Back to Basics: Providence

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The first book I want to recommend in the Back to Basic series of posts is Melvin Tinker's new book, a treatment of divine providence, Intended for Good: the Providence of God (IVP UK).  This volume does not appear to have an American distributor but can be purchased from The Book Depository.

Melvin is a good writer and theologian as well as a churchman, being Vicar of St.John Newland, Hull, UK, where he has been since 1994.   I have benefited much from his writing in the past, particularly his book of collected essays, Evangelical Concerns. In his latest book he treats providence via study of a series of biblical texts and practical themes.  Thus, as one might perhaps expect, he looks among other things at Romans 8:28, the life of Joseph, and the connection of prayer and providence.  Particularly helpful are the chapters on guidance and on suffering.  While this is not a technical treatise, Melvin still avoids easy and simplistic answers; but his years of pastoral ministry mean that the writing is accessible and packed full of illustrations and comments which preachers will find fertile soil for their own reflections.  Many of the anecdotes from church history and personal experience are deeply moving.

I have heard tell of sermons and Sunday school classes which made this doctrine about as interesting and practical as a plastic bucket with a hole in the bottom; this book is thankfully not vulnerable to that criticism.  A fine read which will help you to connect providence to practical everyday life and ministry.  To quote Melvin's opening paragraph:

The Puritans used to say that 'providence is the last refuge of the saints.'  Over recent years both my own personal experience and work as a pastor has led me to believe that the doctrine of God's providence should be amongst the first refuges a Christian should seek in order to find strength and comfort.... For various reasons , the doctrine was eclipsed in the twentieth century and still lies on the edges of much Christian thought and practice today.  This is a great pity.   Rightly understood. providence shines as a glorious jewel in the crown of the Christian faith.
Posted June 6, 2012 @ 7:06 PM by Carl Trueman
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