Human Freedom & Divine Sovereignty | R. C. Sproul

The question of how God’s absolute sovereignty relates to human freedom is a long-standing one. In his book Enjoying God, Sproul briefly tackles this subject and makes an important distinction: we are free, but we are not autonomous.

Augustine said that “in a certain sense God wills everything that comes to pass.” He ordains things with a view to human freedom. He does no violence to our wills by his sovereign ordination. He is not a spectator and we are not puppets. His knowledge is certain, and our actions are free.

How the providence of God works out in these matters of concurrence is mysterious but not contradictory. There is nothing that is rationally incompatible about God’s sovereignty and human freedom. Scripture clearly teaches that God is sovereign and that man is responsible. Neither teaching is false. I am not proposing that freedom and sovereignty are not contradictions simply because the Bible teaches both. I am saying that the two concepts are not contradictory because they are not mutually exclusive concepts. Divine sovereignty and human autonomy would be mutually exclusive. If God is sovereign, man could not be autonomous. If man is autonomous, God could not be sovereign.

God is sovereign. Man is free. Man’s freedom is limited, however, by God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is not limited by man’s freedom. This is simply to say that man is not God. God is free and man is free. But God is more free than man. Man’s freedom is always and everywhere subordinate to God’s freedom. If we reverse these we pass from theism to atheism, from Christianity to humanism, from Christ to Antichrist.

Enjoying God, 130-131.

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