There are certain phrases Christians use that reveal a belief that God is in control of our lives in their entirety. The title of this blog post is a prime example. What I’d invite readers to consider is whether it’s possible to believe that God is unfolding all the events of our lives and at the same time to believe that we are free to act independently of the will of God (that we have, as it is commonly referred to, free will).
The reason why this matter is of vital importance is because the very doctrines at the heart of the Christian faith (such as sin, salvation, redemption, the atonement, judgment, etc) depend on the notion that human beings have free will. We only need to be ‘saved’ if we have ‘sinned’, and the notion of sin only makes sense if we have free will. But when Christians use a phrase such as ‘God’s timing is perfect’, isn’t this an implicit recognition that we are not free at all — that God is in control?
There are many complex and convoluted ways in which Christians attempt to make sense of the predicament outlined above, and those who are interested might wish to explore ideas such as compatibilism, open theism, and Molinism, which all attempt to provide a solution. These ideas, as well as many other ideas related to the divine sovereignty versus human free will problem, are discussed in detail in my new book, entitled God’s Grand Game, which is out now.
My book is an invitation for people of all faiths (as well as atheists and agnostics) to think deeply about the free will debate, and to consider the intricacies of this subject with an open mind. The arguments that I make in the book could profoundly influence the way readers see the God/world relationship, and perhaps prompt them to see their spiritual journey in a new light.