Witherington on Soverignty
His entry on Katrina/natural disasters and God currently has 52 comments...
The man says (as a comment),
"The issue is not whether God is almighty, but rather how does God exercise his sovereignty." Interesting to say the least.
The sovereignty of God is of course an important subject in the Bible, as my mentioning of Rom. 8 at the end of this blog ought to show. But it is a huge mistake to equate God's sovereignty with causation when it comes to a whole host of events. The issue is not whether God is almighty, but rather how does God exercise his sovereignty. The problem with John Piper and other scholars who read the Bible as if it were written by Augustine or Calvin rather than by early Jews, is that they do not understand how early Jews thought about these subjects, which as blogger "J" says involves allowing there to be more than one source of causation in the universe. The alternative is indeed to make God the author of what God in fact calls evil repeatedly in Scripture--- which is a huge besmirching of the character of God. It is equally problematic to make God's sovereignty the heremeneutical key by which then one tries to fit God's other attributes into a procrustean bed. For example God's love or God's desire that none should perish but all have everlasting life (see e.g. Jn. 3.16-17; 1 Tim. 2.6) do not fit the Augustinian understanding of sovereiegnty. And while we are at it, Ephes. 1.11 simply tells us that God is almighty to save. It is in no way a commentary on the cause of evil and tragedy in this world.
But perhaps the greatest failure of the Piper model of sovereignty is that it gets wrong the whole nature of God's love, which involves freedom not only on the part of God but also real freedom of response on the part of those he is wooing and loving. It is a case of "freely you have received, freely give". Love is not something that can be predetermined and still be love. Automata are not capable of love. And as 1 John reminds us in so many ways God is love. This I would suggest must affect the way we think about God's sovereignty or else we are actually Moslems, not Christians with a belief in pure fatalism, all things predetermined. The alternative to Augustinianism is not Deism-- it is rather a full orbed view of all of God's attributes including God's love. God is not the only actor in the universe whose will matters, and this is because God chose for it to be otherwise from before the foundations of the universe.
There are your daily ups and downs, and then there is your character. In the ecology of the self, the former is the weather, the latter the climate. - KF