Man's hand moving chess pieces

God’s Grand Game

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My belief that God is the sustainer and animator of the whole of creation is somewhat controversial among Christians and others who believe in free will. After all, if we do not have free will then ideas like sin, the fall, and judgment, don’t necessarily make sense.

However, I believe there is a certain perspective (or perhaps let’s call it a framework), in which these central Christian ideas can be understood in a different light, stemming from an understanding of God’s true nature and what that means for His relationship with human beings. In this article, I will outline this framework.

The Cosmic Animator

At the core of the framework is the idea that whatever you do is what God is doing through you. The best analogy I have found for this is that of a puppet show. In a puppet show, puppets can have distinct personalities and attributes and can be so realistic that a child who is watching the show might forget about the puppet master completely.

We are puppets in the theatre of life and God is the puppeteer, or to broaden the metaphor, I like to use the phrase ‘cosmic animator’ to describe God. He is the life force that sustains and animates all activity in the microcosm (on a small scale, such as the working of atoms) and the macrocosm (on a large scale, such as the movement of planets) and everything inbetween.

God’s Omnipresence

In order for you to accept what I am saying about the way God is involved in creation, I ask you to consider His attribute of omnipresence. If God is omnipresent, there is no particle anywhere in creation which is not a part of Him. And it follows logically that everything that is a part of God must be under God’s control. So if God is truly omnipresent, He is also in control of everything in existence.

Now although much of the time I am aware of God as I go about my daily life, because He speaks to me or because I feel His presence, at other times I’m not directly aware of God, and it is during those times that I feel as though I am a free agent. As a person to whom God has revealed Himself, there are dimensions of my life in which I experience Him that can be particularly vivid; in prayer, or during a praise and worship session, for instance. At other times, while doing some chores around the house, working a job, or having a meal with friends, it’s possible for me to forget about God and lose that awareness.

But just because in some situations I lose my awareness of God, that doesn’t mean He goes away. He is still omnipresent and in control of every aspect of my life, from my thoughts and words, to the functioning of my body, to my every action. It simply means that there is a mode of mind that we experience as part of God’s activity in our lives, where He makes us forget about Him. This is obviously an acute reality in the case of life-long atheists, who may never have an awareness of God, as He has totally veiled His existence in their minds and lives. It seems that God does not reveal Himself to everyone all of the time, and this is a central element of the game of human life that God is unfolding.

God’s Control and the Christian Worldview

When we read the wonderful Biblical narratives depicting the interplay between God and His human creatures, we see that these stories reveal such interactions as command and obedience, action and judgment, prayer and response. In a world where God is omnipresent, this is peculiar, as in reality God is in control of both the command and the obedience, the action of humans and subsequent judgment, and even their prayers and His response to their prayers (imagine a puppet praying to his puppet master and you’ll understand what I mean).

But let us consider this paradox in terms of the bigger picture concerning who God is. God is the extremely powerful, uncaused, necessarily existing, eternal being, who created the entire universe, and everything in it. He has all of eternity at His disposal. What will He do with all this power and all this time? It seems logical to me that He would create a complex universe as a way of entertaining Himself as the vast aeons of eternity unfold.

What I propose is that God has created this great universe for His pleasure, and unfolding the complex story of creation is God’s pastime. In light of this, it makes sense that as part of His grand game, God would create complex and wonderful story lines, such as those that we find in the Abrahamic religions (and other religions).


Within the framework that I have outlined in this article, Christianity makes sense, though not in a mainstream or traditional way. All of life is animated by God, so all our decisions, including whether to follow Christ, whether to read the Bible, whether to visit our neighbour in hospital, whether to fast, repent, and believe – all of these Christian activities are the will of God in people’s lives and part of His grand game. The central events in the Christian story – the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection – these are also part of God’s storyline.

Believing as I do in an omnipresent God, this is the only way I can make sense of the Christian worldview. The fall is part of God’s plan, and so is redemption. Sin is part of God’s plan, and so is salvation. Atheism is part of God’s plan, and so is faith.

This is not what most Christians believe, but without this framework, Christianity makes no sense at all, for I firmly believe that the cherished Christian idea of free will is not logically compatible with the idea that God is omnipresent. If you’re going to accept the sovereignty of God over creation, you must also accept that we don’t have free will, and so a framework such as that outlined in this article becomes a necessary way of making sense of the Christian worldview.

For further elaboration on this perspective I recommend checking out my Books page.


  1. Hey Steven! Thanks for your blog. I do have a question though: my deepest struggle with the idea of God’s complete sovereignty/control over everything that comes to pass is that, assuming that we’re true, would God not also be morally responsible for the atrocities that occur every day? It seems to me that he would be. And such a God would not be worthy of worship. Was God “in control” of the rampant genocide of the 20th century?

    Feel free to email me at if you prefer. As a fellow Christian I value your efforts. God Bless my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karl!

      Many thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      I do completely understand and appreciate your concern regarding the problem of evil. I have talked about this a lot in my writing but will try to give you a brief idea of where I stand.

      I believe that although God causes suffering, He has a higher purpose through it. For instance, perhaps those who suffer most receive the greatest rewards?

      Also, I believe that suffering is always under control, and limited. Although we can at times suffer terribly, it seems to me that God always limits that suffering, either by providing healing or release, or through death.

      So I believe God always has a purpose with suffering, even though at times, to me, it seems as though there is too much suffering in the world. I have to trust that God knows what He’s doing.

      God bless you and thank you so much. Hope we can talk more in the future πŸ™‚


      1. Hi Steven, I think there are some logical inconsistencies if this were true. The book of Job or the Assyrians in the OT are great examples in where God uses Satan or the Assyrians for His purposes, yet punished them for their actions. If God is the ultimate cause of evil, then He wouldn’t be a just God because He is the one that caused it and also punishes others because of it. Instead, as I see, He uses a fallen creation and holds them to His righteous standards. He allows for their shortcomings for His ultimate good. Just because He is omnipresent, He is also a just God. I personally see a perfect will (what would happen in a perfect world) and a permissive will (what happens in reality). This is not to say He isn’t sovereign. However, I still haven’t wrapped my mind around this, but I lean towards limited-freewill (if I can say that) for the sake of human responsibility before their Creator.

        My point is, I don’t think God has to be a puppet master for Sovereignty, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience to be true. As a father, I have a lot of similarities to God in relation to my son. I can see what they are doing, get a good grasp at what they are thinking, and I am (can be anyway) in complete control over their actions. I’m not saying I’m like God, but I’m trying to give a picture. I can let my son fall because he chooses too despite my ability to control the situations, but I do that for an ultimate goal of Him learning how to glorify and worship his Creator.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello and thank you for your comment πŸ™‚

          If God is the ultimate cause of evil, then He wouldn’t be a just God because He is the one that caused it and also punishes others because of it.

          Yes, I see this as a problem with the Christian worldview.

          As a father, I have a lot of similarities to God in relation to my son.

          I would agree with your suggestion that you can’t compare human relationships to the relationship between God and human beings, because God is wholly distinct and wholly ‘other’. For instance, you as a father don’t have those qualities of omnipotence, omnipresence, etc, which God possesses.

          I don’t think God has to be a puppet master for Sovereignty, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience to be true.

          I’m not sure how you would define omnipresence, but for me it means there is nothing outside of God. If God totally permeates every cell of your body (and every part of every cell of your body), and there is nothing other than God that constitutes your body, because God is everywhere, then in what way are you free?

          Peace and blessings,



  2. Very fascinating piece. Reminds of the concept of lila (I think thats what its called, the great game of hide and seek the divine plays) in some aspects of Hindu theology

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hahaha, I need more time to digest and fully comprehend your argument before I can discuss it with you, and without making myself sound silly! πŸ˜€ but, I wanted to say – I like the phrase you used to describe God as The β€˜cosmic animator’. Earth would have been so boring had He not breathed β€œlife” into it! πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘ŒπŸ½

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Ahaha, yeah…I have to understand what I am reading before I can ask any though πŸ˜… πŸ˜‚ sometimes I think ignorance can be bliss!! πŸ˜πŸ˜… ehehe, jk! Yeah, will send questions your way for sure! πŸ‘ŒπŸ½πŸ˜Š God bless you too Steven!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Steven:

    The measure of truth is not in what makes sense to us, for there are things beyond our comprehension. The measure of truth is in what effect we have on the world around us. God has a purpose for this place, and the greater the alignment of our understanding to that purpose, the more powerfully he moves through us into the world.

    Read the Acts of the Apostles. Until others testify that the things described there happen in our presence, we have proven nothing in our minds, as our hearts testify that we have not surrendered our understanding to God.

    Greek Hellenismos teaches that we have gods because the immature mind in possession of understanding of the fundamental structure of reality uses that knowledge for self-gratification, and so incites wars. As Jesus taught, we are not puppets, we are beloved children. I place his words before and more highly than yours.

    Best of luck on your journey.


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Brian,

      I totally respect and understand your position. I only ask that you consider how difficult it is to commit to a worldview when you see logical problems and inconsistencies with it. I have tried to suppress these problems and immerse myself in the Christian life, but they keep coming to the surface. I hope you had a chance to read my essay, An Almighty Predicament, where I discuss this struggle in detail – including all the reasons why I find the Christian faith so compelling.

      I am regularly praying for God to correct anything that is wayward in my spiritual life, and to enlighten me if I have false understanding in any areas concerning truth and doctrine. Of course, I believe God is in control of my spiritual life, which as a Christian, is something you would have to deny…

      God bless you on your own journey.


      Liked by 3 people

  5. I would encourage you to immerse yourself in biblical study aside from other books and ideas. It’s the only place you will find real truth, if you are looking for truth and not just sanctioning of your own thoughts. Which according to your comments you do want truth. You will find it in Jesus Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi there!

      I do in fact read the Bible every day, although admittedly I do read other books. I do understand your desire to encourage me to focus exclusively on the Bible, though I’m not sure my problems with Christianity would dissolve if I cut out all other books/blogs/interests.

      Best wishes,


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please forgive me for the misunderstanding. I didn’t mean to imply you didn’t read the bible. I could tell from your writing that you do in fact. Also, I didn’t mean to cut out all other written communications. What I meant to encourage you in is an in depth study of the word of God, possibly even with other believers. And I will keep praying with you to find the truth you are seeking.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Thank you for your gracious response and for explaining further. I have been attending church on and off for around 10 years, and have been part of house groups and even attended a Bible College (though the sessions were very laid back and admittedly I didn’t learn much). It’s certainly something I’m considering, studying a further course in theology or Biblical theology, and I often prayerfully ask God about this and try to follow His leading. I’ll continue to do that.

          Thank you for your concern, I know that everything you say is with the best intentions for me.

          Peace and blessings,


          Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Steven,

    Just a comment on omnipresence: the word reflects the fact that God is simultaneously present with all of His creation (that is, He is as present with you in England as He is with me in California, and everywhere else in this world, galaxy, universe, etc.). Ultimately, there is no place – except hell – where God is not (and although He created hell, it was never originally designed for people).

    However, God remains separate from His creation: He made the sky and is present there, but He is not the sky; He created the ocean and is fully present there, too, but He is not the ocean, either. Theologically (and practically) speaking, we must separate God from what He has made, even though He supernaturally (in ways our minds cannot fully grasp) co-exists with it.

    For instance, let’s say that I draw a picture. The image is my creation, and my artistic vision is reflected in it. I may even be standing next to my drawing, but the image and I are not one. It may reflect aspects of my personality and character, but the drawing is not me – I remain separate from it, even if what I have made is good.

    Forgive this clumsy analogy, but I hope it makes some sense.

    Have a good day!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Hi Daily!

      Many thanks for your thoughtful reflection on the omnipresence of God.

      I certainly understand the artist/creation analogy, but my problem with that, if I’m honest, is that the relationship between God and His creation is different to that of a human and a piece of art they have created.

      I believe there are things that we can say about God, that we couldn’t say of any of His creatures – the omni’s are a great example.

      It’s interesting that you say hell was not designed for people – do you then believe God doesn’t place people into hell? Is God not sovereign over that part of His creation? Surely, God is sovereign over all existence, no?

      I would have to say that if you don’t believe God is present in hell, then that’s an argument against His omnipresence. It would mean He is limited in presence.

      You do have a traditional Christian understanding of the separation between God and His creation, which I struggle with because I don’t see how God can be both omnipresent, and separate from His creation at the same time.

      I hope that answers your comments and I hope you understand where I’m coming from, though we may well disagree, which is totally cool!

      God bless and have a super day πŸ™‚



  7. As I work on things I want to cover in the post that I write covering free will and God being alpha and omega, God has revealed to me something.
    I don’t comment much on these posts because I definitely feel we’ve covered a lot of the points both of us want to be understood. I appreciate we can do that in a neutral zone, and that we are both understood.
    As you know, I don’t believe He has to be part of anything physically to be part of everything. He created it, and then it was set down, out of His hand, but not of His view πŸ˜‰
    1 Kings 19:12, “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.”
    I appreciate you being honest and open about these thoughts, feelings, and beliefs especially when it’s easy to feel guarded, and have others potentially come against you. I think it’s very brave of you, and I pray continued insight be upon you as well as peace.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey, T.R.!

      I’m actually quite looking forward to what you choose to write about free will / omnipresence, etc. It’s great that we can debate in a thoughtful and loving way, without judgment – I think that’s the way it should be πŸ™‚

      In response to the scripture you shared from 1 Kings, all I would say is that there are other scriptures that seem to clearly support the notion of God’s omnipresence. For example:

      Psalm 139:7-10

      “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
      Or where can I flee from Your presence?
      If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
      If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
      If I take the wings of the morning,
      And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
      Even there Your hand shall lead me,
      And Your right hand shall hold me.”

      It’s interesting that you believe God’s creation is ‘out of His hand’ (those were your words) because I believe the opposite, and this passage from Psalm 139 seems to indicate the opposite too.

      It’s possible to make a strong argument against free will from the Bible – perhaps check out my video on free will where I go through some of the key scriptures? You might find this really helpful for your article πŸ™‚

      God bless you and have a wonderful day!



      1. I completely support God being omnipotent, absolutely. πŸ™‚ I’m not against that. What I believe is He is stronger to be outside of something, allowing free will. Which is why I said out of hand, physical meaning. The illustration I got when I was asking God to help have a visual of free will was that I picked up a tin of mints I had on my desk, and then I let it go. At any time, I can intervene if I want to, but I don’t have to. I see it, I am aware of it, but if there were an earthquake or someone snatched up the tin I would have a choice. And we both agree in God’s will.

        I think humans and everything else is similar to the tin. God sees all. He knows all. To be honest, I don’t know if you will believe in my perspective, I feel like you are really rooted in your stance, which is completely understandable. We both look at the same scriptures but very differently.

        The only thing I caution you with, coming from someone who has had particular views God had guided me in time, be careful with your guard. Be careful not to become stubborn with your interpretation (or with others who support it). I’m not saying you are because I am not reading that all πŸ™‚ Just be always be aware, and it seems you are.

        Admittedly, and I’m a sensitive person, so it’s probably just me, sometimes I feel like you have an answer ready before you need to answer. Like you’re ready for opposition, you have your shield up. You’ve already covered the topic, and you’re willing to share, but there just seems to be a feeling of something holding you back. I hope that’s okay to share. πŸ™‚


        1. Hey T.R.,

          Your perspective concerning free will is pretty orthodox Christian, and I accept that, while I disagree for the reasons I’ve explained. It’s okay to disagree. I hope you were able to watch the video so you understand where I’m coming from.

          As for the second part of your comment, it feels a bit like a personal attack, and I admit I found it quite upsetting. After all, I could say exactly the same thing to you, that you have a set belief / position, but I hope I wouldn’t attack you in that way, because it’s not very kind…

          I always to try listen carefully to what you and everyone else says, and a big part of my prayer life is asking God to guide me in all spiritual matters, to change anything in me that needs changing, to show me any errors in my understanding.

          Peace be with you, and sorry if this message sounds at all defensive – as I say, I was a bit hurt by your comment.




          1. No, your feelings are completely understandable, absolutely. Part of me gets conflicted because for those I care about friends, family, this community, I am a very open person about my concerns. I don’t feel like I’m being completely honest with people if I hold back certain concerns just for the sake of being polite. I’m sure you don’t want someone to be fake with you or wear a mask. However, you are completely justified in being taken aback by the comment. I try of course to speak with gentleness, but as we’ve discussed before, there is no tone in writing. You’ve openly spoken of how you pray and ask God to guide you, and I don’t want you to feel like I’m coming against that. I just wanted to be completely honest because that’s who I am, and I feel people deserve honesty, with kindness, which I tried to word the best I can. My comment definitely wasn’t meant as an attack, just a concern because there have been certain things in my own life I had particular views on when dealing with scripture, and it wasn’t till I had my guard down, that I didn’t realize was up, that God really spoke to me and helped me understand better. That’s why I shared what I did. Not to berate you just caution.

            Peace be with you as well, again, I appreciate the discussion, and that’s why I feel open to discuss everything. I hope that’s okay.


            1. Thank you for explaining where you’re coming from.

              I don’t think your comment was very kind at all. I appreciate you want to be honest, but you weren’t being honest with kindness. I’ve re-read your comment a few times and that’s the feeling I have every time. Perhaps this is me giving you a word of caution in return. If you want people to listen to you, be gentle and humble, rather than accusing, otherwise you will cause offence.

              A few times you have left comments that I’ve felt have been somewhat pushy, but I overlooked the offence giving you the benefit of the doubt. But when it keeps happening, it’s best to say something.

              Peace and blessings,


              Liked by 1 person

            2. Absolutely, and I will definitely keep that in mind. I’ve reread it too a few times, and I don’t hear the offence, but at the same time I know the tone I would speak with, and you can’t hear that. You’ve shared before there have been some really horrible comments made to you before, and I can only imagine what you experienced. I promise you what I said was not meant to be that kind of comment.

              I greatly apologize with the offence it has caused. I did not mean to sound accusing, and I apologize again for it sounding that way. I do hear your defense and your pain, and I didn’t want my comment to come off as such to hurt you, and I am very sorry they have made you upset.

              But I’m not going to continue to defend the tone I intended because that was not how you read it. Therefore my intention doesn’t matter, rather what matters, and is most important, is how you read what I wrote, and how it made you feel.

              I am sorry for that. I can always work on improving what I mean to say to become better, and I thank you for being honest enough to respond to me instead of deleting the comment or ignore. Thank you.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Thank you for your apology and for being mature about this. I know I’m not perfect and admit that it’s possible I may have reacted to your words in a way that wasn’t in line with your intentions. So I apologise too, if I have in any way been guilty of misunderstanding.

              Always good to talk things through and we’re always growing and learning!

              God bless and sorry and thank you πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

            4. Amen! I’m thankful for being able to communicate through any misunderstanding, it’s one of the best ways both of us can grow. I’m grateful for mistakes we can learn from, and thank you again for being honest. God bless you and lift you up! πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

            5. One thing I think we would both agree on is that at the end of the day life is all about God! Good to have that in common πŸ˜‰

              Thank you and God bless you too. Hope you have a really good morning/day/afternoon/evening/night (I have no idea what time it is where you are, haha πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

            6. Good ole, Ohio. There are certain parts of Ohio where the Amish live, and there’s a lot of unique shops and markets. I’m a night owl, even though I try to work on going to bed early, that’s usually a joke haha. Just like night, of all things, I finished writing a post about tacos on my second blog. It comes out Friday, and me being sleepy apparently makes me a little silly haha.

              Liked by 1 person

            7. Ohio! Okay. The thing I think of when you say Ohio is Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Because I used to have a bit of a political infatuation with him. Don’t ask! Haha.

              I go through spells of being a night owl (like at the moment) but there’s also something really wonderful about going to bed early and getting up early. I do love the 5am/6am time of day. Basically, any time when I know I’m not going to be disturbed by phone calls is good with me, haha πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

  8. Bless you, Steven, for another scintillating post! I don’t have your towering intellect but I do have the Holy Spirit. As I was mulling over your theme on us being puppets being controlled by The Puppet Master, the Spirit reminded me of St Paul’s words in Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are CHILDREN of God, and if CHILDREN then HEIRS of God and JOINT HEIRS with Christ…” Are children totally ‘controlled’ by their parents? Not any that I’ve KNOWN!! Doesn’t an ‘heir’ have ‘almost’ the same rights as the person they are inheriting from? Anyway, that’s my tuppence worth of wisdom added to the pot!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Ian! Unfortunately, I can’t agree that I have a towering intellect, just a certain perspective which I hold to very strongly!

      As I alluded to in another comment, I don’t feel you can make an analogy between God’s relationship with creation and a parent/child relationship (other than in a loose metaphorical way), because God is wholly ‘other’. He possesses attributes that human beings don’t have – omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, etc.

      But I’m very grateful for your tuppence, and wish you a wonderful day!

      God bless!


      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is an extremely intriguing read. While I have always contemplated the concept of free will, I find it difficult to understand the evil in this world, which I know was mentioned anf well explained in a previous comment πŸ™‚ I understand where you are coming from and I am interested in reading more of your writing which is slightly altered from my perspective. But I am thankful because that is how one grows! I hope you enjoy my blog, as well! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Forgive me for not addressing you personally, but I couldn’t find your name on your blog πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for visiting and reading my post, and approaching it with an open mind. If you’d like to hear me elaborate on the content of this post you are welcome to download my essay entitled An Almighty Predicament from my Essays page. The essay looks at all the reasons why I am drawn to Christianity, but also some of the problems I have (and the free will issue is central to these).

      If you don’t want to read an essay, have a browse around my posts and hopefully some will be of interest!

      Your blog looks really interesting! I’m going to go and read a couple of posts now πŸ™‚

      Blessings to you too – keep in touch!


      Liked by 1 person

  10. Man, Steven, you always cause me to think hard! That is a good thing, your writing challenges me. Your analogy of the puppet show reminds me that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and God is the Master Gardner. He did create us to bring Him pleasure by being in a relationship with Him. I don’t believe there are times God causes us to forget Him. We, though, have hearts that are prone to wander and forget all on their own!

    God gives us the faith to believe in Jesus and certainly he predestined those who would believe, and ultimately we get to choose to accept His gift of salvation. The Holy Spirit guides us in the direction that is God’s will for our life and we have the freedom to choose whether to follow His guidance or not. For me this is freewill. Another great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Terese!

      Many thanks for your comment πŸ™‚ Pleased to provide food for thought!

      And I appreciate your perspective on the free will issue.

      Have a wonderful day and God bless you!


      Liked by 1 person

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