“If God be our sovereign, we ought to subscribe to his afflicting will without debates. . . . It is God’s part to inflict, and the creature’s part to submit. . . . It is an unreasonable thing not to leave God to the exercise of his own dominion.”
— Stephen Charnock
I saw this quote on social media, and will assume it is correctly attributed and quoted.
Let me see here. The argument being presented here is God’s causality (afflicting), which is the major premise, and the conclusion is an ethic (man submitting). I have already written at length about this issue of making a category fallacy with ontology (God causing) to ethics (what man ought to do). You cannot go from God causing in the premise, to concluding ethics in the conclusion, without human delusion and superstition. The bible does not do this, and the bible does not violate the laws of logic.
Therefore, leaving this broad issue, I want to just show the superstition of this statement by using this statement against itself. We will use the same category of God causing something, and then concluding with another type of ethic.
“If God be our sovereign, we ought to subscribe to his afflicting will without debates. . . . It is God’s part to inflict all mankind with being born sinners, and the creature’s part to submit to this; or that is, to be sinners. It is unreasonable to fight God’s sovereignty. If God sovereignly afflicted you to be a sinner you ought to resign yourself to this and be one. If God wills, then maybe one day God will remove this from you, until then be the sinner God caused you to be.”
The problem is obvious. Christian ethics, “what we ought to do,” is based on God’s commandments, not on divining the stars and His causality. It is true God has sovereignly afflicted all mankind to be born with Adam’s sinful record and even with a sinful nature (Romans 5). However, what we “ought” to do about this is not divined from human speculation like voodoo; rather, it comes from what God has commanded us to do in this situation. Pagan superstition will take metaphysics and ontology and conclude an ethics with it. However, it is logically invalid to conclude in a category that is not part of the premises. This logical fallacy is best termed as superstition. A pagan witch doctor will look at reality and causality and superstitiously conclude an ethic. Example: the stars are in this position, an albino animal was seen doing this or that, therefore, we “ought” to do this x or y.
Christianity is not superstition; it starts with God’s revelation and concludes using God’s logic. So what, if God caused you to be born a sinner? There is no promise or command in such a statement about reality, and thus, there is no conclusion for what you ought to do. What has God commanded and promised? God has commanded all to repent and to believe in His Son Jesus Christ for salvation. Even though God caused us to be sinners, He has commanded us to stop being sinners by believing in His Son.
Another problem with the above, is that it disrespects God, by shoving His commands aside. It abuses God’s sovereignty to remove the responsibility of obeying God’s command. This will not work.
The same problems as the above are true, when we apply God’s sovereignty to God inflicting us with sickness and everyday troubles. On the relative level, or from our perspective, Satan causes much or all sickness (Acts10:38). However, on the ultimate level, God causes all things. Even though it was the evil spirit that deceived the false prophets and Ahab, God manipulated it, sent it and even controls its mind.
Thus, God sovereignty afflicts with sickness and troubles, if we are talking about the only real level of causality, which we are because God causes all to be born with Adam’s sinful record and to be sinful in nature.
Back to sickness.
“If God be our sovereign, we ought to subscribe to his afflicting will without debates. . . . It is God’s part to inflict all mankind with sickness, and the creature’s part to submit to this, as their ethic; that is, to be sick, until God’s does something different about it…”
Again, this abuses God’s sovereignty to remove the responsibility to obey God’s command. God commands repeatedly in the scripture to get healed. James says if you’re sick, you are to give a prayer of faith, (along with the elders) and God will heal you. And if you have sinned, God will also forgive you. James is not telling you to merely pray about your sickness, but is commanding you to pray and get healed. It is not a suggestion. It is not a suggestion to praise God, when God has done good things for you. God promises to heal when we ask in faith. This is Christian ethics. God’s promises are the new creation, the new identity of the Christian in Christ. It is not optional to get healed, because it is not optional to disobey God, and not optional to operate in your new identity in Christ. It is your responsibility to use your own faith and be healed.
Jacob wrestling God, even when God told him to let Him go, was accepted because God always accepts faith. The lepers and blind men were not healed because God’s sovereignty saved them, but because their faith saved them. This is how Jesus, the most God-centered man who ever lived, framed the issue. Therefore, this is how we will frame the issue. Healing and victory over the troubles of life, are the will of man, not God. This is how God wants you to see it. The blind and lepers did not go to Jesus because God sovereignly healed them first, and thus, conclude from this it is ethical for them to submit to health because God sovereignly caused it. No. They heard the promise of God, which is true Christian ethics, and had faith to obey God. Faith is super high-level obedience to God. Without it, you cannot please God, because without it you are disobeying Him.
Abusing God’s sovereignty to cast aside these commands is of no use. All will be held accountable to submit to them.
The quote talked about “submitting” and “pledging” yourself to what God causes. Why not submit yourself to God’s commands and obey them? Why not resign yourself to obey God’s promises, without debates. How unreasonable would it be to not let the Sovereign Creator command His subjects and expect them to obey Him? Human tradition will use all sorts of biblical language (particularly about God’s sovereignty) to try and remove their accountability from obeying God’s commands. This is a demonic abuse of God’s sovereignty.
Jesus and the apostles repeatedly said we ought to “submit” to obeying God’s commandments. We love God by obeying Him. No amount of abusing God’s sovereignty can remove this accountability off your shoulders. Sure, there is some broad ideas of God’s providence we need to keep in mind, knowing He will work all things and troubles of life to our good. This should give us, not only longsuffering, but also meekness and faith to acquire the promises of God for victory. But even if we are under our Father’s discipline, we are commanded to submit to this by submitting to His commands to repent, overcome and then be blessed. But if you ignore God’s commands that tell you what to do in specific troubles, and you cast them aside like a common thing, then have no confidence God will work all things for the good, for a reprobate like you.
Here is a pro tip. If you are talking about ethics, go to God’s commands and promises and obey them. If a person is talking about submitting to God’s sovereignty, but not His promises, avoid them as if they were dipped in a vat of deadly plague. They have no clue what they are talking about. They stand in the town square calling out to the simple minded. They have perfumed their books and studies with spices, but under the covers of their books they are filled with witchcraft and superstition. The stairs of their houses lead to hell, and their churches to hades. Flee spiritual immorality.
 For clarity I am referring to deductive logic and basic laws of logic (which is how God’s mind is structured). Deductive logic starts with God revealing, or a God starting point for knowledge. I am not referring to inductive logic, which presupposes a human starting point. Some use the term “human logic,” as including all logic, but that is blaspheme, because God is Logic itself. However, inductive logic (including the scientific method that uses the fallacy of affirming the consequent) presupposes a human starting point of knowledge. Thus, in this sense, inductive logic can be termed “human logic.” Likewise, the laws of logic and deductive logic, because it presupposes a God starting point for knowledge, can be called God’s logic.