There are several “Christian” views of who is in control of the world and history:
- God is in complete control. Whatever man or the devil want are incidental, because God is the ultimate cause of everything. This view is normally associated with Calvinism, but has seeped through to form the backdrop of most people’s understanding.
- The devil is effectively in control. God set up history, but right now is the devil’s era, and Christians just have to hold on for dear life until the end. This is the effective position of hard line dispensationalists.
- Man is in control. After the cross, the key thing in history is the faith of man. If a man (or woman) exercises faith God’s will will be done, otherwise, it will not. This is the view of the Word of Faith movement
- Spiritual Warfare view. This view is very much like view 3 in that the key for the future of the church is the faith of Man, but rather than put man “in charge” it puts him in the center of a struggle between good and evil.
The problem with the first view is that God is ultimately responsible for evil. One can talk around it by saying things like “it’s a mystery” but in reality whatever happens is God’s responsibility. Attributing evil to God is not only unbiblical, it negates the meaning of what it means to be “good” and impugns the character of God.
On the other hand, just because the Bible says that the devil is the “god of this age” and the “ruler of this world” does not mean that the devil is actually in control of history, or that God and his people are somehow hamstrung or powerless to twart him. We see that in fact, the devil was unable to stop Jesus from delivering humanity from sin, and continues to be unable to stop God’s people from advancing His gospel.
Putting the will of man really in control of history is equally problematic because the Bible teaches that the heart of man is evil, and therefore basically in league with the devil. This was first manifest in the destruction of the world by flood because of our wickness, and then by the building of the tower of Babel, and it has been ever since.
An accurate view, then, has to account for all three of these agencies without excluding the others. Some kind of “Spiritual Warfare” model must be used to explain history.