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Monday, 19 March 2012

Providence Defined

   I’ve been reading a thick biography of one of my heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  This Christian pastor from Germany confronted the Nazi government and its attempts to usurp the church’s authority and remake that church in its own image.  In this book, I was startled to read that Adolf Hitler had a sense that Providence was with him when some of his evil plots were successful.  How could he use this word?  For Hitler, Providence was an impersonal force, a kind of good karma that showed him he was on the right track. 
   Biblical providence is never separated from the God who is the provider, not just of good things but also hardships.  The best explanation of providence that I know comes from a 449 year old catechism first written in Heidelberg, Germany:
Question:  What do you understand by the providence of God?
            Answer:  Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God[1] by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures,[2] and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty--[3] all things, in fact, come to us not by chance[4] but from his fatherly hand.[5]

[1] Jeremiah 23:23, 24; Acts 17:24-28.
[2] Hebrews 1:3.
[3] Jeremiah 5:24, Acts 14: 15-17; John 9:3; Proverbs 22:2.
[4] Proverbs 16:33.
[5] Matthew 10:29

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