The tension between the Sovereignty of God and the exercise of human will is the age old question of theology and ethics. What is ordained by God and what ethics acts is man responsible for? The ability to choose between good and evil without reference to the grace of God or any external constraint or imposed necessity. Normally, the issue pertains to the question of free will after the Fall. The apparent conflict between the exercise of free will and the sovereign omnipotence of God is the subject of endless theological debates, between Augustinianism and Pelagianism in the early church and between Calvinism and Arminianism in the latter-day church. Augustinianism held that after the Fall the will is inherently enslaved and corrupted by original sin. Calvinism held that God has a predetermined plan for each human being. In matters of salvation Calvinism emphasizes the weakness of the will and the power of sin. Both taught the liberating power of grace. Predestination is among the most important and controversial matters with which Christians, as well as adherents to other monotheistic religions professing divine sovereignty (e.g., Judaism and Islam), have historically grappled. In the Old Testament, predestination is a facet of Yahweh’s reign over all that He created and sustains. Yahweh is the ruler of all history who can infallibly declare the future before it happens (Isa 48:3–5; Dan 4:35), while other gods are the powerless, ignorant, and lifeless creations of human beings (Isa 41:21–24; 44:9–20; Jer 10:1–16). Yahweh predestined the nation of Israel among all the peoples on earth to be His chosen and holy people (Deut 7:6; 14:2), a light to the rest of the world. The best known and most loved New Testament summary of the gospel is Ephesians 2:8–9, with its emphasis on grace and faith. Ephesians also notes God’s delight in electing persons to salvation. The language of predestination to eternal life is pronounced (1:5, 11), as is Paul’s notion that “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (5:25). (The long-standing theological dispute about divine election—predestination—is a matter of discerning the basis of God’s choice. All students who take the Bible seriously affirm divine predestination; the debate is simply over its basis.)
These ideas lead to thoughts on ethics and how the Divine interacts with them. The key, of course, is that God’s will determines the norms. The basis of his choice, however, is understood differently depending on the theory. Divine command theories can be roughly divided on this matter in terms of the question raised pointedly in Plato’s Euthyphro. That dialogue discusses whether an act is right because God wills it, or whether God wills it because he knows it is right. Divine command theories vary in their answer to Plato’s question, but during the Middle Ages divine command theorists typically chose the former option. A prime example of such a theory from medieval times is William of Ockham’s. According to Ockham, whatever God wills must be done simply because he says so. If God had wanted, he could have ordered men to obey the opposite of the Ten Commandments. Even now he can rescind those laws and will their opposite.
On the contemporary scene there are proponents of the divine command theory. Some give the impression that God chooses his commands completely arbitrarily; others hold that God’s choices are not purely arbitrary, though they do not always explain God’s rationale for his choices.
In addition, some ethicists hold a modified divine command theory. Robert M. Adams is a well-known proponent of such a view. He follows divine command theories in that he claims that ethical prescriptions say something about God’s will and commands. On the other hand, Adams says every statement of ethical right and wrong presupposes that “certain conditions for the applicability of the believer’s concepts of ethical right and wrong are satisfied.” Among those conditions is that God is love. Thus, Adams’s theory amounts to the following: “x is ethically wrong” means “x is contrary to the commands of a loving God.” For Adams this implies that while it is logically possible for God to command cruelty for its own sake, it is unthinkable that he would do so.
 George Thomas Kurian, Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary: The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001).
 Kirk R. MacGregor, "Predestination" In , in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry, Lazarus Wentz, Douglas Mangum et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014).
 Kendell H. Easley, Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding the Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2002), 298-99.
 John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 26.
Billy Crow, Christ follower, husband of Meggin, daddy of Hannah and Eli. Blessed beyond measure in every way.