Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Reader

Ronald J. Feenstra

Second Reader

John Bolt

Third Reader

John W. Cooper

Fourth Reader

Edward Wierenga


Through a careful examination of Emil Brunner's theology, this dissertation shows that when the concept of divine action is be examined in the context of the nature and work God the idea that God acts can better understood. After a brief introductory chapter, chapter 2 argues that contemporary discussions surprisingly fail to consider what God does and what God is like as possible resources for making sense of problems associated with the concept of God's activity. This chapter also suggests that a model of divine action should take into account the means, manner, effect, purpose, extent, and degree God's activity. Investigating the nature and work of God could prove useful for constructing a clear concept of divine action. Chapter 3 briefly introduces scholarship on Brunner and examines his theological writings regarding the nature of God. This chapter argues that Brunner's discussion on the nature and attributes Go--such as God's name, love, lordship, and holiness--helps make sense of God's activity by illuminating the manner, effect, purpose and intention God's activity. Chapter 4 shows that Brunners theological thought Gods work in creation, providence, and redemption illuminates the relation between divine and human action. Typically, scholarship focuses on divine concurrence, but examining claims about God's work in creation and redemption and God's original intention to have communion with creation helps clarify our understanding of the extent and degree of God's activity in relation to human activity. Chapter 5 shows that Brunner's thought on God's creative work and lordship helps make sense the relation between divine action and natural processes. This relation does not preclude particular acts of God including special extraordinary activities such as miracles and redemptive acts. Nor do natural processes preclude God from acting through the ordinary workings of nature. Finally, this dissertation shows that the concept of divine action forms part the fabric of a wider theological framework that is essential for making sense of the notion that God acts in the world. Thus scholarship needs to take this framework seriously when considering the notion that God acts.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.