We Are Not Autonomous

from Feb 28, 2018 Category: Ligonier Resources

In this brief clip from his teaching series Willing to Believe, R.C. Sproul explains how understanding human freedom as human autonomy is the end of any idea of a sovereign God.

I’d just like to say to you at the outset that the two concepts of human freedom and divine sovereignty are not inherently contradictory. There may be an abundance of mystery on how the two interact and relate, but they are not inherently contradictory. Let me tell you what is contradictory. These two concepts: sovereignty and human autonomy.

If we mean by freedom absolute freedom or what we call autonomy—where the person is a law unto themselves, where there is no overarching, binding authority or power that restricts them from exercising whatever options they choose to exercise—if you mean by freedom absolute freedom or autonomy—then there’s no way in the world you’re ever going to be able to square these two concepts. Because if God is sovereign, meaning that His freedom is absolute and extends over His whole creation so that He has the power and the ability to choose whatsoever He will, If God is sovereign, then manifestly no creature can be autonomous because to be autonomous is to be a law unto yourself and to be a law unto yourself precludes the possibility of anything or anyone reigning sovereignly over you.

So these two concepts cannot coexist. If God is sovereign, we are manifestly not autonomous. On the other hand, if we are autonomous, then that’s the end of any idea of a sovereign God.