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Providence: Affirmations and Denials…

1. I affirm that a biblical under- standing of divine providence is sufficiently accounted for in the following propositions: 1) All creation is absolutely dependant for its existence at every moment on the existence of God (Neh 9.6, 2 Pt 3.7, Heb 1.3, Col 1.17, Acts 17.28, Job 34.14-15; cf. Ps 104.29). 2) God’s eternal decree extends to all things (Eph 1:11) and has been [since creation], is [now], and will be [evermore] continually executed in the created order through a) natural laws (causes and effects set in motion at the creation of the universe) and b) supernatural creation of and intervention in the created order.

2. I deny that anything which has come to pass concerning the universe and its origin or that will come to pass concerning the universe and its future falls outside of the scope of God’s providence. This includes the heavens, the earth, and all its past, present, and future inhabitants, as well as the eternal destiny of the human race and all created contingencies contained therein (such as the new heavens and new earth)—nature (Ps 148.8, Job 37.6-13, cf. 38.22-30, Ps 104.4, 135.7, Ps 104:14, Mt 5.45), animals (Ps 104.27-29, cf. Job 38.39-41, Mt 6:26), seemingly random chance events (Prov 16.33), all the nations of the earth (Ps 22.28, Acts 17.26, cf. 14.16, Job 12.23, Lk 1.52, Prov 21.1 [cf. Ezr 1.1], 6.22, Dan 4:34-35), the daily needs and obedience of Christians (Mt 6.11, Phil 4.19, Phil 2.13, cf. Ps 33.14-15), the course of every life down to the very detail (Ps 139.16, Job 14.5, Gal 1.15, Jer 1.15, Ps 33.14-15, Acts 17.28, Ps 75.6-7), and all good things (Ps 139.16, Job 14.5, Gal 1.15, Jer 1.15, Ps 33.14-15, Acts 17.28, Ps 75.6-7).
3. I deny the adequacy of notions of divine providence which fail to distinguish between God’s direct and indirect causation in the execution of his divine decree. Such a failure would enable the theologian to conceive of God’s causing human beings to sin in the same way he causes Christians to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

4. I deny that responsible interpreters need not postulate some supernatural intervention or especial power which God continually exercises at every moment a blade of grass is growing or every time it rains on the grounds that the biblical authors attribute such phenomenon to him. Rather, we ought to think of all natural events as caused by God through the continuation of the natural order set in motion from the creation of the universe (secondary causation). Since the Bible speaks of God’s secondary/indirect causation in the same terms as his direct causation (God causes the grass to grow, and he causes the Red Sea to part) we cannot assume that the language of causation everywhere necessitates that supernatural/direct causation is involved in the nature of such causation. Rather, unless we have some reason from the text to believe a supernatural intervention must be involved for God to bring something about (such as the parting of the Red Sea), the hermeneutical default for interpreting the language of causation ought to be one which understands the nature of that causation as secondary/indirect.
5. I deny the adequacy of notions of divine providence which fail to attribute all events of history—including all moral and natural evil—to God’s causation in some way. Examples of moral evil’s caused by God are abundant (Ex 4:21, 7:3 [cf. Rom 9:17], Josh 11:20 [cf. Judg 3:12, 9:23, Judg 14:4], I Sam 2:25, 1 Sam 16:14, 2 Sam 12:11-12 [cf. 16:22], 2 Sam 12:15-18, 2 Sam 16:11, 2 Sam 24:1 [cf.24:1, 10-17, 1 Chr 21:1, 1 Kgs 11:14, 23]). The scriptural affirmation of God’s control of nature is coupled with biblical affirmations of his causation in natural calamities (Amos 3:6, 4:6-12, Job 1:21-22).
6. I deny the adequacy of notions of divine providence which falsely dichotomize human responsibility and free will against such causation, for the scriptural interpretation of historical events allows for God to draw straight with crooked lines and determine the outcome of history through the acts of unconstrained creatures (e.g. the story of Joseph and his culpable brothers [Gen 37:4, 5, 8, 11, 20, 24, 28, cf. 45:5, 50:20], the story of Jesus and the culprits of his violent death [Acts 2:23, cf. various translations of dieceirivsasqe in Acts 5:30]).

7. I deny that we live in a closed universe in which God does not directly and passionately intervene in the affairs of the human race or that the universe could exist one millisecond apart from God.
8. I affirm that the most important aspect to the unfolding of history is a divine intervention—God’s redemptive work of reconciling fallen creatures to himself through the divine incarnation, substitutionary death, burial, bodily resurrection, and eternal reign of his Son and appointed Judge and King of the universe, Jesus Christ.

9. I affirm that the reconciling of man’s sinful heart toward God is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who directly intervenes against the natural course of the sinner’s heart so that all conversions are the execution of God’s eternal decree through direct/supernatural intervention.

10. I deny the legitimacy of categorizing as “Christian” any person, group, church, ministry, institution, or organization that would fail to affirm God’s direct and supernatural intervention on behalf of the human race as articulated in affirmation eight.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Picture Captions: The first picture is from the Switchfoot concert. The last one is where I got upset a few months ago and kicked down a huge tree. I almost got sued by the owners (jk). All those in between should be obvious to those chill in The Ville.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Mc says:

    Brad, Adam and I read your comments on his blog for the first time last night….and cried we were laughing so hard. I’m glad to know at least someone else is disappointed with Adam’s blog neglect.

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