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What Is Providence? (Basics of the Faith) (Basics of the Reformed Faith) Paperback – June 2, 2008
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"Derek Thomas is well qualified to write on the subject of providence. He wonderfully combines in one person the lucidity of a professor of theology, the sensitivity of a gifted pastor, and the personal experience of a Christian who has learned much about God's ways in his own life. He is the ideal 'Mr. Interpreter' to plot our way through life with a deep confidence in God's wise and sovereign love. The value of What Is Providence? is out of all proportion to its size. Here is a booklet to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. And once you have done that, buy a little stock so that you always have one to give to those who ask, 'Why did God . . . ?'" --Sinclair B. Ferguson
About the Author
Derek Thomas is minister of preaching and teaching at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He is editorial director of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and distinguished visiting professor of systematic and historical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary.
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I highly recommend this book.
He begins by citing the Westminster Shorter Catechism: "God's works of providence are, his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions."
Thomas emphasizes the word "all" in the confession, namely, everything from the smallest atom to a renegade army are subject to God's providence. He is providentially in control of every event.
The author moves to the Bible and discusses a few key stories that illustrate the truth of divine providence including the stories of Naomi and Ruth, Joseph, and Job.
Thomas summarizes three prominent views of providence including the Augustinian/Calvinistic view, the Arminian view, and the Molinistic view. He deals with human free will and includes a helpful biblical definition of free will (a rare commodity in a culture that places a premium on so-called libertarian free will, what I refer to as the "love affair with free will). Built into this discussion is a terrific refutation of openness theology (open theism).
Thomas proceeds to present eight biblical pieces of evidences that help bolster the case for the doctrine of divine providence.
Finally, the author answers key questions that pertain to suffering, sin, and human responsibility.
At the end of the day, the doctrine of divine providence leads Christ-followers to trust his grand plan; it enables them to place confidence in his ability to preserve and govern all things.
This volume is perhaps one of the best introductions available on the subject of providence. It is short, lucid, biblical, and thought-provoking. My hope is that Thomas' work will motivate readers to consider further works on this subject as noted below:
All Things for Good - Thomas Watson
The Mystery of Providence - John Flavel
God's Lesser Glory - Bruce A. Ware
The Invisible Hand - R.C. Sproul