John Frame on God’s sovereignty and human freedom


I’m continuing to read John Frame’s “The doctrine of God” with my ministry trainee.  Lots of what Frame writes has helped clarify what I learned at Oak Hill College about the sovereignty of God and our freedom (does anyone remember the liberty of spontaneity and liberty of indifference?)

In his helpful section on good and bad analogies for sovereignty and freedom Frame outlines the best, though imperfect, analogy of God as the author of a novel with people as the characters:

  1. God creates the story, which is complex beyond human understanding and has billions of characters as it unfolds over millennia.  The story is real.
  2. God fits the characters to the plot.
  3. God causes events to happen but the characters must also cause events to happen according to the characters they have been given (they cannot act out of character).
  4. As author, God has complete control over every detail of the plot.
  5. As author, God is involved in every detail of the plot (his presence).
  6. There are two distinct levels of control, God and the story itself.
  7. There is an asymmetry of power. God can become a character but the characters cannot become God.
  8. The characters have responsibility to each other and to God.

Frame points out that the analogy is deficient because the decreed will of the author is absent in a novel or play.  The characters  in a book have no responsibility to the author.

Whilst at college and as I read Frame I have developed in my mind an analogy of life as a real projection from God.  God is pure act and so all that happens in the universe is a direct result of God’s action, as God both created and sustains the universe. In sustaining all things God exercises control, authority and presence.  The universe is like a massive 4D movie screen with real life, sense and feeling as God plays out the drama that is biblical history.  The analogy falls down because it is not personal, images on a screen cannot have a real relationship with the projector.  The analogies do, however,  help me grasp just how awesome is the God who made the universe.

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