THE PROBLEM OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD: How Can a God Outside This World Also Be Present in It?

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This book brings together the themes of the doctrines of Providence and Trinity. Utilizing the contemporary evangelical debate regarding Open Theism as a context for this work brings a trinitarian perspective to bear on issues of the divine/human relationship that are intrinsic to Providence. Focusing particularly upon the nature of God’s transcendence, sovereignty, immutability, and impassibility, this study completes its trinitarian treatment by applying what has been learned to the nature and practice of prayer as it pertains to Providence.


“The author works with a conceptual paradigm in which the varying theological emphases in the doctrine of providence are understood in a form of creative tension or balance with each one being understood only in the context of the other. Dr Nelson emphasizes then the importance of binary language, the language of ‘both-and’ not the language of ‘either-or’ and it bears fruit. ‘Both-and’ can be rich and nuanced but ‘either-or’ can be constricted and severe.” – Prof. Clark H. Pinnock, McMaster Divinity College

“. . . a work of profound scholarship and great relevance to current debates surrounding the questions of divine providence, such as Open Theism and Process Theology. His book offers careful and perceptive discussions of a wide range of authors and opinions, with noteworthy critical insights. The ‘charitable discretion’ of his readings conveys his sympathetic yet rigorous approach.” – Dr. Alexander S. Jensen, Murdoch University

“Dr. Nelson’s more theoretical reflections in the early parts of the book give way, as is always the case in good theology, later in the book to more practical considerations touching Christian life and spirituality. The book is written in a lucid and accessible style that at times rises to quite inspired turns of phrase.” – Dr. Duncan Reid, Flinders University

Table of Contents

Introductory Considerations
1. Introduction
1.1 The Doctrine of Providence
1.2 Trinity — A Perspective on Providence
2. Methodology
Tensions in Theology
Advancing a Trinitarian Perspective on Divine Providence
3. The Providing God
3.1 The Concept of Providence
3.2 The Open Theism proposal
3.3 Excursus — The Centrality of God and the Necessity of Faith
4. The Triune God
4.1 The trinitarianism of John Zizioulas
4.2 The trinitarianism of Catherine LaCugna
4.3 The trinitarianism of Paul Fiddes
Tensions in Thinking
Articulating a Trinitarian Perspective on Divine Providence
5. Divine Transcendence and Immanence
5.1 The Nature of Divine Transcendence
5.2 The Doctrine of Appropriations
5.3 The Primacy of Christ
6. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
6.1 The Nature of Divine Sovereignty
6.2 Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom
6.3 Divine Sovereignty and Concurrence
6.4 Divine Sovereignty and the Future
7. Divine Immutability and Impassibility
7.1 Change and Hellenic philosophy
7.2 Trinity and Active Constancy
7.3 Change and the Economy of Salvation
Tensions in Living
Applying a Trinitarian Perspective on Divine Providence
8. Trinitarian Providence and the Christian life
8.1 Toward an Integrated Theology of Providence – The Example of Prayer
8.2 Prayer and Divine Transcendence
8.3 Prayer and Divine Sovereignty
8.4 Prayer and Divine Immutability and Impassibility
Part V
Concluding Reflections
9. Conclusion
Select Bibliography

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