Blog 34: 1.16.4 - 1.16.8

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For Calvin, providence means God governing, not merely watching, his creation (1.16.4). Calvin is emphasizing that providence entails more than "bare foreknowledge." It involves God's will, and his acts. Nor is it merely a general control, but a specific direction. Indeed, Calvin asserts that God "directs everything by his incomprehensible wisdom and disposes it to his own end."

In 1.16.5, Calvin adduces biblical evidence for God's general providence. Calvin says: "not one drop of rain falls without God's sure command." In 1.16.6, Calvin considers God's more particular governance over mankind. Again he complies biblical testimony to show that "Scripture, to express more plainly that nothing at all in the world is undertaken without his determination, shows that things seemingly most fortuitous are subject to him." In 1.16.7 he considers what might be called God's providence over "natural" occurrences (things that seem to be part of what is just the normal course of event - the wind blowing, women having babies, etc.) and even here Calvin says that "particular events are generally testimonies of the character of God's singular providence."

In 1.16.8, Calvin both rejects the accusation that his doctrine of providence is a Stoic doctrine of fate (determinism or fatalism), and at the same time repudiates the ideas of fortune and chance (approving Basil the Great's [AD 330-379, one of the Cappadocian fathers] strictures against and Augustine's retractions of his earlier use of this terminology).
 

Posted February 19, 2009 @ 9:58 AM by Ligon Duncan
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