Monday, August 03, 2009

Reconciling Human Responsibility with Divine Sovereignty

Can the Biblical concepts of human responsibility and Divine sovereignty be reconciled?

It's interesting to notice some of the things the Bible says God did. Yes He healed the sick through Jesus - but we also read that He hardened Pharaoh's heart; that He would put diseases upon the disobedient; and that He stirred-up one nation against another.

God is portrayed in the Bible as being actively behind a lot of things that happened. But nowadays we have this concept that God is more of a passive observer rather than the active doer of things.

I've heard it explained that in Hebrew grammar a permissive tense of verb exists that doesn't exist in English. So the real meaning, it is claimed, is that God allowed, rather than actively caused, Pharaoh's heart to harden. Can anyone verify that point of grammar? Also, does the same tense of verb also exist in Greek? (because the same concept - of God's sovereignty - seems to exist in the New Testament writings as much as it does in the Old Hebrew Scriptures).

In one sense, I suppose it doesn't really make any difference whether God does something or whether He merely allowed it - because the very fact that God allows something could just as well be described as if God Himself did it (even when it was actually man or sometimes maybe even the devil who did it) - since He is sovereign to allow something.

But if and when God does allow something, evidently He does so based on principles. And He was faithful to teach those principles to Israel through the Law, so that they could know how to obtain blessing from God rather than curses. And the Gospel also teaches us how blessings have been and shall be obtained.

So with or without a concept of God's sovereignty, the Word of God still tells us what we can do to be sure we'll get the results we desire. And yet there are still some things we don't know completely.

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