Does God Have Free Will?: The Meaning Of Providence -- By: George C. Scipione

Journal: Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal
Volume: RPTJ 03:1 (Fall 2016)
Article: Does God Have Free Will?: The Meaning Of Providence
Author: George C. Scipione


Does God Have Free Will?:
The Meaning Of Providence

George Scipione

Director of the Biblical Counseling Institute
Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Theology

Introduction

Ask most people this question: “What is providence?” and you will get a variety of answers. Some will say “A city in the state of Rhode Island”; or, “A Roman Catholic college, the Friars, that play basketball in the Big East Conference.” Really Reformed types might say a Reformed College in Southern California that has Hillary Gamble on the faculty!

But Presbyterians, and other biblically literate people, should respond to the question, “What is providence?” thusly: “God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions” (WSC #11). Or, better yet: “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory” (WLC # 18). And, for those who are familiar with the Three Forms of Unity: “The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand” (HC # 27). Heidleberg Catechism #28 makes this personal, “What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?” Answer: “That we may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we may place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.”

We live in a post-Christian, postmodern culture. Most people, including many professing Christians, do not believe in the triune God of the Bible who created, sustains and directs the world. Pagan thought prevails with the ancient dualism of impersonal Fate and Chance in a cosmic dog-fight with man trying to manage the mess without being ground to dust. The concept of a personal triune God does not make sense to this culture, let alone a God that has a free-will. We are far beyond even the mechanical deistic view of a clock-maker god. These so- called Christians hold to “open theism” with its puny god who is limited by man’s will, by time, and by space. Most who proclaim to believe in the God of the Bible really have a “Mr. Potato Head” view of God. They take the attributes that they like, stick them into their concept of God and viola: they have conjured up a ...

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