The Problem of Philosophical Consistency

The Challenges of Miniscule Sovereignty

God never allows but always is the cause  of every outcome. No human action is free. All actions (both good and bad) in the universe are ultimately the cause of God.

–          Tensions between theoretical theology and practical theology.


 –         Should what we believe affect how we live?

–          Does what we believe affect what we do?


 –          Living out our beliefs relative to Divine sovereignty and human freedom. 

–           Real life situations intrude and degenerate to emphasizing one doctrine at the exclusion of another.



   CASE 1                      NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

            Some Christians…

–          Speak out and take action against arms buildup.

–          Position

  • If we do not act quickly and decisively, a worldwide nuclear disaster is inevitable.

–          Assumptions are clear.

  • Human choice and actions make a difference.
  • People are, to some extent, responsible for the destiny of the human race.

–          Other considerations:

  • Some Christians are not convinced that working for nuclear disarmament is appropriate.
  • God is sovereign over all human affairs.

Summary Statement

 “The fate of the earth doesn’t rest on the whim or maneuvering of any man or nation, but in God’s all-powerful hands…His plan will prevail.”


  CASE 2                      MISSIONARY CANDIDATE

            Feeling the call to missionary service, two candidates experience difficulty in raising support.

Missionary Candidate 1:

–          Reasoning:  God must be closing the door.

–          If God wants them on the mission field, He will indicate that by bringing in the support.

Missionary Candidate 2:

–          This candidate concludes that he is not working hard enough at fund raising or making their need known.

  • More meetings.
  • Better presentation materials
  • Larger contact list.

–          If failure continues, they conclude that people’s decisions have thwarted God’s will.


 CASE 3                      CALVIN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE

With expansion necessary, the college launches a capital improvement campaign.  They experience difficulty in raising money.

Some administrators believe

–          If God wants a building, he will bring in the money.

–          If money does not come, then it is not God’s will.

Other administrators believe…

–          Examine human element.

–          Call in consultants in fund raising and develop strategies.

–          Replace development office personnel.



The husband carries a genetic disorder.


– Should the couple have children?

            Some choose to have the child.

–          Reasoning:

  • The child is the direct creation of God.
  • If God determines a healthy baby, he would predetermine it.
  • If not, the couple has decided to accept the divine verdict.

Others choose not to have the child.

–          Reasoning:

  • The probability that the child will inherit the defect.
  • It is more reasonable and responsible to adopt or use singleness as a means of greater service to God.



–          Philosophical views concerning divine predestination and human free will are not easily held in clearly defined compartments.

  • A tendency to switch back and forth.
  • Hold both views at the same time.
  • Conflicting tension between…
    • Theological theory
    • Theological practice

–          In some cases, they talk and act as though God were in control.

  • Events occur because of some divine purpose

–          On other occasions, they talk and act as though there is a need for human responsibility.

–          Many of those who advocate human free will are in fact practical predestinationalists and vice versa.


–          Is it Biblical to hold the view that we have some responsibility in shaping the outcome of human destiny or divine will?

–          Is there a relationship between regeneration and moral responsibility?


–          Would a Calvinist say, “God took Uncle Bill home”?

  • And then start regular exercise program to ensure that they do not suffer the same fate as Uncle Bill.

–          Would a philosophically consistent Calvinist…

  • Accept the birth of a deformed, mentally deficient baby as a gift from God?
  • Advocate birth control under any circumstances?
  • The next time, hire professional fund-raisers?
  • Thank God for giving jobs to their sons and daughters and fight racial injustice, believing that many inter-city teens will not get an opportunity at jobs until injustices are overcome.


–          Survival of the fittest and survival of the elect.

–          Is God, a respecter of persons?

–          When America restricted immigration (the result of biological evolutionary thought and Darwinism) of those from Southern Europe, Asia and Africa, was this influenced by an act of a sovereign God?

–          Is the birth location appointed by God?

–          Did this restriction result in many not being exposed to the Gospel and thus being saved?

Some believe that death is appointed by God.

–          Would these individuals have reservations about parents who fail to seek medical help for their children because of their conviction that God is in control of life and death?

The example of car travel…

–          Pray for assurance that safety is in God’s hands.

–          Make sure the tires are in good shape.

–          Make certain that all of the safety belts are on.


–          Is God really sovereign, if man is genuinely free?

–          God is not all-powerful if man is able to make bonefide choices.


–          In the area of human suffering and the existence of evil, two possibilities exist with respect to God.

  • Either God is not all-powerful, or God is not loving.      



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