Puppets or Free Agents?

This week on Pilgrimage to Somewhere, I am highlighting a brand-new book by one of my fellow bloggers, Steven Colborne, over at Perfect Chaos. As a spiritually inclined person, I love getting to explore the vastly diverse understandings of the Divine that are out there. Colborne’s new book, God’s Grand Game, presents one of the most controversial yet also intriguing descriptions of God that I have read. Below you will find my take on the book, along with a synopsis of its proposals, but to really understand the depth of Colborne’s argument, you have to give it a read yourself (you can find it here).

The big picture

Let’s start off with the book’s basics:  God’s Grand Game, first and foremost, focuses on free will, God’s sovereignty, and the root cause of the world’s evil.  The book paints a clear, although somewhat severe, image of God.  God, Colborne explains, completely and succinctly controls every aspect of the universe, from the birth of stars, to biological evolution, and, most importantly, the entirety of human thought and action.  Humans, according to God’s Grand Game, are sophisticated puppets, each one acting out the supreme creativity of a divine, albeit lonely playwright

It’s all about the O’s

Divine omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence serve as the philosophical underpinnings of the book’s argument against free will.  Doubling down on the “three O’s,” Colborne states in very clear terms that God directly controls all human action.  Because God is infinitely present, knowing, and powerful, every single act, from taking your vitamins to participating in genocide is an intrinsically divine movement. 

Sovereignty leads us to interesting places

While the message of God’s Grand Game could be understood as fatalist, there is also freedom in this hard-line take on divine sovereignty.  If God controls *all* human action, even our worst, most destructive behaviors must be understood as expressions of God’s all-encompassing nature.  Colborne invites us to examine our relationship with the Divine, calling us to a deeper reverence for the definitive greatness of God.

The ‘Grand Game’

There is a hopeful conclusion to God’s Grand Game as Colborne share his vision of the ways that religion must evolve to embrace this new world view.  He proposes that religions of the future must celebrate the uniqueness and specialness of all people as intentionally created and sustained beings.  For him, divorcees, LGBTQ folks, politicians, Satanists, and even the people who wear socks with their sandals are all acting out their role in the unfolding of creation.  It is in this hyper-inclusive light that God’s Grand Game presents an insightful, counter-cultural world-view, inviting us to not only reconsider our relationship with the divine, but also with each other.


While I cannot ultimately agree with Colborne’s position on our lack of free will (mainly because I do not believe that God actually exercises any of those oh so important “three O’s”), I feel that the overall message of God’s Grand Game is one we need to hear. I do not believe that God orders, and much less delights in, human suffering, but I fully agree that God is present in the full gamut of human experience. God accompanies us on the journey of life, through all the pain, and violence, and terror that this world can inflict on us, but through it all, the journey remains *ours* to walk.

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