Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God Is Not In Control

God is not in control.

Contrary to popular theology, God is not in control. God is not in control of my life. God does not want to be in control of my life. I do not want God to be in control of my life.

God is Sovereign. And one day all will be called to acknowledge that.

God is faithful. And we are invited to experience that faithfulness, and challenged to hold on to that faithfulness in good times and in bad times.

But God is not in control.

Why is it important that we recognise this?

Because we are called to share in God’s likeness.

God is Sovereign, and we are called to exercise his life-affirming rule over flora and fauna: to be sovereigns under the High King of Heaven.

God is faithful, and we are called to be faithful in all our relationships.

To claim that God is in control is to abdicate our part as faithful sovereigns.

But more than that, if God is in control then it would be appropriate, indeed incumbent upon us, to exercise control over others. For their own good, obviously.

God has chosen to not be in control, to find another way to get done what he has planned. And so we must never, ever seek control over anyone or anything.

Exercising control is the very antithesis of God. It is satanic.

My wife put it like this:
When we say “God is in control” what we mean is God is Sovereign and God is faithful. So let’s start using those biblical descriptions instead.


  1. I like this. I recently read an article on Rachel Held Evans blog where she says "I believe that God is in control. I do not believe that God controls." ALthough the wording seems to oppose what you are saying I think she is saying a similar thing. She also writes "I believe He chooses not to control us because He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us—and true love simply cannot coexist with absolute control. God didn’t want robots; He wanted relationships."
    This is the link if you're interested I'm thinking all this stuff through a lot at the moment, not always with great clarity though!

    1. Hi Anna,
      Thanks for your comment, and the link. I like what Rachel writes about nothing being beyond God's redeeming reach. I think this is part of his being Sovereign and faithful. I do think we are trying to express the same thing, each constrained by the limitation of language to speak of God.

      Rachel is opposing a view where God being in control, behind the scenes, is the ultimate description we can make of God. I share her opposition to that view. But in using the same term, albeit qualified and defined in a different way, she doesn't go quite as far as I would like. For me, Sovereign and faithful are more fundamental statements of God than 'in control'...and 'God is love' is the most fundamental of all, the bottom-line behind which there is nothing else to say about God.

      And this opens up a way of understanding the role of control as an expression of love: our Sovereign, faithful, God of love has self-control.

      Of course, there is a rightful role for control, without which there would be lawlessness and unbridled chaos. But the form of control I believe that God exercises and longs for us to exercise is self-control. God is committed to coaching us in this, disciplining us, and the evidence of self-control in our lives is an aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. To grow in godliness, then, is to put to death the desire to control others and the desire to throw off self-control.

      Thanks again for your feedback. I'm glad that you are thinking through these things, even if clarity eludes us all!

      Love to you, Rich, and the kids :-)

  2. Very interesting. A logical process of thinking and good food for thought. However, i don't fully agree. I think it depends on your definition of "Control". You have chosen sovereign and faithful, which i agree with!
    i think that saying because we are made like God it means that if he was in control we must be too doesn't work, because we don't have all the characteristics of God. If we did we would be God. So God can be in control without us needing to be.
    But also, we do strive for control. I know it's something i've struggled with, wanting control over my life. And i know people who strive to control the lives of others. But when we follow God we choose to surrender our control and trust His control (or sovereignity and faithfulness) instead.