If God is not sovereign, God is not God. Today, R.C. Sproul reveals that it is an abandonment not only of Christianity, but of theism itself if we believe that anything lies outside of God’s ultimate control.
When I was teaching seminary, I was responsible to teach a course on the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith is 17th century theological document that was the confessional foundation for historic Presbyterianism.
And we had come to the place in the confession where I was going to have to teach chapter three the following week, and chapter three is entitled On The Eternal Decrees of God. Now I was among Presbyterians, so they know exactly what that means. They says, "Uh-oh, now we're going to talk about predestination." And when you get a bunch of seminary students together, and there's nothing they enjoy better than to chew over questions about predestination and have endless discussions into the night. They love it, and they love to debate that topic. So I said next Tuesday night, we're going to take up chapter three of the confession.
Now you have to understand that this particular class was open to the public. And so people who were not enrolled as seminary students were allowed to come in and audit the class or drop by to visit a particular lecture. So every one of my students who had a friend who didn't believe in predestination, they went out and cornered them and grabbed them by the throat and say, "You've got to come hear our professor, and he's going to play Paladin, Have Gun – Will Travel. He's going to teach us all about predestination." So we had about 250 students assembled, I guess, that night in the class. And I started the class by reading the opening lines of chapter three of the Westminster Confession.
I don't have them down verbatim, but I can give you basically what it says there. It starts off by saying something like this that God has or does from all eternity, immutably and sovereignly ordain whatsoever comes to pass, comma. I'll say that again. God does sovereignly, immutably ordain whatsoever comes to pass, comma. I stopped right there at the comma and I said "Now here's this statement, it says that from all eternity, God does freely and sovereignly, and immutably ordain every single thing that comes to pass. How many of you believe that?"
I mean this was a Presbyterian seminary and 200 hands went up in the air, proudly wearing the badge of their conviction of the sovereignty. They go "Oh we believe that." 50 hands didn't go up. I said, "Okay, how many of you don't believe it?" I said, "It's okay. Nobody's taken down names and you're not going to get in any trouble or we're not going to have a heresy trial here or get out the matches, burn you at the stake." I said, "Let's be honest. How many of you don't believe that?" About 50 guys raised their hand. "We don't believe that.
I said, "Okay, let me ask another question. How many of you would candidly describe yourselves as atheists? Again, no persecution going to be taking place here. Just how many of you would call yourself atheist?" Nobody put up their hand. And I immediately went into my Lieutenant Colombo routine. "There's just one thing I don't understand here. I don't understand why those of you who did say that you did not believe in this statement, didn't raise your hand when I asked you if you were atheist." Well, I mean, there was a hue and cry and I was ready to be lynched. They said, "What are you talking about? Just because we don't believe that God freely and immutably ordains whatsoever comes to pass, you're calling us atheist." I said "That's exactly what I'm calling you."
I said "If you don't believe that God ordains everything that comes to pass, bottom line, you don't believe in God. You don't believe in God." I said, "You have to understand that this passage here in the confession that God ordains everything that comes to pass, there's not anything in that statement that is uniquely Presbyterian. There's not even anything in there that's uniquely Christian. That statement doesn't divide Presbyterians from Methodists or Lutherans or Anglicans. And it doesn't distinguish between Presbyterians and Islamic religion or Judaism religions. It's a distinction between theism and atheism. It's a statement, simply a declaration of the absolute sovereignty of God." What I tried to get these young people to see was this, very simply that if God is not sovereign, God is not God. If there is one maverick molecule in the universe, one molecule running loose outside the scope of God's sovereign ordination, then ladies and gentlemen, there is not the slightest confidence that you can have that any promise that God has ever made about the future will come to pass.