The Faithful Creator
As Paul says in Romans, creation groans for redemption. But can we trust God to make all things new?
The doctrines of creation and providence address the question of human anxiety in the face of suffering and evil. In a world that often seems to be spinning out of control, Christian faith confesses a "faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19) who promises a glorious future for all creation.
In The Faithful Creator, seasoned professor and author Ron Highfield presents an overview of creation, providence and the problem of evil. He explores a wide range of issues, including the biblical accounts of creation, the dialogue between theology and science, models of providence, philosophical problems of evil and the proposals of open theism and process theism. Both accessible and scholarly, The Faithful Creator is an ideal text for classroom use.
"The Faithful Creator is an extraordinarily rich scholarly treatment of the subjects of divine creation and providence. Highfield situates the doctrine of providence where it belongs—as an outworking of the doctrine of divine creation, which in turn is grounded in the triune nature of God. And the discussion culminates in a wise and extensive treatment of the diverse ways in which the problem of evil threatens to undermine our belief in divine faithfulness. Highfield seems equally adept when discussing biblical, philosophical and historical-theological dimensions of the issue, enabling him to bring into the conversation an impressive range of thinkers—ancient to contemporary. This study demands consideration by those on all sides of the providence debate."
"In this splendid book, Ron Highfield carefully argues that a proper theological understanding of God's creative action and providential care for all things may afford peace and assurance in this age of anxiety. Solidly grounded in Scripture and masterfully engaging key figures in both classical and contemporary theology, Highfield employs the notions of analogy and secondary causality to preserve God's transcendence and immanence while affirming human freedom and the authentic causality of creatures. The reader is invited to find 'comfort, hope, courage and joy' in the reality of God's providence—in the truth that 'God so orders and directs every event in the history of creation that God's eternal purpose for creation is realized perfectly.'"
"Suffering and evil often challenge our understanding of, and love for, the God who created and rules over the world. Focusing on God's work of creation and providence, Highfield is swimming against a stream in evangelical theology that has revised or modified aspects of the traditional understanding of God's nature (simplicity, immutability, eternity and omnipotence). He cogently reaffirms classical theism, and he applies it very helpfully in our present context. Whether or not readers agree with Highfield's criticism of recent departures from the classical tradition, they will benefit, as I have done, from interacting with his superb restatement of the tradition and his own constructive appropriation of it."
"What I appreciate about The Faithful Creator is that Highfield goes beyond just saying that God is faithful and actually demonstrates it with his discussions on creation and providence. . . . This book is an excellent reminder that even though we may not know how our choices will play out in the rest of our lives, we can be certain that God, as our Creator, will be faithful in working all things toward His purpose. It is a reminder that we don't need to be anxious about the future because God is in control of the world that He has created."
Part One: Creation
1. "Let There Be Light": Creation in the Old Testament
The Old Testament Sources
Old Testament Theology of Creation
2. "In The Beginning Was the Word": Creation in the New Testament
New Testament Theology of Creation
Christ and Creation
3. "Creator of Heaven and Earth"
One God Beginning and End
The Trinity and Creation
4. How God Creates the World (Part One): Probing a Mystery or Solving a Problem?
Creation as Divine Action
The How of Divine Creating
Ancient Theories of Mediation
John Polkinghorne--A Contemporary Theorist of Mediation
5. How God Creates the World (Part Two): Assessing the Quest
Creation and Causation
Creation and Relationality
The Quest for How--An Assessment
Why God Made the World
6. Jesus Christ as Creator
Hellenistic Jewish Background
Two Models for a Theology of Creation
Jesus Christ in Modern Theology of Creation
Christ and Creation
7. Creation from Nothing: Creation as an Act of Sovereign Generosity
Development of the Doctrine of Creation from Nothing
The Biblical and Theological Meaning of Creatio ex Nihilo
Divine Ideas and Possible Worlds
Matter--The Third Principle
8. Divine Creation and Modern Science
Early Modern Science
The Competence and Limits of Natural Science
Relating Natural Science and Christian Theology
Big Bang Cosmology and Evolutionary Biology
Gould, Dawkins and Dembski
Why the Controversy?
Augustine or Bellarmine?
9. Creation and Time
The Bible and Time
Augustine and Aquinas on Time
Christ and Time
Part Two: Divine Providence
10. Biblical Theology of Divine Providence
Providence in the Old Testament
Providence in the New Testament
Biblical Theology of Providence
Interpretation of the Bible in the Theology of Providence
11. All Things Work Together
Unfolding the Doctrine of Providence
12. Models of Perfect Providence: Foreknowledge
The Foreknowledge Models
The Problem of Molinism (And Other Foreknowledge Models)
13. Models of Perfect Providence: Omnipotence Models
Post-Reformation Reformed Orthodox Theologians
14. The Open Theist Model of Providence
Open Theism's Revisions to the Traditional Doctrine of Providence
Gregory Boyd on Divine Providence
Critical Observations on the Open Theist Model
15. Creation, Providence and Human Freedom
The Biblical and Theological Idea of Freedom
The Compatibility of Providence and Freedom
Part Three: The Challenge of Evil
16. Creation, Providence and Evil
Dualism--Moral or Metaphysical?
Sin, Error and Corruption
The Fall and Original Sin
How Do We Know Sin and Evil?
17. The Philosophical Problems of Evil
Ancient Forms of the Problem
The Modern Problem of Evil
The Logical Problem of Evil
The Evidential Problem of Evil
18. The Rhetorical Argument from Evil
Leibniz's Theodicy and Voltaire's Satire
Ivan Karamazov and Protest Atheism
The Karamoazov Argument After Dostoevsky
Responses to the Rhetorical Problem of Evil
Responding to the "Rhetorical Argument from Evil"
19. "Do Not Be Afraid"
The Faith of Jesus
Faith in Jesus