About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A New Contribution to the Debate on Divine Providence and Human Agency

Alexander S. Jensen, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Murdoch University in Western Australia, has a book coming out with Ashgate next year (April 2014) that’s sure to be of interest to those researching providence, etc.

Divine Providence and Human Agency develops an understanding of God and God's relation to creation that perceives God as sovereign over creation while, at the same time, allowing for a meaningful notion of human freedom. This book provides a bridge between contemporary approaches that emphasise human freedom, such as process theology and those influenced by it, and traditional theologies that stress divine omnipotence. This book argues that it is essential for Christian theology to maintain that God is ultimately in charge of history: otherwise there would be no solid grounds for Christian hope. Yet, the modern human self-understanding as free agent within certain limitations must be taken seriously. Jensen approaches this apparent contradiction from within a consistently trinitarian framework.

Jensen argues that a Christian understanding of God must be based on the experience of the saving presence of Christ in the Church, leading to an apophatic and consistently trinitarian theology. This serves as the framework for the discussion of divine omnipotence and human freedom. On the basis of the theological foundation established in this book, it is possible to frame the problem in a way that makes it possible to live within this tension. Building on this foundation, Jensen develops an understanding of history as the unfolding of the divine purpose and as an expression of God’s very being, which is self-giving love and desire for communion. This book offers an important contribution to the debate of the doctrine of God in the context of an evolutionary universe.

Contents: Introduction; God’s transcendence and eternity; Divine omnipotence and human freedom; Divine activity in creation; A cruciform universe; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

At the risk of sounding negative, and judging by this blurb from Ashgate’s website, there seems to be very little here that hasn’t already been said elsewhere, not least in Denis Edwards’s How God Acts. I anticipate that much will depend on what Jensen says about apophatic and trinitarian theology, and on how he argues that history is an expression of God’s being.

1 comment:

  1. But does this chap ever use or refer to the word Consciousness with a Capital C?
    Or even Reality with a Capital R?


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