“Not Mere Static World Maintenance”

John Webster, on “the Christian specificity required of a Christian doctrine of providence”:

91p7cWW0ZOLAt each point, the cogency of the presentation [of the doctrine of providence] depends upon deployment of and governance by the Christian doctrine of God and its economic entailments. A Christian doctrine of providence is only derivatively a theory of history, a cosmology or an account of divine action in the world; most properly, it is a representation of how the Father’s plan for the fullness of time is set forth in Christ and made actual by the Holy Spirit among the children of Adam. In other words, the identities of the agents in the history of providence — this God and his creatures — are fundamental to determining its course and character. Barth’s insistence on providence as God’s ‘fatherly lordship’ is surely the most extended modern attempt to account for this. Again, Christian specificity about the ends of providence is crucial to grasping its nature, for providence is not mere static world maintenance but teleological, the fulfillment of the ordered fellowship with God which is the creature’s perfected happiness. The key questions are not cosmological but theological, and their answers derive from specifications of the enacted name of God.

On the Theology of Providence“, pp. 161–162



For That Very Reason

277738If God is totally sovereign over all things, then do our choices and actions have real meaning? If God is in control, aren’t we all just puppets? Bavinck explains two extremes, Deism (in which God is totally removed and only creatures have meaningful action in the world) and Pantheism (in which God is the only one doing anything at all), and then spells out the wonder and glory of the Christian doctrine of God’s providence:

Always to be a theist in the full and true sense of the word, that is, to see God’s counsel and hand and work in all things and simultaneously, indeed for that very reason, to develop all available energies and gifts to the highest level of activity — that is the glory of the Christian faith and the secret of the Christian life.

Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2 p 605