On several occasions I’ve come into contact with some remarks by some Christians to depreciate humanity in order to uphold the sovereignty of God. And I have a good deal of trouble with them.
One is that human powers of reason are warped and therefore untrustworthy. Or, even worse, that God is somehow “above” reason or logic. I frequently encounter this as a response to a theological proposal that is based not on explicit Scriptural evidence. For example, If I say “I think this is true because I reason that …” some would respond that human reasoning is incapable of making valid conclusions about the nature of God. As if only that which is explicitly revealed about God in the Bible is all that can be known or believed about God.
This just strikes me as an attempt to defend the sovereignty of God. Which I’m sure always has a completely admirable motive behind it. BUT, there is one major problem.
And it turns out to be a self-defeating problem. Here it is: God’s sovereignty needs no defense. Why? Because it is no way challenged. It definitely isn’t by human reasoning abilities. As if the trustworthiness of human reasoning abilities in regards to the divine would thereby diminish God in some way.
Don’t get me wrong — God will never be completely understood nor will he be limited in any fashion. But there’s a difference in saying there’s a limit to the quantity of our understanding of God instead of saying there’s a limit to the quality of our understanding of God.
Besides all that, I don’t see much reason to conclude that human reasoning powers about God are warped. Sin being fully and properly accounted for, I still don’t see how our rebelliousness as sinners means that every one of our human capacities are completely and utterly inept. Paul, the author of Hebrews, etc., all felt free to reason about the nature of God. And they do it confidently.
The other way some people depreciate humanity in order to uphold God’s sovereignty has to do with the teachings of Calvinism in regards to salvation.
God must determine that certain people will come to know him because, some say, the opposite position requires free will on the part of humans. And human free will and divine free will cannot co-exist.
Now, though I don’t currently believe this is the case, God may actually determine that certain people will know him simply by his own choice. But it won’t be because he has to step in because human free will somehow challenges his sovereignty.
To clarify, when we say human free will, we should denote a derivative free will, a will that is secondary to that of God, but a will that is free nonetheless. Free will on the part of humans is one of the Bible’s biggest presuppositions. It is everywhere assumed, and so nowhere explicitly stated. I don’t think those that deny human free will have really thought their position through. If it is true, it makes for a completely unlivable and meaningless existence because all of our actions are predetermined.
In the end, both positions skewer themselves, and for this reason: in these efforts to defend the sovereignty of God, they imply that the sovereignty of God is of such lowly nature that it could be challenged at all. Some of the smartest people I know have made these arguments, but I remain baffled. I don’t see, and I don’t think I will ever see, how human reason and human free will in any way challenge the sovereignty and power of the God who brought us into being in the first place.