Thursday, June 26, 2014

Theologian Thursday: Harkness on the Personal God

Dr. Georgia Harkness
Christians have a concept, taught by Jesus of Nazareth in places like Matthew 6.25 - 34, called "providence." This is the idea that God is not an inactive, remote, unconcerned being, but rather cares about and is involved in our everyday lives. Theologian Georgia Harkness talks about what that implies.

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Only a personal God can know or care what happens to persons. A deity conceived to be an impersonal force or process, or an abstract principle, or the totality of all that exists, or the sum total of human ideals cannot be personally concerned with individuals or their destiny. Such a God may be worshiped in the sense of being held in reverence; to such a deity some form of human adjustment can be made. But such a God cannot be prayed to or trusted to give providential guidance to any person's life.
A personal God is one of supreme intelligence, supreme goodness, and supreme creative and controlling power. One who grants the presence of an infinitely complex, yet ordered structure in the universe and the predominance of value of good over evil in human existence may be ready to affirm the existence of a personal God upon these grounds. Yet this is not foundation enough for a doctrine of providence. The Christian's faith in providence requires a further and to many minds a more difficult affirmation, for it roots in the conviction that the God who guides the stars and atoms in their courses also guides and cares for you and me.

Georgia Harkness
The Providence of God (Abingdon Press, 1960), pg. 18
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