Frame on Helm on Providence

John Frame in a review of Paul Helm’s The Providence of God (Leicester, U. K.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993. 241pp.)

Doesn’t Scripture sometimes represent God as "taking risks," being ignorant, changing his mind, giving people the power to resist his will? Granted that Scripture also includes affirmations of God’s foreordination of all things, should we accommodate the latter expressions to the former, or vice versa? Helm responds to this question by pointing out the theological costs and benefits of the two alternatives. In the final analysis, the risk language must be accommodated to the no-risk teaching; else we would have to deny clear biblical teachings about God’s omniscience, will, efficacious grace. That would be a "theological reductionism in which God is distilled to human proportions" (52). He explains the "risk" language in terms of Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation, but with an insight of his own: God must represent his actions as temporal in order to demand a human response in space and time. This is a rather profound point, correct in my estimation.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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