Chosen by God (by R.C. Sproul; Chapter 2)

In his second chapter on “Predestination and the Sovereignty of God,” Sproul writes:

“In most discussions about predestination, there is a great concern about protecting the dignity and freedom of man. But we must also observe the crucial importance of the sovereignty of God. Though God is not a creature, he is personal, with supreme dignity and supreme freedom. We are aware of the ticklish problems surrounding the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human freedom” (pp. 23-24).

The reason there is a great concern about protecting man’s “dignity and freedom” is because rebel man does not like being a creature — for he would impose his own autonomous standard upon the Almighty that tells God that he has certain inalienable rights that He must respect. Now, depending on how one defines “freedom,” man has a certain kind of creaturely freedom relative to things that are not God. But there are absolutely no “ticklish problems” surrounding the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human freedom since man has no freedom whatsoever relative to God.

More from R.C.:

“All power in this universe is subordinate to him. Even Satan is powerless without God’s sovereign permission to act. Christianity is not dualism” (p. 24)

Christianity is certainly not dualism, but Sproul’s Calvinism is in fact a kind of semi-dualism. For God to give Satan “sovereign permission” to act is the same as saying that God sovereignly decides to give up some of His sovereignty to the Devil. Calvinism is not Christianity. For in Christianity there is no creature that is free from God’s efficient and active control.

One of Sproul’s duties as a seminary professor is to teach the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). He mentions an evening class filled with students and guests that was open to the public. In this class Sproul read from the opening lines of chapter 3 of the WCF which states that God according to His own will, ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Sproul asked who disagreed with what he just read. A multitude of hands were raised. His follow up question was “Are there any convinced atheists in the room?” Not a hand went up. Sproul then said:

“Everyone who raised his hand to the first question should also have raised his hand to the second question” (p. 25).

Those who raised their hands were of course not advocates of “atheism proper,” but Psalm 14:1 certainly fits these rebel pots like a form-fitted glove.

Sproul’s lesson to his students was that

“[w]e must hold tightly to God’s sovereignty. Yet we must do it in such a way so as not to violate human freedom” (p. 27).

Sorry, Sproul. It’s too late. God already “holds tightly” to His sovereignty in such a way so as to “violate [the] human freedom” of Sihon, the Hivites, Absalom, Pul, Tilgath-pilneser, and Cyrus — to name just a few (Deuteronomy 2:30; Joshua 11:19-20; 2 Samuel 12:11-12, 16:22; 1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23).

Next is Sproul’s discussion of “God’s sovereignty and the problem of evil”:

“Surely the most difficult question of all is how evil can coexist with a God who is both altogether holy and altogether sovereign…Then, as now, I realized that evil was a problem for the sovereignty of God…We know that man was created with a free will and that man freely chose to sin…The mystery of sin is tied to our understanding of free will, man’s state in creation, and God’s sovereignty. The question of free will is so vital to our understanding of predestination that we will devote an entire chapter to the subject” (pp. 28-29).

The reason Sproul sees it as “the most difficult question of all” is because he thinks God’s active causation of sin would be a display of unholiness on God’s part. But the apostle Paul stuffs a contradicting sock in Sproul’s mutinous mouth by asserting that God’s active causation of evil is a holy display of His power and wrath (Romans 9:22). Evil is NOT a problem for the sovereignty of God; it is only a problem for the rebellious potsherds of the earth who fancy themselves altogether more holy than God (Isaiah 45:9).

Sproul says we KNOW man was created with a free will. Really? Who told Sproul that? Augustine? Edwards? Certainly no Prophet or Apostle in Scripture told him. Indeed man has a will that “freely chose to sin” according to his own desire. But that desire and choice is actively controlled and determined by God (Proverbs 21:1; cf. Isaiah 10:5-15).

“If it is true that in some sense God foreordains everything that comes to pass, then it follows with no doubt that God must have foreordained the entrance of sin into the world. That is not to say that God forced it to happen or that he imposed evil upon his creation” (p. 31).

What is with the strawmen words “forced” and “imposed”? What God does in exercising His sovereign right to actively ordain the entrance of sin is infinitely stronger than “forcing” and “imposing.” If God had to “force” it to happen He would not be God. God does NOT force; God actively and powerfully works out in time that which He has ordained from eternity (which includes the entrance of sin into the world through Satan and Adam).

God’s eternal decision to actively cause sin to enter the world was a good decision because God desired to glorify Himself in the salvation of a particular people and in the damnation of a pernicious people (cf. Romans 9:22-23). The fact that God CAUSES a man to sin (i.e., hardens) by a powerful and active efficiency does NOT in any way absolve that man from his responsibility for sin despite Paul’s objector’s complaints to the contrary (Romans 9:18-21).

Sproul sets forth the following querie and answer:

“Why does God only save some? If we grant that God can save men by violating their wills, why then does he not violate everybody’s will and bring them all to salvation? (I am using the word violate here not because I really think there is any wrongful violation but because the non-Calvinist insists on the term). The only answer I can give to this question is that I don’t know. I have no idea why God saves some but not all. I don’t doubt for a moment that God has the power to save all, but I know that he does not choose to save all. I don’t know why” (pp. 36-37).

Sproul does not know why because he is willfully ignorant of the Scriptural teaching laid out so clearly and lucidly in the ninth chapter of Romans. God does not save all because God desires to display wrath and power in the non-elect vessels of wrath so that the elect vessels of mercy may know the riches of His glory. A five-letter word called “grace” is what separates one from the other. And this grace is found in the cross-work (His atoning blood and imputed righteousness) of Jesus Christ alone.

Under the subheading of “God’s sovereignty and human freedom” Sproul writes:

“Every Christian gladly affirms that God is sovereign…But the bare fact of God’s sovereignty raises one more big question. How is God’s sovereignty related to human freedom? (p. 39)

Every Christian gladly affirms this, but most who call themselves Calvinist do NOT affirm this. Sproul (and those like-minded with him) definitely does NOT affirm God’s sovereignty, but robs much of it from Him.

The relation between God’s sovereignty and human freedom is similar to the relation between an axe and a woodsman, between a pot and a potter (Isaiah 10:15; Romans 9:21). Someone may ask, “Humans are more than axes and pottery, aren’t they?” Indeed they are. And God is also more than a woodsman and more than a potter. Please note that metaphors and figures of speech are much less than what they represent, not greater. Man is more than an inanimate axe and God is more than a woodsman.

The control God exercises over man is much greater than the control a woodsman has over an axe. And just as the woodsman actively swings the axe, so does God actively control the man. Sproul’s abysmal view of God’s sovereignty has the woodsman “permitting” the axe to swing all by itself — this is as ridiculous as it is blasphemous.

“If human freedom and divine sovereignty are real contradictions, then one of them, at least, has to go. If sovereignty excludes freedom and freedom excludes sovereignty, then either God is not sovereign or man is not free” (p. 41).

As we have seen thus far, R.C. Sproul and Calvinists like him stubbornly refuse to jettison the humanistic medicine that has been fed to them. They have turned up their collective noses at the Scriptural physic that would purge them of their pestilent presumption that man has a will that is free from God’s control. The Biblical teaching is that God IS sovereign and man is NOT free.

Sproul ends chapter 2 with the following:

“The big issue remains. The grand debate that stirs the cauldron of controversy centers on the question, ‘What does predestination do to our free will?’ We will examine that issue in the next chapter” (p. 48).

Well, in one sense predestination does nothing to “free will” since “free will” does not exist except as a vain and mutinous figment of Sproul’s imagination. The will of man is determined by God. Obviously, there is absolutely NO freedom there. No man is free to resist the decretive will of God to actively and efficiently harden him (Romans 9:19). Sproul will then say to me, “Why does He yet find fault?” Next Page (3)

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