Friday, 25 July 2008

My Grudem Exploration Continues

396 pages in. Enjoying myself.

Chapter 16: God's Providence

A definition:
God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes. 315
He then goes on to unpack that very thoroughly from a Calvinist perspective including a lengthy discussion of how God can be in control and we humans have free choice at the same time.
God causes all things that happen, but…he does so in such a way that he somehow upholds our ability to make willing, responsible choices, choices that have real and eternal results, and for which we are held accountable. Exactly how God combines his providential control with our willing and significant choices, Scripture does not explain to us. But rather than deny one aspect or the other (simply because we cannot explain how both can be true), we should accept both in an attempt to be faithful to the teaching of all of Scripture. 321
The Problem of Evil
What Scripture reveals to us, …was that God was bringing about his plan through the willing choices of real human beings who were morally accountable for their actions. In a way not understood by us and not revealed to us, God caused them to make a willing choice to do what they did. 326
Here Grudem's section headings in one part of the discussion:
Analysis of Verses Relating to God and Evil.
  • God Uses All things to Fulfill His Purposes and Even Uses Evil for His Glory and for Our Good

  • Nevertheless, God Never Does Evil, and Is Never to Be Blamed for Evil

  • God rightfully Blames and Judges Moral Creatures for the Evil They Do

  • Evil Is Real, Not an Illusion, and We Should Never Do Evil, for It Will Always Harm Us and Others

  • In Spite of All of the Foregoing Statements, We Have to Come to the Point Where We Confess That We Do Not Understand How It Is That God Can Ordain That We Carry Out Evil Deeds and Yet Hold Us Accountable for Them and Not be Blamed Himself
Because of our confidence in God’s providential care, we need not fear any evil or harm, even if it does come to us—it can only come by God’s will and ultimately for our own good. 337
The Arminian Position

He then compares and contrasts the Arminian position regarding God's Providence. I was intrigued to find that Methodists, Nazarenes and Assemblies of God tend to be Arminian. The 39 Articles put us Anglicans in the Reformed, or Calvinist, camp. Here's how he describes the Arminian position:
Those who hold an Arminian position maintain that in order to preserve the real human freedom and real human choices that are necessary for genuine human person-hood, God cannot cause or plan our voluntary choices. Therefore they conclude that God’s providential involvement in or control of history must not include every specific detail of every event that happens, but that God instead simply responds to human choices and actions as they come about and does so in such a way that his purposes are ultimately accomplished in the world. 338
In other words, Arminians believe God does not control every detail of our lives while Calvinists believe that He does even though we also are free to make our own choices.