John Frame on the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom
Frame is so often an invaluable guide in navigating theological conundrums such as the following:
It often comes as an exciting discovery that doctrines that seem at first glance to be opposed are actually complementary, if not actually dependent one on another.
For Calvinists, for example, divine sovereignty and human freedom are examples of that sort of dependence and complementarity. Although at first glance those doctrines appear to be opposed to one another, a closer look shows that without divine sovereignty there would be no meaning in human life and therefore no meaningful form of freedom.
And if our concern for freedom is essentially a concern to maintain human ethical responsibility, we should observe that divine sovereignty is the source of human responsibility. Because the sovereign Lord is the cause of an authority over human responsibility, we can say that God’s sovereignty—His absolute lordship—establishes human responsibility.
Thus Scripture often places the two doctrines side by side, with no embarrassment or sense of impropriety whatsoever (cf. Acts 2:23; 4:27f.; Phil. 2:12f.). Human responsibility exists no “in spite of” but “because of” God’s sovereignty. Not only are the two compatible; they require each other.
—John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1987), 268.