A manifesto regarding the sovereign power of God, written for a secularized world.
Vass (A Reformed View of the Sovereignty of God in a Postmodern World, 2012, etc.) offers a well-researched, erudite study of postmodernism and its relationship to traditional Christian views of God. Roughly the first half of his work is dedicated to exploring the topics of modernism and modernity, postmodernism and “postmodernity” (which “suggests that we cannot be certain that there is any objective truth to be discovered”), and even post-secularism. This is no small task, and it involves introducing readers to the ideas of a wide range of thinkers, from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to theologian Rudolf Bultmann. It’s in the second half, however, that Vass moves from a pedagogical stance to a hermeneutical one as he discusses the sovereignty of God. The author’s goal is to emphasize God’s complete power and control over all creation. Vass argues against widespread views on free will, stating that God controls everything: “In His sovereignty God decrees all things, even all sins.” He also notes that “There is no freedom until the Spirit of God creates it.” But while he blames postmodernism for many views that he finds to be unbiblical, many of them seem to simply stem from the ideas of the 16th- and 17th-century Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius. For instance, at one point, Vass forthrightly states that “God does not love everyone” and goes on to explain that God saves those he does love and doesn’t provide salvation for those he hates. Although he asserts that the God-loves-all philosophy stems from cultural relativism, it may instead have deeper roots in non-Calvinist Christian sects. These aspects aside, the author does provide a powerful statement of belief in God’s ultimate sovereignty, daring postmodernists to provide a reasonable retort beyond simple unbelief. After so much development, however, it would have been nice if the two halves of Vass’ work were better integrated.
This weighty work, steeped in philosophical language and argument, won’t be for everyone, but it does provide substantial food for thought.