If you read Intersections very frequently, you know that I spend a good amount of time reading to my daughter. I recently pointed out the moon in one of the pictures in our book and asked her if she had seen the moon. She closed her eyes and thought for a split second before her eyes lit up as she exclaimed, “There’s one at Pa’s house!”
The innocence of her declaration is beautiful, isn’t it? Our little girl knows that there is a kitchen set at Ma’s house and a doggy at Pa’s house. And, when we ask her about the moon, she knows she has seen “one of those” at Pa’s house. If you think about it, how exactly was she supposed to know that we see the same moon at our house that we see at Pa’s house?
While it is comical to think about a 2-year old imagining there are 2 different moons, it’s simply a matter of perspective and limited knowledge. We laugh because it’s obvious how the limited perspective and knowledge of a toddler leads to the conclusion that we see different moons from totally different locations.
If we would simply apply the same, simple logic to theology, we could avoid a great deal of strife. We witness this reality in countless expressions of the tension between Divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
- Has God determined what is going to happen or can my prayer really change things?
- Was it God’s will for Adam to eat the fruit or was Redemption the 2nd best plan?
- How can humans be legitimately responsible for their sin if not all are elected to salvation by God?
- The list goes on …
Scripture clearly affirms both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of humanity. How can God be fully sovereign and humans be fully responsible? The same way that we can see the same moon at our house and at Pa’s house. The only problem is that in our theological triage, we must admit that we have the knowledge and perspective of a toddler. Ouch. Kidney shot to the ego.
But maybe, just maybe, that’s the point. Maybe the “secret things” of Deuteronomy 29:29 really do “belong to the Lord.” Maybe we’ll never have a full explanation, this side of eternity. And if that’s the case, then we should affirm that God is fully sovereign, humans are fully responsible, and we are meant to live on mission and leave some questions to our Maker.
**Editor’s Note: for more on this topic, check out this podcast from Timothy Keller, titled “Does God Control Everything?”**