Providence & Prayer

Tiessen, a professor of systematic theology and ethics at Providence College and Seminary, wrote this book because he noticed a consistent trend among his students. They write essays on God’s providence that suggest one system of belief, but pray in class in a way that is inconsistent. I like the layout of this book. It reads left to right as Tiessen expounds on several models of providence starting with neo-deism and ending with Calvinism. Each chapter begins with the basics of the view, moves to how this particular view understands the role and value prayer, and ends with the same case study used throughout the book. The case study involves a large prayer group which includes people who hold to each understanding of providence. One of the members asks prayer for his missionary son whose recently been kidnapped by local gorilla terrorists. The others offer prayer consistent with their particular view of how God works in the world.

I liked this book. It’s good and obviously thought-provoking. I think it is important to try to be consistent, to bridge gaps between our theology and our practice. But even after reading this detailed text, I still can’t manage to wrap my mind around providence and free will… I don’t exactly understand how the theologians’ logic actually works because I keep finding myself saying, ‘Yeah, but…’ I have to go back to what I was saying earlier with Letters to Malcome, that mystery is essential. Complete systematized theology is impossible, and systematized theology at the cost of mystery is dead. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t worth reading; it is. So, check it out; see what you think; let me know.

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