From “Ultimate Questions.”
A sovereign God is the necessary foundation for a sound theology. Any compromise in the doctrine of God generates a rippling effect that destroys the integrity of all other biblical doctrines. Once we accept a false view of God, the rest of the system cannot be Christian.
For example, a sovereign God contradicts the idea that man exercises free will when it comes to any matter, including salvation. The sovereignty of God and the freedom of man are mutually exclusive. To affirm one is to deny the other. Accordingly, a person who insists that he accepts Christ because of his own free will, and not because of God’s sovereign choice and direct action in his soul, cannot at the same time affirm a sovereign God. Since the only God presented in the Bible is an absolutely sovereign God, a person who affirms human free will cannot, without contradiction, affirm belief in God.
Some theologians perceive this dilemma, and so they choose to believe in a contradiction. But this makes them look stupid, and some of them cannot endure the humiliation. So they invent a way out, and say that God’s sovereignty is “compatible” with human choice. Sometimes it is even said that divine sovereignty is compatible with human “freedom” in the sense that the man who chooses is not coerced in his choice, but he chooses according to his desire.
Of course man chooses, but what makes him choose? What is the metaphysics of human choice? And what is the metaphysical explanation for his desire? If God is absolutely sovereign, then he also decides and causes human choice and desire. And if God is the one who decides and causes human choice and desire, then to say that divine sovereignty and human choice are compatible is only to say that God is compatible with himself. But we already know that, and man is still not free.
Human choice is irrelevant, since it comes under divine sovereignty. To say that man is not coerced is only to say that in this instance God does not cause one effect of his power to clash with another effect of his power, as he does when he causes two objects to crash into each other. But if there is no contradiction when God causes two objects to crash, then even coercion entails no contradiction. It would only mean that he causes a person to desire one thing but to choose another, and he remains compatible with himself. What would be the problem with that?
Indeed, the absolute sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man are compatible. Perhaps this is what the theologians are so worried about. But man is morally responsible only because God has decided to hold him accountable. This has no necessarily connection with choice or freedom. Even coercion does not eliminate responsibility. What does one have to do with another? The moral responsibility of man depends on the absolute sovereignty of God, and nothing else. Therefore, to say that man is responsible, once again, is only to say that God is compatible with himself.
It remains, then, that divine sovereignty and human freedom are incompatible. For man to be free in any relevant sense, he must be free from God, and if he is free from God in any sense and in any degree, then God is not absolutely sovereign. The God of the Bible is rejected.