Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A proper perspective on providence

In this passage from Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin gives us an explanation why we need not be fatalistic despite believing that God has ordained all things that come to pass.

Yet the sluggishness of our minds lies far beneath the height of God's providence, we must employ a distinction to lift it up. Therefore, I shall put it this way: however all things may be ordained by God's plan, according to a sure dispensation, for us they are fortuitous. Not that we think that fortune rules the world and men, tumbling all things at random up and down, for it is fitting this folly be absent from the Christian's breast! But since order, reason, end, and necessity of those things which happen for the most part lie hidden in God's purpose, are not apprehended by human opinion, those things, which it is certain take place by God's will, are in a sense fortuitous. For they bear on the face of them no other appearance, according to our knowledge and judgment. (1.16.9)

So, in light of God's meticulous providence of all things, what should our posture be in regards to the future? Calvin continues,

As all future events are uncertain to us, so we hold them in suspense, as if they might incline to one side or the other. Yet in our hearts it nonetheless remains fixed that nothing will take place that the Lord has not previously foreseen. (1.16.9)

Read it again if you didn't follow the first time; this is hugely important if we want to avoid a fatalistic approach to life!

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