Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Theology

Abstract

The question of this dissertation is whether and how divine providence can function within the framework of a weak God theology. While theories of divine providence traditionally depend on a powerful God capable of bringing all to a good end, I argue that providence remains essential to Christian hope and participation even if God is rethought as weak. This dissertation develops a concept of providence within weak God theology through an understanding of the Holy Spirit which is non-totalizing and dependent on creation's response. Therefore, providence empowers human action rather than ensuring victory despite our actions.

The dissertation begins by examining three representative approaches to the doctrine of divine providence within Christianity: Paul Helm's Calvinist model of providence, Michael Dodds' Thomistic model of providence, and Joseph Bracken's process model of providence. These three approaches are analyzed in order to uncover a set of criteria for recognizing a Christian doctrine of providence within the framework of weak God theology.

Next, weak God theology and its critiques of ontotheology are introduced through the work of John Caputo. While the criteria for providence are met quite differently within Caputo's system, providence still functions as the call or insistence of God. The work of Michael Welker reveals parallels between the call and the Holy Spirit, allowing a fuller reimagining of providence. Some of the implications for this reimagined providence are explored in the conclusion by using Hurricane Katrina as a case study for providence and weak God theology.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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