'... in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose' (Romans 8:28) The Puritans used to say that 'providence is the last refuge of the saints'. Melvin Tinker's personal experience and work as a pastor have led him to believe that the doctrine of God's providence should be amongst the first refuges for the Christian seeking strength and comfort. From the early church right through into the nineteenth century, belief in providence was part of the staple diet of professing Christians. For various reasons, the doctrine was eclipsed in the twentieth century, and still lies on the edges of much Christian thought and practice today. However, rightly understood, the providence of God shines as a glorious jewel in the crown of the Christian faith. Melvin Tinker's exploration and exposition of some of the wonderful facets of that jewel is both pastoral and practical.
Intended for good – The providence of God
Author: Melvin Tinker
176 pages, £8.99
Star rating: 4 stars
Professor D.A. Carson, in his foreword to the book, highlights the change of attitude that has taken place in society towards the doctrine of providence. Two hundred years ago, students in most history departments, in British or American universities, might well have included comment on divine intervention when writing a paper on major world events. To-day that is unthinkable. Instead we have replaced the belief that the world is preserved and ruled according to the wise counsel and purpose of Almighty God with the impersonal terms of ‘chance’, ‘fate’ and ‘luck’.
It is into this situation that Melvin Tinker’s book comes as a welcome beam of light. The author brings us back to the comforting reality that the world and all its happenings is not ultimately governed by blind chance, fate, or luck, but by an all-powerful, all-wise, gracious and personal God, whose intentions are always good.
The book is made up of ten chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of providence. The issues considered include ‘Providence and the purposes of God’(Rom.8:28). ‘Providence and time’(Ps.90), ‘Providence in action’(as in the life of Joseph) and ‘Providence and the individual’(Ps.139).
The book closes with an appendix, in which the author compares the position expressed in it as the classic Reformed view against some of the recent understandings of providence, for example, those of Open Theism. This is a well written volume and easy to read. Above all it is totally faithful to Scripture. There is an excellent chapter on the experiences of Naomi and Ruth, showing how the providence of God worked out in their lives. In all, the book will help the reader to understand more clearly ‘the mystery’ of God’s providence.
I heartily recommend it as giving hope and light where ‘luck’, ‘fate’ and ‘chance’ leave us in the dark.