This post is a part of the Sovereignty of God Blog Series going on throughout the months of July and August. You can read about the series and see a schedule of the posts here. You can subscribe to all the posts here.
Today’s post is from Kyle Welstad. Kyle is the Associate Pastor at Salem First Free Methodist and is attending George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon in pursuit of his M. Div. Kyle and I both went to George Fox University for our undergrad degrees and I knew Kyle because he led worship for chapel my freshman year. We even worked together as janitors for 5 months where we’d discuss everything from sports to theology.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty.” These are the opening words of the Nicene Creed. The Bible along with ancient statements of faith inform us that belief in an “almighty” or sovereign God is an essential part of the Christian faith. But, what does it mean to say that “God is Sovereign?” The theology involved in the sovereignty of God is complex and fills volumes of books. It is therefore difficult to distill something, which can be so involved and complicated, into something which can grip people’s hearts and provide opportunity for real change in their lives. For example, recently, a member of our congregation who was a 40 year old mother of two passed away unexpectedly. The question becomes how do I explain to her two sons (one a second grader and one a fourth grader) that God is still in control and that he loves them in spite of this terrible tragedy.
For the rest of this short submission I would like to address, very generally, what I consider to be a good outlook on the sovereignty of God. (As a way of qualification keep in mind I am heavily influenced by Wesleyan Theology and will be operating with certain theological presuppositions.) I’ve come into contact with many people who struggle with the tension of a God who is good in nature and world which includes human suffering. It’s the classic problem of pain argument. Many of these people operate under what I consider to be a lower view of God’s sovereignty. In other words, the idea that for God to be God he must be in control of every detail. That is to say he is the cause of everything. Theologically speaking this term is known as, “omnicausality” (now you can sound smart in your small groups!). This understanding of how God works in the world comes with its own set of issues and questions, which I will not get into here.
Rather, I think it is better to understand that God is not the cause of everything, for God cannot be logically impossible. An example of this would be to say that God is the source of all that is good, and that God is the source of all that is evil. This is simply not true. God’s sovereignty does not mean that he is the direct or sole cause of all that happens; rather he is Lord over all that happens. (This is what I would consider a higher view of God’s sovereignty) In other words, God is capable of dealing with all circumstances, and nothing can ultimately defeat or thwart his plan for his people. This is a simple yet profound distinction which has had significant impact in my ministry and can help even two little boys dealing with the passing of their beloved mother.