Job, Providence, and Multiple Intentionality

JobIf anybody knows anything about Calvin, it is that he believes God to be the ultimate author of history, good or bad, with all of its twists and turns. Though not obsessed with the doctrine of providence as some might think, he does devote a significant section of Book I of the Institutes to it, defends it in a number of special treatises, and addresses it all throughout the commentaries. One particular passage on Job grabbed my attention when I first read through the Institutes, though, when I was yet early on in developing my Reformedish tendencies.

Theologians, especially those concerned that God not be considered the author of evil, tend to make the distinction between God causing a thing to come to pass directly, or merely “permitting” it to come to pass. While elsewhere Calvin seems affirm a proper place for this distinction (cf. Commentary on Genesis 3:1), he’s not too keen on those who would try to rob God of his sovereign governorship over all things by using the doctrine of permission to get God off the hook for human wickedness. Although they are fully responsible for their choices (Institutes I.17.2-3), not being compelled by some Stoic fate (ibid, I.16.8), men and women make the choices they make according to the “secret plan of God.” Calvin’s beef is with a permission that teaches “that men are borne headlong by blind motion unbeknown to God or with his acquiescence.” God’s providence does not admit of a passive permission in which he simply lets things happen, but rather it is active permission according to his own secret plan, for his own good will.

Calvin backs this up with a battery of scriptural examples and texts, but he opens with the story of Job:

From the first chapter of Job we know that Satan, no less than the angels who willingly obey, presents himself before God [Job 1:6; 2:1] to receive his commands. He does so, indeed, in a different way and with a different end; but he still cannot undertake anything unless God so wills. However, even though a bare permission to afflict the holy man seems then to be added, yet we gather that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and his wicked thieves were the ministers, because this statement is true: “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; as it has pleased God, so is it done” [Job 1:2 ]. Satan desperately tries to drive the holy man insane; the Sabaeans cruelly and impiously pillage and make off with another’s possessions. Job recognizes that he was divinely stripped of all his property, and made a poor man, because it so pleased God. Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself may instigate, God nevertheless holds the key, so that he turns their efforts to carry out his judgments.

-Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.18.1

The reason this passage was so fascinating to me was that it called my attention to a single instance where three wills were at work, each a key component in the action, and all for different purposes. At the human level we see the Sabaeans out of a simple human lust and wickedness pillaging and looting in order to satisfy their own desires. Satan was at work as well, goading the Sabaeans in order to afflict Job and cause him to curse God, thereby proving him wrong. God actively permitted Satan to goad the Sabaeans in order to, well, we don’t have the full reasons, but at the very least, prove Satan’s accusations wrong and vindicate the righteousness of his servant Job. The same event is the result of God’s good divine will and the two wicked wills, demonic and human. God is just in his determinations, and yet Satan and the Sabaeans are utterly wicked in theirs.

This is not the way we’re used to thinking about things. Regularly, we would try to figure out, “Well, who’s really responsible here? Who caused it? It’s either God, or the devil, or humans, so which is it?” Or we’d try and parse it out and say that this part was God, this part was Satan, and this part was humans. That’s not what we see in the text, though. Instead, it seems to point us to God working out his own will through wicked demonic and human wills at the very same time.

Calvin moves on to cite the stories of the lying spirit and King Ahab (1 Kings 22:20-22), Jesus’ death at the hands of Pilate and wicked men by the plan of God (Acts 2:23,  4:28), Jeremiah’s declaration that the Chaldean’s cruel invasion was God’s own work (Jeremiah 1:15; 7:14; 50:25), and a half-dozen other instances where human wickedness is also credited to God’s good purposes in history. As Calvin says, “Those who are moderately versed in the Scriptures see that for the sake of brevity I have put forward only a few of many testimonies.”

I’ve wrestled myself for a number of years as to just how God’s sovereignty and our real, human freedom play out. Of course, the Scriptures don’t resolve this tension cleanly for us, nor does Calvin; they just let the it hang there. The conclusion I’ve come to is that both are in the Bible and any solution that too heavily pits the one against the other–either minimizing or limiting God’s control, foreknowledge, and power or those hyper-Calvinists who would call all human freedom a chimera–are reading against the grain of the text. None of this is an “answer”, of course. I have for years gone back and forth between a more deterministic compatibilism, Molinism, and something else I’ve never really had a name for.

What Calvin does in this passage is ensure that whatever your answer, it must be one that reckons with the fact that there are no runaway wills in God’s world; his “permission” is an active one, and he does not stand idly by, wringing his hands in distress, or waiting with baited breath to see what happens next. Again, this is the God of the Gospel who didn’t just stand by and let his Son be crucified by wicked men, but purposed according to his own plan and foreknowledge to save the world through these things.

Soli Deo Gloria

I Hate Writing About Sex (CaPC)

no sexI hate writing about sex; I want to be over the whole sex conversation in general. Honestly, as interesting a subject as it might be, there is nothing easy, simple, or straightforward about it; it’s not the sort of subject I get up and think, “Wow, that would be a great angle for an article to write!” Honestly, I get a pit in my stomach. Culturally-speaking it’s a minefield. The amount of shame, hurt, obsession, money, and political-vitriol attached to discussions of sex makes it nearly impossible not to trigger some negative experience for someone. Our media is over-saturated with issues either directly or indirectly tied to it (gender, family, homosexuality, etc.) making it nearly impossible to say something on one topic without somehow involving another, making the whole thing exhausting and daunting.

The problem is that the conversation about sex isn’t going away. In fact, it just keeps getting louder.

You can go read the rest of my piece HERE at Christ and Pop Culture.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

A New Gospel-Inspired Peace in Honduras (CaPC)

hondurasI’ve been to Honduras, I think, four times in my life–twice that I can remember and a couple of trips when I was an infant. It’s where my parents were born, my mother grew up, and a majority of my extended family still lives. My mom still goes back regularly to see our family in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and I’d love to take my wife there one day to meet them as well. It’s a beautiful country, with a rich culture, and a generous people. Of course, to me the best part of Honduras is my family, but I’d have to say the food is a close second; everything just tastes better down there.

One thing about Honduras that isn’t so great, is the murder rate: it has the highest per capita murder rate in the world with 87 killings per 100,000.

You can go read about the new hope for peace in Honduras HERE at Christ and Pop Culture.

Who Adopts Us in Salvation?

The FatherIt was in seminary that I began to appreciate the significance of adoption as a distinct moment in our salvation. Even greater than our justification, being declared and thereby rendered righteous with God the King, is being received by grace into his family as beloved children. It is as children that we call out ‘Abba, Father’ and approach the throne of grace with full confidence, knowing that the King of Glory delights to hear our prayers.

The question I had in seminary was, “Who exactly am I adopted by? Is it by the Father, or the whole Trinity?” I initially believed it to be the Father as I understood adoption to occur through union with Christ the Son into his relationship with the Father. Upon hearing me express this view, one of my professors quickly corrected me and warned against introducing a split in the Trinity. To him, it is only proper to attribute adoption to the whole Trinity.  Since that time I’ve gone back and forth, but have come to the conclusion that my initial instincts were correct.

Two principles of trinitarian theology have guided me:

  • First, that although the external acts of the Trinity are undivided, the persons are still to be distinguished. In other words, the Trinity acts in a trinitarian fashion. It’s not that the Father creates, the Son saves, and the Spirit does, whatever he does. Instead, the early church fathers would say that more properly the Father creates, redeems, and sanctifies through the Son and the Spirit. In every action, the whole Trinity is involved.
  • Second, the complementary doctrine of appropriations teaches that, although the work of the Trinity is undivided, it is still fitting to attribute certain graces and actions more properly to a particular person. So, for instance, although the Father and the Spirit are involved, only the Son is properly said to become incarnate. Only the Son is born of a virgin, dies, and rises again, and so forth, even though they happen at the command of the Father in the power of the Spirit.

With these two principles in place, we are in a position to appreciate John Murray’s biblical arguments in Redemption Accomplished and Applied for thinking it is the Father who adopts us, although he does this through the Son and the Spirit:

  1. The first and simplest is that the name “Father” belongs to the first person of the Trinity, just as “the Son” is the second, and the “Holy Spirit” is the third. Jesus directed his prayers to the Father, and he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (pg. 137)
  2. In John 20:17, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene that he is not yet “ascended to the Father”, clearly referring to the first person, before going on “My Father and your Father, My God and your God.” (pp. 137-138)
  3. In a very similar point, Murray points out that Jesus’ frequent prayer to his “Father in heaven”, or some similar form of address. He also directs his disciples to pray to their Father in heaven, implying that the same divine person is in view. (pg. 138)
  4. In the New Testament, the term “Father” is the personal name of the first person of the Trinity. The Father is often called “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3; Col. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3). The phrase “God the Father” also must refer to him (Gal. 1:1; Eph. 6:23; Phil. 2:11; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Pet. 1:17; 2 John 3; Jude 1; Rev. 1:6) In almost all of these passages the Father is clearly not referring to the Son or the Spirit. From there Murray says that it is important to observe that “when God is called the Father of believers we have close similarity of expression” to the point where it is an unavoidable conclusion that the same person of the Trinity is being referred to. Again, in places like Romans 1:7 where the phrase “peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” is used, both persons are mentioned and distinguished, while one is named “our Father.” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Philemon 3)

For these reasons it seems Biblically-appropriate to understand ourselves to have been adopted through the mediatorial work of the Son and the gift of the Spirit into the Father’s family by grace. This is good news. As Murray writes:

Could anything disclose the marvel of adoption or certify the security of its tenure and privilege more effectively than the fact that the Father himself, on account of whom are all things and through whom are all things, who made the captain of salvation perfect through suffering becomes by deed of grace the Father of the many sons whom he will bring to glory? (pg. 140)

Soli Deo Gloria

In What Sense Was The Atonement Necessary?

redemptionThat Christ died for our sins is beyond question. (1 Cor. 15:3; Rom. 5:8-11; 2 Cor. 5:21) In what sense was Jesus’s death for sin necessary, though? The issue of the necessity of atonement is a complex one involving many layers from various angles. John Murray sheds some light on at least one area by making a very helpful distinction in his work Redemption: Accomplish and Applied between two views of the necessity of Christ’s work on the Cross that have been held throughout the history of theology.

Hypothetical Necessity – First is the view that he terms “hypothetical necessity” (pg. 11), in which Jesus’ death is held to be not strictly necessary. Theoretically it is possible that God could have saved his church through some means other that Christ’s sin-bearing death, and victorious resurrection if he so chose. He is God for whom all things are possible. Apparently in his wisdom though, he found that this was the most fitting means in that it combines the greatest amount of blessings, virtues, and so forth. Murray cites Augustine and Aquinas as historical representatives of this view. Knowing what I know of them, it sounds like the sort of conclusion they might come to.

Consequent Absolute Necessity – The second view Murray calls “consequent absolute necessity” and it is apparently the historical Protestant position (Calvin, Institutes, II.16.5). It holds that, given God’s decision to save, Christ’s death for sin was absolutely necessary. So, to be clear, first, it affirms that strictly speaking, Christ’s death is unnecessary. God did not need Christ to die. He is perfect and complete in his own life before the creation or the redemption of the world without it. And yet, consequent, or logically-following his decision to save, it is absolutely necessary given the nature of sin and the nature of God that it should happen through Christ’s vicarious sacrifice. (pg. 12) So, if moved by love, God is going to save people in a way consistent with his own holy, just, and merciful character, the atonement is necessary. It is this view that Murray judges to be the correct one and to which I myself subscribe.

Support Some might find this to be ‘vain speculation’, but Murray points various texts to the effect that such a conclusion is warranted. (See pp. 13-18) One particular argument he forwards is connected to the fact that the Scriptures point to Christ’s death as greatest proof we have of the love of God (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10) That God was willing to spare his own Son testifies to the costliness of his love. (Rom 8:32) Murray asks, “would the Cross be an extreme exhibition of love if there were no necessity for such costliness?” (pg. 17) Can’t we only draw that conclusion if there were no other options? If there wasn’t some extreme sense of necessity involved? I find that conclusion hard to escape. As another has pointed out, it makes no sense for your friend to tell you, “Look how much I love you!” and then jump into a lake and drown. If he jumps in front of a bus to push you out of the way, that’s another story.

Another theological objection is that this seems to put limits on God. Isn’t it arrogant to say what God can and can’t do? At one level yes, we ought to be careful about being too eager to say what God can’t or cannot do. That’s why Murray spends several pages showing that this is a judgment made on scriptural grounds; its safest to make judgments on what God has told us about himself. It must also be pointed out that there are several things it is perfectly fine to say God’s ‘cannot’ do which do not rob him of glory. God’s inability to lie, be wicked, or deny himself is no affront to his majesty. In fact, “such ‘cannots’ are his glory and for us to refrain from reckoning with such ‘impossibles’ would be to deny his glory and perfection.” (pg. 13)

So was Jesus’ death necessary? In one sense, no. Jesus didn’t need to die–he could have left us to our peril and woe. In another sense, once God decided (in some pre-temporal sense) to save us by grace, it could come in no other way than through the death of His Own Son.

Soli Deo Gloria

Perfection And Incarnation (Or, Some Thoughts on Zack Hunt’s Imperfect Bible)

Insert stock Bible image here.

Insert stock Bible image here.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple – (Psalm 19:7)

If you read this blog often, you know I don’t typically pick fights with specific bloggers, or even positions–I generally just like putting forward positive content. I certainly don’t like challenging smart guys like Zack Hunt. I mean dude’s got some theological chops, a big blog, he’s going to Yale, and is a good enough writer to score a book deal; I have a kind of ugly-but-functional blog my mom reads and a poorly-followed Twitter account. Still he wrote a piece over at Red Letter Christians on the inerrancy or rather, non-inerrancy, of the Bible that I found interesting and worth examining. Also, I was kind of bored.

His basic argument, as far as I followed it, was that the reason he believed the Bible isn’t perfect is because the Bible itself told him so. Also, nobody believed in its ‘inerrancy’ until like, 150 years ago. Or something like that.

If I had to boil down the argument into one quote, it’d probably be this chunk right here:

Do you remember the other big moment when we read about something being “God-breathed” in scripture? Sure you do. We find it in the very beginning, in Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 when God took the dust of the ground and breathed life into it to create humanity.

In that moment God breathed something into existence…..which wasn’t perfect. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t God.

Because scripture is also “God-breathed” it means it too isn’t God. Nor does it even come directly from God, but instead it passes through an intermediary. In the beginning, the intermediary between us and God was dirt. God breathed into it and the result was that we were created.

In the case of the Bible, God breathed His truth into the hearts and minds of people and the result was that the Bible was created. But like that ancient dirt that gave birth to us, the people who wrote the Bible, God’s intermediaries, weren’t perfect. Which is why Paul says “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”

Hunt then goes on to affirm that we can basically trust the Bible because, even though Noah probably didn’t get all those animals on the boat, we can still believe what the story is trying to teach: God will take care of us in the storms. We don’t need something to be inerrant or “perfect” for it to convey truth, it just needs to be honest enough. A basically truthful message doesn’t need to keep all the details straight for it to be correct and trustworthy. That’s what faith is about–kinda like with your parents, you trust it even when you have some doubts about it. Holding out for some theoretical inerrancy that doesn’t fit the text itself isn’t faith, but a fearful struggle to control the divine.

Now, on the issue of faith and I’d simply note that Karl Barth had some different ideas than Paul Tillich which are worth considering. The historical point, I will leave to others to debate without comment as well. I think there is definitely something to the idea that testimony can be essentially reliable while a couple of minor details are crossed. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening in the Bible, but I think it’s important to affirm valid points when you see them.

On his argument about perfection I do have a few thoughts, though.

To be clear at the outset, I’m not going to argue in detail for some particular view of inerrancy or infallibility simply because, to be honest, it’s a short blog so there isn’t time. I do think it’s helpful to point out that there are varying views as to what constitutes inerrancy such as the Chicago Statement (which has multiple interpretations), Old Princetonian articulations, and other more rigid views. It’d probably be helpful to define it, but since Hunt doesn’t and it won’t affect my argument, I’ll leave it be. For the curious, whatever Kevin Vanhoozer says, I’m right around there.

What I do want is to briefly, and incompletely, examine a few of the basic components or assumptions in the argument forwarded by Hunt, in no particular order.

It’s Not God, But it is His Work

As Hunt astutely points out, the Bible is not God, but is “God-breathed” (theopneustos). So, it’s wrong to attribute to the Bible all of God’s perfections. Only God is immortal, immutable, eternal, all-powerful, and so forth. The Bible is not these things and to say that it is, is a sort of idolatry that ignores the fact that it is clearly a human book that “was written by people”; humans who left their individual marks on the texts they produced.

Now, to begin, I’d just like to note that the proponents of inerrancy that I know of would easily confess this. For instance, Old Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield, truly old-school on inerrancy, makes a big deal about the way Paul’s letters bear his distinctive stamp–they have the unique marks of his very human personality, thought, and history. And yet, Warfield still affirms that they are God’s works and are to be identified with him. In other words, he ascribes to a view of dual authorship whereby, without violating creaturely freedom and contingency, God somehow brings it about that Paul writes what he wanted him to write; even though they’re human words, it doesn’t prevent them from somehow being divine ones as well. That’s why Jesus can say “it is written”, and Paul can quote the OT and say “Scripture says”, as if it were equivalent to “God says.”

Warfield writes:

When the Christian asserts his faith in the divine origin of his Bible, he does not mean to  deny that it was composed and written by men or that it was given by men to the world. He believes that the marks of its human origin are ineradicably stamped on every page of the whole volume. He means to state only that it is not merely human in its origin…

The Scriptures, in other words, are conceived by the writers of the New Testament as through and through God’s book, in every part expressive of His mind, given through men after a fashion which does no violence to their nature as men, and constitutes the book also men’s book as well as God’s, in every part expressive of the mind of its human authors.

In which case, it’s not quite as simple as distinguishing Creator from creation then, because the two are related. The integrity and characteristics of the one speaks to the ability of the other.

“God-Breathed Humans” and Types of Perfection

Hunt also points out that the other thing we read in Scripture was God-breathed were humans–and they clearly weren’t perfect, just good. Cutting off a quick objection, he says we can’t simply point to the Fall either and say, “Well, we were and then we became sinful.” The Bible only says that we were very good, and yet clearly we were capable of temptation. I mean, we’re not God, so how could we be perfect? So neither is the Bible.

Now once again, yes, humans are not perfect–certainly not as God is perfect. And yet that isn’t the end of it. You see, we are meant to be perfected in redemption, just as we were meant to be perfected in the Garden. Just as there is an eschatological dimension to our salvation now, there was one then; God had the goal of bringing his “good” creation to a point of perfection. One thing we always forget about the glory of salvation is that one day we will be made like Christ, the perfectly glorified human one, without becoming the Creator. We will be a perfectly redeemed creation. What I’m trying to say is that simply pointing out that the Bible isn’t God, doesn’t mean it can’t be perfect. It means it can’t be perfect in the way God is, but it doesn’t rule out a derivative, analogical sort of perfection–perfect for the sort of thing that it is. Eventually we will be perfect for the sorts of non-divine things we are. It seems at least possible then, for something created, like the Bible, to be perfect in it’s own particular way.

Intermediaries and Incarnation

I’ll be briefer here because this point follows after the others, but Hunt makes something of the Bible coming by way of intermediaries. Just as God used dirt to make humans and so we came out a bit dirty (not in that sense), God used dirty humans to get his message across and they wrote a “dirty”  Bible. It’s good enough, but since it is the work of a human intermediary we shouldn’t expect perfection.

Now, to my mind, it seems relevant that we believe in a Gospel that has the Incarnation right at its center. The Divine Son, takes up humanity in order to perfectly say and do what God says and does in a human way. To put it another way, the man Jesus Christ’s saying and doing is simply God saying and doing as a human. Humanity made in the Image of God, set free from sin, is apparently a fit vehicle for the perfect-but-veiled revelation of God himself in Jesus. I’ll be the first to throw up a big caution before collapsing the Creator/creature distinction, but working from the Incarnation, as unique and unrepeatable as it is, we seem to be presented with the truth that a thing’s non-divinity does not disqualify it as medium of perfect, if limited, revelation.

Now, to be sure, “perfect” does not mean “complete” or “full without remainder.” In that sense, yes, we see “through a glass darkly.” This side of the eschaton we do not know all things, nor do we know them as God does; we should not expect to. We can trust that God has perfectly told us those things we need to know now in order to know God fully then. Incidentally, to use that verse as an argument for the errancy of Scripture is as persuasive exegetically as cessationists’ appeal to it as evidence that the gifts ended when we got the Bible–which is to say, not very much at all because those verses aren’t talking about the Bible.

Again, this isn’t a full response, nor was it intended to be. I’m sure I haven’t convinced anybody as to the inerrancy, non-inerrancy, or infalliblity of the Bible. There are probably 20 different issues I could have brought up that play a role in our understanding of Scripture. I simply wanted to make a few clarifying points with respect to Divine authorship, redemption, and Incarnation that might shed some light on the possibility of the Bible’s “perfection.”

Soli Deo Gloria

“Does God Need to Be Woken Up?” Calvin’s 6 Reasons We Should Pray

prayerPrayer is oxygen to the Christian life–without it, we’ll eventually choke and die. Knowing this Calvin devoted a significant section of the Institutes to the topic of prayer. In it he gives attention to the theology of prayer, the proper form, and has a wonderful section commenting on the Lord’s Prayer. Practical-minded theologian and pastor that he was, he knew that some have objections or questions about prayer.

A very common one, now and then, runs along the lines of “If God is God, shouldn’t he already know what we need without us having to ask for it? Does he need to be woken up or something?” Calvin says the people who ask that haven’t yet noted in scripture that”he ordained it not so much for his own sake as for ours.”  Just as in worship, God is rightly owed the praise he is offered, but the profit of this sacrifice also, by which he is worshiped, returns to us.” The same is true in prayer. So, “while we grow dull and stupid toward our miseries, he watches and keeps guard on our behalf, and sometimes even helps us unasked, still it is very important for us to call upon him.”

Calvin then lists six reasons God wants us to pray to him:

First, that our hearts may be fired with a zealous and burning desire ever to seek, love, and serve him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to him as to a sacred anchor.

Secondly, that there may enter our hearts no desire and no wish at all of which we should be ashamed to make him a witness, while we learn to set all our wishes before his eyes, and even to pour out our whole hearts.

Thirdly, that we be prepared to receive his benefits with true gratitude of heart and thanksgiving, benefits that our prayer reminds us come from his hand [cf. Psalm 145:15-16].

Fourthly, moreover, that, having obtained what we were seeking, and being convinced that he has answered our prayers, we should be led to meditate upon his kindness more ardently.

And fifthly, that at the same time we embrace with greater delight those things which we acknowledge to have been obtained by prayers.

Finally, that use and experience may, according to the measure of our feebleness, confirm his providence, while we understand not only that he promises never to fail us, and of his own will opens the way to call upon him at the very point of necessity, but also that he ever extends his hand to help his own, not wet-nursing them with words but defending them with present help.

-Institutes, III.20.4

Without prayer, our sinful hearts are blind and deaf to the myriad ways God is constantly providing for us all that we need, confirming his promises. It is for these reasons, and more, that God invites us to pray, and indeed at times, “gives the impression of one sleeping or idling in order that he may thus train us, otherwise idle and lazy, to seek, ask, and entreat him to our great good.”

This is why Calvin thinks it “excessive foolishness” to point to God’s providence as an excuse for prayerlessness. If scripture teaches us both that God is providentially guiding all things and yet teaches us to call upon his name in prayer, then it is godlessness parading itself as wisdom to teach otherwise. Calvin reminds us of the text “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears toward their prayers” [1 Peter 3:12; Psalm 34:15; cf. 33:16, Vg.], which “commends the providence of God” and does “not to omit the exercise of faith.” Scripure teaches both and so we should believe and practice both.

Let no one claim Calvin as a support for their prayerlessness. A strong grasp of God’s providence might stop our prayers from being panicked, wheedling, bargaining sessions, but it should never turn us away from persistently seeking out God for all of our good.

Soli Deo Gloria