Necessary World Theology is a system of thought that essentially states that the world that actually exists is a necessary outworking of God’s nature, such that – because God is what he is – the world could not have been different than what it is.
One of the core elements of NWT is what it has to say about free will and sovereignty. Under this theory, the sovereignty of God and the free will of man are directly concerned with the relationship each party has to the natural function of time.
Humans exist within the flow of time, such that each individual experiences the sequence of past, present and future. Consequently, in each moment, an individual uses experience and knowledge from the immediate or distant past in order to make free-will decisions in the moment leading to consequences in the future. This constant flow of human action within the construct of time is exactly what creates the free-will experience.
God, on the other hand, exists in an eternal state outside of time.* This makes for an entirely different interaction with the construct of time, and with time-bound creatures.
In this respect, God could be said to be entirely immediate in every moment simultaneously. God’s nature is eternal and unchanging, as compared to the flow of time which is nothing but change. When God’s unchanging nature interacts with the changing construct of time, what occurs is a single action which directs all things according to his nature.
A possible analogy might be chemistry. Imagine a chemical solution which is entirely uniform across its entire mass. Then imagine a fibrous strip of litmus paper which is multifaceted within each fiber. Submerge the strip in the solution and each fiber of the strip experiences a different response, but the chemical remains uniform and unchanged.
God’s eternal unchanging nature is fully revealed and defined as it interacts with every aspect of the consistently changing universe, just as the changes a litmus paper experiences reveals the nature of the chemical in which it is submerged.
Humans have free will insofar as they operate off the past to make decisions in the present which affect the future, but they do so entirely within the eternal nature of God, which overwhelms and supersedes all things.
So God is sovereign in the sense that he is simultaneously creating the world, judging the world by flood, saving the world through Christ, and creating a new heaven and a new earth. The very act of creating time involves predestination and working all things according to his will - which is never inconsistent in any given time-bound scenario.
This can easily be seen in passages such as Deuteronomy wherein, after delivering the blessings and curses, God plainly tells the people that their future generations will break the commandments and stoke his wrath. At the same time God is delivering the law, he is executing the law on future generations. It could also explain how Abraham could be justified by his faith thousands of years before Christ came. Because at the same time that Abraham was sacrificing his son, God was sacrificing his son.
However, the clearest passage that reveals this concept is Christ's statement, "Before Abraham was, I Am." In one brief statement, Christ has shown the temporal nature of man in contrast to the eternal nature of God.
This model has some pretty fascinating implications when it comes to the nature of Christ. Assuming this model, Christ would have uniquely been an eternal nature interacting with a time-bound nature. This thusly allows God - through Christ - to see the nature of time from within and without. Were this the case, it would give a pretty solid answer to the “Why did Jesus pray to himself”-type questions occasionally seen from skeptics. It might also go a ways toward explaining why Jesus didn’t know the date of his return. This relationship of Christ to time will be explored in future articles.
Speaking of prayer, this model goes somewhat toward explaining the effectiveness of prayer between fallible humans and an eternal, unchanging God. Under most models, it makes no sense that an omniscient, changeless and totally sovereign God would at all be affected or responsive to prayer, and yet prayer is practically commanded and at least encouraged by Christ. Yet if God’s eternal nature interacts with ever-changing time in a way consistent with that very nature, then prayer is simply an aspect of time which interacts in a particular way with God’s nature – somewhat in the way that a wall interacts differently when a rock or a tennis ball are thrown against it. Again, prayer under this system will be explored in future articles.
*This concept of God’s relationship to time is not without its challenges as relates to the nature of time itself. These will be addressed in future articles.