Preservation

According to the Bible, God not only is creator of everything but also preserves and governs everything. We call this activity of God His providence. Chapter 16, “Providence,” of the book that my family and I are reading in our after-breakfast Bible reading time, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994), observes that by accepting the doctrine of providence we avoid four common errors in thinking about God’s relationship with what He has created: the belief that He created the universe but isn’t involved in it or in the lives of human beings now (deism), the belief that everything is Him or a part of Him (pantheism), the belief that events are determined by chance (randomness), and the belief that events are determined by fate (determinism).

In the chapter Grudem examines three aspects of providence–preservation, concurrence, and government–from a Calvinist perspective and then presents and responds to the major alternative evangelical position, the Arminian view. In our family reading we’ll read everything that Grudem says in the order that he gives it, noting as we do so how what he says corresponds with or doesn’t correspond with what I understand the Bible to teach. On the other hand, in my posts I’ll present what I understand the Bible to teach about a topic and then note alternative views on that topic. For a comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism, see my November 17, 2012, post, “Calvinism and Arminianism”; and for a summary of how the view which I hold (open theism) differs from them, see my October 27, 2012, post, “An Introduction to Open Theism.”

Some Bible passages which indicate that God preserves what He has created are:
– “You [the LORD] have made heaven…the earth…the seas…and you preserve all of them” (Nehemiah 9:6, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV; the speakers are some Levites).
– “If he [God] should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (Job 34:14-15; the speaker is Elihu).
– “In him [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28; Paul is quoting a Greek poet).
– “By him [Jesus Christ] all things were created…and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).
– “He [the Son of God, Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

God’s preserving what He has created includes their maintaining their properties. Grudem points out that this provides a basis for science and technology.

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