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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bibliography: The Providence of God

Usually I post a bibliography of a research topic I have been working on a monthly basis. However, I think it has been a couple since I posted my last one. The bibliography below is a working sourcebook for my studies on the providence of God, and in particular with relation to Process Theism, Open Theism, Molinism, and Calvinism. Secondly, the interest, as you will see, is how prayer fits into the differing models of providence. Some entries are incomplete (where you see ***), but most I think are accurate. Furthermore, let me say that none of my bibliographies are meant to be comprehensive. With the articles on each topic, I hope to create a reader and have them bound in notebook format for future reference in my studies. The purpose of me sharing this with you is to point you to some of the stuff out there with the presumption that the topic may be of interest to you. The primary works are bold faced, so if you are interested in diving in, start there. Also there is a little code for those wanting to know a little of who is in what camp. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a reference or add a resource overlooked, please share that with me in the comment section. At the end of the bibliography are some previous ones on various issues as well. Hopefully some of this will be of value to your studies.

Key Color Code: Process Theist: Purple Open Theist: Red Molinist: Orange Arminian: Blue Calvinist: Green

Books (88)

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. trans. English Dominican Fathers. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947.

Basinger, David. “Practical Implications” in The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, Richard Rice, William Hasker, and David Basinger. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

Basinger, David and Randall Basinger, eds. Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986.

_________. The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996.

Basinger, Randall George. Divine Providence: A Comparison of Classical and Process Theism. Dissertation Paper Presented at Northwestern University, 1979.

_________. “Exhaustive Divine Sovereignty: A Practical Critique” in The Grace of God and the Will of Man. ed. Clark H. Pinnock. 191-206. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1989.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation. vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

Berkhouwer, G.C. The Providence of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952.

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology: New Combined Edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.

Boyce, James P. Abstract of Systematic Theology. Hanford, CA: den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1987.

Boyd, Gregory A. God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

_________. God of the Possible: Does God Ever Change His Mind? Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

_________. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy, 2001.

Bridges, Jerry. “Does Divine Sovereignty Make a Difference in Everyday Life?” in Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace. eds. Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware. 295-306.Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

_________. Is God Really in Control? Trusting God in a World of Hurt. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006.

Burns, William E. An Age of Wonders: Prodigies, Politics, and Providence in England 1657-1727. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2002.

Carson, D.A. A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul in His Prayers. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

_________. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002.

Cobb, John. God and the World. Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1969.

Cottrell, Jack W. “The Nature of Divine Sovereignty” in The Grace of God and the Will of Man. ed. Clark H. Pinnock. 97-120. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1989.

Craig, William Lane. The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

Culver, Robert Duncan. Systematic Theology: Biblical & Historical. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2005.

Dabney, R. L. Systematic Theology. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2002.

Davis, William, C. “Why Open Theism is Flourishing Now?” in Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. eds. John Piper, Justin Taylor, and Paul Kjoss Helseth. 111-48. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003.

Elwell, Walter A. “The Providence of God” in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998.

Farley, Benjamin W. The Providence of God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988.

Feinberg, John S. “God Ordains All Things” in Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. eds. David Basinger and Randall Basinger. 17-44. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986.

_________. No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001.

Flavel, John. “A Narrative of Some Late and Wonderful Sea Deliverances” in The Works of John Flavel. vol. 4. 497-514. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997.

_________. “An Exposition of the (Westminster) Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, with Practical Inferences from Each Question” in The Works of John Flavel. vol. 6. 138-317. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997.

_________. “Of the Kingly Office of Christ, as It Is Providentially Executed in the Word, for the Redeemed” in The Works of John Flavel. vol. 1. 211-23. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997.

_________. “Preparation for Suffering, or The Best Work in the Worst Times,” in The Works of John Flavel. vol. 6. 3-82. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997.

_________. “The Life of John Flavel” in The Works of John Flavel. vol. 1. 3-16. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997.

_________. The Mystery of Providence. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1998.

_________. “The Seaman’s Companion: Six Sermons on the Mysteries of Providence as Relating to Seamen; and the Sins, Dangers, Duties, and Troubles of Seamen” in The Works of John Flavel. vol. 5. 342-416. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997.

Flint, Thomas P. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.

_________. “Two Accounts of Providence.” In Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism. Ed. Thomas V. Morris. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Frame, John. The Doctrine of God: A Theology of Lordship. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2002.

Geisler, Norman. Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.

_________. “God Knows All Things” in Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. eds. David Basinger and Randall Basinger. 61-84. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986

Geisler, Norman, and H. Wayne House. The Battle for God: Responding to the Challenge of Neotheism. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001.

George, Timothy. “Providence” in Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler, Nashville: Holman, 1991.

Gorringe, T. J. God’s Theatre: A Theology of Providence. London: SCM Press, 1991.

Griffin, David Ray. Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Hall, Christopher A. and John Sanders. Does God Have a Future?: A Debate on Divine Providence. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.

Harthsorne, Charles. Reality as Social Process. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1953.

Hasker, William. God, Time, and Knowledge. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Helm, Paul. The Providence of God. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Henry, Carl F.H. God, Revelation, and Authority. vol. 6. Wheaton: Crossway, 1999.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. 3 vol. Grand Rapids Hendrickson, 2003.

Lewis, Gordon R. and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology: Three Volumes in One. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

McNeill, John T. Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion. 2 vol. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1960.

Meeter, John E., ed. Benjamin B Warfield: Selected Shorter Writings. 2 vol. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2001.

Molina, Luis de. On Divine Foreknowledge. Trans. Alfred J. Freddoso. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Moreland, J.P. and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003.

Nash, Ronald, ed. Process Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

Packer, J.I. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1961.

Parker, T.H.L. “Providence of God,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984.

Pascal, Blaise. Pensees. London: Penguin Group, 1995.

Pinnock, Clark H. “God Limits His Knowledge” in Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. eds. David Basinger and Randall Basinger. 141-62. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986

Pinnock, Clark H., ed. The Grace of God and the Will of Man. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1989.

Pinnock, Clark H., Richad Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

Piper, John. The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002.

_________. The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God. Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000.

Piper, John, Justin Taylor and Paul Kjoss Helseth. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003.

Pittenger, Norman. God’s Way with Men: A Study of the Relationship Between God and Man in Providence, “Miracle,” and Prayer. ed. Mark Thornton. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1969.

Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.

Reymond, Robert L. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998.

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.

Schreiner, Thomas R. and Bruce A. Ware. Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Shedd, William G.T. Dogmatic Theology. 3rd Edition. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2003.

Spiegel, James S. The Benefits of Providence: A New Look at Divine Sovereignty. Wheaton: Crossway, 2005.

Sponheim, Paul, ed. A Primer on Prayer. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1988.

Sproul, R.C. The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1996.

Sproul, R.C., Jr. Almighty Over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.

Storms, C. Samuel. “Prayer and Evangelism Under God’s Sovereignty” in Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace. eds. Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware. 307-324. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Swedenborg, Emanuel. Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence. New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1959.

Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Tiessen, Terrance. Providence & Prayer: How Does God Work in the World? Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000.

Turretin, Francis. Institutes of Elenctic Theology. (3 vol.) Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1997.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. “Providence” in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

Ware, Bruce A. God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004.

_________. God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism. Crossway: Wheaton, 2000.

_________. Their God Is too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.

Westminster Confession of Faith. Glascow: First Presbyterian Publications, 2001.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality. New York: The Free Press, 1978.

Wright, R. K. McGregor. No Place for Sovereignty: What’s Wrong with Freewill Theism. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996.

Articles (56)

Adams, Robert M. “Middle Knowledge.” The Journal of Philosophy 70 (1973): ***.

Basinger, David. “Can an Evangelical Christian Justifiably Deny God’s Exhaustive Knowledge of the Future?” Christian Scholar’s Review 25/2 (1995): 133-45.

_________. “Divine Control and Human Freedom: Is Middle Knowledge the Answer?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36/1 (1993): 55-64.

_________. “Human Freedom and Divine Providence: Some New Thoughts on an Old Problem.” Religious Studies 15 (1979): 491-510.

_________. “In What Sense Must God Be Omnibenevolent?” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 14 (1983): ***.

_________. “Middle Knowledge and Divine Control: Some Clarifications.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 30 (1991): 129-39.

_________. “Petitionary Prayer: A Response to Murray and Meyers.” Religious Studies 31 (1979): 475-84.

_________. “Why Petition an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Wholly Good God?” Religious Studies 19 (1983): 25-41.

Beach, Waldo. “The Pattern of Providence.” Theology Today 16 (July 1959): 232-44.

BonJour, Laurece A. “Determinism, Libertarianism, and Agent Causation.” Southern Journal of Philosophy 14 (1976): ***.

Boogaart, Thomas. “Deliberation and Decree: The Biblical Model of Sovereignty.” Perspectives 12/3 (1997): 8-11

Canfield, John V. “The Compatibility of Free Will and Determinism.” Philosophical Review 71 (1962): ***.

Carr, Anne E. “Providence, Power, and the Holy Spirit.” Horizons 29/1 (Spring 2002): 133-62.

Christian, Charles W. “The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence.” Interpretation 53/4 (October 1999): 435-36.

Cowan, Steven B. “The Grounding Objection to Middle Knowledge Revisited.” Religious Studies 39/1 (2003):93-102.

Davis, Stephen T. “Divine Omniscience and Human Freedom.” Religious Studies 15 (September 1979): ***.

Donagan, Barbara. “Godly Choice: Puritan Decision-Making in 17th Century England.” Harvard Theological Review 76 (July 1983): 307-34.

_________. “Providence, Chance, and Explanation: Some Paradoxical Aspects of Puritan Views of Causation.” Journal of Religious History 11 (June 1981): 385-403.

Helm, Paul. “Asking God.” Themelios 12/1 (1986): 22-24.

_________. “Calvin (and Zwingli) on Divine Providence.” Calvin Theological Journal 29 (November 1994): 288-405.

_________. “God and Whatever Comes to Pass.” Religious Studies 14 (1978): ***.

Hunt, David P. “Divine Providence and Simple Foreknowledge.” Faith and Philosophy 10/3 (1993): 394-414.

Feinberg, John S. “And the Atheist Shall Lie Down with the Calvinist: Atheism, Calvinism, and the Free Will Defense.” Trinity Journal n.s. 1 (Fall 1980): ***.

Flew, Anthony. “Compatibilism, Free Will and God.” Philosophy 48 (July 1973): ***.

Forrer, Richard. “Puritan Religious Dilemma: The Ethical Dimensions of God’s Sovereignty.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 44 (December 1976): 613-28.

Gangemi, Francis A. “Indeterminacy and Human Freedom.” Religious Humanism 10 (1976): ***.

Hendry, George Stuart. “Who Trusts in God: Musings on the Meaning of Providence.” Theology Today 25 (January 1969): 491-93.

Johnson, Elizabeth. “Does God Play Dice? Divine Providence and Chance.” Theological Studies 57 (March 1996): 2-18.

Kellenberger, J. “The Causes of Determinism.” Philosophy 50 (1975): ***.

Keller, Jack A. “On Providence and Prayer.” Christian Century 104/32 (November 4, 1987): 967-69.

Kenner, Lionel. “Causality, Determinism and Freedom of the Will.” Philosophy 39 (1964): ***.

La Croix, Richard R. “Omniprescience and Divine Determinism.” Religious Studies 12/3 (1976): 365-81.

Mavrodes, Geroge. “Is There Anything Which God Does Not Do?” Christian Scholar’s Review 16/4 (1987): 384-91.

Maxfield, John A. “Divine Providence, History, and Progress in Saint Augustine’s City of God.” Concordia Theological Review 66/4 (October 2002): 339-360.

McKim, Donald K. “The Puritan View of History or Providence Without and Within.” Evangelical Quarterly 52 (October-December 1980): 215-37.

Morgan, Christopher W. “Providence and Prayer: How Does God Work in the World?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/1 (March 2002): 155-57.

Murray, Michael J. and Kurt Meyers. “Ask and It Will Be Given to You.” Religious Studies 30/3 (1994): 311-30.

Pinnock, Clark H. “God’s Sovereignty in Today’s World.” Theology Today 53/1 (1996): 15-21.

Roberts, Lawrence D. “Scriven and Mackay on Unpredictability and Free Choice.” Mind 84 (1975): ***.

Robinson, Michael D. “The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 28/3 (Fall 2001): 305-09.

Rossman, Etta C. “A God of Chance or Providence in the Face of Death and Disease.” Journal of Pastoral Care 39 (June 1985): 120-26.

Rust, Eric C. “Who Trusts in God: Musing on the Meaning of Providence.” Review & Expositor 67 (Spring 1970): 235-36.

Schwobel, Christoph. “Divine Agency and Providence.” Modern Theology 3/3 (April 1987): 225-44.

Snyder, A. Aaron. “The Paradox of Determinism.” American Philosophical Quarterly 9 (October 1972): ***.

Stump, Eleonore. “Petitionary Prayer.” American Philosophical Quarterly 16/2 (1979): 81-91.

Talbott, Thomas B. “Intedeterminism and Chance Occurrences.” Personalist 60 (1979): ***.

Tavard, George H. “The Mystery of Divine Providence.” Theological Studies 64/4 (December 2003): 707-18.

Townsend, Michael J. “The Providence of God.” Expository Times 113/10 (July 2002): 344-45.

Tupper, Frank E. “The Providence of God in Christological Perspective.” Review & Expositor 82 (Fall 1985): 493-595.

VanderMolen, Ronald J. “Providence as Mystery, Providence as Revelation: Puritan and Anglican Modifications of John Calvin’s Doctrine of Providence.” Church History 47 (March 1978): 27-47.

Van Inwagen, Peter. “The Incompatibility of Free Will and Determinism.” Philosophical Studies 27 (1975): ***.

Ware, Bruce A. “The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43/2 (June 2000): 339-42.

Wolf, Susan. “Asymmetrical Freedom.” The Journal of Philosophy 77 (1980): ***.

Wood, Charles M. “The Question of the Doctrine of Providence.” Theology Today 49 (July 1992): 209-24.

Wright, John H. “The Eternal Plan of Divine Providence.” Theological Studies 27/1 (March 1966): 27-57.

************************************* Previous Bibliographies @ P&P: Decisional Regeneration Bible Translation Emerging Church/Postmodernism Election Anti-Intellectualism


Blogger Andrew C said...

additional books on the subject,

1. Bruce Demarest, "The Cross and Salvation."
2. Robert Duncan Culver, "Systematic Theology - Biblical & Historical."
3. BB Warfield "The Plan of Salvation."

5/04/2006 01:06:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Thanks Andrew for the additions.

In Volume One of Selected Shorter Writings of Warfield, there is a good chapter called "God's Providence Over All."

I don't know why I didn't add Culver. I think, actually, because he does not address providence very much (from what I can remember). I may be wrong.

I really like Demarest's book, though I think it deals with more soteriology which is a subset of providence I guess you could say. But nonetheless, I should have included it.

Thanks again!

5/04/2006 01:17:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is "Process Theism"? I don't think I have ever heard that term before reading this list. I am teaching on God's Providence this summer in Sunday School, so this list is very helpful!!

5/04/2006 03:27:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Here is a basic synopsis of Process Theology:

Process theology argues that God has two natures or “poles” in his being—a “primordial” nature and a “consequent” nature. God’s primordial nature is free, abstract, eternal and unconscious while his consequential nature is incomplete, conscious, and actual. It is God’s consequential nature where he is subject to influences outside himself, namely, the influence of human beings who have libertarian free will. God is said to be in process between his two natures, becoming and actualizing based upon experiences he undergoes. He continually works in the world motivated by a love to bring about the best possible outcome in all situation but often fails because of influences and causes which thwart and prevail over his will. God and the world are contingent upon each other, and humans act jointly as primary agents of cause with God.

Let me recommend Tiessen's book Providence and Prayer to give general overviews of the different models of providence (I think he has ten models well documented). Furthermore, for a recent work, see Spiegel's Benefits of Providence.

On a spectrum, Process Theology would be far left, then Open Theism, then Arminianism (Open Theism is the logical conclusion of Arminianism, and well, in fact has tighter logic than Arminianism), and then the far right is fatalism.

Process theists do not believe in the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture while Open Theists do, so typically process theists are not debated among evangelicals. For a good review by a solid, Reformed thinker, see Ronald Nash's Process Theology.

Hope that helps!

Please let me know if you have any more questions. Such posts exists to assist you in your work, studies, and ministry, so any way I can do that would give me great pleasure. :)

5/05/2006 03:41:00 AM

Blogger Paul Schafer said...


Then what is a Molinism? Since asked my first question.


5/05/2006 10:58:00 PM

Blogger Paul Schafer said...

Since Jeff asked my first question.

5/05/2006 10:59:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Paul, glad you asked.

Molinism was developed by the Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina. Basically, Molinism argues between three different logical moments of divine knowledge. There are possible worlds (counterfactuals) and the actual world (factual). The first type of knowledge is called natural knowledge which is God's knowledge of all the possible worlds he could create, including all of various beings and their actions. Secondly, there is God's free knowledge which is God's sum total of all the actual events in history adn what will be in actuality. Basically, this knowledge states that God knows everything that has been brought into existence and what will be brought into existence (actuality). Because this knowledge is the result of God's free act of creation, it is called free knowledge. Finally, and crucial to Molinism, is God's middle knowledge. This middle knowledge is God's knowing of what would be as in a possible state of affairs if the circumstances were different than what they actually were in the real world. Such knowledge of counterfactuals (hypothetical propositions of what could be if things were different) is what predominantly defines Molinism.

Current proponents today are William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga.

One important thing to mention here. Molinist hold to a libertarian free will which basically makes it impossible for them to hold to the proposed benefit of their position of providence. This is known as the "grounding objection" because God could not really know future possibilities based on an indeterministic framework where the power of contrary choice is arbitrary. I know this sounds complicated, but the point is, is Molinists hold attempt to hold to a high view of providence (God knows all things) while keeping to libertarian free will. They want the best of both camps which makes their position untenable.

Now, imagine replacing libertarian free will with compatibilist free will. The grounding objection is removed, and the logic is tight and position is plausible. Most recently, Bruce Ware and Terrance Tiessen have argued for "compatibilist middle knowledge" as they call it, and I find this position very helpful to the study of providence. For further research, see God's Greater Glory by Bruce A. Ware or the latter section of Terrance Tiessen's work Providence and Prayer.

I hope that I didn't confuse you. When you think Molinism, think "middle knowledge" and middle ground (because they are between Arminians and Calvinists . . . those they are really Arminians in their soteriology).

5/06/2006 04:00:00 AM

Blogger Paul Schafer said...


Using these big ten-cent theological words must come from a good seminary education, huh?

So, what is compatibilist free will?


5/06/2006 08:23:00 AM

Blogger iamchief said...

Just discovered your blog...looking forward to reading more...

I've read most of Tiessen's book, Providence and Prayer. It might be a good summary of the different views being discussed here (Tiessen gives at least 10, if I remember right).
Would you agree, Timmy?

5/06/2006 12:32:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Compatibilist free will the view of freedom that is "compatibile" to the sovereignty of God. This view that what one chooses to do is grounded in what a person most *wants* to do. In other words, this is freedom of inclination, not freedom of indifference or the power of contrary choice (libertarian freedom).

So what one chooses to do freely consists of doing according to what one desires most to do. For example, if I were to get a combo meal with a drink at a fast food restuarant, what makes me choose #2 over #3? What makes me decide to get a Dr. Pepper over a Mountain Dew? The answer is that at that moment, I chose those over the others because that is what I was most inclined to get (i.e. what I wanted the most).

How this fits in the view of God's sovereignty and providence in particular is that God is sovereign over our affections. He softens the hearts of some and hardens others. Those who come to him are drawn by the Spirit and desire him who otherwise are incapable to do so unless God works it in them.

No one seeks God, no not one, right? We follow the course of the pattern of this world, right? The natural man cannot understand the things of God and has his mind set on the things of this world, right? But, when God, in his mercy, draws a sinner to himself, causes him to be born again by His Spirit, and awakens his will, that person sees Christ as valuable when before Christ was rejected. That sinner who "chooses" Christ does so because that is what he wants to do. He wants Jesus. So yes, he has free will and morally responsible because he is not *forced* to do what he does not want to do. Rather, he does what he most desires to do, and that is to follow Christ.

Unbelievers, in the free will, also do what they most want to do in living in rejection of the Lordship of Christ. They want sin and to be lord of their own lives, and until their affections, mind, and wills are changed, they will not choose Christ; yea, they cannot choose Christ.

Now let me just say that my definitions are not from a Bible dictionary or exhaustive in nature. I just am sharing a general overview of them. To have a more elaborate and detailed study, I would encourage you to check out the sources metioned above, and if you would like for me to point you to a few with a specific topic (say "concurrence" which deals with God's relationship with man . . . sovereignty-free will, transcendence-immanence, etc.), just let me know. I would be glad to help.

5/06/2006 06:14:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Thanks for coming by!

As you might see in my comments above, I have referred to Tiessen's work several times and consider it to be a good place to examine differing models of providence with one another. Tiessen's work is particularly helpful because he points out each model's critique of one another in a fairly objective way. While I do not agree with everything Tiessen says, I think his work has been helpful in my studies and would be in others as well.

5/06/2006 06:17:00 PM


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