Sovereignty – The Beginner’s Theological Vocabularium

Sovereignty

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”—Colossians 1:16,17

Or more accurately, The Sovereignty of God.

Initially, we would acknowledge that God is Omnipotent (all powerful) and Omniscient (All knowing), but to what extent do we apply these attributes to our lives, our circumstances, our society, the human race or the universe as a whole?

The very first thing we should note in our own perception of God’s Sovereignty is whether we use the word “can’t” (or cannot) in relation to God. The word “can’t” can actually mean two different things. In one sense, it can mean, “it won’t happen”, and the other sense it would mean, “it won’t be allowed”. So take Titus 1:2 which says…

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

The phrase “cannot lie” in Greek is ἀψευδής (apseudes).It is a combination of the prefix a, which turns the word into a negative (We see this in English with words like atonal, asexual or amoral) and the word, ψεῦδος (pseudos) which Strong’s Concordance defines as, “a falsehood:–lie, lying”. So we can see that rather than the verse claiming God is not allowed to lie, it actually means God will not lie.

There is no other verse in the Bible that would imply that God “can’t” do something, because there is no force more powerful than He.

The next problem presented with the Sovereignty of God is how our free-will fits within a universe ruled by a Sovereign God.

Some explain this by claiming that God has “carved out” an area (so to speak) where His Sovereignty is held back so that man can have free will. But does this work? Does it make sense? Would it be like leaving one rotten apple in the bushel, and expecting the entire bushel to not go bad? Even if we assume, since God is outside of time, that He can know our choices and plan around them, that still leaves our choices as an expected part of His plan, and begs the question, Is it still free will when God already knows the decisions we will make?

Ultimately this debate becomes part of an even larger debate typically referred to as Calvinism vs Armenianism, which we’ll leave for another entry.