iBooks Publish Announcement: God’s Acts of Providence

I have published my third eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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God’s Acts of Providence

The Christian doctrines associated with God’s providential acts have fallen so out of favor that their rehabilitation seems unlikely.  And yet if these doctrines are found to be true then there is no alternative but to make the attempt.  I am here seeking to reintroduce providential doctrine through examination of its practical working out in the lives of frail human flesh and blood.  By so doing they can be transformed from stiff, abstract concepts into humane, living precepts through which we can grow more deeply in love with the Triune God.  We can also begin to recapture the Christian confidence that no matter the darkness our great God is yet in control, working out His plan to ultimately redeem this fallen world.  And that God has chosen in sovereign mercy to incorporate our lives and associated wills into this great work of redemption.

Full Preface

The Christian doctrines associated with God’s providential acts have fallen so out of favor that their rehabilitation seems unlikely.  And yet if these doctrines are found to be true then there is no alternative but to make the attempt.  As I believe that they are indeed true, this work seeks to rediscover and reinstate these doctrines within Christian belief.

However, it will be difficult to deliver a compelling case if no account is taken as to just why these doctrines have fallen into disfavor.  The reason assumed by many orthodox Reformed believers is that they so bruise human pride that they fall onto deaf ears.  While there is great truth in this explanation it falls far short of completeness.

A second, and equally debilitating problem is the way that Reformed theologians have discussed these doctrines.  Far too often there is such an overwhelming emphasis placed on God’s sovereignty that we frail humans seem to disappear.  Christian believers are thus abandoned to figure out for themselves how they fit into God’s providential economy.  And, particularly in this case, the lack of clear, compelling theological guidance leaves believers vulnerable to the siren song of works-based salvation theology.

Finally, there is a temptation towards pride for those who have accepted the orthodox Reformed doctrinal positions.  That being, they come to believe that their minority status is a consequence of their intellectual achievement of having discerned God’s truth in Scripture.  Yes, the temptation of pride is universal.  However, for the orthodox Reformed it is particularly discrediting.  This is because the central consequences for humans who have been saved only by God’s mercy are humility and thankfulness.  So, when Christians see the exact opposite the result is usually rejection.

How then to rediscover and explain God’s acts of providence?  The only authoritative resource from which to work is God’s Word.  However, to simply reexamine the relevant Bible verses in isolation would surely be a superfluous exercise.

But there is another way.  If God’s providential engagement is true, then we would expect to find evidence of its operation deeply embedded throughout all Scripture.  That is, although there are indeed many passages that explicitly teach providential doctrines, they should also be revealed by God’s character as He engages with the world in general, and human beings in particular.

I have found this to be true, and here am seeking to reintroduce providential doctrine through detailed, sustained examination of its practical working out in the lives of frail human flesh and blood.  Although there are dozens of compelling cases I have chosen three:

  1. Abraham and Sarah (The Chief End of Man)
  2. The birth of Christ’s Church (The Church Invisible)
  3. The creation of the Apostle Paul (Effectual Calling)

Clearly much of the material in these stories is not directly related to providence.  However, the providential engagement of God undergirds the narratives and regularly breaks out into clear view.

By this means I contend that the argument can be advanced inoculated from the temptations previously discussed.  For example it is virtually impossible to lose sight of the human side of these engagements when the protagonists are so deeply, humanely and intimately treated.  Nor are we likely to fall into elitism when confronted with the harsh realities and heroic faith exhibited by these humble servants of God.

But the primary advantage is the opportunity to observe these admittedly difficult doctrines being weaved into the lives of real people.  By so doing they can be transformed from stiff, abstract concepts into humane, living precepts through which we can grow more deeply in love with the Triune God.  We can also begin to recapture the Christian confidence that no matter the darkness or danger our great God is yet in control, working out His plan to ultimately redeem this fallen world.  And that God has chosen in sovereign mercy to incorporate our lives and associated wills into this great work of redemption.

In Meditations on God’s Providence I will explicitly discuss doctrine.  My hope is that this meditation will be organically supported by the previous three examinations of the relationships between God and His chosen people.

Only the reader can judge the extent of my success.  However, even though I will surely fall far short of the mark, it’s my hope that others with greater knowledge and skill will recognize an alternative strategy by which core Christian doctrines can be reintroduced, explained and integrated into Christian life.

Make no mistake, the need for this work is great and growing.

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