Sovereignty refers to supreme power or authority. See the word “reign” in there? It’s a royal word connected to Kings and Queens.
Our democratic ideals don’t like it. We’ve been taught since our cradles to distrust it. Our words for Kings and Queens–at least the ones who hold real power over a state–are more likely to be Despot or Dictator.
Power corrupts, we say. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Therefore, power must always be by social contract, checked and balanced, shared, spread out, and limited.
We were taught this not only in school, but in our art. The Emperor is the bad guy. He’s on the Dark Side.
So, in this atmosphere of academic and cultural distaste for sovereignty we struggle to comprehend a God who is called sovereign. A King of Kings and Lord of Lords sounds a bit unconstitutional, doesn’t it?
Thankfully, our Fairy Tales retain for us the category of Benevolent Dictator–one in whom we see wisdom, goodness, beauty, and power perfectly joined to the ecstatic joy of the subjects of the land– Who don’t find themselves oppressed, but flourishing. Art is employed to extoll these virtues, and society flourishes. “Joy to the Earth, the Savior reigns. Let men their songs employ.”
I’m not arguing against democracy. I believe in sin. I believe in the corrupting influence of power in the hearts of men and women. I like checks and balances. I root for the resistance in Star Wars.
And yet–I’m keenly aware (and I’m hoping you’ll be provoked to consider) that my democratic values can make me resistant to God. And it takes counter-cultural work to trust Him. Thank God for Fairy Tales–and the modern reiterations I find in C.S. Lewis’s Aslan and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Aragorn–to give me notions of Sovereignty that lift my suspicious heart to trust, admiration, and worship.
“People treat God’s sovereignty as a matter of controversy, but in Scripture it is a matter of worship.”J.I. Packer