THE CALVINIST DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGNTY REFUTED BY JESSE MORRELL
“Everything happens for a reason”
This is a cliche we sometimes hear. I tell them, “That’s true, everything happens for a reason. And sometimes that reason is that you made a stupid free will choice.”
You hear in theological circles, especially from Calvinists, that “God is Sovereign.” They say this phrase so often that a person could almost think it was a scripture – it isn’t.
Is God Sovereign? Not in the Calvinist sense. In Calvinism, the idea of “Sovereignty” is that God planned, orchestrated, and causes absolutely everything that happens. That God prefers sin over holiness in every instance that it occurs, because He could have decreed sin instead of holiness but chose sin instead.
The Heresy of Martin Luther
“God… effects, and moves and impels all things in a necessary, infallible course…”
“Since, therefore, God moves and does all in all, He necessarily moves and does all in Satan and the wicked man…”
“God worketh all things in all men even wickedness in the wicked…”
~ Martin Luther
The Heresy of John Calvin
“The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should.”
“I freely acknowledge my doctrine to be this: that Adam fell, not only by the permission of God, but by His very secret council and decree…”
“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed.”
“Whatever things are done wrongly and unjustly by man, these very things are the right and just works of God.”
“God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasurearranged it,”
~ John Calvin
THE TRUE GOD OF THE BIBLE
In the Scriptures do we find God causing all events that transpire? Is God the author of sin? No, we do not find the “Sovereign God of Calvinism” in the Bible. To the contrary, many things happen that God did not will. The Bible is clear that sin did not originate in the heart and mind of God.
GOD DID NOT SOVEREIGNLY DECREE THE ENTRANCE OF SIN INTO THE WORLD
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Gen 6:5-6
GOD DOES NOT SOVEREIGNLY CONTROL ALL POLITICAL ELECTIONS
“They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.” Hos 8:4
GOD DOES NOT SOVEREIGNLY CONTROL EVERYTHING RULERS DO
“It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.” 1Sa 15:11
GOD DID NOT SOVEREIGNLY WILL THE SACRIFICE OF CHILDREN
“They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind” Jer 19:5
GOD DOES NOT SOVEREIGNLY DECREE THE OUTCOME OF ALL EVENTS
“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. Unchecked Copy Box Isa 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” Isa 5:3
NOT ALL MEN DO THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD
“But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” Luk 7:30
SOME EVENTS HAPPEN BY TIME AND CHANCE
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Ecc 9:11
“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” Luk 10:31
GOD DOES NOT ALWAYS GET WHAT HE WANTS BECAUSE OF MAN’S FREE WILL
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matt. 23:37
GOD IS NOT THE SOVEREIGN CAUSE OF ALL THINGS
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1Co 14:33
GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF SIN
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” Jas 1:13
GOD SPEAKS OF THE FUTURE WITH UNCERTAINTY
“It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” Jer 36:3
THE ACTIONS OF MEN HAVE CHANGED THE PLANS OF GOD
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” Jon 3:10
GOD TRIES TO GIVE REPENTANCE TO PEOPLE WHO REFUSE IT
“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” Rev 2:21
The list of Scriptures can go on and on but these were the ones that were immediately on the top of my head. The Bible is clear that God is NOT Sovereign in the Calvinistic sense. He does not plan or cause everything that happens. He does not get everything that He wants. His will is not always done.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY & MAN’S FREE WILL
Given all of this, is there any sense in which God is Sovereign? Yes. The Sovereignty of God and the free will of man are perfectly compatible and true, when properly understood.
The Sovereign God of the Universe Sovereignly decided to Sovereignly grant to mankind a free will. And the Sovereign God of the Universe will Sovereignly hold man accountable for how he uses it.
We see both the Sovereignty of God and the freedom of man’s will in this verse:
“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Luk 19:27
Notice it says “would not.” That’s man’s free will. Then it says “reign,” referring to God’s Sovereignty. God is a Sovereign God, reigning over the universe, but many free moral agents choose to rebel against His reign. Man is a rebel against the Sovereignty of God. But in the end, God will hold each moral agent accountable for their free moral choices. It says, “bring hither, and slay them before me.” That’s the Sovereign God holding free moral agents accountable for how they used their free will.
Man was created in the image of God. That means that we are little sovereigns in this world, with dominion to rule over it. God is King of kings, Lord of lords, and Sovereign of sovereigns. Sovereignty does not mean that God causes everything, as a king is sovereign over his kingdom but doesn’t cause everything that happens. A sovereign king over his kingdom still has to deal with rebels against his reign.
A biblical understanding of the Sovereignty of God is not that God is the ultimate cause of everything, but that He is the ultimate authority over everything.
Overall, I think that Calvinists and Theologians make too much of an emphasis on “the Sovereignty of God,” when the word “Sovereignty” isn’t even in the Bible once, and yet they utterly reject the idea of man’s “freewill,” when that word is found in the Bible some seventeen times. Since the Bible does not talk about the “Sovereignty of God” but often talks about the “freewill” of man, I think that preachers of the Bible should do the same.
The Natural Ability of Man: A Study On Free Will & Human Nature by Jesse Morrell is an exhaustive theological volume that defends the Christian doctrine of man’s free will against the false Gnostic/Calvinist doctrine of man’s natural inability.
This volume explains the truth of man’s freedom of choice in light of Church history and other doctrines like total depravity, regeneration, atonement, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, predestination, repentance, faith, the believers security, original sin, etc. One Bible teacher called this book “the most comprehensive exposition on man’s natural ability in print.”