15: The Works of God: Providence Flashcards Preview

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How does Westminster Catechism defines providence?

“God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all creatures, and all their actions.”


Is God’s providence a present reality or merely an original establishment?

  • It is a present, active maintenance
    • God does not walk away from his creation. He continually actively upholds it.

    • We live coram deo because of God’s continuing care for his creation


How might we respond to deistic (or evangelical) notions of providence (an autonomous physical universe)?

  1. The world is not self-sufficient or self-existent

  2. Neither God nor his creation can be abstracted from one another

  3. God’s promise (his relation to the future) is dependent upon his presence (Psa.104)


Why is the world is not self-sufficient or self-existent?

"The idea that there is some impersonal mechanism called nature or natural law that governs the universe is absent from the Bible." (Frame, Systematic Theology).


Why can neither God nor his creation be abstracted from one another?

  • As God is known through his works...
  • God’s creation can only be known in relation to him
  • God’s providence reveals his “fatherly favor,” attentive watchfulness, wisdom, goodness, kindness, and power


Why is God’s promise (his relation to the future) dependent upon his presence (Psa.104)?

  • Mark 6:25, We are not to be frightened’ we are to put our trust in the God who will meet our needs.


How is Divine government over creation?

  1. Creation is a dynamic reality

  2. Government includes sustenance (Psa.33)


What does it mean that creation is a dynamic reality?

  • Creation was perfect in that it was lacking defect
  • Creation was not perfect in the sense that it was not all that it could be
    • We are called to image God in our shaping creation
    • We are invited into a creative partnership, to work with him (mediation of human beings)


How does divine governance including sustenance?

  • God’s redemptive intention is part of his larger governing and directing creation toward God’s purpose that all things will glorify him.


What is the extent of divine governance?

  • the universe 

  • natural order

  • Satan

  • the nations

  • human beings

  • animals

  • free actions of people

  • sinful actions

  • accidental occurences


What is meant by God's mysterious providence?

  • Calvin speaks of a secret providence, a wisdom known to God alone, hidden reasons, a hidden will, an incomprehensible decree, a secret or incomprehensible plan, a plan that from our perspective is a deep abyss, a labyrinth.
  • Although God assures us that he guides all things by his ordination, he does not reveal the depths of his plan to us.


What is the dialogue of divine sovereignty vs. human responsibility.

  1. Calvin versus the Libertines

  2. God’s sovereign plan does not qualify or dismiss human responsibility and culpability.

  3. Westminster followed in the Calvinian and Dortian tradition

  4. Concurrent agency


What is the debate between Calvin and the Libertines?

  1. Libertines = because God has declared x to pass, I can live how I please
  2. Calvin = even though he has foreordained what comes to pass, each of us have a responsibility. 


How does God’s sovereign plan does not qualify or dismiss human responsibility and culpability?

  • The Canons of Dort (1618):

    • God’s decree is not the cause of the garden rebellion or any subsequent sin.

    • “We reject with our whole heart” the allegation that we live in a determinist universe, that God is the author of sin, that God brings human beings into the world for the sake of the order of sin and redemption.


How did Westminster followed in the Calvinian and Dortian tradition?

  • "God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: YET SO, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of secondary causes taken away, but rather established." (WCF, 3.1)


What does "concurrence agency" means?

  • to work together
  • negative example: you are responsible for your own sin
  • positive example: prayers, we are responsible to ask God, God will act in his sovereignty