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In theology, Divine Providence, or simply Providence, is gods "will".


The word comes from Latin providentia "foresight, prudence", from pro- "ahead" + videre "to see". The current meaning of the word (Divine Providence) derives from the sense "knowledge of the future" or omniscience, which is the privilege of God. The initial meaning of provider remains in 'to provide' = "to take precautionary measures".

Catholic theology

St. Augustine of Hippo is perhaps most famously associated with the doctrine of Divine Providence in the Latin West. However, Christian teaching on providence in the high Middle Ages was most fully developed by St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica. Providence, as care exercised by the Supreme Being over the universe, His foresight and care for its future is extensively developed and explained by Thomas Aquinas and modern thomists. One of the studies by foremost modern thomist, Dominican father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange entitled "Providence. God's loving care for man and the need for confidence in Almighty God." (published first in 1932) presents and solves in the light of Catholic doctrine the most difficult issues as related to providence. In the subsequent generation, Catholic theologians such as Henri de Lubac and Hans urs von Balthasar developed the doctrine in ways which emphasized its biblical and Augustinian origins in Catholic thought.

Reformed theology

This term is an integral part of John Calvin's theological framework known as Calvinism, which emphasizes the depravity of man and the complete sovereignty of God. God's plan for the world and every soul that he has created is guided by his will, or providence. According to Calvin, the idea that man has a free will and is able to make choices independently of what God has already determined is based on our limited understanding of God's perfection and the delusion that God's purposes can be circumvented. In this mode of thought, providence is related to predestination.

The idea of providence as a central issue of piety was further developed by many of Calvin's followers, such as the English Puritans. In modern times, this concept remains prominent among many Protestant denominations that identify with Calvinism, the Reformed churches.

Lutheran theology

In Lutheran theology, Divine Providence refers to God's preservation of creation, his cooperation with everything that happens, and his guiding of the universe. While God cooperates with both good and evil deeds, with the evil deeds he does so only inasmuch as they are deeds, not with the evil in them. God concurs with an act's effect, but he does not cooperate in the corruption of an act or the evil of its effect. Lutherans believe everything exists for the sake of the Christian Church, and that God guides everything for its welfare and growth.

According to Martin Luther, Divine Providence began when God created the world with everything needed for human life, including both physical things and natural laws. . In Luther's Small Catechism, the explanation of the first article of the Apostle's Creed declares that everything people have that is good is given and preserved by God, either directly or through other people or things . Of the services others provide us through family, government, and work, he writes, "we receive these blessings not from them, but, through them, from God." Since God uses everyone's useful tasks for good, people should look not down upon some useful vocations as being less worthy than others. Instead people should honor others, no matter how lowly, as being the means God uses to work in the world.

Swedenborgian theology

Divine Providence is also a book (see external links), published by Emanuel Swedenborg in 1764, which describes his systematic theology regarding providence, free will, theodicy, and other related topics. Both meanings of the word providence described above ('foresight' and 'to provide') are applicable in the theology defined in Swedenborg's writings in that providence encompasses understanding, intent and action. Divine Providence relative to man is 'foresight', and relative to the Lord is 'providence'. Swedenborg proposes that one law of Divine Providence is that man should act from freedom according to reason, and that man is regenerated according to the faculties of rationality and liberty.

In Jewish thought

Divine providence (Hebrew השגחה פרטית Hashgochoh Protis / Hashgachah Pratit lit. [Divine] supervision of the individual) is discussed throughout Rabbinic literature, and in particular by the classical Jewish philosophers. The discussion brings into consideration the Jewish understanding of nature, and its reciprocal, the miraculous. This analysis thus underpins much of Orthodox Judaism's world view, particularly as regards questions of interaction with the natural world.

See also


External links

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