Divine action

Divine action is a topic in philosophical theology seeking to understand the relationship between the natural sciences and the concept of God acting in the world -- primarily of interest to scientifically inclined theologians and theologically inclined scientists. Some theologians, and many scientists, maintain that the idea of divine intervention is at odds with the framework of natural laws disclosed by science. However, other theologians argue that classical Theism is not necessarily incompatible with the scientific world. Alvin Plantinga, for example, contends that "this notion of a religion/science problem is misguided. When properly understood, neither the classical (Newtonian) picture of natural laws, nor the more recent quantum mechanical picture, rules out divine intervention. There is nothing in science, under either the old or the new picture, that conflicts with, or even calls in to question, special divine action, including miracles."^[1]^

According to the Oxford University Regius Professor of Divinity Keith Ward, the topic of Divine action includes the Old Testament accounts of Israel's liberation from Egypt, their guidance through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud and fire, their victory over their enemies by God's sending of plagues and earthquakes, the Lord's allowance of His people to be taken into excile because of their sins, and His aid in returning them to the promised land 70 years later. Also according to Ward, the topic includes the New Testament record of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians who today pray by God's command, and this very living God who will act to heal, convert, and empower human lives.^[2]^


  1. ? Alvin Plantinga, "Divine Action in the World (Synopsis)", in Ratio, An International Journal of Analytic Philosophy, Volume 19 Issue 4, Pages 495 - 504 (2006).
  2. ? Keith Ward. Divine Action. (1st edition 1990) Templeton Foundation Press, 2007. p. 1

Further reading

  • Thomas F. Tracy, The God Who Acts: Philosophical and Theological Explorations. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.
  • Owen C. Thomas. God's Activity in the World: The Contemporary Problem. Scholars Press, 1983.
  • David Brown. The Divine Trinity. Duckworth, 1985; Open Court, 1985.
  • Brian Hebblethwaite and Edward Henderson. Divine action: Studies Inspired by the Philosophical Theology of Austin Farrer. T & T Clark, 1990.
  • Austin Farrer. Finite and Infinite. Dacre Press, 1943 and 1959.
  • Austin Farrer. The Glass Vision. Bampton Lectures. Dacre Press, 1948.
  • Keith Ward. Divine Action. (1st edition 1990) Templeton Foundation Press, 2007.
  • T. A. Smedes. Chaos, Complexity, and God: Divine Action and Scientism. Peeters, 2004.
  • Philip Clayton and Zachary Simpson. Adventures in the Spirit: God, World, Divine Action?. Fortress, 2008.
  • Kevin Vanhoozer. Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

See also