We’ll be back after these messages…
Part 3 of “Why the Sacrifice of the Son of God” is next up, but I felt the need to pause and recommend a book that may be helpful to many of you. I’ve just finished reading Terrance Tiessen’s Providence & Prayer, which is an exceptional and extra-ordinary book in terms of depth of theological discussion combined with practical usefulness. Tiessen’s aim, of course, is to help the reader think through the way God governs, nurtures, and orders the world (i.e. providence), but this grows out of a pet peeve of his. Namely, he frequently hears people praying prayers that don’t fit with their avowed understanding of the way God works in the world. So, not only has this book been helpful in helping me continue to think through God’s providence, it has given me a unique opportunity to think about the way I pray as a Calvinist (believing that God exercises meticulous control over everything that happens).
The structure of the book is rather ingenious. Tiessen presents eleven views of God’s providence in terms of the amount of influence God exerts over his creation and its inhabitants, from least (deism) to most (fatalism). He includes an easy-to-understand chart that allows the reader to see, at a glance, how the models differ from one another, and a glossary that clearly explains all of the theological jargon he uses. In addition, the individual chapters are written in a way that (in my humble opinion) every chapter of every theological book should be written: A brief summary of each view is given at the beginning of its chapter. This is followed by the body of the chapter, where he uses very descriptive section headings (aiding navigation and retention of information). Tiessen concludes each chapter with the development of a case study. He gives a senario at the beginning of the book in which Christians are praying together for a group of missionaries. Then, at the end of each chapter, he narrates as the members of the prayer group, each of whom have a different view of providence (one member representing each of the eleven views), think through how they will pray for the missionaries in light of their own view of providence. Then, Tiessen has each member pray a prayer that is consistent with their view.
So, if you could use some help in thinking through how to ask God to work in the world; if you wonder why God would have us pray if he already knows what he’s going to do; if you wonder how God could be the “ultimate cause” behind everything that happens and yet not be responsible for sin, or even if you are fortunate enough that you just need to burn some pastoral book budget dollars, this is the book for you. Feel free to comment here, or e-mail me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the link to Prayer & Providence on Amazon.com