God’s Providence: Preliminaries

In my first post I said I’d be posting a bit on God’s providence, but before we start it should be asked what we mean by the term “providence of God”? When we ask questions about God’s providence, we’re asking questions about how much and in what ways he controls all of creation. Does he guide nature or does he just let it go by itself? Does he guide our human decisions or do we have some sort of control independent of God that he can’t control? Sometimes this is called God’s Sovereignty, but some people use “Sovereignty” to refer to God’s kingship and not his control, so for the sake of clarity I’ll use the word “Providence”. In these posts we’ll mainly be dealing with God’s control and human decisions and less of (if at all) God’s control over nature. We’ll also be exploring objections and questions raised by the different answers to these questions. So the plans for the post-series are:

  1. Biblical passages that deal with God’s providence
  2. God’s control and our free will
  3. God’s control and evil, sin, suffering, his two wills and his priority
  4. God’s control and prayer and evangelism
  5. God’s control and salvation (this is only a possibility for now)

A natural question to ask before we start is “why bother”? Why should we think about these topics, does it really affect our lives that much? Isn’t this topic just irrelevant and shouldn’t it be left to the intellectuals to discuss? I think not, for three reasons:

  1. God’s providence is a surprisingly practical subject: depending on our understanding of the subject it changes our understanding of prayer and evangelism.
  2. It also affects our fundamental understandings of the world with regard to whether we have free will and what free will even means, making sense of evil and suffering in the world and our view of God’s actions in history.
  3. It furthers our understanding of God himself and how he deals with his creatures. We spend a lot of time trying to understand ourselves and the world around us; should we not also have a keen desire to understand the creator of us and the world around us?

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