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 released today.
My book is an invitation for people of all faiths (as well as atheists and agnostics) to be brave in relation to this subject, and to consider the intricacies of the free will debate with an open mind. If God is sovereign over all events, as I argue in the book He is, then the universe can be seen as a cosmic playground in which God is exercising His creative power by manifesting a great diversity of creatures with all their myriad beliefs and particularities. Unfolding this universal story as the ages go by is what I describe as God’s Grand Game.
I have not arrived at my conclusions lightly; only after many years of studying Scripture, praying fervently, examining my own subjective experience, reading widely, and discussing deeply, have I come to an understanding that God is indeed in control of everything we will ever do, and that this necessarily means we do not have free will. What are the implications of this perspective for Christianity and the other major world religions? Read the book to find out.
If you do choose to read the book, I hope you will find it stimulating and enjoyable, and you are welcome to return to this blog to discuss and debate with others the ideas contained within its pages. For more information regarding the contents of the book, you’re welcome to check out the chapter listing, which I unveiled in this post. Thank you for reading.