Having embraced the classical Christian conception that God is, always has been, and always will be sovereign over everything, I nevertheless see some apparent tension in this with another prominent Scriptural theme, and I’m curious how or if others here reconcile these two.
I confess that my clouded western eyes probably cannot clearly apprehend most of the lessons to be gleaned in Revelation – this may be one of them (11:17): “… We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”
This isn’t just one isolated thought here. The gospels too are sprinkled with (…shall we strengthen that to “grounded upon”?) the conviction that God’s Kingdom is breaking in upon us, giving a clear sense that something that was not here before is emerging now, and (on the Revelation account) has not yet been fully consummated.
It seems to me that there must be two distinct levels of “Lordship” happening. On the one hand, If God is already sovereign over everything, then in what sense can anybody ever have claimed that God’s Kingdom had not yet arrived? Yet Scriptures do firmly embed that emergence in the midst of (and not at the beginning of) our own recorded covenantal history. One could argue that human free will / moral responsibility (which I also fully accept as subsumed underneath the complete sovereignty of God) will be the last rebellious agency that is being brought back to God as part of the Kingdom of God that exists in our hearts as a community. But this still seems to teeter on the presumption that there was something (our free will) that was/still is operating outside of God’s sovereignty which I reject (prematurely according to some here, I know) as not part of the classic Christian conception of God’s complete rule. And in any case, peace between lions and lambs seems to refer to the wider nature of things than just humans for the eventual transformation of our entire world (and not just us) into God’s Kingdom when it has fully arrived.
I know that those who have let go of any notion of complete sovereignty, via various open theisms, have already excused themselves from this issue, and in fact probably used it as their doorway out. But for any who also still recognize the indisputably coexistent theme of God’s complete and eternal sovereignty, do you have any insights on how these two different levels of kingship are wedded within your faithful understandings?
Like the little boy up front during children’s moments in church who was asked what has a bushy tail, runs up trees and collects nuts for the winter … he responds: “I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me” – I already know the answer to my challenge here must center around Christ; clarifications are still welcome, though.