So if I reject Calvisnism, I must reject that God is Sovereign?
Not at all.
Calvinism doesn't have a corner on the market of God's Sovereignty although sometimes it seems like it's argued by some that if you don't accept Calvinism you must reject God's Sovereignty as if Calvinism is the one and only approach that believes in God's Sovereignty.
I do believe that there is nothing that happens in this world without the permissive will of God. I believe the Bible teaches it and I believe that all who name Christ as Savior should believe that. What I hold is what is often called a "weak view" of God's Sovereignty (and as tempted as some may be to play games with that word that is not saying that God is weak or that the position itself is weak.) Calvinism, as we've described to this point holds a "strong view" of God's Sovereignty.
So what is the difference?
Looking a little closer at Calvinism's position of Soverienty, Calvin himself was influenced by Ulrich Zwingli. Zwingli wrote an essay based on a Sermon he Delivered called "On Providence." If you're interested you can read it in Google Books here: http://bit.ly/urx4eb
it's on page 128. Note the introduction of this 1922 book ties Zwingli to Aristotle and the Stoics; that 's just an aside and a little bit of evidence that I and others aren't exagerating when we say that there are ties in these areas to Greek Philosophy. That doesn't necessarily equate to Scholasticism, but it shows how it can tend or lean in that direction.
When Zwingli described Divine Providence he said it was God's "rule over and direction of all things in the universe. For if anything were guided by its own power or insight, just so far would the wisdom and power of our Deity be deficient" (Zwingli, On Providence) In this passage and others, Zwingli made it clear that he believed that God is the sole cause of everything and anything that can be seen as secondary is just a tool in God's divine working. Zwingli's views and thus indirectly their influence on Calvin were based both in Scripture and in Philosophy. The philosophy is not hard to see. The idea is presupposed that God is necessary as the as the all-determining reality and then from that it follows that everything must be a manifestation of the power of God, or else God is not God.
Scripturally Calvinists draw from multiple Biblical Narratives and "key verses" to support this idea. The story of Joseph is commonly cited where Joseph says to his brothers that their selling him into slavery, was something the brothers meant for evil but Joseph says God was behind it and God meant it for good. Cited as well is Jesus' crucifixion as God's plan which involved the evil of man to bring about for God's intended purpose. Calvinists presume that in these and other instances that because they are a part of the end result that it must mean that God caused and directed these events themselves and that includes the evil involved. Of course, that's not the only view possible. It's possible that God meant these things "for good" in the sense that He could have stopped the events but He chose not to, instead letting them play out. Most Calvinists would say that there is no real difference between either, but I disagree. I think there's a huge difference.
So in addition to these types of examples are the "proof-texts" that are pulled out regularly to support this idea of God meticulously directing these things in every detail. Some of these are:
You should be able to run your mouse over those verses and our board's scripture reader will pop up the verses in a window.
Read by themselves and especially going to them with the idea already in mind presented or assumed that God's Sovereignty is "strong" does make these verses seem very powerful and hard to understand differently.
I believe however that Calvinism's Strong view of God's Sovereignty (which is in effect a form of determinism) even though many Calvinists, if not most of them will then appeal to God's permissive will cannot reconcile this with what they're saying on one side of the argument and then taking back on the other side. When you begin to look at the entire scripture and those portions of Scripture that indicate that there is a permissive side to God's will and Sovereignty that allows an understanding of Evil that God permits, but doesn't cause but in order for this to work you cannot correspondingly hold to the determinative view of God's Sovereignty.
So what I'm saying is that Calvinism is indeed getting a part of it right when those within it recognize that there has to be a permissive side to God's will that finds a source of Evil outside of God Himself, while recognizing that God's will is not thwarted by Evil and He takes it into account and ultimately counters it to in the end bring about His intended purpose.
The answer is to drop the strong sovereignty of determinism of Calvinism which can't work with that (even though many Calvinists try to make it happen even when it doesn't add up) and adopt a weak view of God's Sovereignty and leave the determinism at the door.
I'll go into that more in future posts that will speak of other passages that show that there's more than what Calvinism is citing from Scripture about God's Sovereignty that also goes against the Philosophical basis that I and others believe is more behind these views.
Just to end though with evidence again from Calvin Himself if there's any doubt about what we're saying here about Calvin's views and the system that bears his name:
To sum up, since God's will is said to be the cause of all things, I have made his providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its force in the elect, who are ruled by the Holy Spirit, but also to compel the reprobate to obedience.(Calvin, Institutes 1.18.2)
Just to make it clear, what Calvin is saying is that when the "reprobate" (those outside of the elect who are going to hell) do what they do, or what they omit that is consistent with their lost condition, they're not doing it by God's "permission" they are doing it in obedience to God's decree and meticulous plan meaning that the evil done by wicked people is foreordained and rendered certain by God.
Now, to make clear, and to repeat what I've said before, I'm looking at a very narrow definition of Calvinism here, in terms of Hyper-Calvinists or High Calvinists.
Do I believe that most Calvinists believe that God is the author of evil? No I don't. I can find, as can they, countless quotes from Calvinists who go to great lengths that God is not the author of Evil, and when they say this, I agree with them and I think that they are correct for the most part when they make that appeal. What I am saying though is that despite the very best intentions of those same Calvinists, if they hold to the strong determinism of Calvin (as evidenced in his quotes) and like for example, R.C. Sproul who says every molecule in the universe is completely under the intended will of God or else Christ's return itself can be thwarted, that those positions are irreconcilable.
To make them work you have to either, discard this permissive will of God that many do in fact appeal to recognizing that they cannot concluse that God is the author of evil, or you have to make the very hard decision to stop speaking contradictorally and embrace not just the premises of this Divine Determinism but also the conclusions and consequences.
So I'm not attacking most Calvinists with what I'm saying here. I'm sympathetic with the situation that they find themselves. I understand the anger and frustration that comes with pushing the point. Nobody who loves God likes being told that the heart of their theology makes God the author of evil. I suspect even those who declare it openly are not happy about it. There would be something seriously wrong, I think, in the heart of someone would jump up and down in joy over God creating evil, and sending people to hell for His "own good pleasure" (even though there are some rare birds like that out there, I'm sad to say.)
So, this is a little bit of expanding to strengthen and clarify. I'll continue with this discussion on the Strong vs. the Weak view of Sovereignty and why the permissive will of God fits better in the latter.
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender