Original Research

Voorzienigheid en verantwoordelijkheid

A. van de Beek
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 35, No 3 | a568 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v35i3.568 | © 1970 A. van de Beek | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 August 2001 | Published:

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A. van de Beek, Faculteit Godgeleerdheid, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Providence and responsibility

Providence is usually regarded as a theological concept that sets human hearts at rest. God rules our lives, and in particular those of Christians. Modern people often have problems with this idea. How can a good God rule a world with diseases and disasters? And can we actually imagine such an all-controlling power? Nevertheless, these are not the real issues concerning the concept of providence. The existential problem is that providence in the Bible has to do with responsibility: God takes responsibility for his world. This responsibility is total; it even implies responsibility and punishment for sin. Thus providence and atonement are not two separated fields of theology, but coincide. The chapter in the Bible to which the concept is originally related makes this plain: Genesis 22, and verse 8 in particular, states, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son”. (The Vulgate reads: “the victim for the holocaust”.) In Genesis 16-22 the word “to provide”, literally “to see” (r’h), turns out to be a key concept. Who sees? The Lord sees, Abraham sees and Hagar sees – and it is always in a situation of life and death in which they are called to responsibility to save lives. But actually these are lives that have already been sacrificed. Thus providence demands the ultimate from human beings, as it asks the ultimate from their God. Noordmans highlights this in a meditation on Matthew 6:34: “Jesus does not say this in order to lay worries to rest but in order to raise worries”. If you search for the kingship of God, all things that are needed will be given to you – such as feet to walk the second mile.


Atonement; Providence; Responsibility; Sacrifice; Worry


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