The Alternative to a Sovereign God

By Mark R. Rushdoony
September 19, 2005

The alternative to a sovereign God is a sovereign man. The alternative to a determining God is a determining man.

The idea of God predestinating from eternity (Eph. 1:4–5) is offensive to many. The alternative to a decreeing God, however, is a spectator God, one who is Himself subject to the actions of men in time and history. Man wants to believe he is in control. Even Christians often want a God who only reacts to man, like an umpire or judge. To whatever extent we deny predestination to God, we thereby transfer it to man.

When men believe they control history, they are determined to do so, and great evils result because they must then control men and nations. Men must acquire and exercise power for such control. Fascism, communism, and socialism are recent examples of the results of men trying to determine the course of history.

Men try to control others by less austere, but still utopian, ideas of the future they hope to create. Determining man seeks to monopolize education. John Dewey was clear that the goals of public education should be the socialization of individuals, who would be fit citizens of the society he envisioned. Determining man seeks to control the economy and create a paper money because of the limitations imposed by taxes and debt. Determining man sees the state as the avenue by which he controls others. Such statists can even make democracy a tool of imperialism. The goal of controlling others, even for ostensibly good reasons, is an evil one. It is playing God and presuming the right to predestinate in His place.

Men who seek to control nations, armies, money, and individuals are not afraid to dictate morality. Either God rules and His law-word is authoritative, or man rules and his law-word is authoritative. Denying God’s sovereignty over time and eternity creates a void, and this is man’s reason for such a denial. Men rush into the void they have defined. If God is not sovereign, man is. This is the faith of humanism, that man is a god, who in his own right knows or determines good and evil (Gen. 3:5).

Without a sovereign God who transcends time and history, man assumes that prerogative. Either God governs or man does. Either God is sovereign or man is. Either God defines righteousness or man does. Either God justifies man by His free grace or man is free to justify himself.

From eternity God declared our justification. From eternity came the cause of the result, our conversion by grace received through faith alone. The cause was God’s decree from eternity; the result is our salvation in time and history.

The doctrine of God’s sovereign predestination from eternity in no way undermines the reality of our justification in time and history. Rather it establishes the total meaning and relevance of what happens in time and history because it comes from the decree of a transcendent God of total meaning.

Topics: Dominion, Government

Mark R. Rushdoony

Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.

He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.

In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at

He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.

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