Jeremy D. Edmondson
God is sovereign, a truth clearly stated in Scripture: “Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants” (Ps 119:90-91, ESV). But as with any statement, terms must be defined. What is meant by “sovereign” may not always be agreed upon, even though the word is commonly found in contemporary Evangelicalism. The purpose of this article is to prove by an examination of modern information, brief historical documentation, and an exegesis of pertinent Scripture passages that the Biblical explanation and the contemporary, Evangelical assertion of the use(s) of the word “sovereign” in describing God differ greatly. This divide leads to unbiblical conclusions in Christian thinking, portraying God as the author of sin and man as a passive puppet. Our view of the character of God must be formed according to divine revelation; this will produce right thinking about God and will guide us to understand the actions that properly represent His name. Thus, the very doctrine of theology proper is at stake.
II. CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICAL EVIDENCE
The modern-day definitions of the “sovereignty of God” have come from those who would largely be considered Reformed in their theological disposition. Steve Lawson quotes R.C. Sproul in stating that “sovereign” means “That God is in charge and that God is in control of all things.”1 “To determine the destiny and the route of all that is under His purview, sovereignty is an attribute of deity without which God would not be God.” He notes that “sovereignty” means that God is “above or superior to all others. Chief, greatest, supreme; supreme in power, rank and authority; holding the position of ruler and despot, independent of all others.”2
Lawson’s understanding is that God should be understood as the “Supreme Controller” of all things and that nothing occurs apart from His endorsement or cause. “Sometimes we need to be reminded by God himself that there are no limits to his rule,” writes John Piper. “We need to hear from him that he is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it.”3 Piper also sees God as a “Supreme Controller” over “everything that happens.”
In an article entitled “Prayer and the Sovereignty of God,” John Hannah asks the question, “If God has absolutely decreed all that can and will come to pass to the smallest detail in the lives of every human being, does prayer change things?”4 It is clear from the article’s title and the nature of the question posed that Hannah understands the sovereignty of God to be synonymous with the notion that He has foreordained every single act that will ever happen, down to the finest detail. Again, we see the theme of “Supreme Controller.”
A. W. Pink falls in step with this assertion:
To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty and the owner of all power in Heaven and earth. No one can defeat His plans, prevent His purpose, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to proclaim that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the pathway of dynasties as He decides what is best. To say that God is sovereign is to announce that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). This is the real picture of the God of the Bible.5
Pink’s definition of God’s sovereignty also affirms His rule as having an undeterred purpose and certain plan for the existence of the universe. However, he also calls for God’s sovereignty to include the idea that He is the “owner of all power in Heaven and earth,” and that He determines “the pathway of dynasties.” Pink’s view is not only that God is a Supreme Ruler, but also a “Supreme Controller” of every minute detail of existence.
This notion of “Supreme Controller” is overflowing in Christian books, periodicals, and pulpits, without any allowance of variation regarding how God’s sovereignty is exercised. The modern-day definition of the “sovereignty of God” has gone past the idea of “Ruler” or “King” and into the realm of “Divine Puppeteer.” Is this how we should think about the Creator of the universe? Does “sovereignty” equal a meticulous control over every decision and movement in creation? “‘Absolute sovereignty’ is a redundancy, because sovereignty rightly understood is always absolute,” writes Robert Thomas. “It is the same as using ‘very unique’ to describe a phenomenon, because if something is unique, only one degree of uniqueness exists.”6 Is such a conclusion derived from Biblical exegesis, or could it have been influenced by the writings of teachers in the past?
III. HISTORICAL THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
The Bible is not a systematic theology book, although it contains all of the elements that one would need in order to form one’s theology systematically. Instead, it is a progressive revelation beginning with God as the Creator. Understandably, many of the doctrines that we take for granted today were the labors of godly men and women who sought to understand the Lord to a greater degree by relentlessly poring over the Scriptures so as to gather all of the information contained in them for the purpose of categorization. Two of the greatest contributors to church history are Augustine and John Calvin, especially in regards to the formulation of the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. Between their views, an interesting progression takes place. Rigby explains:
In the fourth century, Augustine argued that human beings have free will, explaining that God does not cause us to act in a particular way but, rather, foreknows what decisions we will make. In the sixteenth century, Calvin taught that everything that happens is willed by God, but human beings are nonetheless culpable for evil because they are not intending, when they sin, to serve God’s will (Institutes, 1.17.5). Concerned to uphold both the divine sovereignty and human agency, the Westminster Confession (1647) explains that God is the first cause who ordains everything that comes to pass, including the fact that we, as secondary causes, exercise discreet volition and creative powers (6.014).7
John Calvin’s view of God’s sovereignty led him to logically conclude that God’s meticulous foreordination and supreme control over all existence consequently make Him the responsible party for the world’s ills:
From this it is easy to conclude how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be not by [God’s] will, but merely by his permission. Of course, so far as they are evils, which men perpetrate with their evil mind, as I shall show in greater detail shortly, I admit that they are not pleasing to God. But it is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them.8
Such a view is logically conclusive from the views and quotations that have been previously seen. However, such a claim, if it is true, raises questions regarding the purity of God’s character and His disposition toward the world.
Rigby’s short summation coupled with Calvin’s conclusion marks the cliff over which the boundaries of God’s sovereignty were firmly pushed, falling to a tragic conclusion: The God of the universe, Creator of all things, controls the world in such a way that He wills the very sin that has separated Him from man.
Lest we conclude that this view was the only acceptable conclusion for Christian orthodoxy, other views on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty are also found in history. An example is The Waterland Confession (1580), a confession that was originally drawn up by the Mennonites in the Netherlands and was later republished at the request of John Smyth in 1610. Regarding God’s sovereignty, it reads:
God foresaw and foreknew all things which have come to pass, are coming to pass, and shall come to pass both good and evil, but since he is only perfect good and the fountain of life, we believe and confess that he is the sole Author, Origin, and Operator of those things which are good, holy, sincere, pure and which agree with his nature; but not at all of sins and damnable evils. For God enjoins that which is good; he desires that we obey him in that which is good; he consults for and admonishes to it, and makes great promises to those who obey. On the contrary he forbids evil, exhorts against evil, threatens evil doers, and denounces against them eternal punishment. And by this means shows himself to be an enemy of sinners and that all iniquity is contrary to his holy nature. And therefore, not God who is good, but man who is evil, by voluntarily choosing sin to which the spirit of wickedness leads him, which is dominant in him, is the author, origin and operator of sins and all wickedness, and for this reason is worthy of punishment.9
This confession stood as a model for the General Baptists of later generations in England. While some may be swayed to disregard this confession due to its Arminian leanings, one must admit that the quoted portion keeps the sound integrity and holy character of God intact and free from any accusations of sin. Thus, His holy character and righteous standards are preserved without Scriptural or logical conflict.
IV. THEOLOGICAL EXAMINATIONS
As we have seen in Rigby’s comments, many have sought to rationalize the concept that God is ultimately responsible for sin by making a distinction between “primary” and “secondary causes.” Such language is found to be duplicitous. R.C. Sproul explains this “relationship”:
“Second causes” are secondary, and as such are dependent on a primary cause for their potency. God, and God alone, is the sole primary cause in the universe…He is the ground of all causal power. Scripture declares that in God “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is the ground of all being, all life, and all motion. Apart from his power to create and sustain life, no life is possible. Apart from his power of being, nothing else would be or could be. Apart from his power of motion (primary causality), nothing can move, change, act, or bring about effects…God not only reigns, but also rules, and he rules sovereignly. Secondary causes are not, however, imaginary or impotent. They exert real causal power. We make real choices. Yet a secondary cause is always dependent on the primary cause, God himself, for its efficacy. God brings to pass his sovereign will through or by means of secondary causes. “By means of” is another way of saying that God ordains not only the ends, but also the means to these ends (emphasis original).10
This concept can also be seen in the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith.
Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance or without His providence; yet by the same providence He ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.”11
This confession’s use of the word “ordereth” reveals that God is just as much behind the secondary causes of sin as He is behind the primary. According to Sproul’s explanation, secondary causes cannot operate apart from their primary cause. When a scapegoat like “secondary causes” is put forth, an excuse is given for mankind being manipulated by God to be the dispenser of sin and yet is found to be unapologetically culpable for that which mankind could not do otherwise. This conclusion paints a malicious picture of a deceitful God. One cannot help but conclude that God’s “ordination” of the means and the end (according to Sproul) makes Him directly responsible for every instance of rape, murder, robbery, automobile accident, extramarital affair, arson, and hunger that has ever occurred in history.
A. Scriptural Distortions
Does this view spring from a correct handling of the Scriptures? In quoting Isa 46:9 (in the video, he says Isa 6:9, but that is an obvious mistake), Steve Lawson declares that “all is foreordained by God.”12 But is this what Isa 46:9 says? When the context is considered, we see that there is no one and nothing that is like God (v 9), that He “declares” the end from the beginning and can pronounce prophecy which will be accomplished according to His purposes (v 10). If God has spoken about something, He will surely bring it to fruition (v 11). God moves history as He sees fit and has complete foreknowledge of all events. Lawson’s understanding of “declares” in 46:10 is “foreordains.” The word maggid in Hebrew means “declare, make known, expound, especially of something before not understood, concealed or mysterious,”13 and never speaks to the idea of foreordination. Thus, Lawson’s conclusion is unfounded.
Another instance can be seen in the writings of James White, a Reformed apologist and theologian. In providing a Biblical explanation of God’s sovereignty, he writes:
God is king over all the earth. As the Creator, it is His to do with as He chooses. This concept is brought out with striking clarity in the analogy of the Potter and the clay. A number of times in Scripture God likens Himself to a Potter and we as clay or as pots, formed and fashioned as He wishes. This sovereign power is seen in God’s dealings with Israel. He sent Jeremiah the prophet to the potter’s house and recorded this incident in Jeremiah 18:4-6:
But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
God could fashion and remake Israel as He pleased. He did not have to ask permission, seek advice, or in any way consult anyone or anything outside of Himself. The entire nation was as clay in the potter’s hand. Clay has no inherent “rights,” no basis upon which to complain about the potter’s decisions, no say in what the potter does (emphasis original).14
What is not readily apparent in White’s argument is that he has stopped short of representing God fully as the text portrays Him. No one would argue with the fact that God does not need the counsel of another, nor would any Bible student conclude that God cannot do as He chooses. But in reading this passage further, one can clearly see in Jer 18:7-11 that God will withhold a kingdom or nation’s destruction if the people will repent (vv 7-8), just as He will reconsider the good that He had planned for a kingdom or nation if it does evil (vv 9-10). The Lord then calls upon Jeremiah to cry out to Judah for repentance because of the calamity that He is personally fashioning against them for their disobedience (v 11).
Thus, God is sovereign in that He rules and is able to bring about destruction and blessing upon a kingdom or nation. Yet the text clearly shows that such an end is determined by the inhabitants’ response to God’s Word in acknowledging God’s sovereignty and in repenting in light of it.
B. Contemporary Views of God and His Relationship to Sin
What is most troubling in this distorted understanding of the “sovereignty of God” is that theologians and scholars have no issue with attributing the ultimate responsibility of sin and its effects in the world to God. For instance, Doran writes:
The Scriptures also teach that even the sinful acts of the devil and men are under His control so that He accomplishes His purposes. The biblical record regarding Satan’s attacks against Job proves this. Satan had to have permission from God: “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord” (Job 1:12); “So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life’” (Job 2:6). This is confirmed by Job’s response recorded in Job 1:20–21: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’”15
God in no way controlled the specific acts that Satan committed against Job; He only set the boundaries. God’s allowance of sin is certainly not the same as God’s causing sin. While God can constrain sin, or choose not to, and while He can take a sinful situation and bring about a conclusion that gives Him glory (Gen 50:20), such choices do not make God the cause, originator, or author of sin.
However, Doran’s conclusion is also shared by John Piper. Quoting him from a seminar held in 2012, author Anugrah Kumar writes, “Herod’s mockery, Pilate’s expediency, the Gentiles driving the nails, and the people of Israel shouting, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him,’ is all sin, Piper said, adding it was all ‘predestined, designed by God, scripted in the Old Testament, including Judas [Iscariot].’”16 While the Scriptures are clear that the crucifixion of Christ was an event ordained in order to save the world, Acts 4:27-28 says nothing of God’s being responsible for the actions of Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, or the Jews. God was not responsible for their sin, and He did not force their hand. Claiming otherwise has serious ramifications on the very definition of what is considered “good” in any moral sense. If Piper’s conclusions were true, how could anyone ever truly trust God?
C. Inconsistent Logic in Light of the Scriptures
When God declares that something is “good” (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31), He is making a moral declaration that sets the standard for what is “good.” For instance, Paul argues that the Law is considered “good” (Rom 7:16; 1 Tim 1:8) in that it is the written perfection of God which He uses to show us our sin (Rom 3:20). However, if God causes, promotes, or advocates sin (which is something the Word of God has clearly portrayed as the opposite of “good”—see, e.g., Matt 1:21; 18:15; John 5:14; Rom 5:12; 6:23)—we would be forced to include “sin” in the definition of what is understood as “good,” because God condones it for His glory. Therefore, a statement such as, “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44; 1 Pet 1:16) would necessarily include our employment of sin for this end, if we are to be like God.
In addition, if God condones sin for His glory, such statements as, “What is this that you have done?” (Gen 3:13) and “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Gen 4:7) are seen to be contradictory moral statements. Such statements would need to be changed to, “You have done exactly as My sovereignty has predestined you to do,” and “Sin is crouching at the door because I put it there. Let it do its evil work for My glory.” As anyone can determine, such conclusions are both ludicrous and blasphemous.
Setting such horrendous notions aside, L. Russ Bush offers a more balanced and Biblical conclusion:
Apparently, God has sovereignly chosen to allow (and thus to create) a reality within which some real freedom exists within limits, but the future is not therefore open ended. The reason one knows that God has not determined everything is that God’s will is not always done. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9), but some do (2 Thess. 2:10). God is not a sinner and does not cause sin (1 John 3:3–5), but sin occurs nonetheless. Adam was given the choice to eat or not to eat, an existential and morally significant choice. Adam, not God, was responsible for the choice that he made…His choice was real, but there was not an unlimited range of possible futures. So it is with all choices and futures.17
D. Resisting God’s Will?
Before we conclude that the assertion “God’s will is not always done” is implausible, we must consider that this was Stephen’s conclusion just before his execution at the hands of the Sanhedrin. What ignited the rage that led to his martyrdom was the statement,
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it (Acts 7:51-53).
Not only is there the blatant declaration that the Jews were always resisting the Holy Spirit (attributing the reason for this to their stiff necks, uncircumcised hearts, and uncircumcised ears [7:51]), but a second instance is cited in that they did not keep the Law once they had received it (7:53).
This idea is also found in a statement spoken through the tears of the Messiah. Jesus laments over Jerusalem’s past aggression and rebellion against the prophets of God, but He also laments their present rejection of Him. He states, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matt 23:37). If no one resists God’s will because of “God’s sovereignty,” why would Jesus (being God) purposefully orchestrate such a scenario that would bring Him great sorrow in decreeing the rejection of the Jewish people? Such an action is clearly against the declarations of His loyal love for the Jewish people. Scripture is clear that Jesus is weeping because Israel is responsible for their national rejection of their promised Messiah and would reap the consequences of those actions. While many other instances could be cited, these are sufficient.
V. VARIATIONS IN TRANSLATION
How have the historical views of the sovereignty of God and the theology that has proceeded from them affected the translation of God’s Word? The answer is found in an examination of popular translations and by noting the variations with each one.
A. The Use of “Sovereign” in Formal Equivalence Translations
In the King James Version (KJV), the words “sovereign” and “sovereignty” are absent. The New King James Version (NKJV) yields no occurrences of “sovereign” and only one instance of “sovereignty.” It is found in 1 Sam 14:47 and is used to replace the word “kingdom” as used in the KJV, which speaks of King Saul establishing his kingdom over Israel.
The New American Standard Bible (NASB) finds one occurrence of “sovereign” (1 Tim 6:15) and seven uses of “sovereignty,” five of which are found in Daniel (4:31, 36; 5:18; 7:27; 11:4). The English Standard Version (ESV) shows only three occurrences of “sovereign” (Acts 4:24; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 6:10) and no occurrences of “sovereignty.” Regarding older, literal translations, Young’s (1862) shows no instances of “sovereign” or “sovereignty,” while Darby’s (1890) has one use of “sovereign” (Rev 6:10) and two uses of “sovereignty” (1 Kings 21:7; Dan 2:44).18
B. The Use of “Sovereign” in Dynamic Equivalence Translations
By contrast, in the New International Version (NIV), the word “sovereign” turns up 303 times, of which only five are found in the NT. The word “sovereignty” yields two instances, both occurring in Daniel (5:18; 7:27), and neither refers to God. The New Living Translation (NLT) has 294 occurrences of “sovereign,” with three appearing in the NT, while the word “sovereignty” occurs four times, all in the book of Daniel (2:37; 5:18; 7:14, 27), with Daniel 7:14 speaking of sovereignty granted to the Lord Jesus. The New English Translation (NET) tallies 368 uses of the word “sovereign,” with four instances occurring in the NT, and seven uses of “sovereignty,” with only one occurrence in the NT (Rev 17:18).
C. Conclusion of Translation Findings
The dynamic equivalence translations have promoted an escalation of the use of “sovereign” and “sovereignty” in their versions, something which the formal equivalence translations do not have. This difference is not a subtle departure. The dynamic equivalence translators have gone to great lengths in using “sovereign” and “sovereignty” to the point that the words are extraneous.19 Clearly there has been a great change since the days of the Reformation, for the KJV would have been considered the most well known formal equivalence relative to that time, and yet these words cannot be found within its pages.
VI. BIBLICAL EVIDENCE AND MEANING
It would be helpful to consider what Hebrew and Greek words were translated as “sovereign” and “sovereignty” in the Old and New Testaments. The single occurrence of “sovereignty” in the NKJV is 1 Sam 14:47; it speaks of King Saul, and the original Hebrew uses the word melukah, which means “kingship, royalty.”20 In discussing this word, Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) gives no consideration to the idea of “supreme controller,” nor to any thought of a meticulous foreordination of everything that will ever occur. The NASB lists 1 Tim 6:15 as the only use of the word “sovereign,” which translates the Greek dynastēs, “one who is in a high or exalted position.”21
In the ESV, the translators of Acts 4:24 and Rev 6:10 use the words “Sovereign Lord” to render the Greek despotēs—“one who has legal control and authority over persons, such as subjects or slaves” or “one who controls a thing.”22 The Reformed theologian might claim that these verses, and the Greek word, support their view of the word “sovereign.” But the use of this word in Scripture sometimes refers to a “master” and his relationship to his servants (1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet 2:18). None of these instances refer to God or Jesus Christ. The word can also simply mean “master” of a house (2 Tim 2:21), “Lord” as it refers to God (Luke 2:29), or “Master” as it refers to Jesus (2 Pet 2:1; Jude 4). None of these uses referring to Jesus or God give any indication of complete rule or meticulous foreordination. The translation of despotēs as “Sovereign Lord” is simply the translator’s choice.
The Bible student should also question why the use of despotēs in Acts 4:24 and Rev 6:10 has been translated as “Sovereign Lord” when kurios (usually translated “Lord”) is not found in either text. Thus, “Master” is a fine translation, but in no way does BDAG (or the context of each of the passages cited) lead the reader to understand the word despotēs to mean “complete, foreordained control.”
The uses of “sovereignty” in the NASB are found in the book of Daniel. In 4:31, 36, and 5:18, variations of the word are translated as “kingship” and “kingdom.” Each reference involves King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 7:27 reads:
And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him (NASB, emphasis added).
This passage speaks of a future time when the kingdoms (first two instances) under heaven will be given to the saints of God, and the kingdom of the Lord will stand forever with all other powers and authorities serving Him. Finally, Dan 11:4 uses the word “kingdom” twice; both instances refer to the future kingdom of Alexander the Great.
These occurrences are derived from the Hebrew root word melek, which means “royalty, reign, kingdom,”23 and are political in nature. However, none of these uses speak to unswerving, meticulous foreordination or to a “supreme controller.” Even in Dan 7:27, God’s “everlasting kingdom” is shown to be that which all “dominions” will “serve and obey.” This says nothing of “supreme control.” Gordon Olson considers this word’s use in the OT:
There is not a hint in any of these passages of any exhaustive direct control by which Yahweh decreed every event to take place in the universe. Indeed, the imagery of king and kingdom could not possibly communicate such an idea to ancient middle-eastern peoples unless it were spelled out explicitly. These terms were not only used for the rulers of great empires, but also for the heads of small cities and thus do not support such an idea. Not even the greatest kings exercised direct control of all events in their domain. Their decrees were carried out indirectly by government officials. Therefore, there is no way that direct control of all events by a sovereign could be indicated by the cultural usage of the words “king” or “kingdoms.”24
The purpose of this study is to prove by an examination of modern information, brief historical documentation, and an exegesis of pertinent Scripture passages that the Biblical explanation and the contemporary, Evangelical assertion of the word “sovereign” in describing God differ greatly. The provided documentation is sufficient to show that there is a cause for alarm. The Reformed position ultimately attributes sin’s origin, presence, and effects to God by misrepresenting Scripture, and thus misrepresenting God.25 Such views are not coherent, and the ramifications will impact the lives and ministry of those individuals who hold them. Earl Radmacher’s comments strike at the heart of the matter:
When one considers that basic to right action is right thinking and that basic to right thinking is right thinking about what God is like, it begins to become transparently clear that our generation, or any other, will never begin to solve its problems until it corrects its ideas about God.26
In examining the pertinent Bible passages, we have observed that the words “sovereign” and “sovereignty” refer to the idea of a “king” and/or a “kingdom,” and at no time do the Scriptures allow for an understanding that communicates the idea of “Supreme Controller” or the “meticulous foreordination of all events.” An unbalanced understanding of God’s sovereignty has certainly been found to be zealous but cannot be considered Biblical.
1 Steve Lawson, “Our Sovereign God,” Filmed . YouTube Video, 48:22. Posted June 17, 2015. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D83eBjKebY, 2:18-2:23. Accessed Sept. 16, 2016.
2 Ibid., 16:17-17:00.
3 John Piper, “Plunge Your Mind into the Ocean of God’s Sovereignty,” Desiring God, Dec. 1, 2015. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/plunge-yourmind-into-the-ocean-of-god-s-sovereignty. Accessed Sept. 15, 2016.
4 John D. Hannah, “Prayer and the Sovereignty of God,” Bibliotheca Sacra 136/4 (1979): 351.
5 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2008).
6 Robert Thomas, “The Hermeneutics of ‘Open Theism,’” The Master’s Seminary Journal, 12/2 (2001): 195.
7 Cynthia L. Rigby, “Free to be Human: Limits, Possibilities, and the Sovereignty of God,” Theology Today 53/1 (Apr 1996): 48.
8 John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God (Kindle Edition, N.P: n.d.), 176.
9 William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1969), 46.
10 R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997), 173-74.
11 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith (Asheville, NC: Revival Literature, 2007), 26.
12 Lawson, “Our Sovereign God,” 25:58-26:04.
13 Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford, ENG: Clarendon Press, 1977), 616. Hereafter known as BDB.
14 James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal to Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free (N.P.: Calvary Press Publishing, 2009), 43-44.
15 David M. Doran, “God’s Sovereignty and the Spread of the Gospel,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 9/9 (2004): 187.
16 Anugrah Kumar, “John Piper on Man’s Sin and God’s Sovereignty,” Christian Post. See http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-piper-on-mans-sin-and-godssovereignty-80617/. Accessed Sept. 21, 2016.
17 L. Russ Bush, “Open Theism: Good Try, But No Dice,” Faith and Mission 21/2 (2003), 26.
18 The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) which is considered by many to be a moderate dynamic equivalence (and has been promoted as an “optimal equivalence”) shows only one occurrence of “sovereign” (1 Tim 6:15) and five instances of “sovereignty,” all occurring in the OT. See Lifeway Staff, “The Holman Christian Standard Bible Translation Philosophy,” Lifeway. http://www.lifeway.com/Article/bible-hcsb-the-Holman-Christian-Standard-Bible-translation-philosophy. Accessed Dec. 15, 2015.
19 The NIV (1978), NLT (1996), and NET (2005), all of which are dynamic equivalence translations, display the greatest occurrences of the words in question, which leads one to believe that a loose method of translation lends itself to a distortion of the Scriptures, at least in a manner that the formal equivalence translation committees did not consider as viable words to use in capturing the essence of the original languages. For instance, the ESV has undergone two revisions since its initial release in 2001 (2007, 2011), both of which did not cause the translators to change any of the revised portions to reflect the use of “sovereign” or “sovereignty” because there was no lack of clarity in what was meant in the original languages. It can be concluded that the words “sovereign” and “sovereignty” in Scripture translations should be used sparingly in reflecting the original languages, as seen in the more accurate translations in the formal equivalence camp.
20 BDB, 574.
21 William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 264. Hereafter known as BDAG.
22 Ibid., 220.
23 BDB, 1100. See also R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 1041.
24 C. Gordon Olson, Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: An Inductive Mediate Theology of Salvation (Lynchburg, VA: Global Gospel Publishers, 2012), 31.
25 Editor’s note: For most readers of the JOTGES it will be recognized that this has a dramatic impact on the gospel of eternal life. If the Reformed/Calvinist view of soteriology is correct, then God has ordained who will believe and who will not. That is, God has chosen who will receive eternal life and who will not. As a result, none of us can have assurance of eternal life since none of us can ever know if God has pre-determined that we would be His children.
26 Earl D. Radmacher, Book Review. “Our Sovereign God: Addresses Presented to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 21/3 (Sept 1978): 265. http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy. liberty.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=bcba3d41-132e-4ec9- 8c27-f0fbe61b3ed7%40sessionmgr114&hid=123. Accessed Nov. 5, 2015.