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The_Divine_Providence

The_Divine_Providence

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Published by Mauricio Rivero

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Published by: Mauricio Rivero on Apr 13, 2011
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04/13/2011

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IntroductionPredestination or Free will?Christians disagree [between them] about the nature of God's divine providence. The range goes fromGod predestinating every action within the universe to God not knowing most of what will happen in thefuture.The extent of divine providence in the lives of people has been a contentious issue among Christians.However, the Bible clearly teaches both predestination and free will. Does God predestine everything or only certain things? If God predestines everything, then are we responsible for the sin we commit? Four Views on Divine Providence presents the views of four prominent theologians (Paul Kjoss Helseth,William Lane Craig, Ron Highfield, and Gregory Boyd) advocating the positions, "God causes all things,""God directs everything," God controls by liberating," and "God limits his control," respectively. Thereally good thing about the book is how each author critiques the other's arguments. The editor, DennisJowers provides a nice introduction to the topic, including a historical perspective on the writings of Christians throughout the centuries.FIRST VIEW POINT: God causes all thingsPaul Kjoss Helseth begins his argument with a striking story attributed to General Thomas "Stonewall"Jackson. When asked by a captain how the general could remain so calm "with a storm of shells andbullets raining about his head" Jackson reportedly said, "my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe inbattle as in bed. God has fixed the time of my death..." There is obviously a certain advantage tobelieving in such a deterministic view of life. Such a view of God's providence is the over-archingfoundation upon which reformed theology is based. This perspective has its roots in creation, whereGod is the sovereign Creator, making a universe that is both independent of Himself and yet completelydependent upon His continuous sustaining power. Helseth calls this concept "divine omnicausality." Inother words, God is the cause of all things that happen within the universe. Taken to its logicalconclusion, it means that God controls the continuous orbits of every electron around all of theapproximately 1080 atoms in the entire universe. Helseth dances around the implications that divineomnicausality means that God causes all the evil that occurs within the universe. William Lane Craigconcludes that Helseth's interpretation of divine providence "...makes God the author of sin and denieshuman responsibility."SECOND VIEW POINT:God directs all thingsWilliam Lane Craig gives a defense of the Molonist view of divine providence. This interpretation isbased upon the absolute omniscience of God. Not only does God know everything that will happen inthe universe at all times, but He also knows what might happen given a certain set of circumstances,termed "counterfactuals" or "if...then" statements. Craig gives the example of Jesus saying to Pilate, "If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews"(John 18:36, RSV). The concept that God possess knowledge of what might happen under diversecircumstances has been called "middle knowledge." The Molonist interpretation says that through God'smiddle knowledge, He determines which individuals would perform in certain ways and places thosepersons in history to arrange all that will happen. Therefore, God controls all events while allowingspiritual beings complete free will. In rebuttal to the Molonist view, Paul Helseth points out that scriptureitself never presents middle knowledge as the means by which God allows human free will whiledirecting all that happens. However, scripture never directly presents that God is one God consisting of three persons (trinity), although the doctrine is consistently presented throughout scripture.THIRD VIEW POINT:God controls by liberatingRon Highfield argues that God is completely sovereign and that all acts are in cooperation with His will.It was difficult to see the difference between Highfield's and Helseth's interpretations of divineprovidence (also noted in Craig's analysis of Highfield's interpretation). According to Highfield, "Thecomplete divine sovereignty view argues that God acts before, in, through, and beyond our acts - evenour evil acts - to accomplish his will. ...whatever my act truly and lastingly accomplishes is the will of God because it is an act of God." Like Helseth, Highfield dances around the implications of hisinterpretation - that God is the author of evil, because it is part of His will.FOURTH VIEW POINT:God limits His controlGregory Boyd argues for the open theism view of divine providence. In this interpretation, God does notnecessarily know or control all moral actions of His created spiritual beings. Boyd presents what he callsthe "christocentric" interpretation of God's providence, based upon the life and works of Jesus Christ.This interpretation is based upon four criteria:- God wages spiritual warfare- God relies upon power and wisdom- God relies upon other-centered love- God wins by bringing good out of evil

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