Books on Providence
September 25, 2006 — 9:52

Author: Kevin Timpe  Category: Teaching  Comments: 8

I teach a 300-level philosophy of religion class every spring semester. In the past, I’ve tended to teach the class as an overview of the various issues. I’ll spend a little over half of the semester on various standards such as religious language, pluralism vs. exclusivism, attributes, a few of the arguments for God’s exsitence (cosmological, ontological), a few of the arguments against God’s existence (evil, hiddenness). I then spend the final 1/3 or so of the class dealing with issues of providence: risk vs. no-risk, whether foreknowledge of various sorts helps with providence, hell/heaven/purgatory, prayer. A previous copy of my syllabus can be found here in case you are interested.
I’m thinking about changing the structure this semester. I’d still focus the first part of the semester on many of the same issues, but try and keep them to no more than half of the course. The second half, I’d like to compare/contrast two extended views of God and His providential interacting with the world. I’m thinking of using Roger’s Perfect Being Theology and would like a good contrasting view. I think that the middle chapters of Flint’s Divine Providence will be too technical. I like Hasker’s God, Time and Knowledge, but it’s narrower in focus than I want. I was thinking about doing a book defending open theism and so took a look at The Openness of God this weekend. I’m only half through the book, but I’ve been very dissapointed. Any other suggestions?

  • Kevin,
    You might consider Tom V. Morris’s _Our Idea of God_ which, I think, is better than Roger’s work. The latter follows too closely medieval views (Aquinas, it seems, primarily) of the perfections. In contrast you might consider Bede Rundle’s _Why There is Something rather than Nothing_ (OUP, 2004). He argues that the traditional reasons offered for God’s existence are really arguments for a weaker claim–i.e. that there is something or other, perhaps God. You might also consider _Infinite Minds_, John Leslie for yet another view in (philosophical) cosmology.
    Just some ideas, though not exactly the contrasts you asked about.

    September 26, 2006 — 9:31
  • As long as you are considering not-so-technical stuff, why not consider _Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views_. I find undergrads really like debate format. Speaking of which, is there anything on this in the Peterson and van Aragon volume? (don’t have it on me)
    You migh also consider Craig’s _Only Wise God_.

    September 26, 2006 — 10:09
  • Following Trent’s recommendation, Dr. Greg Boyd’s “God of the Possible” is accessible and often times philosophical (he got his BA in philosophy from the University of Minnesota, MDiv from Yale, PhD from Princeton), though from what I recall you would have to do a lot of the work teasing out the philosophical ramifications of the view.
    I also remember that “The God Who Risks” by John Sanders is quite good, though I don’t remember much about it.

    September 27, 2006 — 3:43
  • Kevin TImpe

    Thanks for the recommendations. You may well be right, Mike, that the Morris volume would be better than the Rogers. I’ll have to take another look at it.
    Trent, the Four Views suggestion is a good one. I’ve used the Peterson/Van Arragon book before as the main text in the course–it just doesn’t have as much material on this issue as I’d like there to be (plus, I think that one of the two articles on the topic there contradicts itself at points).
    I’ll need to take a look at the books by Craig, Boyd, and Sanders. I’ve read another of Boyd’s book (something with Satan in the title) and thought that it contained more bad argument than good. But maybe his other book, or one of these two others will be better. Thanks again for the suggestions.

    September 27, 2006 — 19:25
  • For an overview of God’s atributes that then proceeds to make a case for divine providence with a thomistic taste I recommend Garrigou La Grange’s “Providence” See The following:
    Product Details
    Paperback: 389 pages
    Publisher: Tan Books & Publishers (March 31, 1999)
    Language: English
    ISBN: 0895556332
    Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
    Shipping Weight: 1.17 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
    Having treated elsewhere of God [1] and of providence [2] from a purely speculative point of view, we here resume the consideration of these great questions in their relation to the spiritual life. The primary object of contemplation is, in fact, God Himself and His infinite perfections, especially His goodness, His wisdom, and His providence. Our activity and our progress toward eternity must be directed from the higher plane of this contemplation. From this point of view we shall treat here: (1) of the existence of God and of His providence; (2) of those perfections of God which His providence presupposes; (3) of providence itself according to the Old and New Testaments; (4) of a trusting self-abandonment to God’s providence; (5) of providence in its relation to justice and mercy.
    the best part is that it has been made available online and I also have a PDF version of it should you want it.

    October 3, 2006 — 15:31
  • Kevin Timpe

    Would you be willing to email the PDF to me (ktimpe at sandiego dot edu)? Thanks.

    October 3, 2006 — 18:02
  • Done.
    Anybody else that needs a copy can email me @ dmendez at thomisttacos . com

    October 3, 2006 — 20:53
  • Kevin,
    You might look at Michael Robinson’s “The Storms of Providence”. He defends a classical Arminian perspective (divine timelessness, exhaustive foreknowledge) against both theistic determinism, Molinism, and open theism. The book is written at an introductory level.
    On open theism, I’d recommend Hasker’s collection of essays “Providence, Evil, and the Openness of God”.

    October 8, 2006 — 22:47