Martin Luther: Bondage of the Will, part 3


OBJECTION TO GOD’S DECREE

One of the major objections to the Biblical doctrine of the Sovereignty of God by those that have not taken the time to think clearly about the issue is an appeal to emotion.  The argument goes something along the lines of: If God predestines everything, then when something really bad happens, ie. murder, rape, etc, then God would have predestined it, therefore He is the author of sin.  This view makes God an evil tyrant and not the loving God of the Bible.  Folks with this viewpoint usually affirm that though God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, He has the power to make something good of them.

PROBLEM WITH THE OBJECTION

The problem with this viewpoint, however, is that it makes good/evil happen based on luck and it makes God a mere passive observer (though a very powerful one).  Either the things that happen in this life happen because an all powerful God has ordained them, or they happen randomly and both He and we only have the power to observe and react.

According to the Calvinist, bad things happen, not because God desires or is a first cause of them, but rather he sovereignly permits them because they are a means to His ultimate end, which is good.  According to the Calvinist view, everything happens under God’s purview and is part of His plan; therefore, everything has meaning.  According to the Arminian, bad things happen outside of God’s will; therefore, they happen randomly and without meaning.  God can make something good of a bad situation – unless, of course, He is foiled again by other purposeless evil [sarcasm].  So, are the events of life a string of meaningless happenings or are they second and third causes in God’s ultimate plan of good?

SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT FOR THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD

  • “In whom [Jesus Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him [God] who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”(Eph 1:11)
  • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom 8:28-29)
  • “…and he [God] doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan 4:35)

WHAT DOES LUTHER SAY?

Well, this post is supposed to be the next in a collection of notes/quotes from Luther’s work: The Bondage of the Will. So…we know, of course, what Calvin and the later Protestant reformers believed, but what of Luther? In his Introduction, Luther states:

 

 

God knows all things neccessarily, not contingently; otherwise, how could we rely on His promises? How can God’s promises be sure and certain unless He knows all things surely and certainly and infallibly! (Tit 1:2)

    • “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Is 46:10)
    • “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18)

Etc.

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