June 30, 2008

The Two Wills of God

I was so pleased to hear that this topic was to be preached at my church yesterday. Andy Naselli (phd student, TEDS) approached a very challenging topic with academic skill and pastoral sensitivity, I'll be sure to link to the audio as soon as it becomes available online.

So you're thinking...has she gone mad? God has 2 wills? Let me explain.

You may have in the past heard about Gods will as it is revealed to us in the word, and chances are you've prayed or wondered about God's will in your own life. The Bible gives us a great deal of information on this topic.

Theologically, we can understand there to be 2 wills of God: his sovereign (or decretive will) and his moral (or preceptive will). His sovereign will is rooted in what has been decreed by him to take place. Apart from some prophecy, his sovereign will remains hidden until it comes to pass in time and space. God's moral will is rooted in what God has commanded/revealed in Scripture. We are responsible for obeying this aspect of his will as it has been revealed to us for such purposes.

The reason for this sermon was to address I Timothy 2:4 and whether or not God wants all people to be saved. This question relates to the nature of the atonement, and though my position on that is for the limited view, I simply cannot get into that in this post. But Andy does a great job showing that what God wants and what God decrees are often not the same thing, and that this doesn't create any sort of divine incoherence.

The idea of the 2 wills is indeed a paradox, but not a logical inconsistency. This isn't a matter of A=-A. We see this clearly in Scripture. We know that God is sovereign and yet man is still responsible for his sin. While the sin of murder, killing Jesus on the cross, was ordained by God (Acts 2:23), the men who did it are responsible for there actions. Without the text of Scripture we wouldn't understand God's sovereign will in this story, it is one of the few that are revealed to us.

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