Can Believers Overemphasize God's Sovereignty?
(Photo by Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash)
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
1 Chronicles 29:11
I was reading about two different views of God's sovereignty. The book said that one view over-emphasized the sovereignty of God. I will present the two views covered: the Blueprint Worldview and the Warfare Worldview.
THE BLUEPRINT WORLDVIEW
The blueprint worldview says God is sovereign and is in control of everything. Nothing happens that He has not either caused or allowed. Even when God "changes His mind," He planned to do so from eternity. Nothing surprises Him. For example, when Jesus was crucified, it was at the hands of men, but everything these men did was predetermined by God, and according to His will (Acts 4:27-28). Many verses support this worldview:
Isaiah 46:9-10 ...I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
2 Kings 19:25 Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old, I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.
Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
THE WARFARE WORLDVIEW
The warfare worldview also says God is in control, but He has chosen to limit Himself. In this worldview, one expects bad things to happen because we are in a war against the devil and his demonic forces. Satan is the god of this world, and God is not in control of what Satan does or doesn't do. I'm not sure how this view explains why Satan had to get God's permission to go after Job. Christians are to wage war against the enemy. We are to resist the devil and draw upon God's strength to help us. But no one can blame God for the evil that exists. And God does not intervene apart from His people praying and exercising faith. Verses that support this view are:
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
2 Corinthians 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers...
WHICH VIEW IS RIGHT?
I was taught the blueprint worldview growing up, but it wasn't called that. I simply was taught that God is sovereign and can do anything He pleases. As an adult, and going to another church, I was introduced to the warfare worldview. I learned the power of praying and confronting the enemy with truth. I didn't understand it to be saying that God had limited His control, and I spent years trying to believe both. But I always got hung up on trying to understand how God could be in absolute control and yet need and wait for our prayers before He would act. I was taught it was how God partnered with us. It wasn't until recently I read a definition of the warfare worldview that said that God had limited His control and was not responsible for evil whereas the blueprint worldview says that God allows evil for His purposes but is still in control.
There are things about each worldview that are true and things that are difficult. The blueprint worldview doesn't adequately answer the question about why God allows evil, or what part our faith plays in what God does or doesn't do in our lives. It's hard for our minds to truly grasp a loving God who is in control of this world when we look around and see all the pain and suffering and chaos. The warfare worldview lets God off the hook. We expect bad things to happen because we are in a war with the devil. He wants to take us out. We don't blame God because He can't stop it, but He will help us to be victorious when we pray and exercise faith. But the warfare worldview doesn't address sin. It blames all evil on the devil, and the warfare worldview makes God less than what Scripture teaches about Him. The Bible tells us that God is sovereign and in complete control over everything, including what happens in this world.
We are in a war. That is true. Scripture does teach us to put on the armor of God and take our stand against the enemy. God does tell us to resist the devil. The Bible does say that Satan is the god of this world. But nowhere does Scripture teach that God isn't in control or that He has limited His sovereignty. In fact, it says quite the opposite. Isn't it possible that God chooses to use our prayers and faith because He wants to, and not because He can't (or won't) do anything unless we pray and exercise faith?
I can see some truth in the warfare worldview, but I can't agree with its premise. For me, believing in the absolute sovereignty of God is non-negotiable.
Randy Clark: The Healing Breakthrough, Chapter 2: An Overemphasis on Sovereignty
Kenneth Boa (Bible.org): Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Responsibility
Got Questions: What Does It Mean That God is Sovereign?