Christianity and the Problem of History

By Roger Lincoln Shinn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
FAITH AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

NATURAL temptation and plentiful precedent often lead authors, after examining and criticizing the views of others, to offer the world their own confident answers to questions that have puzzled the ages. Usually the world is a bit more amused, but no wiser, for their presumption. It would be particularly amusing if, after chapters of insistence that human rationality cannot see through the problems of history, this final chapter should pretend to offer the solutions.

But there may be some purpose in looking for a few major convictions which emerge from the examination of many facets of Christian tradition. Inevitably the personal judgments which have repeatedly colored pages of this book will in the process come a bit more clearly into the open.

In the last analysis the problem of history for faith is the problem of the sovereignty of God. If God rules the world, then provisional chaos and meaninglessness finally contribute to His purpose, and history is not in vain. If God does not rule, then whatever achievements may be wrought, the final words pronounced upon history are doom and despair.

Certainly the sovereignty of God is not obvious in history. No body of evidence sufficient to convince the dispassionate observer can be collected. Even to eyes of faith God's sovereignty is seldom clear -- else the Old Testament would not have been driven finally to forsake the idea of a conclusive providence. Eschatology arose when men, facing the frustration which his-

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