Thomas Oord vs. John Sander’s Conception of Providence and the Problem of Miracles

My note to Thomas Oord about his book The Uncontrolling Love of God:

I’ve been thinking about the main difference in yours and Sander’s approach to miracles – the God can’t vs. God won’t problem. You (I think rightly) maintain God can’t (otherwise he could, and simply chooses not to intervene, effectively making every bad thing that he could have miraculously prevented a good thing.) As I said I think this is the right way to go, but your model it seems could better explain the times God can and does intervene to do miracles than it currently does, with one small change. Why not simply say, given the world God has decided to create, he cannot unilaterally intervene (i.e. he cannot do any more than he does), and also that, the world he has decided to create, is one in which miracles have been predestined to occur, selectively, based on various free responses?

That is, why not make the miraculous functionally equivalent to the non-miraculous in terms of God’s initial creative parameters in making the world? You don’t have to have miracles things which God is “now” deciding to do or not do. Why can’t they be powerful, creative divergences from the “regular” pattern of perceived occurrences, which are themselves *built into the creation from the get go?* This would seem to alleviate some of the pressure regarding your explanation of miracles – they occur because God has created a world in which, given that things unfold in just such and such a way, X will miraculously occur. Yet, depending on just what the initial creative act is like, and how God has decided to sprinkle in miracles, and what goods/evils he leaves up to the free will of agents, it may still be the case that only given the actualization of various factors — only then will certain miracles occur.

What do you think? It is a sort of Deism with various miracles built into the system from the beginning, but God is not “distant” because he is still exerting the maximal amount of positive influence on every free agent at every moment, given their particular condition.


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