A moment of awe can become a lifetime of wonder - Anonymous

How Does God Work in the World?

Providence & Prayer


1.Introduction

I have wonder about the above for many years.

I found the following Case Study from a book by Terrance Tiessen.[1]

A Case Study: Fred Henderson's Kidnapped Son
Fred Henderson was thankful that it was Wednesday when he received the distressing phone call from the office of the mission with whom his son worked. [2] [3] There was a church prayer meeting that night, and Fred keenly felt the need of the prayers of others in the congregation. He had been informed by the director of the mission that his son Richard was one of the three missionaries who had been abducted that day by a group of men who were now demanding ransom and seeking political concessions before the missionaries would be released. The mission had made it a policy never to pay ransom in order to protect their missionaries who would otherwise be placed at constant risk. Mission leaders were attempting to negotiate with the captors, but this particular group had a reputation for being ruthless, so the situation did not look good. The larger conflict between the rebels and the government was especially difficult for the mission to address.

Terrance Tiessen writes further:
That evening Fred described the situation of Richard and the two other missionaries to the group gathered for prayer. As you will soon discover, the people at the meeting were remarkably diverse in their theological perspective, and this was evident as they prayed for Richard and his colleagues. At the end of each model, I have introduced a member of Fred's congregation who holds that particular model of providence and have constructed the type of petition that they could appropriately pray, given their understanding of God's relationship to and action in the world.

[1] Terrance Tiessen is professor of theology and ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada. This case study is drawn from his book Providence & Prayer, How Does God Work in the World?, InterVarsity Press @2000
[2] This particular story is fictional, but most readers will know of real-life situations just like it.
[3] I wish to state from the outset of this piece of writing that captors and rebels can exist in all races and religions and one must avoid stereotyping them.


This is the book by Terrance Tiessen:

           

In his book, Tiessen listed ten models of providence and prayer and then added his own 11th model, as follows:

(01) The Semi-Deist Model
(02) The Process Model
(03) The Openness Model
(04) The Church Dominion Model
(05) The Redemptive Intervention Model
(06) The Molinist Model
(07) The Thomist Model
(08) The Barthian Model
(09) The Calvinist Model
(10) The Fatalist Model

(11) The Middle Knowledge Calvinist Model


To facilitate a sweeping view of the whole landscape, Tiessen has created a chart showing these 11 models as follows:


A Comparative Chart of the Eleven Models, as per the Appendix of the book:


 

Semi-Deist

Process

Openness

Church Dominion

Redemptive Intervention

Molinist

Thomist

Barthian

Middle Knowledge Calvinist

Calvinist

Fatalist

God’s Experience of Time

?

temporal

temporal

timeless (?)

could be either

timeless

timeless

timeless

probably temporal

timeless

temporal (?)

God knows the actual future totally

No

No

No

?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

God knows counterfact uals

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

there are none

God takes a risk in creation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

God specifically permits all evils

No

No

No

No

No, only generally

Yes, in choosing this world

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No, but brings them about

Human freedom is

libertarian

libertarian

libertarian

libertarian

libertarian

libertarian

libertarian

volitional

volitional

volitional

illusory

Prayer affects the outcome

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Prayer changes God’s mind

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Influenced the plan but does not change it now

No

No

No

No

No

No

 Note: Tiessen has "squeezed" his Middle Knowledge Calvinist Model between Barthian Model (08) and Calvinist Model (09) in the chart above.


I will go through each of these eleven Providence & Prayer models in the next page: Philosophical & Theological Thoughts 02: Eleven Models of Providence & Prayer