Human guilt and a Sovereign God?

Carefully note the way the early Church emphasized a convergence of God’s sovereign will and human guilt in the crucifixion of Jesus:

“Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:22-24).

“Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (Acts 4:27-28). 

Consider the following insights from New Testament scholar D. A. Carson:

“God’s sovereignty over the death of Christ does not mitigate the guilt of the human conspirators. On the other hand, the malice of their conspiracy has not caught God flat-footed, as if he had not foreseen the cross, much less planned it. The text plainly insists that God’s sovereignty is not mitigated by human actions, and human guilt is not exculpated by appeal to divine sovereignty.”

“This duality is sometimes called compatibilism: God’s utter sovereignty and human moral responsibility are compatible. Complex issues are involved, but there can be no serious doubt that this stance is either taught or presupposed by the biblical writers.”

“In this case it is doubly necessary to see how the two points hang together. If Jesus died solely as a result of human conspiracy, and not by the design and purpose of God, it is difficult to see how his death can be the long-planned divine response to our desperate need.”

“If God’s sovereignty over Jesus’ death means that the human perpetrators are thereby exonerated, should this not also be true wherever God is sovereign? And then where is the sin that needs to be paid for by Jesus’ death? The integrity of the Gospel hangs on that element of Christian theism called compatibilism.” (From: For the Love of God)

Steve Cornell

See also: How should we think about God’s control?

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Cross of Christ, Death of Christ, God's control, God's Love, God's power, Grace, Sovereignty, Theodicy, Theology, Wisdom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Human guilt and a Sovereign God?

  1. aRemonstrant'sRamblings says:

    Sorry to disagree with you and the noted scholar Don Carson but when he says that there can be “no serious doubt” that the Calvinist interpretation of divine sovereignty is taught in Scripture I would like to know what Carson does with all those non-Calvinist scholars (who are pretty serious in their scholarship) who disagree with him?

    The problem Carson has got is that all he can do is assert that humans are responsible while also assert that God causally determines every thought and action they perform. The problem comes when you try to reason to human responsibility. Carson’s problems on this matter are well exposed by Jerry Walls in this lecture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Daomzm3nyIg

    I hope you might check it out Steve. All the best.

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