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The Dance of Human Freedom and Divine Sovereignty

free_will

A good way to improve all of your Systematic Theology texts would be to strike almost every occurrence of the word “although” and replace it with “because.” Peter Leithart shows how this would work in the case of human freedom and Divine sovereignty[i]:

“Theologians have long puzzled over questions of free will. If God knows all things, including the future, then all things, including the future, are determined ahead of time. God won’t be surprised, and if he can’t be surprised, then nothing is going to happen other than what he expected to happen. The difficulties become acute for Christians who believe, as I do, that God not only knows but controls all things.

How then can human beings have any freedom or be held responsible for their actions? Theologians often answer this sort of question with a concession: although God knows all things that will happen in the future, still human beings are free. This assertion suggests that God’s infallible knowledge and human freedom are incompatible with one another, and have to be stuck together in spite of being fundamentally at odds.

Here and in many other cases, it is much better to begin that sentence with ‘because’: because God infallibly knows and controls the future, human beings are free and responsible. That seems to make things worse, and to sacrifice incompatibility to incoherence. But that move implies that God’s knowledge and human freedom are not two doctrines awkwardly standing side by side, each waiting for the other to ask for the next dance. God’s knowledge and human freedom depend on each other. Human freedom is embedded in God’s infallible knowledge of the future, and God’s infallible knowledge of the future somehow indwells human freedom. Stating the issue with ‘because’ implies that the two are always already dancing.”


[i]Leithart, Peter J. Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience. 2015. Pg. 125-126

One Response to The Dance of Human Freedom and Divine Sovereignty

  1. […] Kuyperian Commentary shared an excerpt from Peter Leithart’s Traces of the Trinity. […]

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