Monday, August 4, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Section E, “Divine Providence, or the Preservation and Government of the World.”

Section E, “Divine Providence, or the Preservation and Government of the World.”

This section consists of five chapters which are short enough I think I can deal with them together.

Chapter 1 “Definition of Divine Providence”

Pieper points out Colossians 1:16-17 where we read that God not only created all things but is the one who sustains creation, holding it together. Contrary to those who suggest the seventh day indicates that God set everything in motion and no longer cares for it, Pieper observes that God’s creative Word keeps all creation going. There is no burden too great for God.

Chapter 2 “The Relation of Divine Providence to the Causae Secundae

The “second causes” are the means God uses to accomplish his will. Starting from Psalm 127:1, Pieper discusses God accomplishing deeds through people who labor. This work is not divided. God did it all and so did his human servant.

Chapter 3 “Divine Providence and Sin”

In this question of divine operation we must consider sin. Pieper builds a case that God is opposed to sin and often prevents it, yet allows it when it will somehow accomplish his purpose. How can God do this? He approves the action (Acts 17:28) but not the motive (Psalm 5:6-7).

Chapter 4 “Does God Permit Men to Sin?”

In fact, says Pieper, God does not permit sin. This is clear from Scripture. God then punishes sin by turning people over to sin more (Romans 1:24-28).

The opposite side of that coin is that when unbelievers do good works, those are also done by God (Romans 2:14).

Chapter 5 “Divine Providence and Free Will”

This work of God does not make humans like machines. We are free from coercion (Acts 17:31; Romans 2:15; Romans 1:32). Yet God uses our conscience and our free will to accomplish his purposes. In all this, he has numbered our days and governs each one. Yet he is uniquely able to do so through our free decisions.

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