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Divine Action and Providence (Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics)

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The claim that God acts in the world is surely a basic theological claim, but it is one that has been construed in a wide variety of ways in the Christian theological tradition. In some accounts, God appears as the largest, first, and most powerful agent. In others, God is portrayed as the transcendent ground of all finite agency, while never acting on the same plane as other agents.

The Christian doctrine of providence demands clear and deep thinking about God’s relation to the world, about the nature of omnipotence, and about the theological meaning of the course of history. Ideas of miracle, natural law, intervention, and double agency are all closely linked in this fundamental Christian doctrinal complex. The Seventh Annual Los Angeles Theology Conference invited theologians across Christian traditions to engage the doctrine and to contribute their constructive accounts and proposals to the theology of divine action and providence.

Resource Experts
  • Addresses various views on God’s providece
  • Examines the nature of nature of omnipotence
  • Explores themes of miracle, natural law, intervention, and double agency

Top Highlights

“Perhaps the fundamental theological claim of meticulous providence should be construed to mean God concurs with every creaturely action so as to ensure a particular outcome obtains in every circumstance.” (Page 22)

“Be that as it may, one clear difference between theological determinism and causal determinism is that according to theological determinism, it is God that determines what comes to pass, whereas on causal determinism, physical events in the past plus the laws of nature determine a unique future physical state of affairs.” (Page 26)

“Or is it, as The Westminster Confession 5.2 claims, that God ‘orders’ all that comes to pass ‘to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently’ (emphasis added)?” (Page 22)

“ the covenant is the internal basis of creation (Gen. 2), creation is the external basis of the covenant (Gen. 1” (Page 119)

“By contrast, theologians like to talk about theological determinism.” (Page 26)

  • William J. Abraham
  • Oliver D. Crisp
  • Christine Helmer
  • Brenda Deen Schildgen
  • Philip G. Ziegler

Oliver D. Crisp (PhD,University of London; DLitt University of Aberdeen) is Professor of Analytic Theology at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology, St. Mary’s College, the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He is author of numerous books in analytic and systematic theology, including Analyzing Doctrine: Toward a Systematic Theology; Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology; Divinity and Humanity: The Incarnation Reconsidered; God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology; Retrieving Doctrine: Essays in Reformed Theology; and Revisioning Christology: Theology in the Reformed Tradition. Together with Fred Sanders, he is co-founder of the Los Angeles Theology Conference.

Fred Sanders (PhD, Graduate Theological Union) is professor of theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He is author of numerous books including The Triune God in the New Studies in Dogmatics series; The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything; and Dr. Doctrines’ Christian Comix. He is coeditor of Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology and Retrieving Eternal Generation. Fred is a core participant in the Theological Engagement with California’s Culture Project and a popular blogger at The Scriptorium Daily.


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