2019: Speakers


 Plenary Papers

William Abraham

Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Providence and the Quest for A non-interventionist vision of Divine Action




Oliver Crisp

Fuller Theological Seminary
Meticulous Divine Providence



Christine Helmer

Northwestern University
Schleiermacher, Trust, and the Hiddenness of Divine Action



Brenda Deen Schildgen

University of California at Davis (Distinguished Emerita)
Divine Providence: A Distorted Theology of History?



Philip Ziegler

University of Aberdeen
The Devil’s Work: Divine Providence and its Antithesis




Parallel Sessions

Martha Elias Downey

Threshold School of Ministry, New Brunswick, Canada; Teaching Pastor, Vineyard Montreal Church
Theology Goes to the Theatre: Dramatic Theology as Schema for Engaging with Divine Action

This paper commends a dramatic approach to theology as a method which resonates with and reveals the nature of its divine subject. Informed by the work of Balthasar, Vanhoozer, and Wells, this proposal attends to the dramatic and narrative elements of theology, counteracting theology abstraction, compartmentalization, and entropy.

Steve Duby

Grand Canyon University
Motion, Divine Action, and the Logic of Eternity

This paper traces the coherence of God’s transcendence of time and his presence and action in time, by analyzing the concept of motion and its role in both divine action and divine eternity. Such an account, drawing on scripture and major voices from the tradition, sheds light on the nature of God’s action in creation and providence.

Rebekah Earnshaw

Dordt College
Finding the Absent Father in Scriptural Portrayals of Fatherly Providential Care

Contemporary approaches to providence, while striving for a relational and distinctively Christian version of the doctrine, share a tendency to absent the Father, focusing instead on the mediation of Son and Spirit. This tendency demands correction for biblical, historical, and pastor reasons. Restoring the Father’s role provides a more fully Christian, trinitarian view of providence.

Greg Ganssle

Biola University
Prospects for God’s Direct Conservation at Each Instant

Some theologians claim that God upholds the world not just by preventing its annihilation, but by acting at every instant to conserve it directly, immediately, and per se. This paper critiques one recent model of direct conservation, William Lane Craig’s, and explores other models.

Julian Gutierrez

Independent Scholar
Who is this King of Glory? Recovering the Identity of the God of Providence

Taking Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) as exemplary of the Reformed scholastic tradition, this paper offers a constructive retrieval of a classic model of providence. The chief benefit of this model, and its promise for contemporary theology, is the careful attention it gives to identifying the agent of providence.

Ross Hastings

Regent College
Divine and Creational Agency in Asymmetric Compatibilism: A Barthian Option

Divine agency and the creaturely agency must be compatible in a way that preserves the fecundity of creational realities yet recognizes the primacy of divine freedom. This paper explores this in two areas: in Christology, where the divine nature is asymmetrically related to the human; and in Barth’s anthropology, which features a similar asymmetric compatibilism.

Jonathan Hill

University of Exeter
Should a Christian be an Occasionalist?

In strong occasionalism, God causes all mental and physical events; in weak occasionalism God only causes physical events. Alvin Plantinga has recently defended the latter. Critiquing that account, this paper argues for strong secondary causalism, in which created objects have genuine causal power. This view is preferable to either form of occasionalism, as well as to concurrentism.

David Hunsicker

Azusa Pacific University
Virtue and Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics: A Critical Evaluation of Recent Trends

Recently, some Reformed theological ethicists have attempted to retrieve versions of virtue ethics and natural law theory that present the relationship between divine and human agency in a non-competitive manner. While critiquing these retrievals, this paper also argues that they point toward promising avenues for future theological investigation.

R. David Nelson

Baker Academic
Old and New Actions of God: Reimagining the Doctrines of Divine Agency and Providence after the Apocalyptic Turn

Contemporary apocalyptic theology portrays God’s action in the world as always ‘new,’ creatively and redemptively disrupting the ‘old’ governed by sin, death, and the devil. While appreciating the apocalyptic turn, this paper draws on Thomas, Calvin, and Barth to grasp also the connections between the old and new actions of God.


Nathaniel Gray Sutanto

Covenant City Church, Jakarta, Indonesia
Divine Providence’s Wetenschappelijke Benefits: Retrieving A Bavinckian Model

This essay retrieves Herman Bavinck’s (1854-1921) organic model of divine providence, drawing from his untranslated Christelijke wetenschap and Christelijke wereldbeschouwing. What is unique about Bavinck’s approach is that it is less an apologetic argument for providence than a performative account showing the fruits of affirming a meticulous model of divine providence.


Jordan Wessling

Fuller Theological Seminary

Roger Turner

Walters State Community College
Competing with God: On an Incompatibility between Divine Action and Human Freedom

A number of theologians contend that because God is transcendent, divine action could never in principle compete with human action. This paper argues that this non-competitivist conception does not achieve its promise of circumventing incompatibilism, and explores the implications for divine providence of accepting some kind of “competition” between divine and human action.

David Worsley and David Efird

University of York

‘So That Where I Am, There You May Be Also:’ Divine Action and Divine Providence in the Beatific Vision

Inquiring why God does not actualize our ultimate good right now, this paper considers divine providence to be compatible with human freedom, and divine action to be compatible with a law-governed creation. Together these help create a unified theory of God’s love for us, and his desire that we love him, too. Divine hiddenness is shown to be a feature of God’s love.

Biola UniversityBiola University—Torrey Honors InstituteFuller Theological SeminaryZondervan Academic