If God Is Not Sovereign…

"Our faith is rightly fixed in the God who... 'upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.'" - Challies

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David R. Brumbelow's picture

But the Calvinist version is not the only view of the Sovereignty of God. 

I’ve seen some accuse someone of not believing in the Sovereignty of God, when they actually just did not believe in a particular version of the Sovereignty of God. 

David R. Brumbelow

Aaron Blumer's picture


How does the 'Calvinist version' differ from your own view ... or others?

This is from Westminster Confession, which most would consider 'Calvinist.'  I added bold to part of it, since this is often one of the first points where non-Calvinists believe their view to be different...


I. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass, (Eph 1:11; Rom 11:33; Hbr 6:17; Rom 9:15; Rom 9:18): yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (Jam 1:13; Jam 1:17; 1Jo 1:5); nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established, (Act 2:23; Mat 17:12; Act 4:27-28; Jhn 19:11; Pro 16:33).

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, (Act 15:18; 1Sa 23:11-12; Mat 11:21; Mat 11:23); yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions, (Rom 9:11; Rom 9:13; Rom 9:16; Rom 9:18).   (Blueletter Bible)

But the alternative here would be that God just looks ahead at what's going to happen without Him and says "Yep. That." In what way is this sovereignty at all?

I think probably everyone who believes in sovereignty at all believes God is not merely a witness of events with the addition of seeing the future. We affirm that He is in control. And if we're going to say He's in control, we're going to have attach some meaning to the phrase. What does that mean?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

I had no individual or confession in mind.  Just things I’ve heard and read through the years.  But partially from the post referred to above. 

I take issue with things like,

If a person can lose their salvation God is not sovereign (But yes, I believe in Eternal Security). 

If Limited Atonement is not true, God is not sovereign.  Or, God has failed. 

If a man can actually have a free will, then God is not sovereign. 

If a person has anything to do with salvation, like the ability to say yes to the Holy Spirit, or express faith, then God is not sovereign. 

Some come perilously close to making God the author of sin. 

Or even, if you’re not a Calvinist, you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God. 

No, they believe in the sovereignty of God.  Just not in a particular version of the sovereignty of God. 

I’ve always liked the following quote,

“I just happen to believe that God is sovereign enough that He can make a man totally free if He wishes to do so.”  -Paige Patterson


David R. Brumbelow

Mark_Smith's picture

Can you explain your view of the sovereignty of God, since you bring it up. By the way, I don't follow clicks. Summarize here in a few sentences.

That quote from Paige Patterson makes no sense. Man is not "totally free". He is fallen. He is dead in sin. He cannot come to God unless God reaches down and pulls him up. Saying it the way Luther called it, we have "free will" but it is totally corrupted and will always choose to reject God.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Sovereignty of Gid – God is all powerful and is in ultimate control.  But God allows things to happen that are contrary to His will. 

God is in control. 

“God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.”  

“God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise.”

“Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.”  -Baptist Faith & Message, 2000 (Doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention) 


The Baptist Faith & Message does not go into great detail about the Sovereignty of God.  Why?  Because they do not want to endorse only one of many views on this subject.  Yet it does go into enough detail to clearly state our belief in God’s attributes and sovereignty.  It is broad enough to include Calvinists, Moderate Calvinists, Non-Calvinists, etc.  By the way, there are more views than just Calvinist and Arminian. 

David R. Brumbelow

Mark_Smith's picture

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

Sovereignty of Gid – God is all powerful and is in ultimate control.  But God allows things to happen that are contrary to His will. 

God is in control. 


So what you are saying is a person can do things completely contrary to God's will, and yet still be "in God's will," I agree by the way. I just want to double check.

Aaron Blumer's picture


I appreciate the Baptist Faith and Message. One of the goals is, as David (DRB) has noted, to establish a sufficiently large tent for ranges of belief... without being too large.

What it doesn't do is test its assertions for logical consistency--and this is where we get into trouble with God's sovereignty as it relates to human choices.

If we believe all genuine truth is in agreement with all other genuine truth (a Christian worldview basic, because truth is rooted in the nature of our Creator) , we have to accept that logic is important. Logic begins with the observation that "a" and "not a" cannot both true at the same time in the same sense.

Francis Schaeffer explains really well why rejecting this first law of inference results in not believing there is such a thing as truth at all.  [Edit: or I might be thinking more of CS Lewis. But I believe they both make the point in various ways]

So we can't affirm that God is in control and then also affirm opposite claims and say they're both true.

Well, we can, but it's not a Christian way to think.

I do believe, though, that we can become arrogant about our ability to do logic, and in cases where the reasoning is complex and the evidence is complex, we can be overconfident that we've figured things out. This is not unusual in Calvinism.

I say this as a person most people would call a Calvinist.

These are two different things:

  • Saying it's perfectly OK to claim the sovereignty of God, claim other things that deny it, then shrug and say it's fine.
  • Saying the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's ability too choose is, in some ways, difficult and aspects of it have proved to be stubbornly mysterious. 

I'm OK with mystery. Not OK with theological laziness. The difference between the two is not always clear, though.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

David R. Brumbelow's picture


I would not word it exactly like that.  But it is true that God can strike a mighty blow with a crooked stick.  God can take an evil or tragic situation, and make something good of it.  God can use an evil man for His purpose. 

People speak of God’s Perfect Will, and God’s Permissive Will. 

I certainly don’t understand all about the majesty, wisdom, sovereignty of Almighty God.

Regardless, ultimately, God is in control. 

Everyone vote today.  We have on our church sign:




I voted a couple weeks ago in early voting. 

Pray much for America. 

David R. Brumbelow