of the touchiest topics in Christianity. It may not hold the mainstream attention like gay rights or abortion, but church history demonstrates this doctrine creates tension within the church. Full disclosure: I’m a Guinness stout enjoyer of reformed theology. I love John Calvin, the Westminster Confession, and Presbyterian liturgy. But you don’t have to be Presbyterian to love God’s sovereignty.

Some wield God’s sovereignty like it’s the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). For some reformed theology conjures images of stodgy theologians and dusty orthodoxy. Some are stodgy, which is where the caricature comes from.

We, reformed folk, can be quick to speak to the truth of God’s sovereignty without considering the situation, timing, or practical implications of our words. God’s sovereignty isn’t a sword but rather a pillow to rest your head on, some one once said. Fellow reformed folk keep that in mind.

On the flip side, I see a growing trend within Christianity. Many see God’s sovereignty like a clock. God winds up his sovereign will and it keeps going until the end. Yes, He’s sovereign but it has very limited import for our daily life, and we dare not speak of God’s sovereignty over evil and the like.

That’s God’s sovereignty Bud Light edition. Kind of misses the point. If God is sovereign, it must have real consequences for our daily life and especially for our suffering. It’s not enough to pat some one on the head and say, “Well, God didn't mean for that to happen. That’s surely not part of His plan.”

That doesn’t do justice to the suffering Jesus experiences while on earth and our union and communion with him. I could write a book on all the admonitions in Scripture for us to prepare to suffer with Jesus. It also only moves the “problem” back one level. Instead of God actively working for good. He’s now on His heels because of the evil in the world, but, even in that scheme, He must allow it in the world. He very well could have not allowed it.

I would encourage you: Don’t reject God’s sovereignty in its most robust form because some wield it wildly. Lean hard on it and see if it won’t hold the weight of your suffering. See if the stick breaks and pierces your hand.

In some mysterious way, God reminds us when we see Jesus our affliction now will feel “light [and] momentary” compared to “eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).