Saturday, 28 December 2013

Providence and the Sovereignty of God

I was digging through some old computer files this week and found this very useful chart. I thought I would share with you my reading audience. The chart was a handout I received in my theology class taught by the brilliant Dr. Jeromey Martini

Questions for Reflection

Situation #1  
Imagine that a long time member of your congregation (we will call him Bill) has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and has been given a few months to live. The church responds by holding several all-night prayer meetings for Bill. There is even a prophecy that Bill will be healed of this cancer. The church is encouraged that God's healing will triumph in this situation and Bill will be cancer free. Yet despite all of this, Bill tragically and suddenly passes away. The loss of Bill is felt deeply by your congregation. There are many unanswered questions and frustrations felt within the congregation. You find that congregants are approaching you privately with deep concerns as to how God could have let Bill pass away.

1. Using each of the views listed in the Models of Providence Chart: provide an explanation for Bill's untimely death. 

2. If God predetermined that Bill die of cancer, is God ultimately to blame for Bill's death? 

3. Assuming that prophecy was from a reputable source, how would the Open Theist explain the inconsistent result? Is it possible that God changed his mind about healing Bill? If the future is indeterminate, is prophecy more a matter of a 'best guess'? 

4. If God has already foreordained the future (in the view of the Calvinist) why would a prophecy not come to pass? Is the only explanation to question to credibility of the prophetic word?

Situation #2 

A mother is returning home from buying groceries for the evening meal. In the backseat is her two year old daughter Leia, who is preoccupied with her new Christmas present: two beautiful princess barbie dolls. The mother slowly approaches the intersection with due attention and comes to a complete stop at the red light. There are no cars ahead of their vehicle. Leia is laughing in the backseat, enthralled with her dolls. The light turns green and the mother accelerates to enter the intersection. Leia and her mother are half way through intersection when a drunk driver in the opposing lane runs the red light and collides with their vehicle at top speed. Emergency vehicles soon arrive on scene to a mangled wreck and are forced to use the jaws of life to rescue occupants of both vehicles. The drunk driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Leia and her mother are rushed to the nearest hospital. The mother awakes from her coma a week later to discover her husband at her bedside in tears. Leia did not survive the accident. Their two year old daughter had passed away a few hours after the accident. The news overwhelms the young mother with grief. To add the loss of her beautiful Leia, the mother soon discovers that she has also the loss the use of her legs and will never walk again. The mother soon makes a partial recovery and attends the funeral of her baby Leia. The funeral is somber and filled with grief. The mother is consoled by her church family who has reassured her that:
 "Everything happens for a reason." 
"It was just her time to go home to God." 
"This is apart of God's plan. Even though we don't understand God's reasons, we have to trust that God knows best in taking Leia to be home with him"

In the years that follow, the mother becomes deeply depressed about the loss of Leia. She can't understand why God would need to take her child away from her. She can't understand why she was paralyzed and unable to conceive as the result of the accident. She comes to you for counselling five years after the horrific accident. The mother is ready to give up on God altogether. She asks you...Is God to blame?

1. Using each of the views listed in the Models of Providence Chart: provide a possible explanation to her question. 

2. If God predetermines the future, including the accident, is God ultimately to blame for Leia's death and the mother's paralyzation ? 

3. Which of the views in the Models of Providence Chart would you use to counsel the mother? 

Thanks for reading...

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