Bruce Reichenbach’s book, Divine Providence: God’s Love and Human Freedom is impressive first of all due to the author’s total disinterest in impressing his readers. Instead, he has a legacy to pass on.
Bruce Reichenbach is an emeritus philosophy professor who retired in 2011 after teaching at the University of Augsburg for almost half a century. After retiring, he taught as a guest lecturer at other universities around the world and wrote books. The last of his books, Divine Providence: God’s Love and Human Freedom, is one of the most edifying works that explains God’s interaction with the world.
Written after a life of reflection, Reichenbach’s book is impressive first of all due to the author’s total disinterest in impressing his readers. Reichenbach rather has a legacy to pass on. Therefore, the text has the form of a personal testimony, but an academically argued one. The tone of the book is laidback, balanced, modest, and pious. However, the argument is far from modest. Attentive and systematic, equally profound, Reichenbach patiently answers questions that naturally arise during reading. The feeling of comprehensiveness that the book gives is one of its main advantages.
The volume has 12 chapters, which follow an obvious logical thread. After analysing the key aspects of the book: God’s sovereignty, human freedom, and the relationship between them, Reichenbach broadens the scope by introducing God’s goodness, omnipotence, and omniscience. He analyses the main theological models that systematise the relationship between these attributes: classical and open theism, with emphasis on the latter, which represents the innovation of the last decades.
The end of the book aims to answer, in four chapters, the most practical questions related to the field of study of the book—God’s providence: questions about God’s silence and perceived absence, the way in which intercessory prayer works, and the possibility of the existence and explanation of miracles. These last chapters make the volume valuable for a wider audience than the one preoccupied with the somewhat more technical discussion of the first two-thirds of the book.
Reichenbach finds no arguments in favour of the idea that God interacts with the world in a deterministic manner. On the contrary, he believes that God guarantees the freedom of created beings to make decisions. Although God limits Himself to make this possible, Reichenbach argues that God remains omniscient. For those who share the same Bible views, this book is an excellent insight into the arguments in favour of these beliefs. For others, Reichenbach’s book is a challenge worth considering.
Norel Iacob is the Editor-in-Chief of Signs of the Times Romania and ST Network.